Telecoms News - In Brief

Telecoms

- After several months of haggling, Rwandatel and its former employees have reached an agreement that will see each retrenched worker receive long standing benefits.

- The Mozambique government will launch an international tender for a third mobile phone license in December. The process was put on hold in April to address complaints by existing mobile wireless operators Mcel and South Africa's Vodacom. Transport and communications minister Paulo Zucula said the issues have been resolved and that a bidding document is now being prepared.

- Gabon’s fourth mobile operator Azur (the brand name of USAN Gabon) launched commercial GSM services in the capital Libreville on 8 October, reports Gaboneco. A subsidiary of Middle Eastern firm Bintel, Azur launched over a network of 35 base stations with a capacity of 100,000 lines, whilst it aims to expand to Port-Gentil and Franceville in the next few weeks, before rolling out services nationwide next year.

- Egypt’s Orascom Telecom has said it will consider bidding for one of the two triple-play licences that the government recently revealed it would offer early next year, Reuters reports. Orascom’s chief operating officer, Khaled Bichara, said of the company’s plans: ‘We believe we are really well positioned. They [the government] want the local players and international experience, and we believe we won't need to go out of the group to make the bid’. The bid document for the licence is expected to be published by mid-October, with bids due by 12 January 2010.

- Orange Business Services, France Telecom Group's division for worldwide enterprise services has enhanced its next-generation converged IP network in the Middle East & Africa (MEA) to deliver greater coverage, capacity, performance and resilience to its multinational enterprise customers.

- MTN, Glomobile, Etisalat and Zain have been disqualified from buying the mobile arm of NITEL (M-Tel) in the on-going effort to sell the Nigerian carrier. Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, Dr. Christopher Anyanwu said, “Nonetheless, NCC pointed out that any of the local operating firms can purchase NITEL alone without M-TEL and SAT3”.

- Kuwait’s Zain Group is not concerned that a lawsuit filed by South Africa’s Econet Wireless pertaining to the company’s 2006 purchase of Nigerian operator Vee Networks (now Zain Nigeria) will derail plans to sell a 46% stake in the group to Indian investors, Bloomberg reports, citing Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai. ‘The lawsuit is old and dates back to before 2006,’ Zain CEO Saad al- Barrak told the newspaper, before adding that Econet had lost similar lawsuits filed against Zain in British courts over the last four years.

- The January summit of the African Union (AU) Commission will focus on information and communication technology in Africa.