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Telecoms developments in Africa – October 2017

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High-speed internet for Central African Republic

The Central African Republic is set to receive high-speed internet. The solution uses IP Transit architecture and delivers a fully managed service with low latency and high throughput IP transit capabilities. The new service is designed to provide superior quality internet connections of up to 2 Gbps, via the SES medium earth orbit satellite fleet in partnership with Orange Central African Republic. The advantage of the satellite-based solution is that it brings connectivity even in remote areas, where terrestrial telecoms infrastructures are not sufficient. The satellite reach makes this solution ideal for a country as vast as the Central African Republic. It is hoped that the technology, with its low-latency and high reliability, will enable growth for businesses in the country.

Mauritius to link to submarine cable system

Mauritius Telecom has signed an agreement as an anchor tenant for ultra-high speed connectivity on the IOX submarine cable system, a new cable that will connect Mauritius, La Reunion and Rodrigues Island to South Africa and India. The system is the third Mauritian submarine cable initiative which will provide much needed internet bandwidth to Mauritius through a resilient network design. The submarine cable system will be built by Alcatel Submarine Networks of France and is scheduled to go live in 2019. The IOX cable system will be the first open access cable system in the region and it offers the opportunity for any licensed operators to benefit from the latest technology and seamless access throughout the life cycle of the cable system.

Telco involvement in Kenyan repeat elections

The Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) has selected Safaricom to transmit the poll results in the repeat presidential elections expected to take place on 26 October 2017 in Kenya. Safaricom has been requested to deploy electoral kits in all 40 883 polling stations throughout Kenya. The telco will also transmit election results from the Kenya Integrated Electoral Management System’s (KIEMS) kits at the polling stations to the IEBC servers. During the 8 August 2017 elections, three telecom operators were selected to provide connectivity between polling centres and the IEBC’s national tallying centre, in 78% of the country, with 3G and 2G network connections. The companies were also expected to provide technical support to the IEBC before, during and after election day.

App helps combat deforestation in Uganda

A new app called Forest Watcher is helping connect forest rangers in Uganda to near real-time satellite data on illegal logging, mining, or forest fires to help alert them to incidents they need to inspect. Using satellite data and algorithms, the app enables users to monitor forests from space, and where deforestation is seen to be happening every single week. The app doesn’t require constant internet connection. It can be taken offline and using GPS, the app can guide rangers to an area that is being deforested. From a remote area of a forest, a ranger can also add photos, video, text, and mark points with GPS, all of which could later be uploaded to the cloud when they later go online. Rangers in Kibale who work with the Jane Goodall Institute have been beta testing the app for the last several months, and were able to use it to discover that a part of the park was being cleared by tea producers, which was far from their usual patrol routes.

Zambia invites tender for new MNO

Zambia plans to invite bidders for a fourth mobile phone voice service provider following approval of a new licensing regime. Zambia approved a law in June allowing more mobile phone voice service providers to boost competition. Transport and Communications Minister Brian Mushimba said in a statement that the communications regulator would select a fourth service provider in the next six to twelve months. Zambia passed a law in 2009 restricting the number of mobile phone voice operators to just three to help existing companies expand. Zambia has over 12-million mobile phone service subscribers representing a penetration rate of almost 75%, the latest government statistics show. South Africa’s MTN, India’s Bharti Airtel and state-owned Zamtel are currently the only mobile phone operators offering voice services in Zambia.

Mobile money booming in Kenya

Payment of goods and services through mobile money transfer platforms in Kenya hit Ksh 692-billion in the second quarter of 2017, up from Ksh 102-billion transacted in December 2015. According to the Communication Authority of Kenya, the positive growth is attributed to the widespread use of mobile money solutions as well as the adoption of the service among the rural populations. Mobile money transfer has been growing exponentially over the years, fuelled by the need for convenience and safety. According to the Communication Authority of Kenya, mobile money has evolved to become a loan disbursement tool, adding to other uses such as peer transfers, betting, paying for shopping, utility bills, school fees, as well as receiving dividends.

Rwanda ATMs to connect to online banking

All savings and credit banks across Rwanda could have ATM machines installed and connected to 4G online internet banking system by next year. After attaining 85% coverage of 4G LTE internet in Rwanda, Korea Telecom Rwanda Network (KTRN) is set to introduce internet banking targeting local banks at a lower cost than the existing one. To make this project feasible, KTRN plans to have at least 416 ATM machines installed at every savings and credit bank countrywide. In 2013, Rwanda signed a deal with KTRN to roll out 4G LTE internet to 95% of its citizens. So far KTRN has rolled out 85% of the 4G internet and this coverage is set to reach 95% by November 2017.

Botswana to get mobile entertainment

People living in Botswana will soon be able to watch TV on their mobile phones. The new offering will deliver sports and entertainment content through a mobile streaming service by leveraging Orange’s 4G network. This includes a collection of channels spanning sports, general entertainment, news and actuality. The content will include exclusive access to NBA TV, Viceland and Premier League games, to name a few. Orange Botswana has partnered with pay-TV broadcast network Kwesé TV to provide its customers with the new service. This development is one of many mobile trends enabled by digitisation, and is in line with trends in many other African countries, where mobile penetration is high in comparison to the population of television-set owners.


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