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Eurobites: Western Operators Lining Pockets of Africa's Super-Rich – Report

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Vodacom's H1 revenues rise; new 100G link between China and Russia; du buys into IoT messaging platform.

  • Have western operators lined the pockets of a super-rich elite as they seek to increase their presence in the African telecom market? That's the allegation being made in the UK's Observer newspaper, which focuses mainly on strategies used by Vodafone and its local subsidiaries, strategies that involve, among other things, lending money to members of the politically well connected elite so that they can secure shares in Vodafone subsidiaries. One such is Tanzanian businessman Rostan Aziz, who found his way onto the Forbes list of global billionaires after his company sold his shares in Vodacom Tanzania Ltd. for $240 million. A spokesman for Vodafone dismissed the Observer's claims as "historical in nature."

  • Speaking of Vodafone's African subsidiaries… Vodacom Pty. Ltd. has released its half-year results, showing that group revenue grew 4.6% year-on-year to 42 billion South African rand (US$2.88 billion), while EBITDA rose 3% to ZAR15.73 billion ($1.08 billion). Vodacom's acquisition of Kenya's Safaricom helped boost net profit by 7% on the previous period. In South Africa, Vodacom gained 2.9 million customers in the first half of the year, taking its total beyond the 40 million mark for the first time. It also now claims to have 3.3 million SIM card connections in its IoT offerings.

  • China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CHA) has teamed up with Russia's TransTeleCom Co. CJSC (TTK) to launch what they say is the first 100G link between China and Europe based on Ultra Long Haul DWDM technology. As part of the project, the two companies have built a 100Gbit/s "gateway interface" on the border between the Chinese city of Manzhouli and in the Russian city of Zabaikalsk.

  • Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co. (du) is bringing what it describes as an "AI-powered" IoT messaging platform to its network, courtesy of a tie-up with UIB, a company that emerged from the Dubai Future Accelerators startup program. UIB's offering allows customers to connect to their IoT devices using "natural language" text and voice messaging.

  • Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has deployed the A-word (automation, that is) to garner some attention for the launch of its NetGuard Security Management Center software, which it says allows service providers to monitor, configure and control all the multivendor security systems operating across their networks.

  • Orange (NYSE: FTE)'s partnership with CREA Mont Blanc, the research center for Alpine ecosystems, has been recognized by the United Nations and awarded the UN's 2017 Momentum for Change prize. The pair have worked together on monitoring mountain climate change for the project, which used 60 automatic temperature measuring stations installed across the Alpine region. Orange was responsible for the data collection and station maintenance system.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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