Telecoms in Africa – September 2016

August 29th, 2016, Published in Articles: EngineerIT


Connecting 13-million more in rural Tanzania

The GSM Association (GSMA) launched an active infrastructure sharing initiative in East Africa, between mobile network operators (MNOs) Airtel, Millicom and Vodacom. The MNOs will launch six 3G pilot sites across Tanzania to test the sustainable provision of mobile broadband services to 13-million people in rural areas of Tanzania. This cooperation demonstrates that the industry is committed to connecting the unconnected and enabling them to gain access to essential internet services. Digital inclusion has become a strategic priority for operators and the government alike. The mobile telephony market in Tanzania has grown significantly and, as of the end of 2015, there were over 17-million individual mobile subscribers.

Free WiFi launched in Senegal

Sonatel launched its WiFiZone project that provides free access to internet at locations selected by relevant municipalities in Senegal. The pilot project was rolled out at Assainies Plots in Rufisque and Sacred Heart in Mermoz will follow. Sonatel supports the digital development of local communities by providing free WiFi in public areas. It supported the design of the preliminary study, installation and technical acceptance as well as six months of supervision of equipment maintenance. The project will enable users access to information, and advertising opportunities for young entrepreneurs. The initiative will be followed by the development of digital public service centres by Sonatel.

Internet access for schools in Tanzania

Digital lifestyle company, Tigo Tanzania partnered with the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications to facilitate the roll out of internet access points in the country’s secondary schools to complement the eSchools project. The Ministry will identify schools with computer labs to be connected and guide the implementation of the project while Tigo will sponsor the infrastructural development in schools across the country including wiring classrooms and installation of wireless LAN with internet access points. The eShools project is one of Tigo’s strategic social investment projects and to date has connected more than 30 public secondary schools.

Point-to-point connectivity for African regions

UbuntuNet Alliance awarded a 15-year contract to pan-African telecom enabler Seacom to provide point-to-point connectivity services to National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) of eastern and southern Africa through the European Union co-funded AfricaConnect2 project. The company will provide capacity between Kampala (Uganda) and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), and from Dar es Salaam to Amsterdam (Netherlands) where the UbuntuNet network pairs with the European Research and Education Network, GÉANT. The link between Kampala and Dar es Salaam will complete a ring between the NRENs of Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya and will provide a resilient network for research collaboration in the sub-region.

Towers company secures $105-million funding

HT DRC Infraco SARL, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) subsidiary of Helios Towers Africa (HTA), completed a $105-million upsizing of its syndicated term loan facility led by the Standard Bank of South Africa as initial mandated lead arranger and the German development finance institution Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft as development finance institution arranger. The funding facility will partly finance both the acquisition of Bharti Airtel’s tower portfolio and fund the organic growth and operations programme of HTD across the country. HTD’s portfolio in DRC includes 1800 towers with a growing pipeline of new builds for multiple operators.

Increased broadcasting capacity across Africa

StarTimes and Eutelsat Communications concluded new multi-year agreements that set the stage for accelerated roll-out of digital broadcasting services across Africa. StarTimes uses satellites to deliver its multi-channel TV platform geared up to expand into DRC Congo and Zambia in August. StarTimes has renewed capacity contracts on two Eutelsat satellites as well as agreements for uplinking services provided by a partner teleport operated by STN, in Slovenia. In anticipation of expansion of Africa’s TV market, it has secured extra capacity and plans to scale up further by the end of the year. This expanded portfolio equips StarTimes to host more services and uplink channels from Europe and Africa.

Platform to support women empowerment in 36 African countries

The African Development Bank (AfDB) approved a $12,4-million grant for the “50 million Women Speak” project which will create a networking platform dedicated to sub-Saharan women entrepreneurs. The grant will be spread between the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). It is a social media platform to enable women to start, grow and scale their business by connecting businesswomen to encourage peer-to-peer learning, mentoring, and information and knowledge sharing. The platform will cover 36 countries and will be accessible on mobile phones.

A 450 km fibre link from Lomé to Kara

Maroc Telecom’s subsidiary Moov Togo is deploying the first phase of a fibre optic network, 450 km link from Lomé to Lama Kara. Phase 2 will extend this it by 200 km from Lama Kara to Dapaong. The network will provide additional backbone capacity to support the deployment by the operator of 3G and 4G services in Togo. Ivoirian contractor GECTEL CI undertook a fibre optic construction survey for Moov Togo on the link from Lomé to Lama Kara. It has also completed 800 km of fibre optic links for Moov Côte d’Ivoire, from Abidjan to San Pedro, and from San Pedro to Yamoussoukro.

Kiambu county launches free WiFi for CBDs

Kenya’s Kiambu County will give free public WiFi following a partnership with Liquid Telecom Kenya. The networks cover a 5 km radius from the CBDs of each of the county’s four largest towns, with a capacity of 10 Mbps. The first phase includes installations in Thika, Kikuyu, Ruiru and Kiambu towns – selected for their high human traffic and concentration of businesses – and thus expected to have the most impact. The rest of the county’s remaining sub-counties, Limuru, Kabete Lari, Gatundu South, Gatundu North, Githunguri, Kiambaa, and Juja, will be connected in phase 2. Free WiFi zones will enable further economic and educational development.

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