In Brief; Ghana to revoke Expresso’s operating licence 

Ghana’s telecoms regulator, the National Communications Authority (NCA),is reportedly mulling the annulment of the operating licence of cellco Expresso(Kasapa Telecom),which is 82% owned by Sudanese-based Sudatel Telecom Group (STG).Expresso Ghana has been facing significant liquidity challenges over the past three years and its inability to secure a financial investor has led to drastic drop in the number of subscribers(106,082 at 31 May 2016),equivalent to roughly 0.3% of the market at that date.NCA’s Director for Engineering said that the continued inactivity of Expresso has taken its toll on the industry stakeholders by creating a deficit in the revenue targets of the regulator and government. The official was cited as stating: ‘The status quo cannot remain the same for long, we want to make sure that customers get the best services,we want to get revenues for government and as regulator we need revenue to survive.

***The smartphone market in Indian experienced strong quarterly growth of 17.1% in the second quarter of 2016, following two successive quarters of decline.According to latest figures from IDC, shipments reached 27.5 million. This also represented marginal growth of 3.7% compared to the same period of 2015.As pointed out by IDC analyst, the main beneficiaries of the growth were Chinese vendors with 75% growth year-on-year.

***Demand in emerging markets is helping to revive the flagging smartphone market, with GfK now revising its forecast for the value of smartphone sales from $400.7 billion to $426 billion for 2016.That represents a 5% increase from a previously year. The Germany-based research company also said shipments this year are forecast to increase by 5.1 per cent to 1.39 billion units.GfK noted that more positive trends are apparent in China as well as in emerging markets in Asia and Africa, adding that strong sales of more expensive devices has also reversed the previous trend of share gains by low-end smartphones costing less than $100.

*** Norwegian-owned cellco Telenor Myanmar and state-backed incumbent Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT) have each submitted an expression of interest (EoI) to bid in the country’s upcoming auction of 2600MHz frequencies.The tender will feature 40MHz of 2600MHz band spectrum, which must be used to provide broadband services. Six concessions are on offer, with two 20MHz blocks available in each of three separate regions, but no operator can win licences in more than two regions, or more than one concession in any individual region.The Ministry of Transport and Communications (MCIT) received 22 EOIs and selected 20 as potential bidders. The two companies that missed out – Bluewave Broadband and Eager Communication – were disqualified as neither held the requisite Network Facilities Service (Individual) Licence.A final list of qualified bidders is due to be published in September, whilst the auction is expected to commence the following month.

***The Zimbabwe government’s social security and pensions fund, the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), is looking to gain control of the country’s third mobile operator, Telecel. In November 2015 the state agreed to acquire a 60% interest in Telecel from multinational telecoms group VimpelCom, with the transaction to be conducted by government-backed ISP Zarnet. The NSSA initially agreed to provide Zarnet with a ten-year loan to cover the USD40 million cost of the transaction, but a report from the Zimbabwe Independent says that the fund is now worried that the ISP will be unable to make the repayments and it is therefore looking to take over the 60% stake in the cellco itself.