TELECOMS

Telecoms news - In Brief

- Somali Islamist group al-Shabab has ordered mobile phone companies to stop their popular money transfer services, saying they are "unIslamic". Mobile phone banking was introduced in the northern Somaliland region in 2009 and has now spread across the country. Al-Shabab and its allies control much of southern Somalia and one mobile phone company official said he had "no option but to obey" the order. Despite years of conflict, Somalia's telecommunications sector is thriving. Mobile phones are a common sight in the capital, Mogadishu, and three companies currently offer mobile phone banking. But the al-Qaeda-linked group has given them three months to stop.

- Telecel Zimbabwe has been awarded the 2010 Frost & Sullivan Award for Market Penetration Leadership within the Southern African Development Community. The rapid growth in its subscriber base and market share has given it a unique position within the Sadc region where no other operator has been able to change its market position over the last year. At the end of June last year, Telecel Zimbabwe had 260, 000 subscribers. By the end of the first quarter of this year the number of Telecel subscribers had shot up to 1,090,000.

- Mozambique's two mobile phone operators, mCel and Vodacom Mozambique, have reportedly entered into negotiations with the Mozambique Post Office to use its facilities to assist with the ongoing statutory registration of pre-paid SIM cards. In an interview with Maputo daily newspaper Noticias, Luis Rigo, chairperson of the Post Office board confirmed that his company has been approached by both operators for the use of its services; Post Offices exist in most of the country's 128 districts. However, although the Post Office has a far larger network than either mCel or Vodacom, it is not present in every district, and not all of its branches are equipped to carry out the government-endorsed registration process.

- Telecommunication firms in Tanzania have been urged to increase investments in networking infrastructure in order to expand their coverage to the rural areas instead of concentrating on urban areas. Private Secretary Dr Patrick Makungu stressed that telecom firms need to expand their services to people in rural and remote areas at affordable prices. The PS acknowledged the fast growth of the telecommunication sub-sector in the country, saying the government would continue promoting investors and business friendly environment in the country.

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