Weekly digest for 14 May 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is from Togo, where the government is setting a cap on the number of active SIM cards that any individual can own. The rationale behind the SIM card limit is to stop criminals using cellular phones in their activities. However, the likelihood of a limit on SIM card ownership stopping criminal activity has to be pretty close to zero, while the impact on the poor who use multiple SIM cards to shop for the best deal will effectively mean higher prices. Togo prices are already far too high and Togo ranks […]

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Weekly digest for 7 May 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is from South Africa, where Telkom is being accused of predatory pricing. Telkom was required, as part of a deal with the Competition Commission, to split its wholesale and retail arms. The wholesale arm is called Openserve and is meant to sell services at a wholesale rate to other ISPs. However, ISPs claim that Openserve’s symmetrical 25Mbps/25Mbps fibre package has a higher wholesale price than the retail price offered by Telkom. The wholesale price is R472.50 compared to a retail price of R449 (both prices incl. VAT). Telkom has refused to […]

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Weekly digest for 30 April 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is from Kenya, where the effects of the National ICT Policy are slowly being assessed. Rumours surfaced this week that Airtel Kenya was looking at options, including leaving Kenya, because of the requirement in the National ICT Policy that only companies with 30% “substantive” Kenyan ownership can be licensed to provide ICT services. Airtel Kenya has denied that it is considering leaving Kenya, but it will need to restructure its Kenyan business within the next 3 years in order to comply with the local ownership requirement. This is an increasing trend […]

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Weekly digest for 23 April 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is from Ghana. Negotiations have been concluded and 100% of AirtelTigo will be sold to the Ghanian government. The government of Ghana acquired all customers, assets and agreed liabilities for USD1. The Government would also operate AirtelTigo, once the deal goes through. This also means that Millicom has exited the African market, after having sold its Ghana and Tanzanian subsidiaries. The Ghanian market is dominated by MTN (Scancom) with over 19 million data subscribers compared to 3.9 million for AirtelTigo and 3.05 million for Vodafone Ghana. The history of government controlled […]

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Weekly digest for 16 April 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is a brief follow-up on Uganda from last week. In last week’s digest, the main story was that the OTT tax of 200 shilling per day is going to be replaced by a new data tax of 12% in the form of an excise duty. However, it is unclear how the proposed new tax would be implemented. Uganda already has a 12% excise duty on airtime that was introduced in the Excise Duty Amendment Act of 2018.  In that Act, internet data was excluded but practically speaking, it is possible to pay […]

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Weekly digest for 9 April 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is from Uganda, where the Government is proposing to scrap the OTT Tax and replace it with a 12% tax on all data. The proposed new data tax was presented by the Minister of Finance as part of the Excise Duty Amendment Bill of 2021. The rationale for removing the OTT tax was that the revenue generated was far below expectations. In the 2018/19 financial year, the OTT tax was expected to collect 284 billion shillings but only collected 49.5 billion. This result was entirely predictable (see here). Another reason for […]

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Weekly digest for 26 Mar 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is from Nigeria. The government of Nigeria suspended sale and registration of new SIM cards in December 2020. Data from the regulator, the NCC, shows that mobile subscriber numbers declined from 207,907,709 at the end of November 2020 to 200,213,994 at the end of January 2021. Active mobile data subscribers declined from 154,437,623 to 150,898,122 between November 2020 and January 2021. In addition, anecdotal stories show that bypassing the moratorium on SIM registration is relatively easy. OTHER WEEKLY NEWS FROM AROUND AFRICA South Africa: The Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa finally resolved an […]

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Weekly digest for 19 Mar 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is a follow-up from last week on Tanzania. The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has imposed a price floor and ceiling on mobile data tariffs. The price floor is Tsh 2.03 (USD 0.00087) and the ceiling is Tsh 9.35 (USD 0.00401) per megabyte. The price floors come into effect on the 2nd of April 2021. The justification given by the TCRA is that the price controls are to prevent predatory pricing. However, like many countries that have either attempted to or imposed price controls (Benin, Uganda, DRC, Liberia), there is no publicly […]

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D.R. Congo: International Bandwidth Tax

RIS has just completed an analysis of the proposed International bandwidth tax in D.R.Congo. In January 2021, operators were notified that they were required to pay a 5% fee on all international bandwidth. Our analysis shows that 47 countries in Africa use more international bandwidth per capita than D.R. Congo and 44 are cheaper for a basic 300 MB basket per month. 10MB per day for a month, i.e., 300MB, costs 4.6% of the average GNI per capita per month in the D.R. Congo, double the target of the 2% affordability target of the Broadband Commission.  The result of an international bandwidth […]

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Weekly digest for 12 Mar 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is from Tanzania, where the government is looking at ways to charge consumers for WhatsApp calls in order to recoup the revenue operators have lost in international traffic. Data shows that international calls have fallen from 107.2 million minutes in 2012 to just over 27 million minutes in the 4th quarter 2020. The government ascribes the loss in traffic to WhatsApp. The regulatory authority, TCRA, installed a Telecommunication Traffic Monitoring System and TCRA says that this will enable it to identify phones that make and receive calls through WhatsApp. Based on this traffic analysis, TCRA says it is investigating additional data charges […]

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