All articles by : Matthew ReedRSS

Microsoft’s Africa project highlights the continent’s importance to technology players

Microsoft sees great potential in Africa

Microsoft’s new drive to target Africa – the 4Afrika initiative, as the software giant’s marketing people have styled it –
highlights the growing and deserved importance of the continent to global technology players.

North Africa’s post-revolutionary telecoms market presents opportunities amid the difficulties

What effect has the Arab Spring had on the telecoms sector?

Eighteen months after Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution marked the onset of the Arab Spring, what effect has the upheaval in the region had on the telecoms sector?

Middle East operators facing problems over LTE spectrum, devices and pricing

Four Middle East operators have launched LTE

Within the past year, four Middle East operators have launched LTE: Etisalat in the UAE; and all three of the mobile operators in Saudi Arabia – STC, Mobily and Zain.

But it is still early days for LTE in the Middle East. Although none of the operators will reveal their LTE subscription numbers, the indications at the LTE MENA conference, which was put on by Informa Telcoms & Media in Dubai on April 29-30, were that the number of LTE subscriptions in the region is still only in the low thousands.

A busy AfricaCom is testimony to the continent’s rapidly-evolving telecoms market

Airtel plans to expand in Africa

This year’s AfricaCom conference and exhibition, which was put on by Informa Telecoms & Media in Cape Town on 9-10 November, was bigger and busier than ever before, demonstrating the vibrancy and potential of Africa’s telecom market.

But the regional industry isn’t just growing – it is also beginning to undergo some potentially profound changes, as data services become ever-more important and new, non-operator players take an increasingly prominent role.

Batelco rings the changes with strategic and management shake-up

Cisco will reduce its workforce by 6,500 as it looks to cut costs

Big changes are underway at Bahrain’s incumbent operator Batelco, which has just unveiled an overhaul of its senior management; is reported to be planning to sell most of its stake in its Indian venture; and might soon be in control of Zain Saudi Arabia, with partner Kingdom Holding.

Exile on Zain Street

Etisalat is reportedly negotiating for a 46 per cent stake in Kuwaiti operator Zain, in a deal that would be worth $10.5bn

For a long time, Informa Telecoms & Media analysts have felt like lone voices in the wilderness, banging on about the potential for MVNOs in Saudi Arabia, only to be met with apparent indifference and even scorn.

Submarine cables bring change to East Africa

It was apparent at the East Africa Com conference, recently put on in the Kenyan capital Nairobi by Informa Telecoms & Media, that the East African telecom market is undergoing profound change.

Bharti books its passage to Africa

Working towards mAfrica

Bharti will be looking to reinvent Zain Africa by introducing the low-cost business model that it has pioneered successfully in India. Bharti will also be hoping to achieve economies of scale across its Asian and African operations, which together will make it the fifth-largest mobile operator in the world. But operating in Africa does present particular challenges, some of which will be new to Bharti, despite its credentials as an emerging-market operator.

Indian and Chinese investors making a play for Africa

As the great and good of the mobile industry browsed the exhibits at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona this week, they may have overlooked a couple of watershed moments in emerging-market telecoms.

Middle East operators are seeking economies of scale

As the Middle East’s mobile markets mature, and with the impact of the recession still raw, many of the region’s operators are becoming more cost-conscious.

Confusion reigns over M&A in the Middle East and Africa

Progress on the region’s big M&A deals – the prospective sale of Zain Africa or a stake in Zain; and the cash and share-swap deal between Bharti and MTN – appears to have stalled. There has been such confusion in the past few days over the possible sale of a large stake in Zain to an Indo-Malaysian consortium that it is at risk of descending into a debacle.

Zain’s African safari could be coming to an end

All good things must come to an end, and it looks as if Zain’s African adventure might be drawing to a close. There is little doubt that Zain is considering the sale of its operations in sub-Saharan Africa, or at least of a stake in those operations.

Tough market conditions force African operators to innovate

The telecoms market in West and Central Africa remains vibrant, but the message from last week’s West & Central Africa Com conference, organized in Abuja, Nigeria, by Informa Telecoms & Media, is that business is getting tougher for operators as a consequence of slowing growth rates, increasing competition and falling ARPUs, and the global economic slowdown.

The arrival of submarine cables will transform the East African telecoms market

East Africa currently has no submarine cable connections to the rest of the world, and as a result all international Internet connectivity in the region depends on expensive satellite services.

Etisalat will take advantage of its 3G exclusivity in Iran

The members of Etisalat’s international investment team must be feeling pleased with themselves.

The move toward MVNOs gathers pace

Last week, Oman’s telecoms regulator awarded five “reseller” licenses, allowing the new licensees to launch MVNO services, subject to agreements with host operators. The regulator insists on the term “reseller” rather than MVNO, but in effect they are MVNO licenses.

M-money is an idea whose time has come

In the first of a flurry of recent mobile-money-service announcements, Vodafone said last week that it would launch its M-Pesa mobile-money-transfer service in Tanzania later this month in partnership with Vodacom. Tanzania’s No. 4 operator, Zantel, responded by saying it would introduce its own mobile-money-transfer service, beating the launch of M-Pesa. Then the UAE’s Etisalat, which has a majority stake in Zantel, said it was developing an international money-transfer service with Indian operator Idea Cellular, HSBC India and Mashreq Bank.

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