Weekly digest for 17 Sep 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is from Cable.co.uk and its latest ranking of global internet speeds. Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa are ranked the lowest in the world with average speeds of 6.6 Mbps and 5.68 Mbps respectively. The leading countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are Reunion (43.6 Mbps) and South Africa (19.9 Mbps). The slowest download speed is in Ethiopia at 1.2 Mbps. Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau have just slightly faster download speeds. There are multiple causes for this poor performance for Sub-Saharan Africa, but key issues are: High taxes and state interference: The state is taking a more prominent role in a […]

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Weekly digest for 10 Sep 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is from Uganda, where Africell is exiting the market. Africell had about 10% of the Ugandan market but said that it couldn’t see a long term path towards sustainability in Uganda. Local reports stated that part of the explanation for Africell’s departure was its high level of indebtedness after it acquired Orange in 2014. Even though Uganda has 5 other operators, the market is dominated by Airtel and MTN, who are really the only other national operators. Smart Telecom also announced its closure as of the 31st of August this year. […]

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Weekly digest for 3 Sep 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is from Botswana, where the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) has issued invitations to apply for High Demand Spectrum (HDS). The invitation includes spectrum in the 400Mhz, 800MHz, 2100MHz, 2600MHz and 3500MHz frequencies and has been divided into two categories: national and regional. Operators are obliged to cover 85% of the coverage area and offer capacity of 30Mbps. The regional licenses make this invitation really exciting: companies can apply for a regional license that covers a range of towns and areas. For each regional license, the coverage area is within 30km […]

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Weekly digest for 27 Aug 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is from Botswana where the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) has found BTC guilty of predatory pricing. The BOCRA finding is interesting because predatory pricing is often hard to prove and there are few instances, in Africa, of telecom operators being found guilty. BOCRA’s finding will also have a broader impact on competition within Botswana and allow ISPs to offer higher quality services at more competitive prices. In this case, local ISP Inq.Digital complained to BOCRA that BTC was offering retail VDSL services at a lower cost than the wholesale rate provided […]

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Weekly digest for 20 Aug 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is from South Africa and is about regulatory paralysis. The Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) released a statement asking ICASA to remove unnecessary red tape that imposes significant delays on the sector. Transfers of ownership or control of licenses can take up to 6 months to get approval. Changes to internal shareholder arrangements can take up to a year. This means that after a commercial agreement has been reached, the regulatory delay is another 6 months to a year. ICASA’s example is indicative of the challenge facing other regulators in Africa: […]

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Weekly digest for 13 Aug 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is from South Africa, where ICASA is holding hearings on the Draft Mobile Broadband Services Regulations. Because South Africa is one of Africa’s most advanced markets, this process is followed closely by most African regulators. In the draft regulations, ICASA finds that MTN and Vodacom are dominant in 3 markets: retail, market for site infrastructure and the market for national roaming. As a result, ICASA is proposing a set of pro-competitive remedies that are essentially demands for data for each of the markets. For example, ICASA wants data on the effective […]

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Weekly digest for 6 Aug 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is from Telegeography, showing the latest growth in international submarine traffic. One of the main findings is that Africa led the world in Used International Bandwidth growth. Between 2016 and 2020, Africa great at a CAGR of 54%. But the rest of the world wasn’t exactly lagging behind, with the US and Canada growing at just under 50% and Europe at about 45%. The main driver of this growth were content providers such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, who now account for more than 2/3 of international capacity. Even though Content […]

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Weekly digest for 30 July 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is about the next technology frontier: augmented reality (AR). In its second quarter earnings call the 28th of July, Facebook said it was spending billions on AR research and development. Facebook’s idea is to create an immersive virtual world where you can “teleport” into different experiences. Of course, AR comes with a set of challenging regulatory issues. In a recent report, Deloitte highlights some of these, mainly around privacy and copyright. For example, if AR glasses are used as you walk down the street, do individuals have the right to refuse to […]

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Workshop on digital taxation in Africa

RIS was a presenter in a recent workshop held by Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA). Dr. Stork presented evidence that shows that few regulators or tax authorities have considered the trade-off between higher taxation and lower affordability and access to ICTs. “To be able to provide e-services such as health, education and fintech, we need increased connectivity. ICT taxes make these services either too expensive or less attractive to invest in.” You can find Dr. Stork’s presentation to CIPESA here.

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Weekly digest for 23 July 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is from Speedtest by Ookla comparing mobile broadband speeds around the world. The latest results are up until the end of  June 2021. For Africa, the results are a mixed bag: the highest scoring African country is South Africa at position 56 out of 137. South Africa lost 3 places compared to the previous month. Another African country worth noting is Uganda, which lost 5 places to position 127 out of 137 countries. For Uganda, this shows another aspect of the higher taxes imposed on the sector: higher taxes means higher […]

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