Telecoms News - In Brief

- Zimbabwe’s mobile market leader Econet Wireless has resumed offering its post-paid services, which were suspended last November because of a shortage of foreign currency and lack of funding to pay for a new billing system. The move was made possible by the recent government initiative to allow operators to bill their users in foreign currency.

- The Gambian leader, Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, has reaffirmed his government's unreserved commitment to revive the country's telecommunication giant, Gamtel, to help it regain its old glory not only in Africa but in the rest of the world. Last week the company suffered two major fires in its premises which initial investigation has put down to old wiring.

- In Nigeria, Nitel’s workers are back on an indefinite strike (including the shut down of the SAT-3 network cable) to demand their allowances and pension buyout amounting to N7 billion. Nitel’s management has appealed to workers to call off the on-going industrial action and reassured them that “the Federal Government and Transcorp have put a plan in place for the funding of Nitel’s operations which the unions are aware of. Management believes that this will soon come to fruition and all outstanding issues will be resolved”.

- Despite the fact that the House of Representatives rejected fresh investigation into the activities of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) particularly on its oversight role on the operations of service providers in the country, the regulator remains under strong political pressures to improve the quality of services of the telecommunication providers in the country. Its Executive Vice-Chairman, Chief Ernest Ndukwe, is also under parliamentary scrutiny over tax waivers granted to some telecommunications companies.

- The date for the launch of the much-anticipated SumbandilaSat science satellite has been set for 25 March by the Department of Science and Technology of South Africa. The Sumbandila, a low-orbit satellite which will collect data to be used to monitor and manage disasters such as floods, oil spills and fires within Southern Africa, will be launched into space from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

- A World Bank supported telecommunication company, GiCELL Wireless Limited is rolling out a mobile network in Nigeria. The new network is a CDMA 2000 on a 450 megahertz (MHZ) frequency and the initial take off of the network will cover five states which are: Adamawa, Borno, Kwara, Oyo and Cross River States. The company is said to have started with these five states to meet the World Bank requirement as their first Universal Access Service provider in Nigeria.

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