African MarketWatch June 2013

New licenses, acquisitions and upgrades in brief

ALGERIA: Algerie Telecom has launched a US $50m+ auction for the deployment of a fixed mode LTE network, according to La Tribune

ALGERIA: The Djezzy saga continues with TeleGeography quoting an anonymous source stating that the “Algerian government stopped any further communication with Vimpelcom” and that minority shareholder Cevital, an Algerian food group, may exercise their Right of First Refusal if negotiations are “disadvantageous to its interests”. The ongoing saga threatens to delay 3G license auctions

BENIN: Moov Benin, owned by Atlantique Telecom (in turn 100% owned by Etisalat), has secured a universal service license, enabling Moov to compete with MTN in provision of 3G and 4G services

BOTSWANA: BOCRA has commissioned a feasibility study to look into re-introducing mandatory national roaming, which was suspended in 2000

BURUNDI: PTA Bank has approved a loan of $11.5m to Burundi Backbone Systems (BBS), a national fibre network launched by operators Onatel, Leo, Africal and Cbeinet. BBS CEO David Easum said “The loan would revolutionise the telecommunications sector by bringing the benefits of high speed, high bandwidth connectivity at a more affordable cost. An immediate impact of the project will be to increase the internet and mobile penetration in Burundi making communication services available to a larger part of the population”

BURUNDI & CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: In Orascom Telecom’s quarterly results, CEO Ahmed Abou Doma announced “I am pleased to announce that we have signed a share purchase agreement with Niel Telecom to purchase our stake in Telecel Globe Limited, which owns our operations in Burundi and Central African Republic. The sale is subject to usual closing conditions”

CAMEROON: Viettel is now free to begin rolling out its network in Cameroon after President Paul Biya approved the award of the 3rd mobile license to the Vietnamese operator, who have committed to investing US $400m in the network

COMOROS: TMT Finance reports that Telma is in discussions to enter Comoros, potentially by acquiring state-owned Comores Telecom, funded by a tower transaction in Telma Madagascar’s home market

COTE D’IVOIRE: LAP-GreenN subsidiary GreenN Cote d’Ivoire is recovering from the slump caused by political crises in Cote d’Ivoire and in Libya, with subscriber numbers up to 450k and with the parent company having invested US $19.9m to help clear debt

ETHIOPIA: The Ethiopian telecoms market is unlikely to open up to new entrants in the near future. Africa Review quotes Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn saying “You may think that the government can get money from taxation; but there is no way that we can generate this much from taxation. Therefore, the sector remains with us (government) for the years to come”

GABON: Airtel’s 3G and 4G network in Gabon will benefit from an injection of US $125m capex

GHANA: A government draft bill to impose an additional 6% interconnection fee on incoming international calls may have an adverse effect on capital investment in infrastructure in the country, in which three of Africa’s ‘Big 4’ towercos are active

GHANA: Tech Mahindra will build and manage a new network for Surf Line, who acquired a technology-neutral BWA license in February 2013

KENYA: Essar Telecom CEO Madhur Taneja revealed in a statement that “‘to finance… expansion and enhance its operations, in November 2012 yuMobile appointed BNP Paribas, which is currently engaging with strategic investors”. Essar’s long search for strategic investors in yuMobile may be facilitated by an apparent softening in valuation expectations. TMT Finance suggest Viettel may be interested, and speculate that Airtel may replicate their recent acquisition in Uganda by making a move for Essar to consolidate and strengthen in Kenya. Meanwhile, Business Daily Africa reports that yu has applied for a 3G license

LIBYA: Deputy Minister of Telecommunications Atef Al Bahri announced the drafting of a new law to allow the private sector to participate competitively in Libyan telecoms, according to a MedAfricaTimes reporting on MEED’s “Libya Projects 2013” conference

MOROCCO: With Etisalat the last bid remaining, following the withdrawal of Ooredoo, the Wall Street Journal reports that Vivendi is urging Orange to submit a last minute offer for Maroc Telecom

MOZAMBIQUE: mCel and Movitel have committed to universal service contracts to extend coverage to 50 underserved areas

NAMIBIA: Telecom Namibia deployed US $22.4m capex in a very successful 2012, in which operating profit rose 29% to US $12.38m. With the acquisition of Powercom (Leo), the operator’s capex is expected to rise to US $39m in 2013. In an interview with The Namibian, Oiva Angula, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications and PR stated “our intention is to roll out 516 base stations in three phases over an 18-month period to strengthen our capabilities to offer real 3G and 4G services”

NIGERIA: The National Broadband Plan, which includes encouragement of infrastructure sharing, incentives to extend 3G to 80% of the population, and the release of spectrum for LTE, has been approved by the President of Nigeria

NIGERIA: Huawei has signed a five year managed services deal with Etisalat Nigeria, covering both passive and active infrastructure

NIGERIA: Swift Networks has acquired the WiMAX business of Direct on PC and will use their expanded capacity to roll out LTE using partnerships with Huawei, IHS and Helios Towers Nigeria

RWANDA: KT Corp will invest US $140m into a joint venture to provide LTE in Rwanda

RWANDA: Liquid Telecom has acquired the fixed line assets of defunct operator Rwandatel

SOMALIA: The largely unregulated Somalia telecom sector may benefit from a telecoms bill, which is to be tabled in parliament, according to Hiraam Online. Meanwhile, TMT Finance report that the Somali regulator is soliciting a US$100m investment from an external operator to secure a license and to form a JV next generation operator with a local company

SOUTH AFRICA: Telkom South Africa’s EBITDA was down 17% year-on-year to ZAR7.1bn. While mobile subscribers increased 3.4%, ARPU fell 17% to ZAR61.5 (US $6.1)

SOUTH AFRICA: Cell C has 15 companies interested in providing MVNO services over their network, according to City Press, while suggests that First National Bank (FNB) is in discussions to become an MVNO in partnership with Cell C

SWAZILAND: A significant step toward the liberalisation of Swaziland’s telecoms sector may be imminent when the new Communications Commission Act comes into force. The act will transfer regulatory power to the Swaziland Communications Commission, away from service provider-cum-regulator Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation

TANZANIA: The imposition of a 14.5% excise duty on telecommunication services from July 1, 2013 will “widen the digital divide” according to the Mobile Operators Association of Tanzania, who suggested the move would adversely affect operator’s ability to invest in rural network extension

TANZANIA: Vodacom Tanzania invested US $125.3m in infrastructure in the financial year ending March 2013, doubling their network in the process, driven by 3G investment. The company is also trialing LTE in Dar es Salaam

UGANDA: Smile has launched LTE in Kampala

ZAMBIA: CommsMEA reports that Massnet Innovation Solutions, who acquired an LTE license last year, are seeking a “serious stakeholder” in the startup

ZIMBABWE: Mobile licence fees in Zimbabwe have been raised 37% to US $137m

MULTI COUNTRY NEWS: Vimpelcom are believed to be finalizing a deal to sell its assets in BURUNDI, ZIMBABWE and CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

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