13 Jun 2012

Key visionaries shared their experiences at West & Central Africa Com on Day 1

***Join us for day 2!***    Share your thoughts on #WCACom  
West & Central Africa Com  – Day 1
13-14 June 2012, King Fahd Palace - Soleil De Dakar Dakar, Senegal
Website: www.comworldseries.com/wcafrica

The 9th annual West & Central Africa Com opened in Dakar, Senegal today with over 500 delegates registered to attend the conference and exhibition.  This important event is a unique gathering of the entire digital ecosystem from across the region. It provides an important platform for the industry stakeholders to meet, learn and network together, with the aim of driving growth for service providers.
This year’s main focus is on new opportunities in the West & Central African digital market. The keynotes provided an excellent start to the discussion of this theme with key visionaries sharing their experiences and strategies for a digital West & Central Africa, including speakers like Tidjane Deme, Lead for Francophone Africa at Google, Chams Diagne, Chief Operating Officer, Africa, for the Viadeo social networking platform, Tiemoko Coulibaly, CEO for Francophone Markets at Airtel Africa, and MTN Group’s VP for WECA (& CEO at MTN Cote d’Ivoire), Wim Vanhelleputte, to mention a few.
The morning speakers’ insights were invaluable to the audience which incorporated telecom operators, solution vendors, OTT players, content providers, solution vendors, entrepreneurs, etc. In particular the theme of how the West & Central African digital market will progress and shape up was popular; there was consensus amongst the keynote speakers from Google, Viadeo, Airtel and MTN about the need for service providers to adapt to consumer needs, since consumers are increasingly demanding.

These demands range from the need for better connectivity, enterprise customers requesting tailored services, low ARPU-segments wanting more advanced services, mobile internet users insisting on free of charge access to social networking, local & international content, etc.  How these demands will be met by digital players is yet to be seen, but Google’s Tidjane Deme emphasised that “content needs to come from a local ecosystem, this ecosystem needs to be encouraged to grow and only then will there be real value added services for West & Central African consumers”. Airtel’s Tiemoko Coulibaly strongly agrees with other speakers that “enterprise & cloud computing, mobile internet & content, electronic payments & low-cost smartphones” are key areas of focus for service providers, and he places the consumer demand for better coverage as perhaps the most important point to focus on.
Many of the speakers took the opportunity to plead with regulators in Francophone Africa to assist with easing through necessary improvements, changes and spectrum allocations in order to benefit the consumer and enable service providers to continue growing in the region. 
The afternoon session elaborated on the interesting opening keynotes with a focus on connecting users to broadband, and on efficiency & cost management, presented on by speakers from ACE Consortium, the FTTH Council, Expresso Telecom, Tigo Senegal, Corning, Telecom Italia Sparkle, Tellabs the Congolese Ministry of Post, Telecommunications and ICT, Warid Congo, BICS, amongst others.
Delegates ended Day 1 by enjoying refreshments and entertainment pool side, with an ocean view, for continued, relaxed networking and discussion of the day’s messages.
Join us tomorrow for a view on VAS innovation for the region, cloud & enterprise services, rural telecoms, and to see the ICT Entrepreneurs Hub. Speakers will represent Orange, Africa24, People Input, MTN Cameroon, Comviva, Sonatel, Airtel Burkina Faso, among other companies.

Make sure to join us for Day 2

There is an outstanding speaker line-up for day 2 of the event as well -   
make sure to join us tomorrow!   
What are your thoughts on this year's West & Central Africa Com?   
Tweet about your experience using #WCACOM @allaboutcom on twitter!
Take a look at the photos from the packed busy conference
Click here: http://yfrog.com/ny6mleej
Sponsors of West & Central Africa Com
- Alcatel-Lucent
- ACE Consortium
- Telecom Italia Sparkle
- Sonatel
- Comviva
- Corning 
- Tellabs