Telecoms News - In Brief

Telecoms

- Mobile number portability (MNP) in Kenya - which was originally scheduled to go live on 31 December – has been delayed until 1 April 2011, according to a report by Daily Nation. Citing a Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) PR contact, Daily Nation says that the delay is down to 'the un-preparedness of mobile operators', before going on to suggest that three of the country's four operators are not yet ready to initiate the service.

- Ethiopia’s Communications and Information Technology minister, Debretsion Gebremichael, has revealed that France Telecom (FT) has begun a two-year contract to manage state-owned Ethio Telecom, the newly rebranded incarnation of monopoly operator Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation. FT will be paid USD40 million, depending on performance. Ethio Telecom CEO Jean-Michel Latute says that under FT’s guidance accounting systems will be modernised and new services introduced.

- France Telecom (FT) has signed a final agreement to complete the purchase of a 40% equity and voting stake in Moroccan wireless operator Medi Telecom (Meditel) from its domestic owners Caisse de Depot et de Gestion group (via Fipar-Holding) and FinanceCom group (via Medium Finance). The stake will be consolidated into FT’s accounts as from 2 December by the equity method, whilst the French group has also agreed to increase its share in Morocco’s second-largest GSM operator to 49% on 1 January 2015, at which time it will fully consolidate Meditel into its accounts. FT announced the EUR640 million (USD845 million) deal on 21 September 2010, valuing the company at that date at EUR2.14 billion.

- Safaricom's more than 40,000 postpay customers can now pay their bills using the PesaPoint network, after the two firms signed a deal. "Through this partnership, we are harnessing existing infrastructure to give our customers an additional avenue for paying their bills," Safaricom chief executive, Bob Collymore, said at the signing ceremony. To be eligible for the service, Safaricom postpay customers will be required to be account-holders with any of the banks hooked onto the PesaPoint network.

- New Generation Telecommunications, the consortium which emerged as the preferred buyer for state-run incumbent telco Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL) in February 2010, has now been given until mid-December to pay a USD750 million bid security for the ailing operator.

- Faulu Kenya has launched phone mobile banking where customers can open and operate their bank accounts.
 
- Problems of poor network coverage in remote parts of the country may be a thing of the past if a plan by the government is successful. The government plans to set up a fund that will be focused on ensuring better internet and telephone network coverage in the areas. The fund to be set up under the Universal Service/Access Funds (USF) model will involve operators contributing a percentage of their profits to a central fund managed by the Communication Commission of Kenya.

- Deputies at the National Assembly of Gambia recently ratified the Islamic States Telecommunication Union (ISTU). Alhaji Cham, minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure laid the motion before the house to consider for approval. He informed parliamentarians that the objective of the union is to promote Islamic solidarity in the telecommunication field.