• Ghana High Court authorises operators to share subscriber data with government for coronavirus contact tracing, and Vodacom Tanzania extends M‑PESA’s reach with the launch of International Money Transfer.

Elsewhere in Africa

Elsewhere in Africa

Source: Guido Sohne / CC BY-SA 2.0

  • The High Court in Ghana ruled that Vodafone Ghana (VfGh) and main rival MTN Ghana are permitted to share customer data with the government, to help it track the spread of coronavirus. The court action took place after a private citizen filed an injunction against the government for allegedly breaching domestic and international privacy laws, by mandating telecoms operators to supply their subscribers’ data for contact tracing. VfGh was reportedly singled out in the case over its “nonchalant posturing” and for remaining “completely silent and unconcerned about the issue”, compared with MTN, which had “vehemently contested the request as overly disproportionate or even irrelevant”. The Bank of Ghana also reportedly told the country’s Public Accounts Committee that the central bank had not authorised VfGh subsidiary Vodafone Cash to release the financial details of some of its customers to aid the government’s COVID‑19 tracing programme.
  • Vodacom Tanzania expanded its M‑PESA m‑money offering with the introduction of the International Money Transfer service, enabling customers to transfer and receive funds from more than 200 countries. The move represents the operator’s latest attempt to gain traction with cross‑border mobile transactions and extend the reach of M‑PESA. The OpCo confirmed it had agreed international partnerships with JubaExpress, MoneyGram, Remitly, and WorldRemit, and pan‑African deals with EcoCash, Mama Money, MTN, and Safaricom, over the last few months.
  • Negative publicity over the long‑running intellectual property dispute relating to the PleaseCallMe ring‑back request offering continued to haunt Vodacom Group, after the country’s High Court gave the operator 21 days to provide the service’s inventor Kenneth Makate with records of its service provider contracts in order to determine the value of the offering. The judge also ruled that Makate be given access to a November 2008 KPMG report that is subject to a confidentiality clause. Vodacom reportedly made an offer of ZAR 47m in January 2019 (Vodafonewatch, #172 and passim), which was rejected by Makate, who believes he is owed ZAR 20bn, reflecting a 5% share of the estimated ZAR 205bn revenue generated by the ring‑back request service, including interest, over an 18‑year period. Makate is understood to have initially demanded 15% of the proceeds. Vodacom was said to be considering an appeal of the decision.
  • Safaricom tied with Coca‑Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) to install Internetof Things (IoT)-based sensors in the drinks maker’s fridges, beginning with a pilot of 100 coolers in Nairobi. The IoT devices enable CCBA to collect data in real‑time to monitor temperature, the number of operational fridges, and how often the fridge doors are opened. The data also provides insights on consumer purchase patterns and when to schedule maintenance visits. The IoT‑enabled coolers will be provided free of charge to retailers and outlets across the country.