Telecoms News - In Brief


- The Dubai-based Emirates Telecommunications Corporation, Etisalat, said it plans to bid for a 35% stake in state-owned Algeria Telecom.  Algeria's Ministry of Postal Services, Information Technology and Communications will finalize an international tender for selling 35% of the telco by the end of June. The deal is expected to take place before the end of this year, raising about $3.5 billion.

- A GSM Association survey has shown that Ugandan mobile users were the second most taxed in the world, and that this was slowing growth. Uganda levies a 27 percent import tax, VAT of 18 percent, and an excise rate of 12 percent. Uganda has almost 2 million mobile users with a penetration rate of about 5 percent. The survey said that reducing taxes would increase penetration and stimulate economic growth.

- The Kenya Power and Lighting Company has embarked on a programme to roll out bill querying services through mobile phones. Dubbed e-Bill SMS Service, the service will enable customers obtain their power bills by sending a text message to the company's billing system. The service will be provided at Sh5 above normal charges on both Safaricom and Celtel networks. E-Bill is powered by Adtel Company, that will provide the link between the customer's mobile phone and KPLC's billing system.

- According to Reuters, pan-African cellco MTN plans to apply for a 3G licence in Nigeria by the end of 2006. MTN Nigeria’s Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer Bola Akingbade also told Reuters his company may buy one of the country’s smaller private network operators, which are undercutting GSM companies with cheaper tariffs.