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MTN Group to Re-Apply for Ethiopian Telcom Licence

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Africa’s largest telco, MTN has expressed its commitment to re-apply for a telecom licence at Africa’s second-most populous country, Ethiopia, after a failed attempt by the telco giant and its consortium.

The move follows the announcement of a consortium led by Vodafone and Kenya-based telco, Safaricom as the preferred bidder after a competitive process involving MTN, Africa’s leading telco and other bidders.

In a statement concluding the lengthy process of opening up the country’s telecoms market, the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) and The Ministry of Finance confirmed Global Partnership for Ethiopia consortium had been successful in its bid.

As part of its bid the consortium pledged to spend $8 billion on the operation over the next ten years.

Meanwhile, Africa’s largest telecoms firm, MTN, has said that it was considering having another goal at becoming a mobile operator in Ethiopia after losing to Kenya’s Safaricom, the group said in a recent statement

MTN’s Chief Executive, Ralph Mupita told shareholders during the company’s 26th annual general meeting (AGM) held virtually recently that MTN would apply its mind should the Ethiopian government reissue the license.

“There are views that the Ethiopian authorities will reissue the license with mobile money, and if they do that in a relatively short period of time, we will apply our minds on the issue, we have not made a firm decision on that,”Mupita said.

Mupita noted that while MTN was saddened at not being named winning bidder, the group remained comfortable with its bid.

“We took an approach that the opportunity, as strategic as it was, needed to meet our capital allocation framework and the hurdles that we saw given the license conditions. We were particularly focused on the lack of mobile money in the license regime, and there were some issues around how the telcos constructs would be accommodated within Ethiopia.

“We certainly priced for those things and near-term risks that we saw, and we felt that the financial bid there was appropriate,” Mupita said.

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Telecommunications

Orange CEO Convicted for Misuse of Funds, Puts Fate in Hands of Board

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Orange - Investors King

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of France’s largest telecommunication company Orange, Stephane Richard has been handed a one-year suspended sentence after an appeal court in Paris convicted him of complicity of the misuse of funds.

In a statement, Richard said that he would appeal the verdict of the court, saying that the one-year suspended sentence given to him was very unfair.

Stephane Richard, who was acquitted in an initial trial said that he had placed his company authority in the hands of Orange’s board of directors.

The French Minister of Finance, Bruno Le Maire has frequently said that the position of the government concerning matters like this is that the bosses of companies owned by the state must quit their positions if ever convicted of a crime. A statement made by the finance ministry acknowledged the verdict, saying that the ministry was paying close attention to the appropriate operation of the company.

Orange is due to hold a board meeting where the matter will undoubtedly be discussed, according to a company spokesman. Two different sources who are particularly close to the situation said that Richard – who has denied any offences – will find it difficult to keep his job as the Chairman and CEO of Orange.

Richard also had a 50,000 euro fine slapped on him, but was cleared of the charge of complicity of fraud. He however refused to make any comment when reporters asked whether he would resign as CEO after the verdict was given. He hurriedly left the court, followed by the head of communications at Orange, Béatrice Mandine.

Richard, who is a former civil servant, had previously told French media that he would not be looking to stay as CEO at the end of his third term (each one lasting four years) in May 2022. He however said that he would love to remain as the Chairman.

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Telecommunications

Oppo to Launch Foldable Phone Next Month

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Following the success of Samsung’s foldable mobile phones (Samsung Galaxy Fold & Samsung Galaxy Flip), Chinese mobile communications company Guangdong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications Corp. Ltd. – popularly known as Oppo – will launch its own foldable phone next month.

According to a post on the Chinese Forum site Weibo, the foldable device which has been codenamed ‘Peacock’ is widely expected to launch in December. The Oppo ‘Peacock’ is rumoured to be powered by the Snapdragon 888 processor, the same processor used by phones like the Samsung Galaxy S21 series, the Samsung Galaxy Flip 3, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, and the Asus ROG 5 series.

Gizmo China reports that the Peacock will sport an inward folding design, similar to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Huawei Mate X2.  Gizmo China reports that the smartphone will be accompanied by an 8-inch, 2K OLED display with a 120 hertz refresh rate. There is not a lot of information regarding the phone’s rear camera, but there is the expectation that the phone will possess a Sony IMX766 primary camera with 50 megapixels.

The report from Gizmo China goes ahead to state that the phone will come with a 4,500 mAh battery, 500 less than the Oppo A56 which is expected to hit markets this month. It will also come with 65W fast charging technology. Apart from the 50-megapixel rear camera, the Peacock will also be followed by a front camera of 32 megapixels. However, it is not yet sure how many rear cameras the Peacock will hold.

The announcement comes alongside the company’s announcement to launch a new flagship phone in 2022. The new flagship will be referred to as ‘Butterfly,’ set to release early next year. While the Peacock will be powered by the Snapdragon 888 processor, the Butterfly will be powered by the Snapdragon 898.

The official release date for the Peacock has not been released, but it is expected to launch sometime in December.

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Airtel Africa Sells Minority Stake in Airtel Money for US$500 Million

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Airtel Africa, a leading telecommunications and mobile money service provider in Africa, announced that it has received a combined $500 million as proceeds from the minority stake sales in Airtel Money from TPG’s The Rise Fund, Mastercard and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).

The telecoms giant disclosed in a statement seen by Investors King.

The latest investment was in addition to the first closing announced by the Group on 18 March 2021, 1 April 2021 and 30 July 2021, respectively.

TPG and QIA, after meeting the conditions for second closing, invested an additional $50 million each while Mastercard added $25 million in the secondary purchase of shares in AMC BV from a subsidiary of Airtel Africa.

Airtel plans to use the proceeds from the secondary stake sale to reduce debt and expand its network and sales infrastructure in operating countries.

“With the conditions for second closing having now been met, TPG and QIA have each invested a further $50m, and Mastercard a further $25m, in the secondary purchase of shares in AMC BV from a subsidiary of Airtel Africa.

“Both QIA and TPG each appointed a director to the board of AMC BV upon the first closings. With these second closings, Airtel Africa will have received a total of $500m cumulative proceeds from the minority stake sales in Airtel Money from the three investors.

“As previously reported, the proceeds from these secondary stake sale transactions will be used to reduce Group debt and invest in network and sales infrastructure in the respective operating countries.”

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