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Kenyan mobile market leader Safaricom has been allocated spectrum in the 2600MHz band from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), reports The Daily Nation. The operator has been allocated 60MHz of spectrum in the 2600MHz band, which was previously used by security agencies but has been freed up following a change in the technology that they use, an unnamed senior source was quoted as saying. The source did not disclose how much Safaricom paid for the spectrum, which is expected to be used for its 5G network rollout. The CA is also currently preparing to reallocate spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, which was previously assigned for fixed wireless access (FWA) networks in Kenya but will be refarmed for 5G by 30 June 2022.
Kenya, Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), Safaricom, Mobile, 5G

A cross party committee has has taken to Twitter to openly invite Elon Musk (pictured) to appear before it and discuss the future of Twitter as he sees it.

A committee in question is called the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, which is set up to scrutinise the work of the government and is not to be confused with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, though it helpfully has almost the same acronym and concerns itself with similar things.

The DCMSC published a letter from its chair Julian Knight to Elon Musk on Twitter, headed ‘invitation to speak to UK MPs following the Twitter acquisition.’

The invite references various UK specific reports and legislation regarding social media and suggests that following his successful bid to buy Twitter, speaking before the committee would give Musk a chance to ‘address any critiques in public.’

The Tesla and Space X founder had his offer to buy Twitter outright for $44 million initially met with resistance from the board. Within a few days however the offer was accepted, though it’s not locked in yet.

It’s a bit silly to suggest that Musk, who can barely seem to help himself from airing his thoughts to his 90 million followers on Twitter, would need a UK parliamentary committee – which a lot of people in this country won’t be familiar with – as a platform to publicly address his critics.

This mismatching of posturing with reality is starting to define the UK government’s stance towards multinational technology companies, the most significant of which are all based in other countries. Why stop at Musk? There are plenty of mergers and acquisitions that go on in tech, many of which could be argued to have societal effects of some sort. Will this UK committee be summoning any more Silicon Valley execs to its offices to explain what it is they think they’re up to?

There’s just something in the way the DCMS in particular carries itself in open discourse that tries to suggest it has much more power than it really does. You can see this in the announcement yesterday, in which it openly pondered whether it will enforce a new code of practice on app stores, such as those from Apple and Google, which would mean millions of apps would need to abide by new rules presumably defined by some UK MPs.

The EU and the US are both engaged in some aggressive legal manoeuvres towards big tech at the moment, but they have the weight of 27 member nations and the world’s largest economy behind them respectively. They have heft in other words that the UK acting alone objectively does not command – you don’t have to be riddled with post-Brexit malaise to identify this. But the UK politicians interfacing with the tech industry carry on sometimes as if they do not see this distinction.

It might be that they have specific concerns, such as how any changes to Twitter would effect the Online Safety Bill, for example. It could also be seen as fairly shallow grandstanding from a parliament who wouldn’t mind projecting the image that it stands shoulder to shoulder with the EU and US when it comes to facing down big tech – it was after all done entirely publicly. Who knows if they genuinely expect Musk to turn up.

That being said, the UK is of course a major economy and if Musk does indeed see Twitter as the modern town square, fundamental to society and capable of altering things significantly for better or worse, it wouldn’t do his case any harm to lay out exactly what it is he intends to change, and how it will make everything better. For example, there are rumblings from Twitter’s open-source offshoot Bluesky with regards to decentralized social network protocols, which if adopted could change the nature of Twitter by making its algorithms more open sourced.

Whether he chooses to go through all this directly with an MP called Julian Knight in a London meeting room, is another question

Airtel Tanzania has so far upgraded over 80% of its mobile sites to LTE-A technology, after launching the new high speed ‘Supa 4G’ network in February last year, reports IPP Media. The network, which utilises spectrum in the 700MHz and 2100MHz bands, support speeds of more than 40Mbps and is being rolled out nationwide. ‘We have also significantly increased our coverage by increasing the number of sites in rural areas as our commitment to provide affordable mobile services to all Tanzanians,’ commented the firm’s Managing Director Dinesh Balsingh. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Airtel is the country’s second largest mobile operator with 14.70 million subscriptions at the end of 2021, representing a market share of 27.2%.

Source: Commsupdate

Airtel Africa PLC and Helios Towers PLC on Friday said that they closed the sale of Airtel Africa’s telecommunications tower company in Malawi to Helios Tower.

The sale of Airtel Africa’s tower company in Malawi was first announced in March of last year. In February of this year, the companies both noted that they were progressing on the sale.

London-based and Africa-focused telecommunications provider Airtel Africa said that the consideration of the deal is USD54.7 million.

Helios Towers, separately, added that it entered into a 12-year service agreement on the acquired assets with Airtel Africa. The agreement is expected to deliver revenue of USD23 million and adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization of USD8 million in its first full year of ownership of the tower company.

Further growth is anticipated through 60 committed build-to-suits over the next three years and a colocation lease-up, the London-based telecommunications firm said.

In another separate statement, JP Morgan Securities PLC noted that Singapore Telecom International Pte Ltd has sold 60 million ordinary shares in Airtel Africa at a price of 140 pence per share, raising gross proceeds of GBP84 million.

JP Morgen Securities added that Airtel Africa will not receive any proceeds from the placing.

Airtel Africa shares were trading 9.1% lower in London on Friday morning at 141.30 pence each.

Shares in Helios Towers were down 0.9% at 116.40 pence each.

Source: Morning Star

Many telecom operators on the continent are moving towards asset relief models by entering into sale-leaseback agreements for telecom towers with specialized companies. The tower sale operation launched in 2020 by MTN South Africa is gradually entering its finalization.

IHS Towers has obtained regulatory approval from the Competition Commission of South Africa (CompCom) for the acquisition of 5,713 passive tower infrastructure sites and associated business operations from MTN SA. However, CompCom imposed a series of strict conditions ” due to various competition and public interest concerns ”. This includes the market exclusion of rival independent tower operators and vendors, as well as the potential exclusion of rivals from access to space on the affected towers.

New York-listed IHS Towers must meet black South African economic empowerment conditions, such as obtaining a 30% black equity stake within 24 months. In addition, the tower company must ensure that the sites it acquires from MTN are made available to all existing users, under the same conditions.

MTN, for its part, is prohibited from reducing the number of its employees for 24 months following the transaction. In addition, the telecom company is to spend 60 million rand (4 million USD) per year for 10 years to support SMEs and suppliers belonging to “historically disadvantaged people (HDP)” in the telecommunications sector. This amount will be increased by the rate of consumer inflation each year during the period.

Since 2020, MTN South Africa has been engaged in the sale of part of its telecom tower fleet, comprising some 13,000 infrastructure assets. For this purpose, the company had retained Citigroup Global Markets and Standard Bank as financial advisers. MTN announced last November that it had reached a 6.4 billion rand agreement with the telecom tower manager IHS Towers for the transfer of passive infrastructure of more than 5,000 telecom towers to the latter. The company had clarified that the sale agreement, which should be finalized in the first quarter of 2022, was subject to regulatory approvals.

If the agreement with IHS Towers is successful, nearly eight thousand towers will still be available for further sale. With the sale of the telecom towers to IHS Towers and the transactions that are expected to follow, MTN hopes to generate revenues, which will in particular help to reduce the operational expenses of the company. The company also intends to invest in improving the coverage and quality of its services, as well as in the development of new value-added products that will support its growth ambitions.

Source: Agence Ecofin

Human settlements minister Mmamoloko Kubayi has accused partially state-owned Telkom of holding South Africa to ransom through its court actions over the country’s high-demand spectrum auction.

This follows communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni’s attempts to convince all parties to allow the auction to happen in March.

“From where we are sitting, she [Ntshavheni] is on track, and we are hoping that Telkom does not continue to hold the country at ransom,” said Kubayi in an interview with Business Times.

“I think it’s far too long, the sector has been holding the country at ransom. At times you get confused … what is it they are looking for?”

Kubayi added that the country has already been affected significantly by the lack of high-demand spectrum, and it is important to fast track the auction process.

Radio frequency spectrum is the raw network capacity cellular networks use to communicate between their towers and mobile devices. In simple terms, cellular technology works on similar high-level principles as AM and FM radio, and TV broadcasting.

“You can’t have companies blocking the country’s growth,” Kubayi said.

“Spectrum is needed in this country. We have been surpassed by countries that should not have passed us.”

Kubayi stated that the appropriate parties are in negotiations and hoped these discussions would not ultimately revert to court action.
Khumbudzo Ntshavheni
Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Together with E-tv owner eMedia, Telkom sits at the centre of the controversy over South Africa’s high-demand spectrum auction.

Telkom has argued that some of the valuable sub-1GHz spectrum being auctioned is still occupied by old analogue TV signals, which would make any investment into network infrastructure that uses this frequency extremely risky.

For example, Telkom’s head of network planning and engineering Lebo Masalesa said that when Telkom tried to roll out extra network capacity in Bloemfontein, the spectrum industry regulator Icasa had claimed was available turned out to suffer significant interference.

One reason for this issue, Masalesa explained, could be that many South Africans have erected their own repeater sites to counter poor TV signals.

“We suspect it could be a case that Sentech does not have a view of all the repeaters out there and are unsure if these repeaters are deployed with their permission,” Masalesa told MyBroadband.

The issue is fundamental to Telkom since it doesn’t currently have sub-1GHz spectrum, which puts it at a significant disadvantage compared to its competitors.

Therefore, the spectrum auction is a major opportunity for Telkom to gain access to this lower-frequency band it desperately wants.

This is why it has asked the court to force Icasa to implement remedies that will compensate Telkom if it cannot use any of the spectrum it has acquired during the auction.

Notably, Telkom has withdrawn the first part of its court application — an urgent interdict to halt the auction.

However, it has said that Icasa should think carefully about whether going ahead with the auction makes sense given the implications if the rest of Telkom’s application is upheld by the court.
Telkom map of interference in sub-1GHz “digital dividend” frequency bands. Auction batches are represented by coloured areas. Pins represent sites where interference was detected.

In addition to the problem of old analogue TV broadcasting frequencies still being occupied, Telkom also raised several other issues with industry regulator Icasa’s spectrum auction.

A significant concern is that E-tv owner eMedia has a pending court case against the communications minister and Icasa over the switch-off of analogue TV signals that the High Court will only hear in mid-March — after the spectrum auction is set to conclude.

Telkom also maintains that Icasa has not adequately considered the impact on competition the auction will have in South Africa’s telecommunications sector.

It has baulked at specific restrictions that Icasa wants to use, such as uniform caps on the amount spectrum each operator can hold. This is a major disadvantage for Telkom, which already has a substantial higher-frequency spectrum.

Telkom has also taken issue with Icasa’s delay in licensing a national wireless open-access network (WOAN).

By not doing this at the same time as the rest of the spectrum auction, Telkom said it creates too much uncertainty in the models operators use to value spectrum and develop a bidding strategy.
Now read: Spectrum trading will make all Icasa’s problems disappear

Demand for African developers is at an all-time high and international companies are recruiting African developers at record rates according to tech giant Google’s “Africa Developer Ecosystem Report 2021,”

Google has launched the “Africa Developer Ecosystem Report 2021” demonstrating that, despite the challenges associated with the pandemic, the continent’s developer ecosystem is on the rise. This is according to the findings of a study conducted across 16 Sub-Saharan African countries through fielded and analysed surveys of software developers as well as interviews with local experts.

According to the report, demand for African developers reached a record high in 2021 against the backdrop of a global economic crisis and the impact of the pandemic. With increased (+22%) use of the internet among small and medium businesses (SMBs) on the continent, the need for web development services also increased alongside higher demand for remote development work (38% of African developers work for at least one company based outside of the continent).

This is evidenced by the magnitude of growth in Nigeria’s professional developer population which added an estimated 5,000 new professional developers to its pool in 2021.

“While Africa’s tech innovation sector is making great strides, global tech companies, educators and governments can do more to ensure that the industry becomes a strategic economic pillar. At Google, we are intent on further igniting training and support for this community by bridging the existing developer skills gap and concentrating our efforts in upskilling female developers who face pointed challenges,” says Nitin Gajria, MD, Google in Africa

Following a series of initiatives (including developer advocacy, startup acceleration, training programmes, and global technical mentorship) that the company has implemented over the last 10 years, Google aims to train 100,000 developers across the continent by 2022.

To date, the African continent is home to more than 150 active Google Developer Groups and 100 Developer Student Clubs in Africa. Combined, these groups reach over 200,000 community members in 40 of the 48 countries in the Sub-Saharan African region.

“Africa Developer Ecosystem Report 2021” is the second in a series of studies on the state of the continent’s Internet economy. The first, published in conjunction with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), found that Africa’s Internet economy has the potential to reach 5.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025, contributing nearly $180 billion to Africa’s economy. The projected potential contribution could reach $712 billion by 2050.

“In order to reach this potential, we have to provide better access to high-quality, world-class skilling on mobile technologies platforms coupled with increasing connectivity in Africa. Our effort to increase connectivity is focused on infrastructure, devices, tools and product localisation,” adds Gajria.

Source: IT News Africa

The UK wants to introduce further laws to ensure our telecoms sector does exactly what it’s ordered to do by US sanctions against Huawei.

Specifically the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced a consultation on ‘its proposed legal instruments to mandate the removal of all Huawei equipment from 5G networks by end of 2027.’ On one level this just seems to be the legal rubber-stamping of the measures introduced in response to US pressure back in 2020, but there are one or two additional concessions.

‘The consultation includes proposed measures for full fibre broadband operators to stop installing Huawei equipment affected by US sanctions,’ said the DCMS announcement. That means all of it, presumably, so Huawei can no longer flog fibre kit to UK operators. In what appears to be an attempt to sugar the pill, those operators are given a bit more time to ensure Huawei equipment accounts for no more than 35% of their fixed line inventory.

Here are all the proposed legal measures the DCMS will introduce is consulting on:

Remove all Huawei equipment from 5G networks by the end of 2027.
Not install Huawei equipment in 5G networks, effective immediately upon the issuing of the final direction.
Remove all Huawei equipment from the core of telecoms networks by 28 January 2023.
Not install sanctions-affected Huawei equipment in full fibre networks, effective immediately upon the issuing of the direction. This includes any equipment for which the supply chain or manufacturing process has been altered due to the impact of US sanctions.
Reduce the share of Huawei equipment to 35 per cent of the full fibre and 5G access (i.e. non-core) networks by 31 July 2023, six months later than previously announced due to the difficulties providers have faced during the pandemic.
Remove Huawei high data rate intra-core and inter-operator transmission equipment – hardware which sends data across a network without processing it – from all networks by 31 December 2025.

“In July 2020 the government announced it would hold a technical consultation with full fibre operators regarding their use of Huawei equipment,” said UK Chief Censor Nadine Dorries. “Following the conclusion of that technical consultation, the government worked with the National Cyber Security Centre to analyse responses.

“As a result, the proposed direction includes a ban on the installation of sanctions-affected equipment in full fibre networks, effective from the issuing of the designated vendor direction for Huawei. The government considers that preventing any future installation of this equipment addresses the national security risk posed by Huawei in full fibre networks, but it will consider views from consultees before reaching a final decision.”

As ever our final, binding decision on the matter is subject to the whims of whoever is ostensibly leading the US. Huawei’s equipment is as risky as the Americans tell us it is and if we disagree then we’ll be punished like the naughty vassals we are. UK operators should be grateful the US is allowing them a bit of Huawei fixed-line kit but, if they’ve been paying attention, they might be tempted to get rid of even that before they’re ordered to.

Orange Botswana has invited non-governmental organisations to support the roll out of Digital Centres mandated to empower female technologists and entrepreneurs.

The company has set a deadline of March to have the support in place to back these centres and believes the initiative will help address the demand for digital skills and help combat gender inequality in the industry.

Nene Maiga, CEO, Orange Botswana said, “It (the Digital Centre) aims to empower economically vulnerable women by providing them with training in digital technology and use of software, financial management and entrepreneurship.”

Maiga added that the initiative is designed to deliver ICT literacy, micro-entrepreneurial skills and relevant training modules to women in disadvantaged situations.

Applicants who are successful in their bid to run and/or support these centres will receive digital centre kits valued at €5, 847. These kits are the property of the Centres and include ten laptops, twenty tablets, a server, video projector as well as USB sticks.

To date, Orange – via its subsidiaries – has financed 362 Women Digital Centres, operating in 23 countries.

The company adds that 45 000 women have benefited from the initiative and are from Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Madagascar, DRC, Senegal, Mali, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Central Africa Republic, Botswana, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan.

Source: IT Web Africa

Communications regulator Icasa has vetted and approved all six companies that have bid to take part in next month’s radio frequency spectrum auction for mobile broadband services.

Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, Cell C, Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Rain have all successfully qualified to take part in the auction, which Icasa hopes to hold next month despite pending litigation by Telkom against the process that the regulator has followed in licensing the spectrum.

Icasa issued an amended invitation to apply, or ITA, on 10 December 2021, inviting industry players to bid to participate in the auction. They had until 31 January to file their submissions.

“All six applications have passed the pre-qualification stage of the licensing process and can now participate in the planned auction stage at the beginning of March 2022,” Icasa said in a statement on Monday.

“The fact that all six applicants have qualified illustrates the robustness of our telecommunications sector in South Africa,” said Icasa chairman Keabetswe Modimoeng.

“We can officially proclaim the forthcoming March 2022 spectrum auction as an unparalleled milestone in our country’s communications history as this will be the first-ever spectrum auction held on our shores.

“We commit ourselves to discharge this vital public-interest mandate to the very best of our abilities as we continue to confront the ongoing litigation head on,” Modimoeng said.

“With only two weeks remaining, we need to see selfless and responsible corporate citizenship at play,” he added. This is in apparent reference to Telkom, which has threatened to reinstate its application for an urgent interdict if it feels in any way aggrieved by Icasa’s decisions.

Telkom, which had been seeking an urgent interdict to stop the licensing process from proceeding, last month decided not to pursue that application, instead seeking to have the high court hear its grievances on their merits. The matter will now be heard in mid-April, after the auction has been concluded.

Source: Tech Central