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Africell expands into Angola, its fifth African market

Africell expands into Angola, its fifth African market

Africell has expanded its operations across the African continent to Angola. This follows the issuance of the country’s fourth mobile licence to the telco, in what seemed like a ‘total walkover’.

Yes, the bid for the licence initially had MTN and Banco Angolano de Investimentos (BAI) part of it. But both of these later decided not to submit any bid documents, leaving only Africell in the path to achieving the licence. 

The licence bid win allows Africell to set up mobile infrastructure and offer internet, fixed-line and pay-TV services. The company will have to work hard to out compete an existent duopoly of Movicel and Unitel, as well as a state-backed Angola Telecom – which only provides fixed and internet access but no mobile services.

Africell currently operates from the UK and provides mobile networks in several African markets, including Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

The origins

Before Africell even thought of expanding to Angola, the country’s fourth telecom licence had been given to Telstar – a company that would later turn out to be so little known. However, the licence was revoked 2 days after its allocation.

The Angolan president, Joao Lourenço, cited alleged non-compliance with certain procedural requirements.

It is alleged that Telstar was established in January of 2019, just a month after bids to have the licence opened. The Angolan government was also not willing to award the license to an unknown company, whose main shareholder is an army general. According to the Government Gazette, army General Manuel Joao Carneiro owns 90 percent of the startup and Antonio Mateus, a local businessman, holds the 10.

The revised bidding process began in September 2019 and was completed in January 2020. 

Mid last year, Africell CEO Ziad Dalloul stated that the company had made $300 million available to spend on a launch in Angola in the event it managed to secure an operating licence. 

Read About: LycaMobile officially launches in Uganda

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Author: Kikonyogo Douglas AlbertAfricell expands into Angola, its fifth African market

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2Africa: A New subsea cable linking Africa and the Middle East

2Africa: A New subsea cable linking Africa and the Middle East

A new subsea cable to go around Africa and the Middle East is under construction. 2Africa, backed by Facebook, China Mobile, MTN Group, Vodafone Group, Orange, among others is said to be the “most comprehensive subsea cable to serve the African continent and Middle East region”.

The 9 parties have appointed Alcatel Submarine Networks to build the cable in a fully funded project. The cable will be 37 000km in length, making it one of the longest in the world, and will interconnect 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.  

The system is expected to go live in 2023 or 2024, delivering more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today, with a design capacity of up to 180Tbit/s on key parts of the system.

The 2Africa cable has been designed to improve resilience and maximise performance, including the option of a seamless optical crossing between East Africa and Europe. The 2Africa parties and Airtel have signed an agreement with Telecom Egypt to provide a completely new crossing linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, the first in over a decade.

This also includes new cable landing stations and deployment of next-generation fibre on two new, diverse terrestrial routes parallel to the Suez Canal from Ras Ghareb to Port Said, and a new subsea link that will provide a third path between Ras Ghareb and Suez.

The 2Africa cable will implement a new technology, SDM from Alcatel Submarine Networks, allowing deployment of up to 16 fibre pairs instead of the eight fibre pairs supported by older technologies, bringing much greater and more cost-effective capacity.

Source: Facebook

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COVID-19: Africell Uganda, UCC donate vehicles and food

COVID-19: Africell Uganda, UCC donate vehicles and food

Africell & Uganda Communications Commission have donated three brand new motor vehicles to the Ministry of Health team spearheading Uganda’s national campaign against COVID-19. The brand new Tata Xenon LT Single Cabins pick-up trucks- were handed over to the Ministry of Health by Africell Uganda CEO Mr. Ziad Daoud and Chief Commercial Officer Mr. Neeraj Gala.

By providing additional mobility to the COVID-19 crisis response team, the vehicles will give the authorities more capacity to respond quickly to emergencies and enhance the overall strength of the national effort against Covid-19. The vehicle donation was received by their minister Ministry of Health Uganda, Dr. Jane Aceng Ruth on behalf of the National Response Taskforce.

Commenting on the donation, Mr. Ziad Daoud, CEO of Africell Uganda said:

“Africell is committed to serving our communities, in both good and bad. During this lockdown period, emergency travel capability is a critical need for the authorities. Together with our regulator the Uganda Communication Commission, we are happy to donate three brand new pickup trucks to help the men and women on the frontline do their jobs more effectively.”

 ‘Africell continues to follow the directives of the Government of Uganda expressed through the Ministry of Health and H.E The President of Uganda. Uganda’s timely and measured interventions have justified Uganda’s reputation as “the pearl of Africa” and proven that ours is a land truly blessed. We stand behind the President and the Government in this period and we are confident that we will overcome this challenge as a nation.

‘On that note we are handing this third car jointly with our regulator; the Uganda Communications Commission, as a token of our gratitude to them for steering the whole sector wisely and graciously in these trying times. Throughout this the commission has created an enabling environment for all operators to cope with the network challenges and other challenges with grace.’

The donation follows several other interventions made by Africell to help Uganda tackle the Covid-19 emergency. In particular, Africell has taken steps to help its users communicate cheaply and efficiently and has led a widespread public awareness campaign regarding the preventative measures people can take to remain safe from Covid-19.

For example, Africell has launched the “stayhome” bonus scheme, information campaigns on different media assets, extended its call center to the Ministry of Health by interconnecting on the 919 short code, zero rated a range of websites for customers to remain informed during this period, and various other things.

The telco also recently announced a partnership with Uganda Blood Transfusion Services (UBTS) as part of its support for the campaign against Covid-19. Africell’s partnership with UTBS entails a comprehensive communication solution designed especially for the service, enabling its key staff and facilities to communicate freely during a period when restrictions on movement complicate operations such as the collection of blood.

The comprehensive communication solution comprises 3 toll free lines, 5 phones loaded with 700 minutes of talk-time plus 5GBs each, and routers loaded with data to ensure that the Blood Bank is accessible in this time.

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Author: EditorCOVID-19: Africell Uganda, UCC donate vehicles and food

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How African countries rank in mobile data costs

How African countries rank in mobile data costs

Having an internet bundle on your mobile is by far a basic need in this age of information and data. However, the cost of getting a running bundle, how good the connection is, and how much time it takes you to deplete it weigh in heavily on how beneficial the internet is to you.

Data analysis site, Cable, captured info from 5,554 mobile data plans in 228 countries to calculate the average cost of one gigabyte (1GB).  It is these calculations that have been compared to form a worldwide mobile data pricing league table.

In Africa, the countries with the lowest cost of mobile data are Somalia, Sudan, Algeria, Réunion, Tanzania, Ghana, and Western Sahara – all of which have the 1GB bundle averagely priced below $1.

As you extend to the bottom of the table, you find the countries whose bundles are the most expensive. These have their 1GB data bundle averagely priced above $10. They include Seychelles, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Botswana, Chad, Benin, Malawi, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Saint Helena.

How African countries rank in internet bundle costs

Global Rank Name Average price of 1GB (USD)
7 Somalia 0.50
13 Sudan 0.63
15 Algeria 0.65
22 Réunion 0.72
23 Tanzania 0.73
34 Ghana 0.94
36 Western Sahara 0.99
37 Morocco 0.99
41 Kenya 1.05
44 Mayotte 1.08
45 Egypt 1.09
48 Djibouti 1.12
56 Zambia 1.36
57 Tunisia 1.37
58 Nigeria 1.39
64 Rwanda 1.48
70 Uganda 1.62
78 Congo 1.94
81 Guinea 2.08
84 Burundi 2.12
86 Lesotho 2.13
94 Ethiopia 2.44
96 Burkina Faso 2.47
98 Mauritius 2.48
107 Cameroon 2.75
113 Côte d’Ivoire 3.20
117 Liberia 3.25
120 Niger 3.30
121 Senegal 3.30
123 Mozambique 3.33
129 Sierra Leone 3.69
143 Guinea-Bissau 4.12
144 Mali 4.12
148 South Africa 4.30
149 Comoros 4.38
150 Togo 4.50
153 Mauritania 4.63
157 Libya 4.73
159 Namibia 4.78
160 Cape Verde 4.81
163 Gabon 4.89
168 Gambia 5.10
170 Angola 5.29
189 Central African Republic 8.25
193 Madagascar 8.81
205 Seychelles 11.43
210 Equatorial Guinea 12.78
211 Eswatini 13.31
215 Botswana 13.87
221 Chad 23.33
222 Benin 27.22
223 Malawi 27.41
224 São Tomé and Príncipe 28.26
228 Saint Helena 52.50

Countries with cheapest mobile data globally

Many of the cheapest countries in which to buy mobile data fall roughly into one of two categories.

Some have excellent mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure and so providers are able to offer large amounts of data, which brings down the price per gigabyte. Others with less advanced broadband networks are heavily reliant on mobile data and the economy dictates that prices must be low, as that’s what people can afford.

The five cheapest countries in terms of the average cost of 1GB of mobile data are India ($0.09), Israel ($0.11), Kyrgyzstan ($0.21), Italy ($0.43), and Ukraine ($0.46).

All these, save for Kyrgyzstan, contain excellent fibre broadband infrastructure and are not a surprise inclusion. Kyrgyzstan heavily relies on mobile data as the primary means to keep its populace connected to the rest of the world.

Countries with most expensive mobile data globally

At the more expensive end of the list, we have countries where often the infrastructure isn’t great but also where consumption is very small.

People are often buying data packages of just a tens of megabytes at a time, making a gigabyte a relatively large and therefore expensive amount of data to buy. Many countries in the middle of the list have good infrastructure and competitive mobile markets, and while their prices aren’t among the cheapest in the world they wouldn’t necessarily be considered expensive by its consumers.

The five most expensive countries in terms of the average cost of 1GB of mobile data are São Tomé and Príncipe ($28.26), Bermuda ($28.75), Nauru ($30.47), Falkland Islands ($40.41) and Saint Helena ($52.50) – all being island nations.

Islands are less likely to have an extensive fibre infrastructure, and since mobile networks normally rely on connection to a fibre backbone, other more expensive solutions such as satellite uplink have had to be instituted – a cost passed on to the consumer.

Read About: Uganda has the most expensive internet in East Africa
Is Uganda any ready for 5G?

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Airtel Uganda Introduces Community Champion Campaign to boost Airtime Sharing

Airtel Uganda Introduces Community Champion Campaign to boost Airtime Sharing

Following the extension of the COVID-19 lockdown for another 21 days, Airtel Uganda has introduced a new campaign that encourages subscribers to become community champions by loading airtime for their friends and families safely and conveniently using Airtel’s digital solutions.

The Airtel Uganda digital solutions include: the My Airtel App; online recharge portal which is available on the Airtel website; USSD channel using Airtel Money wallet; and through the App and website, the customer can either pay through Airtel Money or Credit/Debit cards.

As part of the campaign, the community champion gets 3% airtime back instantly as a reward for recharging their family & friend. The cashback is received instantly and goes to the subscribers main account to be used without any validity restrictions.

Community Champions can earn their 3% instant cashback from transactions as low as 100 shillings. For debit, credit card and other wallet options, there is a minimum threshold for recharge of 150,000 shillings to receive the 3% airtime back.

How to become an Airtel Uganda community champion

To use the Airtel self-care app, subscribers simply have to click on ‘Buy Airtime’, enter mobile number of friend or family member (or) choose from contacts, enter amount they want to recharge, choose a payment option & complete payment.

Subscribers using feature phones and cannot download the app can also be part of this promotion by buying any airtime for friends & family through USSD Airtel Money menu & earning the cashback of 3%. They simply have to Dial *185#, Select Airtime/Bundles, Select Buy Airtime, select for another number, Enter Mobile number, Enter Amount and Enter PIN to confirm payment.

To ensure excellent customer experience during the lockdown, Airtel Uganda recently announced the rollout of 50 additional network sites thereby reaffirming their network leadership position in Uganda with a total of 2,000 network masts across the country.

Commenting about the new campaign, Airtel Uganda Managing Director Mr. V.G. Somasekhar noted that Airtel Uganda is committed to standing with Ugandans during this COVID-19 pandemic.

We have put in place multiple interventions to ensure that Ugandans can continue enjoying our superior network offerings during this lockdown. This Community Champion campaign encourages sharing between friends and families while standing to benefit by earning a 3% cash back on the airtime shared using our simple and convenient digital solutions.

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Africell donates communication package to Uganda Blood Transfusion Services

Africell donates communication package to Uganda Blood Transfusion Services

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Africell has announced a partnership with Uganda Blood Transfusion Services (UBTS) as part of its support for the campaign against Covid-19. The UBTS is a critical national health agency with a vital role during public health emergencies. It collects and stores blood using the latest medical technology and acts to replenish hospital supplies in times of crisis.

Africell’s partnership with UTBS entails a comprehensive communication solution designed especially for the service, enabling its key staff and facilities to communicate freely during a period when restrictions on movement complicate operations such as the collection of blood.

The comprehensive communication solution comprises 3 toll free lines, 5 phones loaded with 700 minutes of talk-time plus 5GBs each, and routers loaded with data to ensure that the Blood Bank is accessible in this time.

Commenting on the partnership, Mr Edgar Karamagi, Africell’s Public Relations Officer, said:

‘We are pleased to stand with our community at this time of collective uncertainty by offering a complete communication package that will enable people to reach out freely to the Uganda Blood Transfusion Services. Blood availability is a vital aspect of any public health response and is required to save lives. Africell’s mission is to connect communities and the partnership we are announcing today enhances our community’s ability to access the blood bank at all times.’

On top of the aforementioned package, Africell has pledged to support Uganda Blood Transfusion Services with the promotion of their services using Africell’s extensive digital advertising footprint. The campaigns will be directed by, with support and input from Africell marketing and communications experts in order to maximize impact.

africell ubts partnership

Mr. Michael Mukundane, Public Relations Officer of UBTS, said:

We currently have an urgent need for fresh blood from voluntary donors for, among others, severely anemic patients that include mothers, accident victims, children, sickle cell and cancer patients. Our daily need for Nakasero region alone is 300 safe units of blood, but at present we are only able to issue 200 units. There is an urgent need for fresh blood to prepare blood components especially platelets for cancer patients. Platelets have a shelf life of 5 days and are prepared from fresh blood collected within 6 hours.

Mr. Mukundane continued:

“Our call for continuous blood donation will be greatly enhanced by the quality communication solution that Africell has donated to us. We encourage all volunteer donors to reach us on our toll free lines as follows 0795109595, 0795109080, 0795108508, 0800122422 and 0414257155. Upon reaching us through these lines we will assess their viability and advise on how they can reach us or in some cases, we can reach them.”

One of the enablers of today’s donation from Africell Uganda has been another UBTS partner called Blood 4 Uganda, an initiative of the Indian Association of Uganda. Blood 4 Uganda is an organization which prides itself on closing the gap between blood donors, patients and health centers and blood banks in Uganda.

The organization has operated in Uganda for over 6 years and during this time the organization has been able to collect over 25000 units of blood and also to establish a standby team of donors who can be called upon to donate as and when needed.

Also, in support of Uganda’s national crisis response, Africell is taking immediate steps to optimise its services and raise urgent coronavirus awareness.

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Author: EditorAfricell donates communication package to Uganda Blood Transfusion Services

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Airtel Uganda announces 2,000 masts milestone

Airtel Uganda announces 2,000 masts milestone

Airtel Uganda has announced achieving 2,000 network masts across the country. This announcement comes almost a year after the telco announced the availability of countrywide 4G LTE connectivity following complete modernization of their network.

Besides the 2,000 masts, the Airtel Uganda network also consists of over 3,900 kilometers of fiber across Uganda covering 95.9% population, making it possible for subscribers around the country to enjoy an improved experience in internet-based activities.

Speaking during the online launch, Airtel Uganda Managing Director Mr. V.G. Somasekhar noted that Airtel has played a fundamental role in preparing Ugandans for a fully digital Uganda and this has never been more relevant than today when the majority of Ugandans are staying at home and relying on the internet for work and entertainment.

We have made a firm commitment to ensuring 100% access to our superior network in Uganda. Today, we are happy to announce that people across Uganda will be able to improve their lives through trade, education and commerce and enjoy the full offerings of Airtel Uganda’s reliable network whether on 2G, 3G or 4G.”  

He added that, with the availability of our countrywide network, the company is mitigating other factors. These include affordability of voice and data bundles, quality smartphones and Airtel Money transaction rates.

Eng. Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo, the Ag. Executive Director of the Uganda Communications Commission congratulated Airtel upon another accomplishment in their journey to provide superior network in Uganda.

In order to transform the Ugandan society, we are ready to collaborate with the private sector and organizations like Airtel Uganda are playing an important role in ensuring reliable, affordable and always-on communication across Uganda. As the regulator, we are committed to developing a modern communications Infrastructure in Uganda, in conformity with the operationalization of the Telecommunications Policy. Congratulations Airtel.

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Author: EditorAirtel Uganda announces 2,000 masts milestone

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MTN offers over UGX 50 billion coronavirus relief package

MTN offers over UGX 50 billion coronavirus relief package

MTN Group has launched a relief package to help fight the coronavirus pandemic across the markets in which it operates. The fund, which includes over UGX 50 billion shillings, is to assist in the contribution in all the countries facing challenges managing the pandemic.

The package comprises five intervention initiatives, focusing on employees, customers, vulnerable groups, contributions to government solidarity fund, and participating in industry interventions. The company board chairman in South Africa, Mcebisi Jonas believes that it is the responsibility of all organisations to assist where they can during the pandemic.

MTN plays a vital role in the mobile and telecommunications industry across Africa and the Middle East and it is vital that we assist our employees, customers and stakeholders during this difficult time.

The telco also plans to raise over UGX 8 billion for the MTN Global Staff Emergency Fund, which caters for employees in need. This fund will be raised through contributions from the company’s executives and board members.

Already, the board chairman, Group CEO, Group CFO, and a number of other directors have pledged 30% of their salaries and board fees to be contributed to the fund for the next three months. Numerous executives from MTN Group have also contributed to the fund, and other staff have also taken salary cuts to contribute to the fund.

In Uganda, MTN Uganda already set up a package in support for the fight against the outbreak.

As you relax at home, you can get to enjoy an all day-time data bundle that will enable you stay on-line and work from home. The telco has done so by introducing the new work from home bundle. To activate it, dial 150*19# to get 1 GB at just UGX 2000 using MoMo. The bundle is limited and valid to time between 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Also, customers can send any amount of Mobile Money every day to other MTN MoMo customers free of charge. The offer is meant to reduce the risk of transmission by avoiding the physical exchange of currency notes.

MTN is also complementing government’s sensitization drive by availing UGX 500 million in cash and free media channel space (radio, TV, social media, SMS, call centre IVR platform) to promote the Ministry of Health’s sensitization messages.

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What Africell Uganda is doing in response to coronavirus

What Africell Uganda is doing in response to coronavirus

In support of Uganda’s national crisis response, Africell is taking immediate steps to optimise its services and raise urgent coronavirus awareness.

You may notice some changes, but these are designed to keep you safe and healthy while improving your daily mobile experience. More than ever, we are working hard to deliver Uganda’s fastest and most reliable mobile network,” reads a statement from the telecom company.

Steps taken by Africell in response to coronavirus

We are all encouraged to stay out of harm’s way. Africell launched data offers to allow you enjoy the internet from the safety of home.  Also available are voice bundles to communicate with friends, loved ones and colleagues remotely.

Africell is also providing a consistent flow of trustworthy news and information. This is over the radio, on social media, and the company’s website. In addition, all users can access key websites related to health, media, information, e-learning and government. These include who.int or www.academia.edu which need no data allowance.

Emergency connectedness

At this critical time, customers are relying on Africell’s network to stay connected to loved ones and emergency services.  And, it is as well important to be connected during emergencies. The company effectively launched a nationwide free emergency communication pack. This is comprised of free 20 minutes and 20 Mbs valid for 3 months.

The telco added more capacity to its network to withstand extra demand as more people work from home. Also, the firm is maintaining the speed and quality expected of it.

More customer service options

The number of Africell service centres physically open is reduced in line with the government guidelines. Also, the company increased the range of alternative channels through which customers can buy or recharge mobile services.

These include digital channels: Web top-up via Africell website; Special partners: Payway agents, Trade Lance (*252#), Ezee Money, Africa is Talking (*284/1) and MTN Mobile Money agents countrywide; as well as banking partners: Stanbic Bank, Top Finance, GT Bank S Equity Bank.

Africell eliminated fees on all Peer-to-Peer transactions conducted through the Africell Money service. This cuts across all values of the transaction.

Strict hygiene and sanitation

Africell imposed proper health measures at all service centres. Additionally, the telco enforced limitations on the number of people allowed within confined spaces at a single time. This is in line with government advice,.

The company states that it “is working night and day to maintain fast and reliable service”. Plus, to help you do what you need to do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy.

Read About: Airtel Uganda and MTN Uganda coronavirus responses.

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5G and coronavirus: debunking the theories and conspiracy

5G and coronavirus: debunking the theories and conspiracy

Governments and media globally are stepping up to debunk the conspiracy linking 5G mobile technology to coronavirus, which led to some 5G masts being set on fire in Britain last week.

When asked by a reporter about the so called “theory” that 5G telecommunications towers could play a role in the spread of the disease, British Cabinet Officer Minister Michael Gove said: “That is just nonsense, dangerous nonsense as well.”

NHS England’s national medical director, Stephen Powis said the 5G conspiracy idea was fake news with no scientific backing that risked damaging the emergency response to the outbreak.

The 5G story is complete and utter rubbish, it’s nonsense, it’s the worst kind of fake news,” Powis said. “The reality is that the mobile phone networks are absolutely critical to all of us.”

Dangerous Fake News

Last week South African health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize also spoke out against the ongoing rumours, calling it “fake news” that did not stand up to scrutiny.

The reality is that 5G is a technology, and coronavirus is an organic infection that is based on a living viral agent,” Mkhize explained.

During a 5G webinar last week, organised by the National Electronics Media Institute of South Africa, Prof Antoine Bagula, from the University of the Western Cape said, “Radio frequency spectrum falls under non-ionizing radiation with low energy/band, this is low risk to human health. Today if you go for an X – ray, which is a form of ionizing radiation, you are covered by lead. You know why? It is because they are following guidelines to ensure that you are not over exposed to radiation.”

During the same webinar, Dick Sono, Chief Director of Radio Frequency Spectrum at the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies also addressed the issue saying, “There are guidelines is to ensure that we do not over expose humans to radiation. 2G, 3G and 4G have been also deployed under the stringent regulations and mobile network operators have followed these in deploying their networks. The same will be applied to 5G networks.

The fake theories doing the rounds on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, come at a critical time in the pandemic and plays on people’s emotions.

Global communications industry body, the GSMA said: “The telecoms industry is working around the clock to keep vital health, education and emergency services online, businesses running, and friends and families connected. It is deplorable that critical communications infrastructure is being attacked based on outright mistruths. We urge everyone to trust health authorities and rest assured communications technology is safe. There is no link between 5G and Covid-19.”

Fortunately, some of the social media platforms have started to take responsible response.

YouTube has reduced the amount of content spreading conspiracy theories that it recommends to users and removed some of the conspiratorial content, since that could “that could misinform users in harmful ways.”

We also have clear policies that prohibit videos promoting medically unsubstantiated methods to prevent the coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment,” a YouTube spokesperson said.

Less Powerful than Visible Light

The conspiracy theories claiming that radiation from 5G towers can lower the body’s immune system has been condemned by the scientific community.

Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading says, “Your immune system can be dipped by all sorts of thing – by being tired one day, or not having a good diet. Those fluctuations aren’t huge but can make you more susceptible to catching viruses.”

He added that radio waves involved in 5G and other mobile phone technology sit on the low frequency end of the electromagnetic spectrum. Less powerful than visible light, they are not strong enough to damage cells – unlike radiation at the higher frequency end of the spectrum which includes the sun’s rays and medical x-rays.

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Author: Editor5G and coronavirus: debunking the theories and conspiracy