TELECOMS, RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage (briefs)

- No fewer than ten financial institutions in Nigeria have started to roll out, InterSwitch, an electronic transaction switching and payment processing platform in order to deliver Nigeria's first Virtual Top Up (VTU) solution. The service is currently available only to MTN prepaid subscribers.

- Rwandatel has started a roaming service with Uganda Telecom (UTL). The service is also under technical testing in Kenya and Tanzania before proceeding to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)," said Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Patrick Kariningufu. Competitor MTN Rwanda has announced the launch of a Blackberry phone in Rwanda.

- According to the Ugandan ICT minister, the number of wireless subscribers rose to 8.2 million at the end of 2008. While addressing a delegation of member countries of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), Ham Mulira added that mobile penetration stood at around 25%.

- MTN Ghana, has launched 3.5G technology onto the Ghanaian market to offer a range of data-orientated services like video streaming, games, music videos, sports and news. It is based on HSDPA technology.

- Etisalat Misr, the Egyptian operator, has reportedly crossed the subscriber base target it had set for 2008, as the operator reached the mark of 7 million subscribers at 2008-end. The Egyptian subsidiary of Etisalat had set a target of 6.8 million sign-ups by end-2008, and its end of year total represented a 126% rise against the same time a year earlier. Saleh Abdooli, Etisalat Misr’s CEO, claimed that the operator now aims to reach a subscriber base of 10 million by 2009-end.

- Nigeria’s Q3 08 growth could not match the record-breaking levels seen in the previous quarter, when 7.38m new connections were added - more than double the best figure recorded in any other African nation. However, its third-quarter boost of 4.11m was the second best figure ever recorded in the market, which is particularly impressive given that one of the top three operators, Glo, suffered a loss of 0.6m customers in the quarter. At the end of Q3, there were 55.8m connections in Nigeria, up 51% year on year with annual net additions of 18.8m.

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