Orange eyes Huawei for 5G Africa roll-out

France telecoms market leader, Orange have said they will avoid using equipment from Chinese vendors for 5G in Europe, but they see no issue in working with Huawei in Africa, where the Chinese company dominates as a supplier of equipment to many telecoms operators.

CEO of the company, Stephane Richard said they are opting for suppliers such as Ericsson and Nokia instead to deploy 5G in Europe, but the see Huawei as the best partner in Africa.

“We’re working more and more with Chinese vendors in Africa, not because we like China, but we have an excellent business relationship with Huawei,” CEO Stephane Richard said at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday. “They’ve invested in Africa while the European vendors have been hesitating.”

European governments have tightened controls on Chinese companies building 5G networks following diplomatic pressure from Washington, which alleges Huawei equipment could be used by Beijing for spying. (Huawei has repeatedly denied being a national security risk.)

Some countries, such as Britain and Sweden, have banned the Chinese vendors outright, while others have encouraged telecoms operators to opt for European suppliers, particularly in the core parts of their networks.

Chinese state

“It’s not only the pressure from the government — we are European citizens and share the concern,” Richard said in an interview. “We can’t ignore the fact that the big Chinese players are close to the Chinese state.”

Ericsson and Nokia have steadily taken market share from Huawei and, late last year, Orange’s Belgian division decided to progressively replace Huawei equipment with kit from Nokia.

The Orange CEO also showed willingness to use gear from Samsung, which he described as an alternative to the “China vs Europe debate”. Samsung signed Vodafone as its first European customer earlier this month as it tries to enter a market dominated by Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei.

“We’ll need time and additional investment to build new standalone networks with multiple vendors,” Richard said. “The fact is that in Europe today developing 5G networks with Chinese vendors is more and more difficult — we take this as a reality.”

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July 2, 2021

Orange eyes Huawei for 5G Africa roll-out

France telecoms market leader, Orange have said they will avoid using equipment from Chinese vendors for 5G in Europe, but they see no issue in working with Huawei in Africa, where the Chinese company dominates as a supplier of equipment to many telecoms operators.

CEO of the company, Stephane Richard said they are opting for suppliers such as Ericsson and Nokia instead to deploy 5G in Europe, but the see Huawei as the best partner in Africa.

“We’re working more and more with Chinese vendors in Africa, not because we like China, but we have an excellent business relationship with Huawei,” CEO Stephane Richard said at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday. “They’ve invested in Africa while the European vendors have been hesitating.”

European governments have tightened controls on Chinese companies building 5G networks following diplomatic pressure from Washington, which alleges Huawei equipment could be used by Beijing for spying. (Huawei has repeatedly denied being a national security risk.)

Some countries, such as Britain and Sweden, have banned the Chinese vendors outright, while others have encouraged telecoms operators to opt for European suppliers, particularly in the core parts of their networks.

Chinese state

“It’s not only the pressure from the government — we are European citizens and share the concern,” Richard said in an interview. “We can’t ignore the fact that the big Chinese players are close to the Chinese state.”

Ericsson and Nokia have steadily taken market share from Huawei and, late last year, Orange’s Belgian division decided to progressively replace Huawei equipment with kit from Nokia.

The Orange CEO also showed willingness to use gear from Samsung, which he described as an alternative to the “China vs Europe debate”. Samsung signed Vodafone as its first European customer earlier this month as it tries to enter a market dominated by Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei.

“We’ll need time and additional investment to build new standalone networks with multiple vendors,” Richard said. “The fact is that in Europe today developing 5G networks with Chinese vendors is more and more difficult — we take this as a reality.”

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Google, Microsoft on war path

Global technology giants, Microsoft and Google, which compete in cloud computing, Web search and artificial intelligence, five years ago formally agreed to cease using their substantial lobbying firepower against each other, seeking to eliminate a pricey and distracting battle and clear the way to collaborate more.

That truce, forged at the time by two new CEOs wanting a fresh start on a formerly acrimonious relationship, expired in April.

Even before the deal was allowed to lapse, the non-aggression pact had been fraying. The companies feuded publicly over a proposal to force Google to pay news publishers for content and squabbled more quietly over technology for selling search ads. Neither company is eager to extend or renew the alliance, according to people familiar with each companies’ thinking, who weren’t authorised to discuss confidential relationships.

As the two draw further apart and the business rivalry between them escalates, Microsoft and Google may be drawn back into a persistent battle of behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts and public complaints to regulators, who are eager to impose new limits on the power of the biggest technology companies.

From Microsoft’s side, the disputes are about giving marketers equal access to search engines when they organise campaigns with Google’s technology, and creating a robust ecosystem for content creators to get paid.

Threat

Google believes Microsoft is objecting because it regards Google as a threat to Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing and Office productivity businesses. At a time when regulators are training their guns on the whole industry, Microsoft and Google handing them ammo against each other may backfire, leaving both companies and their peers subject to even more scrutiny.

The first signs of strain between the two companies appeared more than two years ago, when Microsoft protested to Google that its Search Ads 360, which lets marketers manage advertising campaigns across multiple search engines, wasn’t keeping up with new features and ad types in Microsoft’s search engine, Bing.

That meant it was easier and better for potential advertisers using that system to buy Google spots than Microsoft ones. It seemed to be happening when Bing’s capabilities caught up with an existing Google search feature, said Rik van der Kooi, vice president of Microsoft Advertising. He estimates Google’s moves in ad tech are costing the software maker hundreds of millions in ad revenue every year. It impacts Bing as well as the Yahoo and DuckDuckGo search engines that use Bing technology.

“If you want to advertise, if you want to sell advertising or buy advertising on the Internet, you have to use Google’s tools, and when they make their tools in a manner that fails to interoperate easily with others, it impacts everybody,” said Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith in a Bloomberg television interview in April. “We raised the concerns with them and they just turned a deaf ear.”

The companies’ expired agreement on ending existing hostilities and preventing future ones set out a formal, escalating process for handling disputes that might previously have gone directly to regulators. In the current ad-tech quarrel, Microsoft says the two companies followed that process but its concerns about Google’s product still weren’t addressed successfully. Even talks between the companies’ CEOs, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Google’s Sundar Pichai — the final step in the accord’s predetermined process — failed to produce a resolution.

Under the peace treaty, only once all the efforts laid out in the accord have been exhausted could one company take its grievance to regulators. By last year, Microsoft had spoken to UK officials and regulators in some US states about the ad-tech issue. A 2020 report about Google by the UK’s competition authority states that Microsoft expressed concerns that Google doesn’t update its SA360 technology with Bing’s latest features, which reduces the amount of money advertisers spend on Bing. Microsoft also said that Google provides quicker bid information to book ads on its website than on Bing.

The UK conversations were in response to questions put to Microsoft, which was allowed in the agreement with Google, said a person familiar with the matter. Microsoft declined to comment on the terms under which it spoke to the US states. An antitrust suit from states led by Colorado against Google notes that Search Ads 360 enables a sophisticated type of automated auction technology used to optimise bids only for Google “while withholding equivalent interoperability from Microsoft”. The Redmond, Washington-based software maker has said Google refused to change anything, while Google officials said the company is working to make the product better for customers.

‘Not required to’

SA360 and the AdWords programming interface work with other search engines, Google said in a statement, adding that others don’t offer these kinds of tools. “We invest significantly to make these products available even though we’re not required to,” the company said. “Google continues to work to improve the customer experience for SA360, which includes responding to customer demand for new features for third-party search engines like Microsoft Bing.”

The cease-fire’s demise and escalating tensions come against the backdrop of stepped-up regulation and antitrust activity against the biggest technology companies, including Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.com — earlier this month, US legislators introduced several bills aimed at curbing their dominance and market power. The US justice department is accelerating a probe into Google’s ad market practices, according to people familiar with the matter.

Microsoft has so far remained somewhat insulated from the scrutiny in the US, and hasn’t had to participate in confrontational congressional hearings where other CEOs were in the hot seat. People familiar with the company’s thinking say Smith and Nadella are eager to show regulators Microsoft hasn’t been guilty of the same behaviour that its rivals are being questioned about and to distance their company from other targets.

Google, meanwhile, is growing more frustrated with the Microsoft attacks. In May, senior vice president Kent Walker accused his rival of “naked corporate opportunism”. As competition between the two intensifies, Microsoft is “reverting to their familiar playbook of attacking rivals and lobbying for regulations that benefit their own interests,” he wrote in a March blog post.

In Washington, Google has been among companies agitating for more scrutiny of Microsoft. Though Smith has said that should the antitrust bills become law, his company would be impacted by some parts of them, representative Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the house judiciary committee, is asking why the company has been getting a pass. On 23 June, Jordan and other Republican committee members raised that issue in meetings to mark up various proposed bills to regulate big technology companies, saying it made no sense for Microsoft to evade scrutiny. Google has donated to Jordan’s campaigns since 2012, but said it was not behind his public comments last week. Microsoft has also given to several of Jordan’s campaigns.

One member of the house judiciary committee, who asked not to be named when talking about private conversations, said a Google lobbyist brought up Microsoft, questioning why the criteria for a “covered platform” in the house bills appeared to exclude the massive tech company.

The relationship between the two digital giants has gone through many twists and turns since Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin revolutionized the search engine in the late 1990s, dominating the digital advertising market in the process, and Microsoft realised it had missed out on a huge revenue opportunity. By the time Microsoft released its Bing search engine, in 2009, it was too late to be anything but a laggard. Then Google’s Android mobile software seized the market for smartphone operating systems — something Microsoft had tried and failed to do.

Fought back

The software company fought back in a variety of other ways. From 2012 to 2014, it ran an ad campaign designed by Mark Penn, a former adviser to the Clinton administration, called “Scroogled” — a portmanteau of Google’s name and the word “screwed” — which claimed that Google was spying on consumers. Microsoft complained to European regulators about Google and funded other complainants and groups opposing the search giant as regulators investigated the company.

That pugnacious approach changed shortly after Nadella took over as CEO of Microsoft in February 2014 and Pichai was elevated at Google a year later. The companies felt the battle had got expensive and distracting and, in some cases, embarrassing. There were also areas where they wanted to work more closely together. After taking over as CEO, Nadella began releasing Office apps for rival operating systems, which included Google’s Android.

The two leaders reached a formal détente in April 2016 marked by a written agreement in which the companies settled outstanding patent issues and agreed to keep their competition to the realm of software. No longer would each try to gain an edge by complaining to governments and agencies on the other. The accord was part of a peace mission by Nadella after he took the helm, designed to make relationships with Silicon Valley rivals less confrontational and enable Microsoft to partner more effectively. Nadella also made amends with Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff, and there have even been some collaborations with Amazon.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

As recently as a year ago, the Google deal seemed to be enduring, at least outwardly, with Microsoft avoiding lodging public complaints about Google even as it put Apple’s App Store on blast. In May 2020, when Smith said European and US regulators should examine app stores in a public appearance in Washington, Microsoft spokespeople took pains to note later that Smith was referring to Apple only.

And Microsoft and Google continue to deepen their cooperation in other areas of their businesses. Microsoft’s Edge browser runs on Google’s Chromium technology and Microsoft now sells a phone called Duo that uses Google Android as its operating system. Last week, Microsoft announced its next Windows operating system will run apps that use Google’s Android — although Microsoft didn’t work directly with Google to accomplish that. The Android apps on Windows will be sourced from Amazon’s app store. And the people familiar with both companies’ thinking noted they weren’t closing the door completely on a new or extended truce.

Still, even before it expired, there was ample evidence that the deal was eroding. Already irked with Google over the digital ad limits, Microsoft took a different set of complaints public earlier this year — Google’s refusal to comply with a planned Australian law that would have forced it to pay news outlets for content its sites and apps feature. Microsoft said Google’s public conduct there showed a similar intransigence to what it had seen more quietly over the ad tech dispute.

Microsoft also posited that the continued deterioration of news outlets in the Internet age is hampering free and democratic discourse. Google’s conflict with Australia happened a few weeks after the US Capitol riots in January, and Microsoft’s Smith drew a connection between the two. In March, Smith testified before the house judiciary committee about it.

The insurgency was “an assault on the Capitol and an assault on a peaceful transfer of power that in our view in part reflected an unprecedented amount of disinformation at a time when the country cannot rely on the traditional base of news and journalism, that has been a bedrock of American democracy since the country was founded”, he said in an April interview with Bloomberg Television’s Emily Chang. “So, when we step back and look at all of these things together, this is a time to ask these questions because they matter for the Web. They matter for the people who use the Internet, and frankly they matter for the fundamental pillars of our democracy itself.”

Monopoly power

Protestations about free speech aside, Microsoft may also be trying to exploit Google’s heightened vulnerability to antitrust regulation around the globe. The company is battling government claims of abuse of monopoly power from the US justice department and a group of states, and in Europe Google faces a sweeping probe of its ad technology. Any new regulations or laws that weaken Google might give Microsoft leverage in markets where they increasingly compete for the same business.

“We have a name for this in antitrust — we call this raising rivals’ costs,” said Randal C Picker, a law professor at the University of Chicago who studies tech antitrust and copyright issues, about Microsoft’s stance on paying for news content. “All of this is going to cost the Facebooks and the Googles of the world a lot more than it’s going to cost Microsoft. So that makes it look like a competitive move.”

Google has chosen the area of cybersecurity to poke at Microsoft — Google’s Walker posted another blog this month cautioning customers that using one vendor for too many parts of their software stack puts them at greater risk of hacking.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

“As we saw with SolarWinds and the Microsoft Exchange attacks, proprietary systems and restrictions on interoperability and data portability can amplify a network’s vulnerability, helping attackers scale up their efforts,” Walker wrote, in a swipe at Microsoft.

Mountain View, California-based Google may have other ways to hurt Microsoft. So far, Microsoft’s large acquisitions, such as deals for LinkedIn and GitHub, as well as purchases of videogame studios, have passed through regulators without much scrutiny. But Google could choose to raise concerns about current and future deals, like Microsoft’s $20-billion agreement to buy Nuance Communications, an artificial intelligence company meant to bolster Microsoft’s healthcare, cloud and AI efforts — all primary areas of competition with Google and Amazon.

Google is also Microsoft’s biggest rival in the market for productivity software like word processing, e-mail and spreadsheets, possibly the only major field where Microsoft retains a dominant position. Already rivals like Slack Technologies have complained to European regulators about Microsoft bundling new apps into Office to fend off rivals, and Google could chime in with any concerns it may have.

“Microsoft is a huge company as well and it’s dominant in many areas. For example, Office is a dominant package in the market,” said Gus Rossi, a principal of responsible technology at Omidyar Network, a foundation and impact investment firm focused on social change. “What Google can do is to remind everyone that Microsoft is also a bad actor, because if everyone is a bad actor, then you’re not such a bad actor.”

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July 2, 2021

Google, Microsoft on war path

Global technology giants, Microsoft and Google, which compete in cloud computing, Web search and artificial intelligence, five years ago formally agreed to cease using their substantial lobbying firepower against each other, seeking to eliminate a pricey and distracting battle and clear the way to collaborate more.

That truce, forged at the time by two new CEOs wanting a fresh start on a formerly acrimonious relationship, expired in April.

Even before the deal was allowed to lapse, the non-aggression pact had been fraying. The companies feuded publicly over a proposal to force Google to pay news publishers for content and squabbled more quietly over technology for selling search ads. Neither company is eager to extend or renew the alliance, according to people familiar with each companies’ thinking, who weren’t authorised to discuss confidential relationships.

As the two draw further apart and the business rivalry between them escalates, Microsoft and Google may be drawn back into a persistent battle of behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts and public complaints to regulators, who are eager to impose new limits on the power of the biggest technology companies.

From Microsoft’s side, the disputes are about giving marketers equal access to search engines when they organise campaigns with Google’s technology, and creating a robust ecosystem for content creators to get paid.

Threat

Google believes Microsoft is objecting because it regards Google as a threat to Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing and Office productivity businesses. At a time when regulators are training their guns on the whole industry, Microsoft and Google handing them ammo against each other may backfire, leaving both companies and their peers subject to even more scrutiny.

The first signs of strain between the two companies appeared more than two years ago, when Microsoft protested to Google that its Search Ads 360, which lets marketers manage advertising campaigns across multiple search engines, wasn’t keeping up with new features and ad types in Microsoft’s search engine, Bing.

That meant it was easier and better for potential advertisers using that system to buy Google spots than Microsoft ones. It seemed to be happening when Bing’s capabilities caught up with an existing Google search feature, said Rik van der Kooi, vice president of Microsoft Advertising. He estimates Google’s moves in ad tech are costing the software maker hundreds of millions in ad revenue every year. It impacts Bing as well as the Yahoo and DuckDuckGo search engines that use Bing technology.

“If you want to advertise, if you want to sell advertising or buy advertising on the Internet, you have to use Google’s tools, and when they make their tools in a manner that fails to interoperate easily with others, it impacts everybody,” said Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith in a Bloomberg television interview in April. “We raised the concerns with them and they just turned a deaf ear.”

The companies’ expired agreement on ending existing hostilities and preventing future ones set out a formal, escalating process for handling disputes that might previously have gone directly to regulators. In the current ad-tech quarrel, Microsoft says the two companies followed that process but its concerns about Google’s product still weren’t addressed successfully. Even talks between the companies’ CEOs, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Google’s Sundar Pichai — the final step in the accord’s predetermined process — failed to produce a resolution.

Under the peace treaty, only once all the efforts laid out in the accord have been exhausted could one company take its grievance to regulators. By last year, Microsoft had spoken to UK officials and regulators in some US states about the ad-tech issue. A 2020 report about Google by the UK’s competition authority states that Microsoft expressed concerns that Google doesn’t update its SA360 technology with Bing’s latest features, which reduces the amount of money advertisers spend on Bing. Microsoft also said that Google provides quicker bid information to book ads on its website than on Bing.

The UK conversations were in response to questions put to Microsoft, which was allowed in the agreement with Google, said a person familiar with the matter. Microsoft declined to comment on the terms under which it spoke to the US states. An antitrust suit from states led by Colorado against Google notes that Search Ads 360 enables a sophisticated type of automated auction technology used to optimise bids only for Google “while withholding equivalent interoperability from Microsoft”. The Redmond, Washington-based software maker has said Google refused to change anything, while Google officials said the company is working to make the product better for customers.

‘Not required to’

SA360 and the AdWords programming interface work with other search engines, Google said in a statement, adding that others don’t offer these kinds of tools. “We invest significantly to make these products available even though we’re not required to,” the company said. “Google continues to work to improve the customer experience for SA360, which includes responding to customer demand for new features for third-party search engines like Microsoft Bing.”

The cease-fire’s demise and escalating tensions come against the backdrop of stepped-up regulation and antitrust activity against the biggest technology companies, including Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.com — earlier this month, US legislators introduced several bills aimed at curbing their dominance and market power. The US justice department is accelerating a probe into Google’s ad market practices, according to people familiar with the matter.

Microsoft has so far remained somewhat insulated from the scrutiny in the US, and hasn’t had to participate in confrontational congressional hearings where other CEOs were in the hot seat. People familiar with the company’s thinking say Smith and Nadella are eager to show regulators Microsoft hasn’t been guilty of the same behaviour that its rivals are being questioned about and to distance their company from other targets.

Google, meanwhile, is growing more frustrated with the Microsoft attacks. In May, senior vice president Kent Walker accused his rival of “naked corporate opportunism”. As competition between the two intensifies, Microsoft is “reverting to their familiar playbook of attacking rivals and lobbying for regulations that benefit their own interests,” he wrote in a March blog post.

In Washington, Google has been among companies agitating for more scrutiny of Microsoft. Though Smith has said that should the antitrust bills become law, his company would be impacted by some parts of them, representative Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the house judiciary committee, is asking why the company has been getting a pass. On 23 June, Jordan and other Republican committee members raised that issue in meetings to mark up various proposed bills to regulate big technology companies, saying it made no sense for Microsoft to evade scrutiny. Google has donated to Jordan’s campaigns since 2012, but said it was not behind his public comments last week. Microsoft has also given to several of Jordan’s campaigns.

One member of the house judiciary committee, who asked not to be named when talking about private conversations, said a Google lobbyist brought up Microsoft, questioning why the criteria for a “covered platform” in the house bills appeared to exclude the massive tech company.

The relationship between the two digital giants has gone through many twists and turns since Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin revolutionized the search engine in the late 1990s, dominating the digital advertising market in the process, and Microsoft realised it had missed out on a huge revenue opportunity. By the time Microsoft released its Bing search engine, in 2009, it was too late to be anything but a laggard. Then Google’s Android mobile software seized the market for smartphone operating systems — something Microsoft had tried and failed to do.

Fought back

The software company fought back in a variety of other ways. From 2012 to 2014, it ran an ad campaign designed by Mark Penn, a former adviser to the Clinton administration, called “Scroogled” — a portmanteau of Google’s name and the word “screwed” — which claimed that Google was spying on consumers. Microsoft complained to European regulators about Google and funded other complainants and groups opposing the search giant as regulators investigated the company.

That pugnacious approach changed shortly after Nadella took over as CEO of Microsoft in February 2014 and Pichai was elevated at Google a year later. The companies felt the battle had got expensive and distracting and, in some cases, embarrassing. There were also areas where they wanted to work more closely together. After taking over as CEO, Nadella began releasing Office apps for rival operating systems, which included Google’s Android.

The two leaders reached a formal détente in April 2016 marked by a written agreement in which the companies settled outstanding patent issues and agreed to keep their competition to the realm of software. No longer would each try to gain an edge by complaining to governments and agencies on the other. The accord was part of a peace mission by Nadella after he took the helm, designed to make relationships with Silicon Valley rivals less confrontational and enable Microsoft to partner more effectively. Nadella also made amends with Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff, and there have even been some collaborations with Amazon.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

As recently as a year ago, the Google deal seemed to be enduring, at least outwardly, with Microsoft avoiding lodging public complaints about Google even as it put Apple’s App Store on blast. In May 2020, when Smith said European and US regulators should examine app stores in a public appearance in Washington, Microsoft spokespeople took pains to note later that Smith was referring to Apple only.

And Microsoft and Google continue to deepen their cooperation in other areas of their businesses. Microsoft’s Edge browser runs on Google’s Chromium technology and Microsoft now sells a phone called Duo that uses Google Android as its operating system. Last week, Microsoft announced its next Windows operating system will run apps that use Google’s Android — although Microsoft didn’t work directly with Google to accomplish that. The Android apps on Windows will be sourced from Amazon’s app store. And the people familiar with both companies’ thinking noted they weren’t closing the door completely on a new or extended truce.

Still, even before it expired, there was ample evidence that the deal was eroding. Already irked with Google over the digital ad limits, Microsoft took a different set of complaints public earlier this year — Google’s refusal to comply with a planned Australian law that would have forced it to pay news outlets for content its sites and apps feature. Microsoft said Google’s public conduct there showed a similar intransigence to what it had seen more quietly over the ad tech dispute.

Microsoft also posited that the continued deterioration of news outlets in the Internet age is hampering free and democratic discourse. Google’s conflict with Australia happened a few weeks after the US Capitol riots in January, and Microsoft’s Smith drew a connection between the two. In March, Smith testified before the house judiciary committee about it.

The insurgency was “an assault on the Capitol and an assault on a peaceful transfer of power that in our view in part reflected an unprecedented amount of disinformation at a time when the country cannot rely on the traditional base of news and journalism, that has been a bedrock of American democracy since the country was founded”, he said in an April interview with Bloomberg Television’s Emily Chang. “So, when we step back and look at all of these things together, this is a time to ask these questions because they matter for the Web. They matter for the people who use the Internet, and frankly they matter for the fundamental pillars of our democracy itself.”

Monopoly power

Protestations about free speech aside, Microsoft may also be trying to exploit Google’s heightened vulnerability to antitrust regulation around the globe. The company is battling government claims of abuse of monopoly power from the US justice department and a group of states, and in Europe Google faces a sweeping probe of its ad technology. Any new regulations or laws that weaken Google might give Microsoft leverage in markets where they increasingly compete for the same business.

“We have a name for this in antitrust — we call this raising rivals’ costs,” said Randal C Picker, a law professor at the University of Chicago who studies tech antitrust and copyright issues, about Microsoft’s stance on paying for news content. “All of this is going to cost the Facebooks and the Googles of the world a lot more than it’s going to cost Microsoft. So that makes it look like a competitive move.”

Google has chosen the area of cybersecurity to poke at Microsoft — Google’s Walker posted another blog this month cautioning customers that using one vendor for too many parts of their software stack puts them at greater risk of hacking.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

“As we saw with SolarWinds and the Microsoft Exchange attacks, proprietary systems and restrictions on interoperability and data portability can amplify a network’s vulnerability, helping attackers scale up their efforts,” Walker wrote, in a swipe at Microsoft.

Mountain View, California-based Google may have other ways to hurt Microsoft. So far, Microsoft’s large acquisitions, such as deals for LinkedIn and GitHub, as well as purchases of videogame studios, have passed through regulators without much scrutiny. But Google could choose to raise concerns about current and future deals, like Microsoft’s $20-billion agreement to buy Nuance Communications, an artificial intelligence company meant to bolster Microsoft’s healthcare, cloud and AI efforts — all primary areas of competition with Google and Amazon.

Google is also Microsoft’s biggest rival in the market for productivity software like word processing, e-mail and spreadsheets, possibly the only major field where Microsoft retains a dominant position. Already rivals like Slack Technologies have complained to European regulators about Microsoft bundling new apps into Office to fend off rivals, and Google could chime in with any concerns it may have.

“Microsoft is a huge company as well and it’s dominant in many areas. For example, Office is a dominant package in the market,” said Gus Rossi, a principal of responsible technology at Omidyar Network, a foundation and impact investment firm focused on social change. “What Google can do is to remind everyone that Microsoft is also a bad actor, because if everyone is a bad actor, then you’re not such a bad actor.”

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ITU ranks Ghana 3rd in Africa on cybersecurity

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has rated Ghana number three in Africa on its Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI).

Ghana scored 86.69 per cent for secure cyberspace and comes behind Mauritius and Tanzania in that order.
Meanwhile, on the global rankings, Ghana was 43rd, miles ahead of several developed countries.

Ghana’s new ranking in Africa is a major leap from the 11th position attained in the previous rating of 32.6 per cent in 2017 and 43.7 per cent in 2018, projecting the country among the best in the region and globally.

The current assessment covers the 2019 – 2020 period and reflects data collected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The GCI has, since its launch in 2015, become a trusted reference, measuring countries’ commitment to cybersecurity and raising awareness of its importance.

The level of each country’s development or engagement is assessed along the five strategic pillars of the ITU’s Global Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA) – legal measures, technical measures, organizational measures, capacity building and international cooperation – which are aggregated into an overall score.

Achievement

Commenting on the rankings released last Tuesday by the world telecommunications governing body, the National Cybersecurity Advisor, Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, said the achievement was proof of the government’s commitment to develop the country’s cyberspace for a sustained digital transformation in a secure and resilient manner.

“This commitment is evidenced by the efforts of the government in the implementation of critical interventions in the country’s cybersecurity ecosystem,” he said.

Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, National Cybersecurity Advisor

Key among the interventions meriting the rating included the revision of the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy to provide a national direction and implementation plan for Ghana’s cybersecurity development, the passage of the Cybersecurity Act, 2020 (Act 1038) to provide a legal basis for its cybersecurity development and the institutionalization of cybersecurity to foster domestic cooperation and collaboration, Dr Antwi-Boasiako said.

Factors

Other factors included the ratification of relevant cybercrime and cybersecurity international conventions and treaties, such as the Convention on Cybercrime, and the development of Ghana’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) ecosystem.

“The government, through the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation, working closely with other relevant ministries, agencies, international partners and private sector stakeholders, remains committed in its efforts to ensure that the various digitalisation interventions rolled out are secure,” the National Cybersecurity Advisor said.

Dr Antwi-Boasiako said the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was expected to transition into the Cyber Security Authority (CSA) in the coming weeks, per Section 2 of the Cybersecurity Act, 2020 (Act 1038), to regulate cybersecurity activities in the country and further lead Ghana’s cybersecurity development.

Report

The GCI was introduced to measure the commitment of 193 ITU member states, as well as the State of Palestine, to cybersecurity to help them identify areas of improvement and encourage countries to take action through raising awareness of the state of cybersecurity worldwide.

The report aims at understanding countries’ commitment to cybersecurity, identify gaps, encourage the incorporation of good practices and provide useful insights for countries to improve their cybersecurity postures.

The report was based on findings on the overall improvement and strengthening of all five pillars.

The latest work recommended the importance of governments taking stock of the policies and practices in place regarding cybersecurity as the world continued to evolve.

According to the report, about one billion people worldwide became Internet users for the first time between 2015 and 2019.

It indicated that citizens counted on governments to enhance cybersecurity norms and protect increasingly exposed personal and financial data owing to global losses due to cybercrime, which was expected to reach $6 trillion this year.

It said the methodology had been adapted to shed more light on countries’ cybersecurity commitments.

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July 1, 2021

ITU ranks Ghana 3rd in Africa on cybersecurity

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has rated Ghana number three in Africa on its Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI).

Ghana scored 86.69 per cent for secure cyberspace and comes behind Mauritius and Tanzania in that order.
Meanwhile, on the global rankings, Ghana was 43rd, miles ahead of several developed countries.

Ghana’s new ranking in Africa is a major leap from the 11th position attained in the previous rating of 32.6 per cent in 2017 and 43.7 per cent in 2018, projecting the country among the best in the region and globally.

The current assessment covers the 2019 – 2020 period and reflects data collected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The GCI has, since its launch in 2015, become a trusted reference, measuring countries’ commitment to cybersecurity and raising awareness of its importance.

The level of each country’s development or engagement is assessed along the five strategic pillars of the ITU’s Global Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA) – legal measures, technical measures, organizational measures, capacity building and international cooperation – which are aggregated into an overall score.

Achievement

Commenting on the rankings released last Tuesday by the world telecommunications governing body, the National Cybersecurity Advisor, Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, said the achievement was proof of the government’s commitment to develop the country’s cyberspace for a sustained digital transformation in a secure and resilient manner.

“This commitment is evidenced by the efforts of the government in the implementation of critical interventions in the country’s cybersecurity ecosystem,” he said.

Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako, National Cybersecurity Advisor

Key among the interventions meriting the rating included the revision of the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy to provide a national direction and implementation plan for Ghana’s cybersecurity development, the passage of the Cybersecurity Act, 2020 (Act 1038) to provide a legal basis for its cybersecurity development and the institutionalization of cybersecurity to foster domestic cooperation and collaboration, Dr Antwi-Boasiako said.

Factors

Other factors included the ratification of relevant cybercrime and cybersecurity international conventions and treaties, such as the Convention on Cybercrime, and the development of Ghana’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) ecosystem.

“The government, through the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation, working closely with other relevant ministries, agencies, international partners and private sector stakeholders, remains committed in its efforts to ensure that the various digitalisation interventions rolled out are secure,” the National Cybersecurity Advisor said.

Dr Antwi-Boasiako said the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was expected to transition into the Cyber Security Authority (CSA) in the coming weeks, per Section 2 of the Cybersecurity Act, 2020 (Act 1038), to regulate cybersecurity activities in the country and further lead Ghana’s cybersecurity development.

Report

The GCI was introduced to measure the commitment of 193 ITU member states, as well as the State of Palestine, to cybersecurity to help them identify areas of improvement and encourage countries to take action through raising awareness of the state of cybersecurity worldwide.

The report aims at understanding countries’ commitment to cybersecurity, identify gaps, encourage the incorporation of good practices and provide useful insights for countries to improve their cybersecurity postures.

The report was based on findings on the overall improvement and strengthening of all five pillars.

The latest work recommended the importance of governments taking stock of the policies and practices in place regarding cybersecurity as the world continued to evolve.

According to the report, about one billion people worldwide became Internet users for the first time between 2015 and 2019.

It indicated that citizens counted on governments to enhance cybersecurity norms and protect increasingly exposed personal and financial data owing to global losses due to cybercrime, which was expected to reach $6 trillion this year.

It said the methodology had been adapted to shed more light on countries’ cybersecurity commitments.

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Bawumia lauds MTN for building 600-bed girls’ dorm for TAMASCO

Vice President Dr. Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia has commended telecoms market leader, MTN Ghana for constructing a 600-bed dormitory for the Tamale Senior High School (TAMASCO) in the Northern Region. 

The two-storey dormitory, built by the MTN Ghana Foundation, is worth over GHC2.8 million.

The new dormitory block consists of 21 rooms, washrooms, courtyard, laundry area and an adjoining two-bedroom self-contained bungalow for the house mistress.

It will provide accommodation for 600 girls every year and thereby help to ease congestion and increase girls’ enrolment in the school. The house mistress bungalow.

Speaking at the official handing over ceremony in Tamale, Dr. Bawumia, who is an alumnus of TAMASCO commended MTN Ghana Foundation for completing the structure in good time.

“I broke the grounds for the start of work on the MTN Foundation-sponsored 600-bed dormitory. I am happy to be part of its commissioning. This project will go a long way to ease congestion in the dormitories. TAMASCO is grateful to you,” he said.

He highlighted the role TAMASCO plays in the region as the first secondary school in the northern part of Ghana and congratulated them for churning out great alumni who are contributing to the development of Ghana.

The CEO of MTN Ghana, Selorm Adadevoh said, “The MTN Foundation invested in this project because we believe that young girls deserve a wholesome and safe environment to study and for many more young girls to have the opportunity of a decent education”.

“This year marks 25 years of Scancom PLC (also known as MTN) and it is exciting to mark our 25th year recognition with the opening of a 600-bed girls dormitory block that will no doubt change the lives of many of our young Ghanaian girls in the region,” he added.

The Headmaster of Tamale Senior High School, Rev. Edward Azika, expressed his gratitude to MTN Ghana Foundation for the project and promised that the facility would be put to good use by the girls.

The project, which started in 2019 came at the request of the then headmaster who wanted a better housing facility to accommodate the increasing number of girls enrolled in the school.

Tamale SHS is a mixed boarding educational institution with a total student population of two thousand eight hundred (2800), comprising one thousand six hundred boys (1600) and one thousand two hundred girls (1200).

The handing over ceremony coincided with the official launch of the 70th Anniversary celebration of Tamale Secondary School. The dignitaries who attended the ceremony included the Zunglana Col. Rtd. Mahamoud Tahiru who was the Chairman of the occasion, the Northern Regional Minister, Hon Alhassan Saibu, South African High Commissioner to Ghana, Madam Grace Jeanette Mason.

From management and staff of MTN Ghana, the team was led by the CEO Mr. Selorm Adadevoh, MTN Ghana Foundation Board Member Mrs. Nabila Williams, Chief Corporate Services Officer Mr. Samuel Koranteng and Acting Chief Sales and Distribution Officer, Nii Adotey Mingle.

As part of the 25th anniversary of MTN Ghana, the MTN Foundation will be handing over several other facilities to brighten the lives of Ghanaians.

Education is one of the three focus areas of the MTN Ghana Foundation. Since the establishment of the MTN Foundation in 2007, the Foundation has invested US$13.5 million in 157 projects in its focus areas which are estimated to have impacted four million people across the country. Out of the total number of projects, the Foundation has invested in 87 education projects and they include ultra-modern technology laboratory for the Ghana Institute of Public Administration (GIMPA), a six-unit classroom block for Nhyiaeso Basic School and a three-unit classroom block and ICT Center for Mangoaso R.C Basic School. The MTN Foundation has also built ICT Centers for the Takoradi Technical Institute, Koforidua Technical University, Bonsu Agric University and the Assistive Technology Unit at the University of Ghana. The Foundation has also provided over 1,000 scholarships to needy and brilliant students across the country under its Bright Scholarship scheme.

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Anonymous • 14 days ago

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Anonymous • 14 days ago

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July 1, 2021

Bawumia lauds MTN for building 600-bed girls’ dorm for TAMASCO

Vice President Dr. Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia has commended telecoms market leader, MTN Ghana for constructing a 600-bed dormitory for the Tamale Senior High School (TAMASCO) in the Northern Region. 

The two-storey dormitory, built by the MTN Ghana Foundation, is worth over GHC2.8 million.

The new dormitory block consists of 21 rooms, washrooms, courtyard, laundry area and an adjoining two-bedroom self-contained bungalow for the house mistress.

It will provide accommodation for 600 girls every year and thereby help to ease congestion and increase girls’ enrolment in the school. The house mistress bungalow.

Speaking at the official handing over ceremony in Tamale, Dr. Bawumia, who is an alumnus of TAMASCO commended MTN Ghana Foundation for completing the structure in good time.

“I broke the grounds for the start of work on the MTN Foundation-sponsored 600-bed dormitory. I am happy to be part of its commissioning. This project will go a long way to ease congestion in the dormitories. TAMASCO is grateful to you,” he said.

He highlighted the role TAMASCO plays in the region as the first secondary school in the northern part of Ghana and congratulated them for churning out great alumni who are contributing to the development of Ghana.

The CEO of MTN Ghana, Selorm Adadevoh said, “The MTN Foundation invested in this project because we believe that young girls deserve a wholesome and safe environment to study and for many more young girls to have the opportunity of a decent education”.

“This year marks 25 years of Scancom PLC (also known as MTN) and it is exciting to mark our 25th year recognition with the opening of a 600-bed girls dormitory block that will no doubt change the lives of many of our young Ghanaian girls in the region,” he added.

The Headmaster of Tamale Senior High School, Rev. Edward Azika, expressed his gratitude to MTN Ghana Foundation for the project and promised that the facility would be put to good use by the girls.

The project, which started in 2019 came at the request of the then headmaster who wanted a better housing facility to accommodate the increasing number of girls enrolled in the school.

Tamale SHS is a mixed boarding educational institution with a total student population of two thousand eight hundred (2800), comprising one thousand six hundred boys (1600) and one thousand two hundred girls (1200).

The handing over ceremony coincided with the official launch of the 70th Anniversary celebration of Tamale Secondary School. The dignitaries who attended the ceremony included the Zunglana Col. Rtd. Mahamoud Tahiru who was the Chairman of the occasion, the Northern Regional Minister, Hon Alhassan Saibu, South African High Commissioner to Ghana, Madam Grace Jeanette Mason.

From management and staff of MTN Ghana, the team was led by the CEO Mr. Selorm Adadevoh, MTN Ghana Foundation Board Member Mrs. Nabila Williams, Chief Corporate Services Officer Mr. Samuel Koranteng and Acting Chief Sales and Distribution Officer, Nii Adotey Mingle.

As part of the 25th anniversary of MTN Ghana, the MTN Foundation will be handing over several other facilities to brighten the lives of Ghanaians.

Education is one of the three focus areas of the MTN Ghana Foundation. Since the establishment of the MTN Foundation in 2007, the Foundation has invested US$13.5 million in 157 projects in its focus areas which are estimated to have impacted four million people across the country. Out of the total number of projects, the Foundation has invested in 87 education projects and they include ultra-modern technology laboratory for the Ghana Institute of Public Administration (GIMPA), a six-unit classroom block for Nhyiaeso Basic School and a three-unit classroom block and ICT Center for Mangoaso R.C Basic School. The MTN Foundation has also built ICT Centers for the Takoradi Technical Institute, Koforidua Technical University, Bonsu Agric University and the Assistive Technology Unit at the University of Ghana. The Foundation has also provided over 1,000 scholarships to needy and brilliant students across the country under its Bright Scholarship scheme.

More News

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CST     Finance Ministry     Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications     Ken Ashigbey     Taxes     Telecom Total Tax Contribution Report    
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anti-competitive behavior     fine     France     google     South Korea    
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Mobile Money agents meet GRA over 10% tax increase

The news of a ten percent tax expected to be paid by mobile money agents from their cash-out services has been met with opposition, as the agents say the tax is being imposed on them is uncalled-for.

The government, in a new directive, has asked telcos to deduct a 10% tax from the cash-out service fees of MoMo agents effective 1st July 2021.

The agents at an emergency meeting on Friday, June 25, 2021, said they can no longer bear any extra financial levy on their operations.

In a communiqué following the meeting, the Mobile Money Agents Association of Ghana (MMAG) said all efforts to engage the government and stakeholders on the tax have not been successful.

Members of the association were however able to meet with officials of the GRA on Tuesday 29th June 2021.

According to them, they have been made to understand the tax will not affect their profit margins.

In an interview with Citi Business News, Secretary of the association, Evans Otumfuor said, they have also asked for a suspension of the implementation of the tax for further education and stakeholder consultation.

“What we have requested for in the meeting is that they should grant with us some time frame to further engage with us. They should grant us some time frame to further engage us and equally engage the entire mobile money populace so that we can best align ourselves with this new directive. And for the record, we have been informed that the withholding tax is not final, although you may be paying it, at the end of the year, when you file your returns, and you realize that you have run at a loss, the law mandates that you come with proof that you have made a loss and then your withholding tax will be reimbursed into your business”.

He further revealed that the GRA will make known its decision on the request for the suspension of the tax by Thursday, 1st July 2021.

“We have proposed to them that the deduction of the tax should be on hold, and we will get a response to them in the next two days”.

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June 30, 2021

Mobile Money agents meet GRA over 10% tax increase

The news of a ten percent tax expected to be paid by mobile money agents from their cash-out services has been met with opposition, as the agents say the tax is being imposed on them is uncalled-for.

The government, in a new directive, has asked telcos to deduct a 10% tax from the cash-out service fees of MoMo agents effective 1st July 2021.

The agents at an emergency meeting on Friday, June 25, 2021, said they can no longer bear any extra financial levy on their operations.

In a communiqué following the meeting, the Mobile Money Agents Association of Ghana (MMAG) said all efforts to engage the government and stakeholders on the tax have not been successful.

Members of the association were however able to meet with officials of the GRA on Tuesday 29th June 2021.

According to them, they have been made to understand the tax will not affect their profit margins.

In an interview with Citi Business News, Secretary of the association, Evans Otumfuor said, they have also asked for a suspension of the implementation of the tax for further education and stakeholder consultation.

“What we have requested for in the meeting is that they should grant with us some time frame to further engage with us. They should grant us some time frame to further engage us and equally engage the entire mobile money populace so that we can best align ourselves with this new directive. And for the record, we have been informed that the withholding tax is not final, although you may be paying it, at the end of the year, when you file your returns, and you realize that you have run at a loss, the law mandates that you come with proof that you have made a loss and then your withholding tax will be reimbursed into your business”.

He further revealed that the GRA will make known its decision on the request for the suspension of the tax by Thursday, 1st July 2021.

“We have proposed to them that the deduction of the tax should be on hold, and we will get a response to them in the next two days”.

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ZEEPAY raises US$7.9 million to drive growth 

Zeepay, Africa’s leading challenger Fintech today announces the completion of its Series A.0 fundraise round, raising some US$7.9 million in total.

The round, led by Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P), was a hybrid of both equity and balance sheet funds to support Zeepay’s operations.

Zeepay is a pioneer of digital remittances from the diaspora to mobile wallets, bank accounts and visa cards across 20 markets in Africa, where it either operates a mobile money business or has approved partnerships.

The business is successfully transitioning into an integrated omni-channel digital payments and value-added financial services provider operating across the African continent.

On the equity side, fundraise leader, I&P, an impact investing group with over US$250 million in assets under management brought in US$3 million, supported by ARK Holdings, a privately held family investment portfolio on behalf of the Managing Director of Zeepay, Andrew Takyi-Appiah and Zoe Takyi-Appiah in the amount of US$800,000. GOODsoil VC, an African-focused early-stage venture capital firm committed a follow-on investment to the tune of US$800,000 and were advised by Obsidian Achernar, a financial services firm licensed by Bank of Ghana.

The transaction advisors for this raise were Verdant Capital and JLD & MB legal Consultancy.

The company also raised a debt of US$3.3 million to drive balance sheet activities mainly for liquidity purposes, which was led by Absa Bank Ghana in the amount of US$1.8 million and US$1.5 million supported by First National Bank Ghana.

Zeepay, prior to the fund raise, had efficiently deployed a total of about US$450,000 since its go-to-market in May 2016 to achieve a cumulative average growth rate of about 146 percent during the 5 years leading to these transactions.

An exciting story on the continent, full of hope and inspiring for the New African – that is the young African looking to chart their own path through start ups across the continent.

Managing Director and Founder of Zeepay, Andrew Takyi-Appiah stated that “Our raise of US$7.9 million in Series A.0 gives Zeepay a strong capital table, ahead of closing our Series A.5 in the coming months. I am delighted to mention that the raise is coming at the time when we have successfully moved into our new Commercial Property in Accra.”

Mr. Takyi–Appiah attributed the company’s performance to “the Grace of God”, and also expressed profound gratitude to the Founding Chairman of Zeepay, the late Dr. Anthony Kwasi Appiah, saying “I wish he was here today as we sign this deal. He played a pivotal role in getting the company to where it is today. May his soul continue to rest in peace.”

He also thanked Mr. Kwame Achampong-Kyei and the GLICO Group for their diligent support over the last 5 years.

Chairman of Zeepay, Paa Kwesi Yankey said “Our strategy remains to drive our remittance to digital assets agenda across Africa and the Caribbean and we are excited by the rate of expansion. We have a number of strategic acquisitions lined up and anticipate closing before year end”.

He said Zeepay looks forward to being able to expand its operations beyond its current 20 countries and increase its active 30-day business from 13 markets to 20 plus markets across Africa.

“Indeed, what we celebrate today could not have been possible without the passing of the Payment Systems Act 2019, which has been a very progressive Government initiative,” he noted.

Chairperson of Zeepay UK, Ruth Amenu mentioned “the additional funding is a landmark for a wholly owned African Company, and a testament of how technology has democratised the world to give Zeepay a seat at the table. For a business that started from such humble beginnings, this story is remarkable and inspiring. It is my prayer that this motivates the African Youth that “It is possible to succeed when you put your mind to it”.

Investment Director at I&P, Baafour Otu-Boateng remarked, “Zeepay has proven itself unique in its ability to take a leading position in the rapidly growing world of African fintechs while delivering profitability. We are excited to partner with a management team that has demonstrated a robust track record of delivering innovative products and services that transform the remittance and mobile money ecosystems. As an impact investor, we look forward to supporting Zeepay’s remarkable growth story as the company deepens financial inclusion for millions of users across Africa.”

Ashley Thompson-MacCarthy, CEO at Obsidian Achernar also said “We are delighted to deepen our partnership with Andrew and the incredible Zeepay team, as they scale and roll out mobile money and remittance services across the continent. With remittance flows exhibiting considerable resiliency in times of pandemic-induced disruption, Zeepay has grown from strength-to-strength and the current fund-raise is a testament to the Company’s value and potential. As an Africa-focused financial services firm, we are driven by an unyielding commitment to contribute to the creation and furtherance of lasting economic growth and development on the continent and are excited to work together with an entity which shares our ethos.

Merene Benyah, Founding Partner of JLD & MB Legal Consultancy, stated “We are extremely proud of our client Zeepay for this landmark raise and pleased to have supported Zeepay since its inception in 2014. Zeepay is a strong brand and comes to the transaction with a lot of experience and insight. The successful close of both debt and equity at the time when most markets have contracted is a strong indication of the trajectory that the company is on. We believe their success today will put Ghana once again on the world map and confirms the Zeepay as a strong contender in the Fintech space.

According to Verdant Capital, Zeepay has the potential to transform how Africans implement payments across borders and domestically and how these payments are integrated into value-added services such as credit and insurance. Zeepay has built a formidable market position in its anchor market of Ghana, which it is now replicating in synergistic markets across the Continent. Verdant expects this strategy to continue to drive rapid revenue growth, profitability and financial inclusion.

About Zeepay

Zeepay is the fastest growing mobile financial services company across Africa with operations in Ghana and the United Kingdom and terminating to 20 countries across Africa with termination agreements in over 90 jurisdictions globally. We specialize in remittance termination into mobile wallets and are completely network- and partner-agnostic. We are majority Ghanaian owned company and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority – FCA #592538 and in Ghana by Bank of Ghana – PSD/ZGL/20/03 under the Payment Systems and Services Act, 2019 (Act 987). Zeepay supports Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 3 and is considered as a Financial Inclusion Company positioned to improve last mile access. Visit myzeepay.com for more information.

About I&P

Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P) is a pioneering impact investing group entirely dedicated to financing and supporting start-ups and medium-sized enterprises in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The team of approximately 100 people is based in 10 African hubs (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Uganda), in Paris and in Washington D.C. I&P has partnered with more than 150 companies operating in some fifteen African countries in a wide range of sectors. I&P brings long-term financing as well as strategic, managerial and technical support. As an impact investor, I&P’s mission is to maximize the societal impact of its partner companies and contribute to dynamic and inclusive growth in Africa.

About Verdant Capital

Verdant Capital is a specialist investment bank and investment manager operating on a Pan-African basis. Verdant Capital specializes in sectors including financial technology and financial inclusion.

About JLD & MB

JLD & MB Legal Consultancy is a top-tier corporate and commercial law firm with decades of experience advising global and local clients on some of Ghana’s highest profile transactions.

The Firm provides an integrated business and corporate law service with a multi- disciplinary team of lawyers.  Our primary objective is to produce work to the highest international standards, and we pride ourselves on our responsiveness, seamless delivery of client services and multi-jurisdictional experience.

We provide innovative and solution-oriented advisory services across several key practice areas including: Banking and Finance, Corporate and Commercial Transactions, Energy and Natural Resources, Infrastructure, Property and Transportation and Business Support Services.

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June 30, 2021

ZEEPAY raises US$7.9 million to drive growth 

Zeepay, Africa’s leading challenger Fintech today announces the completion of its Series A.0 fundraise round, raising some US$7.9 million in total.

The round, led by Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P), was a hybrid of both equity and balance sheet funds to support Zeepay’s operations.

Zeepay is a pioneer of digital remittances from the diaspora to mobile wallets, bank accounts and visa cards across 20 markets in Africa, where it either operates a mobile money business or has approved partnerships.

The business is successfully transitioning into an integrated omni-channel digital payments and value-added financial services provider operating across the African continent.

On the equity side, fundraise leader, I&P, an impact investing group with over US$250 million in assets under management brought in US$3 million, supported by ARK Holdings, a privately held family investment portfolio on behalf of the Managing Director of Zeepay, Andrew Takyi-Appiah and Zoe Takyi-Appiah in the amount of US$800,000. GOODsoil VC, an African-focused early-stage venture capital firm committed a follow-on investment to the tune of US$800,000 and were advised by Obsidian Achernar, a financial services firm licensed by Bank of Ghana.

The transaction advisors for this raise were Verdant Capital and JLD & MB legal Consultancy.

The company also raised a debt of US$3.3 million to drive balance sheet activities mainly for liquidity purposes, which was led by Absa Bank Ghana in the amount of US$1.8 million and US$1.5 million supported by First National Bank Ghana.

Zeepay, prior to the fund raise, had efficiently deployed a total of about US$450,000 since its go-to-market in May 2016 to achieve a cumulative average growth rate of about 146 percent during the 5 years leading to these transactions.

An exciting story on the continent, full of hope and inspiring for the New African – that is the young African looking to chart their own path through start ups across the continent.

Managing Director and Founder of Zeepay, Andrew Takyi-Appiah stated that “Our raise of US$7.9 million in Series A.0 gives Zeepay a strong capital table, ahead of closing our Series A.5 in the coming months. I am delighted to mention that the raise is coming at the time when we have successfully moved into our new Commercial Property in Accra.”

Mr. Takyi–Appiah attributed the company’s performance to “the Grace of God”, and also expressed profound gratitude to the Founding Chairman of Zeepay, the late Dr. Anthony Kwasi Appiah, saying “I wish he was here today as we sign this deal. He played a pivotal role in getting the company to where it is today. May his soul continue to rest in peace.”

He also thanked Mr. Kwame Achampong-Kyei and the GLICO Group for their diligent support over the last 5 years.

Chairman of Zeepay, Paa Kwesi Yankey said “Our strategy remains to drive our remittance to digital assets agenda across Africa and the Caribbean and we are excited by the rate of expansion. We have a number of strategic acquisitions lined up and anticipate closing before year end”.

He said Zeepay looks forward to being able to expand its operations beyond its current 20 countries and increase its active 30-day business from 13 markets to 20 plus markets across Africa.

“Indeed, what we celebrate today could not have been possible without the passing of the Payment Systems Act 2019, which has been a very progressive Government initiative,” he noted.

Chairperson of Zeepay UK, Ruth Amenu mentioned “the additional funding is a landmark for a wholly owned African Company, and a testament of how technology has democratised the world to give Zeepay a seat at the table. For a business that started from such humble beginnings, this story is remarkable and inspiring. It is my prayer that this motivates the African Youth that “It is possible to succeed when you put your mind to it”.

Investment Director at I&P, Baafour Otu-Boateng remarked, “Zeepay has proven itself unique in its ability to take a leading position in the rapidly growing world of African fintechs while delivering profitability. We are excited to partner with a management team that has demonstrated a robust track record of delivering innovative products and services that transform the remittance and mobile money ecosystems. As an impact investor, we look forward to supporting Zeepay’s remarkable growth story as the company deepens financial inclusion for millions of users across Africa.”

Ashley Thompson-MacCarthy, CEO at Obsidian Achernar also said “We are delighted to deepen our partnership with Andrew and the incredible Zeepay team, as they scale and roll out mobile money and remittance services across the continent. With remittance flows exhibiting considerable resiliency in times of pandemic-induced disruption, Zeepay has grown from strength-to-strength and the current fund-raise is a testament to the Company’s value and potential. As an Africa-focused financial services firm, we are driven by an unyielding commitment to contribute to the creation and furtherance of lasting economic growth and development on the continent and are excited to work together with an entity which shares our ethos.

Merene Benyah, Founding Partner of JLD & MB Legal Consultancy, stated “We are extremely proud of our client Zeepay for this landmark raise and pleased to have supported Zeepay since its inception in 2014. Zeepay is a strong brand and comes to the transaction with a lot of experience and insight. The successful close of both debt and equity at the time when most markets have contracted is a strong indication of the trajectory that the company is on. We believe their success today will put Ghana once again on the world map and confirms the Zeepay as a strong contender in the Fintech space.

According to Verdant Capital, Zeepay has the potential to transform how Africans implement payments across borders and domestically and how these payments are integrated into value-added services such as credit and insurance. Zeepay has built a formidable market position in its anchor market of Ghana, which it is now replicating in synergistic markets across the Continent. Verdant expects this strategy to continue to drive rapid revenue growth, profitability and financial inclusion.

About Zeepay

Zeepay is the fastest growing mobile financial services company across Africa with operations in Ghana and the United Kingdom and terminating to 20 countries across Africa with termination agreements in over 90 jurisdictions globally. We specialize in remittance termination into mobile wallets and are completely network- and partner-agnostic. We are majority Ghanaian owned company and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority – FCA #592538 and in Ghana by Bank of Ghana – PSD/ZGL/20/03 under the Payment Systems and Services Act, 2019 (Act 987). Zeepay supports Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 3 and is considered as a Financial Inclusion Company positioned to improve last mile access. Visit myzeepay.com for more information.

About I&P

Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P) is a pioneering impact investing group entirely dedicated to financing and supporting start-ups and medium-sized enterprises in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The team of approximately 100 people is based in 10 African hubs (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Uganda), in Paris and in Washington D.C. I&P has partnered with more than 150 companies operating in some fifteen African countries in a wide range of sectors. I&P brings long-term financing as well as strategic, managerial and technical support. As an impact investor, I&P’s mission is to maximize the societal impact of its partner companies and contribute to dynamic and inclusive growth in Africa.

About Verdant Capital

Verdant Capital is a specialist investment bank and investment manager operating on a Pan-African basis. Verdant Capital specializes in sectors including financial technology and financial inclusion.

About JLD & MB

JLD & MB Legal Consultancy is a top-tier corporate and commercial law firm with decades of experience advising global and local clients on some of Ghana’s highest profile transactions.

The Firm provides an integrated business and corporate law service with a multi- disciplinary team of lawyers.  Our primary objective is to produce work to the highest international standards, and we pride ourselves on our responsiveness, seamless delivery of client services and multi-jurisdictional experience.

We provide innovative and solution-oriented advisory services across several key practice areas including: Banking and Finance, Corporate and Commercial Transactions, Energy and Natural Resources, Infrastructure, Property and Transportation and Business Support Services.

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Zeepay, ICODE Ghana announce strategic partnership

Zeepay, the fastest growing mobile financial services company across Africa, has signed a  Technical Cooperation Agreement with ICODE Ghana, a technology and business innovation hub in Takoradi.

The agreement, signed at ICODE Hub, will see a mutual exchange of technical services for innovation in the Western Region which includes hackathons and other related Zeepay projects.

This comes as Zeepay was awarded a grant from UNCDF to continue its financial inclusion efforts with the goal of providing last mile financial services to Ghanaians and Africans at large.

With ICODE, Zeepay has an agenda of actively extending its operations to the Western Region through technological innovations focusing on remote communities.

“What makes this deal a landmark is the fact that two home grown companies have come together to sign a cooperation agreement that will make it possible for Zeepay to support ICODE with funding and technical support,” said Western Regional Minister, Kwadwo Okyere Darko Mensah at the signing event. “We believe through this relationship the youth in the Region will not only have access to Zeepay’s Application Programming Interfaces (API) but also business mentoring, and employment generation.”

During the event, Zeepay made a donation of GHS50,000 to ICODE to support initiatives towards monitoring and evaluation work, talent development and nurturing of local start ups.

“Through this cooperation, there is going to be an opportunity for people in the Western Region to be challenged to come up with innovative and bankable business ideas through a series of hackathons and pitch events supported by Zeepay as well as career development opportunities for the unemployed and young graduates within the Region from various educational institutions also supported by Zeepay,” said Prince Bonney, CEO of ICODE Ghana.

Zeepay also continued its graduate recruitment drive during the weekend at Takoradi Technical University and University of Mines and Technology to seek for potential interns and entry-level employees.

About Zeepay

Zeepay is the fastest growing mobile financial services  company across Africa with operations in Ghana and the United Kingdom and terminating to 20 countries across Africa with termination agreements in over 90 jurisdictions globally. We specialize in remittance termination into mobile wallets and are completely network and partner agnostic. We are a wholly owned Ghanaian company and regulated in the UK by Financial Conduct Authority-FCA #592538 and in Ghana by Bank of Ghana- PSD/ZGL/20/03 under the Payment Systems and Services Act, 2019 (Act 987). Zeepay supports Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 3 and is considered a Financial Inclusion Company positioned to improve last mile access. Visit myzeepay.com for more information.

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June 29, 2021

Zeepay, ICODE Ghana announce strategic partnership

Zeepay, the fastest growing mobile financial services company across Africa, has signed a  Technical Cooperation Agreement with ICODE Ghana, a technology and business innovation hub in Takoradi.

The agreement, signed at ICODE Hub, will see a mutual exchange of technical services for innovation in the Western Region which includes hackathons and other related Zeepay projects.

This comes as Zeepay was awarded a grant from UNCDF to continue its financial inclusion efforts with the goal of providing last mile financial services to Ghanaians and Africans at large.

With ICODE, Zeepay has an agenda of actively extending its operations to the Western Region through technological innovations focusing on remote communities.

“What makes this deal a landmark is the fact that two home grown companies have come together to sign a cooperation agreement that will make it possible for Zeepay to support ICODE with funding and technical support,” said Western Regional Minister, Kwadwo Okyere Darko Mensah at the signing event. “We believe through this relationship the youth in the Region will not only have access to Zeepay’s Application Programming Interfaces (API) but also business mentoring, and employment generation.”

During the event, Zeepay made a donation of GHS50,000 to ICODE to support initiatives towards monitoring and evaluation work, talent development and nurturing of local start ups.

“Through this cooperation, there is going to be an opportunity for people in the Western Region to be challenged to come up with innovative and bankable business ideas through a series of hackathons and pitch events supported by Zeepay as well as career development opportunities for the unemployed and young graduates within the Region from various educational institutions also supported by Zeepay,” said Prince Bonney, CEO of ICODE Ghana.

Zeepay also continued its graduate recruitment drive during the weekend at Takoradi Technical University and University of Mines and Technology to seek for potential interns and entry-level employees.

About Zeepay

Zeepay is the fastest growing mobile financial services  company across Africa with operations in Ghana and the United Kingdom and terminating to 20 countries across Africa with termination agreements in over 90 jurisdictions globally. We specialize in remittance termination into mobile wallets and are completely network and partner agnostic. We are a wholly owned Ghanaian company and regulated in the UK by Financial Conduct Authority-FCA #592538 and in Ghana by Bank of Ghana- PSD/ZGL/20/03 under the Payment Systems and Services Act, 2019 (Act 987). Zeepay supports Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 3 and is considered a Financial Inclusion Company positioned to improve last mile access. Visit myzeepay.com for more information.

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MTN Ghana recognized for outstanding contribution contribution to sustainable development

MTN Ghana has been recognized with three awards at the third edition of the Health, Environment, Safety and Security (HESS) Awards held at the Movenpick Ambassador hotel in Accra.

The three awards were for Most Outstanding Contributions to Sustainable Development; Corporate Social Responsibility Excellence and Telecoms Facility Excellence.

Receiving the awards, the Senior Manager for Security Risk Management at MTN Ghana, Foster Kplomdo expressed his appreciation to the organizers for recognizing MTN’s sustainable development initiatives within the communities it operates and the management of its facilities.

He dedicated the awards to the Security & Safety as well as the MTN Ghana Foundation teams for their commitment to ensuring that staff, customers and stakeholders of MTN are always safe, especially in this period where the world is battling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commenting on the awards, the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Ghana, Selorm Adadevoh commended the Safety and Security Team of MTN and MTN Foundation for their steadfastness in ensuring MTN provided a safe and secure environment for staff, customers and the general public.

He said, “your approach to managing the security and health of both staff and stakeholders within our communities during the pandemic is commendable”.  There was business continuity as customers were engaged in a safe environment. Our communities bonded with us more because we demonstrated our concern with the PPEs and Vaccines we donated during the COVID 19 pandemic last year.” He added, “We are excited the awards Board of HESS has recognised our contribution conferred these awards on us. We hope to do more in that regard.”

The HESS awards was organized by Ianmatsun Global Services Ltd, who are also publishers of the Sustainability Report Magazine in partnership with Firmus Advisory, a leading Research Company in Ghana.

It is designed to identify, publicly recognize and celebrate outstanding companies for exceptional performance and innovations focused on occupational health, the environment, employee and stakeholder safety and security.

This is the second time MTN has participated in the awards program and continues to be recognized for its dedication to ensuring employees and stakeholders health and safety remains paramount.

This year’s awards program was under the theme: ‘Building a resilient workspace post -COVID -19; The role of HESS initiatives.

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June 25, 2021

MTN Ghana recognized for outstanding contribution contribution to sustainable development

MTN Ghana has been recognized with three awards at the third edition of the Health, Environment, Safety and Security (HESS) Awards held at the Movenpick Ambassador hotel in Accra.

The three awards were for Most Outstanding Contributions to Sustainable Development; Corporate Social Responsibility Excellence and Telecoms Facility Excellence.

Receiving the awards, the Senior Manager for Security Risk Management at MTN Ghana, Foster Kplomdo expressed his appreciation to the organizers for recognizing MTN’s sustainable development initiatives within the communities it operates and the management of its facilities.

He dedicated the awards to the Security & Safety as well as the MTN Ghana Foundation teams for their commitment to ensuring that staff, customers and stakeholders of MTN are always safe, especially in this period where the world is battling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commenting on the awards, the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Ghana, Selorm Adadevoh commended the Safety and Security Team of MTN and MTN Foundation for their steadfastness in ensuring MTN provided a safe and secure environment for staff, customers and the general public.

He said, “your approach to managing the security and health of both staff and stakeholders within our communities during the pandemic is commendable”.  There was business continuity as customers were engaged in a safe environment. Our communities bonded with us more because we demonstrated our concern with the PPEs and Vaccines we donated during the COVID 19 pandemic last year.” He added, “We are excited the awards Board of HESS has recognised our contribution conferred these awards on us. We hope to do more in that regard.”

The HESS awards was organized by Ianmatsun Global Services Ltd, who are also publishers of the Sustainability Report Magazine in partnership with Firmus Advisory, a leading Research Company in Ghana.

It is designed to identify, publicly recognize and celebrate outstanding companies for exceptional performance and innovations focused on occupational health, the environment, employee and stakeholder safety and security.

This is the second time MTN has participated in the awards program and continues to be recognized for its dedication to ensuring employees and stakeholders health and safety remains paramount.

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MultiChoice Africa Appoints New Managing Director For Ghana Operations

Pan African Pay-TV operator MultiChoice Africa has named Alex Okyere as the new Managing Director for its Ghana operation.

His appointment is expected to further strengthen the operations and the gains made in Ghana.

He takes over from former Managing Director, Cecil Sunkwa-Mills, who is leaving the business effective June 1, 2021, after over 14 years of stewardship, during which he led the business along a path of steady growth and a position of prominence in the Ghanaian market.

Cecil Sunkwa-Mills is leaving to pursue other interests but will continue to consult for the business.

According to MultiChoice Africa Regional Director for East, West and Central Africa, Maharage Chande, this appointment comes at a critical time for the video entertainment business and cements MultiChoice’s market leadership position as Ghana’s most loved storyteller, committed to providing great entertainment and investing in the future of our people by harnessing the transformative power of media on society.

“Our strategy is to continuously provide customers with more of their favorite content and thus providing unmatched value. This new appointment will play a major role in delivering the experience our customers are accustomed to and we are determined to continue putting this at the center of our corporate culture and values,” said Maharage Chande, MultiChoice Africa Regional Director for East, West and Central Africa.

Prior to assuming this new role, Alex Okyere was the Chief Customer Officer at MultiChoice Ghana. He has held various roles at MultiChoice including, Regional Finance Director for East, West and Central Africa, Finance Director for the West & Central Africa Region and Finance Director for MultiChoice Kenya.

Alex brings over 15 years of experience in finance, accounting, commercial and general management in various industries and multinational organizations such as MultiChoice Africa, Weatherford International, Schlumberger, Newmont and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

He is a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (United Kingdom) and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (Ghana). He holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Ghana.

Alex said: “I am delighted to head-up Ghana’s leading video entertainment company and looking forward to leading this business at what is an exciting time for the industry and the Multichoice Group. My focus will be to increase our subscriber base by upholding our excellent offering, and service both new and existing customers.”

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June 24, 2021

MultiChoice Africa Appoints New Managing Director For Ghana Operations

Pan African Pay-TV operator MultiChoice Africa has named Alex Okyere as the new Managing Director for its Ghana operation.

His appointment is expected to further strengthen the operations and the gains made in Ghana.

He takes over from former Managing Director, Cecil Sunkwa-Mills, who is leaving the business effective June 1, 2021, after over 14 years of stewardship, during which he led the business along a path of steady growth and a position of prominence in the Ghanaian market.

Cecil Sunkwa-Mills is leaving to pursue other interests but will continue to consult for the business.

According to MultiChoice Africa Regional Director for East, West and Central Africa, Maharage Chande, this appointment comes at a critical time for the video entertainment business and cements MultiChoice’s market leadership position as Ghana’s most loved storyteller, committed to providing great entertainment and investing in the future of our people by harnessing the transformative power of media on society.

“Our strategy is to continuously provide customers with more of their favorite content and thus providing unmatched value. This new appointment will play a major role in delivering the experience our customers are accustomed to and we are determined to continue putting this at the center of our corporate culture and values,” said Maharage Chande, MultiChoice Africa Regional Director for East, West and Central Africa.

Prior to assuming this new role, Alex Okyere was the Chief Customer Officer at MultiChoice Ghana. He has held various roles at MultiChoice including, Regional Finance Director for East, West and Central Africa, Finance Director for the West & Central Africa Region and Finance Director for MultiChoice Kenya.

Alex brings over 15 years of experience in finance, accounting, commercial and general management in various industries and multinational organizations such as MultiChoice Africa, Weatherford International, Schlumberger, Newmont and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

He is a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (United Kingdom) and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (Ghana). He holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Ghana.

Alex said: “I am delighted to head-up Ghana’s leading video entertainment company and looking forward to leading this business at what is an exciting time for the industry and the Multichoice Group. My focus will be to increase our subscriber base by upholding our excellent offering, and service both new and existing customers.”

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Investment in Ghana’s telecom industry: MTN took risks while others were hesitant – Minister

Minister for Communications and Digitalization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has lauded MTN Ghana for taking the risk to pioneer several telecom industry innovations over the last 25 years, while other industry players sat by and looked on. 

Speaking at the launch of the 25th Anniversary of MTN Ghana, the Minister, who was herself a one time industry person, stated “It [telecoms] is a capital intensive industry and you have invested well. You’ve taken risks and pioneered a lot of innovations when others have hesitated.”

She recalled how MTN first introduced GSM into Ghana, saying that MTN’s immense contribution to the evolution of the telecom industry in Ghana cannot be overemphasized.

Indeed, MTN went on to introduce many industry firsts, including SMS, 2G, 3G, Mobile Money, 4G and others.

“You have done well in your business and you have been deliberate to delivering on your mandate to the best of your ability. As a result ‘Hello’ has become ‘Y’ello’ or is becoming ‘Y’ello’,” the Minister said.

Ursula Owusu-Ekuful noted that the risks MTN took have paid off, having started from a “distant third” in 1996, when they first entered the market, to now becoming the runaway market leader.

Till date, MTN has invested a whopping US$6 billion in Ghana’s telecoms industry, and it now has over 25 million subscribers, representing more than 60% voice market share, plus over 72% mobile data market share and an equally huge percentage of mobile money market share.

SMP

In June last year, MTN Ghana, which has for many years held more than 40 per cent market share, was declared a significant market power (SMP), which is a mechanism to ensure regulatory intervention to correct the imbalance in the industry.

At the time MTN was declare SMP, the government said it held about 75% telecoms market share and 75% of all telecom industry revenue. It was also reported that about 70% of all phone calls in the country terminated on MTN and they equally held an overwhelming chunk of the mobile money market.

Per the Minister’s submission, MTN got to that height via strategic investment, commitment to the Ghanaian market and regular risk taking, while other industry players were hesitant to do same.

Indeed, one industry player claim to own the blueprint of mobile money; but, as the Minister observed, that player sat by and watched as MTN kept investing in mobile money and losing money for the first six years.

Since MTN was declared SMP, the industry regulator has applied a corrective measure within the interconnect regime, where MTN is supposed to forfeit 30% of what it would have received from competition as interconnect fee. MTN has since been complying with that rule.

There were other regulatory interventions proposed by the regulator, National Communications Authority (NCA), but those seem to have been shelved after some negotiation.

Competition also wanted some intervention in the mobile money sector as well, but the regulator, Bank of Ghana, has not announced any interventions yet.

Network as a service

Meanwhile, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has urged MTN not to view the SMP declaration in a negative light, but rather as an opportunity to work with the other industry players to grow the entire ecosystem.

She said being an SMP means MTN can now make its network available as a service for others in the ecosystem so that all can grow as MTN even grows further.

The Minister also thinks MTN can play a leading role in government’s plans to ensure national roaming.

Ambition 2025

Selorm Adadevoh – MTN Ghana CEO

Indeed, since last year, MTN had announced that it was working towards becoming a complete digital operator by 2023 and then move on to become a complete platform player under MTN Group’s Ambition 2025 strategy.

Ambition 2025 means MTN would offer its network as a platform for others within the ecosystem to create innovative services and offer them to Ghanaians outside of MTN.

Here’s what MTN Ghana CEO, Selorm Adadevoh said about Ambition 2025 at the launch of the 25th Anniversary:

“…we have repositioned our strategy from BRIGHT to Ambition 2025, which aims to build the largest and most valuable platform business with a focus on Africa. Ambition 2025 is anchored on five pillars: Fintech Solutions, Digital / ayoba, Enterprise, Network as a Service, and an API Marketplace.

“In this strategy, we see exciting opportunities for mobile commerce where fintech intersects with our ayoba business. We are hoping to aggregate APIs to accelerate the digital ecosystem expansion E.g., a customer should never need to interact with an agent to manage their MTN experience; all SMEs should be able to become digital without IT skills inhouse by leveraging our platforms and by so doing can pay taxes digitally through MoMo; we should be able to use QR codes for trotro or taxi payments; we must have the ability to pay tolls by scanning car number plates; we should be able to track criminals through digital safety cameras on our streets and from artificial intelligence, identify the national ID card details for a camera image and lastly, we should be able to stamp out MoMo fraud using a similar artificial intelligence identity tracking algorithm.”

Additional Spectrum

Dr. Ishmael Yamsom – MTN Ghana Board Chairman

On his part, MTN Ghana Board Chair, Ishmael Yamson said all the ambitious goals ahead of MTN and of Ghana to grow the telecom industry would require that industry players are given additional spectrum to deploy the most modern technology such as 5G.

“We, for instance, need very robust telecom infrastructure to realize the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) dream as hosts of the AfCFTA headquarters and that would require additional spectrum for industry players,” he said.

According to him, closing the digital divide still remains a challenge as the world has gone ahead with 5G and 6G.

This, he said, meant that Ghana would need to take bold steps to negotiate that curve and go ahead to meet the demand AfCFTA places on the country for digital infrastructure.

He said MTN is ready with the capacity and the will to partner government to develop the industry infrastructure to meet AfCFTA requirements but that would require additional spectrum.

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June 24, 2021

Investment in Ghana’s telecom industry: MTN took risks while others were hesitant – Minister

Minister for Communications and Digitalization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has lauded MTN Ghana for taking the risk to pioneer several telecom industry innovations over the last 25 years, while other industry players sat by and looked on. 

Speaking at the launch of the 25th Anniversary of MTN Ghana, the Minister, who was herself a one time industry person, stated “It [telecoms] is a capital intensive industry and you have invested well. You’ve taken risks and pioneered a lot of innovations when others have hesitated.”

She recalled how MTN first introduced GSM into Ghana, saying that MTN’s immense contribution to the evolution of the telecom industry in Ghana cannot be overemphasized.

Indeed, MTN went on to introduce many industry firsts, including SMS, 2G, 3G, Mobile Money, 4G and others.

“You have done well in your business and you have been deliberate to delivering on your mandate to the best of your ability. As a result ‘Hello’ has become ‘Y’ello’ or is becoming ‘Y’ello’,” the Minister said.

Ursula Owusu-Ekuful noted that the risks MTN took have paid off, having started from a “distant third” in 1996, when they first entered the market, to now becoming the runaway market leader.

Till date, MTN has invested a whopping US$6 billion in Ghana’s telecoms industry, and it now has over 25 million subscribers, representing more than 60% voice market share, plus over 72% mobile data market share and an equally huge percentage of mobile money market share.

SMP

In June last year, MTN Ghana, which has for many years held more than 40 per cent market share, was declared a significant market power (SMP), which is a mechanism to ensure regulatory intervention to correct the imbalance in the industry.

At the time MTN was declare SMP, the government said it held about 75% telecoms market share and 75% of all telecom industry revenue. It was also reported that about 70% of all phone calls in the country terminated on MTN and they equally held an overwhelming chunk of the mobile money market.

Per the Minister’s submission, MTN got to that height via strategic investment, commitment to the Ghanaian market and regular risk taking, while other industry players were hesitant to do same.

Indeed, one industry player claim to own the blueprint of mobile money; but, as the Minister observed, that player sat by and watched as MTN kept investing in mobile money and losing money for the first six years.

Since MTN was declared SMP, the industry regulator has applied a corrective measure within the interconnect regime, where MTN is supposed to forfeit 30% of what it would have received from competition as interconnect fee. MTN has since been complying with that rule.

There were other regulatory interventions proposed by the regulator, National Communications Authority (NCA), but those seem to have been shelved after some negotiation.

Competition also wanted some intervention in the mobile money sector as well, but the regulator, Bank of Ghana, has not announced any interventions yet.

Network as a service

Meanwhile, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has urged MTN not to view the SMP declaration in a negative light, but rather as an opportunity to work with the other industry players to grow the entire ecosystem.

She said being an SMP means MTN can now make its network available as a service for others in the ecosystem so that all can grow as MTN even grows further.

The Minister also thinks MTN can play a leading role in government’s plans to ensure national roaming.

Ambition 2025

Selorm Adadevoh – MTN Ghana CEO

Indeed, since last year, MTN had announced that it was working towards becoming a complete digital operator by 2023 and then move on to become a complete platform player under MTN Group’s Ambition 2025 strategy.

Ambition 2025 means MTN would offer its network as a platform for others within the ecosystem to create innovative services and offer them to Ghanaians outside of MTN.

Here’s what MTN Ghana CEO, Selorm Adadevoh said about Ambition 2025 at the launch of the 25th Anniversary:

“…we have repositioned our strategy from BRIGHT to Ambition 2025, which aims to build the largest and most valuable platform business with a focus on Africa. Ambition 2025 is anchored on five pillars: Fintech Solutions, Digital / ayoba, Enterprise, Network as a Service, and an API Marketplace.

“In this strategy, we see exciting opportunities for mobile commerce where fintech intersects with our ayoba business. We are hoping to aggregate APIs to accelerate the digital ecosystem expansion E.g., a customer should never need to interact with an agent to manage their MTN experience; all SMEs should be able to become digital without IT skills inhouse by leveraging our platforms and by so doing can pay taxes digitally through MoMo; we should be able to use QR codes for trotro or taxi payments; we must have the ability to pay tolls by scanning car number plates; we should be able to track criminals through digital safety cameras on our streets and from artificial intelligence, identify the national ID card details for a camera image and lastly, we should be able to stamp out MoMo fraud using a similar artificial intelligence identity tracking algorithm.”

Additional Spectrum

Dr. Ishmael Yamsom – MTN Ghana Board Chairman

On his part, MTN Ghana Board Chair, Ishmael Yamson said all the ambitious goals ahead of MTN and of Ghana to grow the telecom industry would require that industry players are given additional spectrum to deploy the most modern technology such as 5G.

“We, for instance, need very robust telecom infrastructure to realize the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) dream as hosts of the AfCFTA headquarters and that would require additional spectrum for industry players,” he said.

According to him, closing the digital divide still remains a challenge as the world has gone ahead with 5G and 6G.

This, he said, meant that Ghana would need to take bold steps to negotiate that curve and go ahead to meet the demand AfCFTA places on the country for digital infrastructure.

He said MTN is ready with the capacity and the will to partner government to develop the industry infrastructure to meet AfCFTA requirements but that would require additional spectrum.

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