Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage (briefs)

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

- The South African mobile phone company Vodacom on Wednesday announced that its Mozambican subsidiary, Vodacom-Mocambique (VM), is cutting the price of calls for customers on contracts by 10 per cent.

- Handset manufacturer, Nokia is calling on the Kenyan government to crack on the counterfeit mobile phones in the country. General Manager for Nokia East and Southern Africa Gerard Brandjes, said counterfeit handsets and accessories were denying government revenue while offering unfair competition to genuine businesses.

- Solar chargers are helping farmer cooperatives in Ghana use their mobile phones more effectively. Charging the battery can be done locally in a few hours, instead of a day trip to the nearest commercial charging shop. The solar chargers also provide a source of extra income: locals pay a small fee to have their mobiles charged.

- Telkom Kenya CEO Mickael Ghossein has announced that the company has attracted over 1.38 million mobile customers in its first year in operation under the ‘Orange’ banner, and expects the number to rise to over two million by the end of 2009. According to its CEO, Mickael Ghossein, the telco is focusing investment on higher value services, such as its W-CDMA and broadband networks, claiming that Kenyan customers have little interest in price wars between service providers, but instead are concerned about quality of service.

­ Zain has announced an upgrade to its mobile banking service, Zap to enable customers to receive money from any bank account around the world and send money to any bank in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

­Econet Wireless Zimbabwe reports that it has been overwhelmed by demand for its new data services, and has virtually exhausted all its initial capacity. This has prompted its parent company to authorise a US$30 million roll-out to speed up the expansion of the 3G service countrywide. Chief Executive Officer Douglas Mboweni said the demand had completely surpassed all projections, which were based on take up in other countries around the world. Mboweni said the company had also been surprised by the number of people who have 3G and GPRS phones ready to be activated.

­ Nigerian regulator the NCC has released statistics for the second quarter of 2009, revealing that the total customer base stood at 66.42m at the end of June. Annual growth stood at 32.8%, the lowest rate for eight years, although with penetration edging towards 50% (Q2 09: 46.9%) such a slowdown is to be expected. Market leader MTN recorded the best figure for net additions for the fourth straight quarter, adding 1.43m to finish on 27.34m. This took its market share to 41.2%.

­ Egypt based mobile network operator, Etisalat Egypt recently deployed a video call based customer care facility from Genesys that the company says has lifted customer satisfaction levels have risen by 11 percent at a time when it has reduced cost per customer contact by two thirds.

- Mobile phone companies in Ghana are joining the social networking site Facebook to do business, making it easier for their subscribers to update their status and post comments on the site by SMS. So far two mobile phone service providers in Ghana are on the platform. These are Zain and Tigo.