Weekly digest for 22 Oct 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK The main story this week is from South Africa, where the messaging app Moya is generating lots of interest. It has 3.2 million active monthly users. That’s still pretty small compared to WhatsApp, which has around 25 million active users per month in South Africa. But Moya is growing fast and it has a key selling point: text messages are free even if the users data balance is empty. Moya uses reverse billing technology so that customers don’t face a charge. Of course, there are caveats: images and video’s don’t qualify for free data. The […]

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Weekly digest for 15 Oct 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK There are two main stories for this week: the launch of free public wifi in Malawi and the upcoming auction of 3500MHz spectrum in Nigeria. Free public wifi in Malawi The first story is about the launch of free public wifi in Malawi. The government has launched 32 sites across the country. The wifi sites are available in schools, hospitals, libraries and marketplaces. The funding comes from the Digital Malawi project, funded by the World Bank. A total of 481 sites have been identified for funding. For the Digital Malawi project, USD28.3 million of the […]

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Weekly digest for 8 Oct 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK There are two main stories for this week: global tax reform and spectrum allocation in South Africa. Global tax reform The first story is about the deal for international tax reform brokered by the OECD. 136 countries have signed the deal, which has 2 pillars: Pillar (1)  is the re-allocation of taxation rights from home countries (i.e., where a corporation has its headquarters) to markets where they have business activities and earn profits. Pillar (2) is a global minimum tax rate of 15%. Pillar 1 is the most significant for Africa from a digital service […]

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Weekly digest for 1 Oct 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is a report from the GSMA on Mobile Internet Connectivity in 2021, though we’ll focus on the key trends for sub-Saharan Africa. The main statistic in the report is that half a billion people in sub-Saharan Africa are living within an area covered by mobile broadband but do not use the Internet. The GSMA considers mobile broadband to be either 3G or 4G. 3G coverage in sub-Saharan Africa is 81% in 2020 compared to 51% for 4G. Another factor that the GSMA identified as an obstacle to Internet usage was affordability, […]

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Weekly digest for 24 Sep 2021

KEY READING FOR THE WEEK This week’s main story is a new report from Vodafone on Accelerating 4G access in Sub-Saharan Africa. The main focus of the report is how to increase access to smartphones. Low mobile broadband coverage and low smartphone penetration are the primary reasons why many MNOs in Africa still see increasing voice and SMS traffic. It’s also one of the main reasons why the transition to a data-centric business model is taking longer in Africa compared to the rest of the world. Vodafone estimates that 2G phones are sold in China between US$5-8 and resold in Africa at […]

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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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