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 respond to ISPs, claiming that it does not disclose commercial information.

OTHER WEEKLY NEWS FROM AROUND AFRICA
  • Uganda: The Ugandan government is considering moves to combine the Ugandan Communications Commission (UCC) and the¬†National Information Technology Authority (NITA). The move would give UCC control over the National Backbone Infrastructure.
  • Ghana: MTN Ghana has increased its tariffs slightly to take an increase in VAT of 1% as well as an increase in the National Health Insurance Levy of 1% into account. The government says that the increases are necessary to “help the economy recover from the pandemic” (how a tax increase achieves this is a bit of a mystery)
  • South Africa: Starlink is now available for pre-order in South Africa. The satellite internet service is offering speeds of between 50 to 150 Mbps.
  • MTN: MTN released its quarterly results and grew its EBITDA margin from 42.7% to 44.2%. Voice grew by 7% and data by 32.7% (clearly the claim that OTTs reduce voice revenues is false).
  • Nigeria: The government has extended SIM registration again until 30 June 2021 to give citizens a chance to link their SIM to their National Identification Number. This is the fourth extension since December 2020 and you have to wonder if there is any point in a deadline when it is missed so regularly.
  • Malawi: TNM saw a 6% reduction in revenues. TNM must be one of the few operators in Africa that managed to reduce its revenues during a period of unprecedented demand for mobile services (see MTN’s results as a comparison).