Telecoms News - In Brief

Telecoms

- Socabelec, a Belgian glass manufacturing company, recently withdrew their plans of investing in Kenya. One of the reasons? It could not get a phone line from Telkom after going through the whole process of applying for one. It has decided to take its business to India.

- Telsom Mobile of Somalia has awarded a GSM network expansion contract to US equipment firm AirNet Communications. The USD1.4 million order will increase network capacity and improve coverage and brings the total value of Telsom’s contracts with AirNet to USD10 million. Telsom had around 15,000 customers at the end of 2004.

- Kenyan cellcos Safaricom and Celtel Kenya have complained to Telkom Kenya about its interconnection charges, claiming that they are too high. Telkom said that the rates are so high because of the cost of calling a mobile number from a landline, and plans to review them in 2007.

- MTN Uganda’s chief executive officer, Noel Meier, has criticised the recent government decision to raise tax on mobile phone call minutes by 10% to 12%, claiming that the levy will hinder the efforts of the three Ugandan cellcos – MTN, Celtel and UTL – to meet the growth targets set by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). Meier said that the hike could negatively impact the penetration of telecoms services and would also give the operators no option but to transfer the increase to the end users.

- Wataniya Telecom Algeria (Nedjma) has reported that its GSM subscriber base reached 800,000 at the end of last month, and it expects it to reach a million by the end of September. Its network now covers 24 provinces, a figure that is expected to rise to 30 by the end of 2005. Nedjma is Algeria’s smallest cellco, and was launched in August 2004 after winning the country’s third mobile licence in December 2003.

- State-controlled Ghana Telecom has announced that it will lay off 400 of its casual staff, including its entire temporary workforce in the Brong Ahafo region, with effect from 1 August. The redundancies are part of efforts to streamline the business and make it more profitable. The workers were notified via letter last month.