IN BRIEF:

Telecoms

- In Kenya, the Government will introduce a rural access fund to speed up telecommunication growth. The percentage has not been decided yet but an IDRC study it was suggested that the operators be levied additional 0.5 per cent of their gross income making their total levies to one per cent. Meanwhile the Government announced the withdrawal of the contentious Kenya Communication Amendment Bill 2007 from the floor of Parliament for redrafting. Information and Communications minister Mutahi Kagwe said the Bill had omitted crucial issues that included cyber crime and penalties to be meted on those who damage fibre optic cables.

- A group calling itself the Concerned Workers of the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LTC) has asked the Liberian Senate to postpone the nomination of Nathaniel Kevin as member of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority Board of Commissioners. According to the redundant workers he has failed to pay their severance and economic benefits when government has made the money available in the 2007/2008 National Budget.

- Zimbabweans who use the Telecel mobile phone network can breathe a sigh of relief for now, after the company was granted temporary relief by the High Court in Harare. This means Telecel Zimbabwe, whose license was cancelled by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) last week, can continue operating for the time being.

- A committee has been formed to advise on the possible entry of the Kenya Power and Lighting company into the telecommunications sector, using the fibres laid over its transmission grid.

- Vodafone may be heading for the Nigerian telecoms market as indications have emerged that Mubadala Development Company of the United Arab Emirates, which was granted a US$400 million licence by Nigeria, is in talks with the UK's biggest mobile operator. This move would however contradict the recent agreement with the UK group’s South African partner Vodacom which allowed the latter to manage expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa.

- At a CTO conference on rural access, officials representing nine agencies, established by African Governments to manage Universal Service Obligations including Universal Service Funds relating to Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) services, have decided to work towards forming an Association within one year in order to promote their common interests.

- Workers at the local telco company Sotelco in Congo-Brazzaville have claimed that they have not received any salary for the last four months. The state owned company was set up in 2003 but it is facing major financial difficulties with unpaid bills reaching FCFA13 billion while the lack of infrastructure investments has laid to the closure of the Pointe-Noire exchange several months ago.