Weekly digest for 26 Mar 2021


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.

  • South Africa: The Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa finally resolved an ongoing fight between Telkom and ICASA (Vodacom sided with ICASA) that forces the fixed line operator to lease its fibre ducts. Telkom had denied Vodacom the right to install fibre in Telkom’s ducts saying that it was not technically feasible, while at the same time saying that the ducting was reserved for installation of Telkom fibre – a contradiction that the Supreme Court pointed out.
  • Zambia: MTN Zambia paid US$13.5-million for 800MHz spectrum and is now migrating 274 sites to the 800MHz frequency.
  • Kenya: Safaricom is the first operator in East Africa to launch 5G services. Initially, 5G will only be available in major urban centres such as Nairobi.
  • Airtel: Airtel Africa sells towers in Madagascar, Malawi, Chad and Gabon to Helios. In Madagascar and Malawi, Helios will acquire 494 sites with an additional commitment from Airtel to build an extra 195 sites. The sale in Chad and Gabon is subject to regulatory approval.
  • Cell C: The third largest MNO in South Africa missed it’s target of migrating its customers to Vodacom’s network by the end of February. As part of the process for migration, customers were required to restart their phones but there have been multiple complaints of network connectivity problems.
  • Smile: The telecom company that operates in Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and the DRC is under threat of liquidation.