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 44 out of 54 countries for a 300MB prepaid basket as a percentage of monthly GNI per capita (see our ICT Evidence Portal here).

OTHER WEEKLY NEWS FROM AROUND AFRICA
  • Malawi: Three new digital strategies – National Broadband Strategy, Digital Governance Strategy and Cybersecurity Strategy – are going to be officially launched in the forthcoming weeks.
  • Uganda:¬†Lycamobile is Uganda’s 3rd mobile operator, alongside MTN and Airtel. Lycamobile is required to have 90% geographic coverage within 5 years of being licensed.
  • Ethiopia: The World Bank is investing US$200 million in Ethiopia’s telecom sector, mainly through the pre-purchase of capacity from Ethio Telecom and the soon-to-be licensed mobile operators for government institutions and universities.
  • South Africa: Online retail in South Africa more than doubled from ZAR14.1 billion to ZAR30.2 billion between 2018 and 2020. The surge in online retail is mainly due to COVID-19 and the requirement for home deliveries. This is also the first time that traditional retail has contracted.
  • Uganda: MTN has been charged US$ 14 million as a “transitional license fee” for the period between 2018 and 2020 when MTN was negotiating its license renewal with the UCC. Uganda’s High Court has ruled that MTN must pay the fee. MTN says it is planning on appealing the ruling.
  • Mali: The government of Mali is negotiating with operators to lower the cost of data. If operators do not comply, the government is considering issuing a 4th mobile license in order to improve the level of competition.