15 Nov 2012

Africa has joined the party - in a big way

Written by Chuck Green, CEO of Helios Towers Africa

The story of Africa today tells us that sometimes it is better to be a late starter that to be a pioneer.  Pioneers, as they used to say in the era of cowboys and indians, get all the arrows. 

A generation ago people in the old world would still patronisingly refer to Africa as the “dark continent”.  Now, as the developed economies struggle, Africa is likely to have seven out of the top ten fastest growing economies over the next five years, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.  Africa’s “lion economies” are growing more strongly than Asia’s “tiger economies”.  Africa’s collective GDP is forecast to hit 2.6 trillion dollars by 2020.  Africa has stepped out of the darkness into the spotlight.

In one industry after another capitalism is alive and well in Africa.  Home grown African entrepreneurs are investing, trading and creating new jobs by the million.  The World Bank reckons that by 2015 100 million Africans will have an income of 3,000 dollars or more.  As a result, the spending power of the African consumer is growing while hard pressed European and American consumers continue grimly to deleverage their debts.

All across the world information and communications technology has been a driving force for transforming both the economic growth of nations and the lifestyle of individuals and families.  But, as with any relatively new innovation, some of the earliest versions quickly became clunky and outdated and sometimes caused legacy problems that impeded the development of the next generation of products.

By arriving at bit late at the party Africa has been free to go directly to the best products and the most efficient and user-friendly infrastructure.  Africa has become home to a disproportionate share of the estimated two billion people who have a mobile phone but no bank account.  Entrepreneurial investment right across the continent has facilitated the rapid integration of mobile technology and financial products. 

This is creating a nonstop stream of new opportunities to serve the consumer, the neighbourhood and the small business directly – frequently cutting costs by eliminating the bureaucratic middle man. 

Telecom tower sharing is a classic illustration.  Its arrival proved to be a landmark in Africa’s telecoms sector, acting as an enabler for the increased use of telephones in rural as well as urban areas.  Much of its attraction is that tower sharing brings benefits to operators and customers alike. Instead of having three or four base stations in a village, all running generators simultaneously, tower sharing allows for a single wireless network and for the management of power and site maintenance in a much cheaper and more environmentally friendly way.  Telecom operators can focus on serving their customers rather than looking after their infrastructure.  Customers gain a better service for less money. The carbon footprint is reduced.  Everybody wins.

This sort of communications development would benefit any part of the globe.  But for Africa, with its notoriously dreadful roads, the telco and towerco revolution is making a transformative impact. 

And not just in mobile banking.  For example, telephonic agro-information is making possible the emergence of “e-farming” – programmes which bridge the rural divide between the farmer and the remote expert via programmes that disseminate and share agronomic information and advice through mobile phones.

Trends like this mean that investment continues to accelerate, cross-border trade flourishes, businesses diversify and achieve economies of scale.  Millions are being propelled out of poverty and into the shops.  Africa is far from trouble free, but the evidence from more and more industries indicate that its greatest days lie ahead.

AfricaCom leading a new generation of tech writers

The two young Cape Town bloggers...

Two young Cape Town bloggers will have their dreams come true when they are awarded with a tablet each to capture the industry breaking news at AfricaCom 2012 taking place 13 – 15 November 2012 at the CTICC.

Awarded by Julie Rey, Research Director, Com World Series (AfricaCom 2012), the two young girls, Simone Johnson and Lauren Leonard will spend three days at the continent’s largest digital communications conference and exhibition, getting the low down on what’s happening in the digi-sphere and reporting on it, under the mentorship and guidance of Swift Consultting’s Liron Segev; Africa Telecoms magazine’s Bradley Shaw and Kaz Henderson, founding partner of Networx PR. 

Run in conjunction with SABC2’s youth programme Hectic Nine-9, Johnson and Leonard were selected as the two finalists due to their submissions, easily out classing their nearest rivals.  Johnson, who will be turning 22 years of age on 27 November, aside from receiving an early birthday present, has a project management qualification under her belt and is passionate about communications and aims to make a valuable contribution to the youth interested in following a career in the digi-sphere;

Leonard who is currently studying journalism in Cape Town, was shortlisted for her insight and take on the communications realm saying “Technology educated me. Technology goes beyond cellphones and iPods, it has transformed the human mind”.

While AfricaCom remains a senior business executive focused event, there is a lot happening that the bloggers can get to grips with that will be important to convey to youth considering working in this dynamic and impactful arena.  The Entrepreneurs Incubator Hub, the Apps Developer Workshop and even AfricaCast are three key areas that the girls can explore and feedback on.  The first order of business though, will be for the two young reporters to sit in on the Africa Industry Outlook session which kicks off the conference – their take-out on what’s happening on the continent and how it affects them and their peers, should make for some interesting reading.    

About AfricaCom 2012
AfricaCom is Africa’s largest communications conference & exhibition.  Now in its 15th year, this trailblazing event gathers together 7,000 senior decision-makers from the telecoms, media and ICT industries.  This year a record 200+ speakers will share their vision of Africa’s future communications landscape and the agenda has expanded to incorporate many more co-located events which will attract new audiences from the apps development, broadcast, digital music, entrepreneur, investment and business sectors.

For further information please contact:

Kaz Henderson – kaz@networxpr.co.za;  M: +27 82 339 1199
Elize Engle – elize@networxpr.co.za; M: +27 74 132 3255

Announcing 2012 Winners: Africa Com Awards

The Africa Com Awards 2012 received more entries than ever before.  All of an extremely high calibre, this is a clear tribute to the exciting and innovative work that’s taken place in Africa over the past 12 months. 

Congratulations to all our worthy 2012 winners.

Africa Com Awards 2012 Winners

Best Network Improvement
Helios Towers Africa – Shared Telecoms Infrastructure
Most Innovative Service
Orange Group – Deezer
Best Quality User Experience
Sicap – Mobile Money ATM
Best Cost Efficiency Initiative
ZTE – Solution for Airtel
Rural Telecoms Award
Viettel – Movitel Rural Network
Best Backhaul Solution for Africa
Comtech EF Data – Mobile Backhaul Solution
Best Marketing Campaign
Prezence Digital – #Mandelastory
Best Smart-Device for Africa
Etisalat Misr – Smart Device
Best Pan African Initiative
WIOCC – Seamless, High-Capacity International Connectivity Ring around Africa
The 2012 Mobile Data and Social Media Award
Bozza Mobile – The Bozza.mobi App
Industry Personality of the Year
Alan Knott-Craig – Cell C
Changing Lives Award
Safaricom – DAKTARI-1525

Africa Apps Awards

Best Smart Phone App
Prezence Digital – Ster-Kinekor mobile app

Best Feature Phone App

Orange African Social Venture Prize

Following the successful first edition in 2011, the Orange African Social Venture Prize has been awarded to three entrepreneurs or start-ups offering solutions that use ICT in innovative ways to meet the needs of people living in Africa.
The panel of judges, consisting of Orange specialists, the media and institutions that promote development, chose the three prize-winners from among almost 450 candidate projects covering a variety of fields such as healthcare, agriculture, education, energy, industry and commerce illustrating the high potential of telecommunications for development in Africa.
The winning projects are:
§  Vivus Limited, a start-up from Côte d'Ivoire that allows agricultural or farm produce traders to optimize their stocks, and thereby avoid waste, by using a SMS-based system providing information on ongoing deals.
§  Takachar provides a system that has already been launched in Kenya to improve waste management by using telecoms technologies to track waste collection in real time.
§  The e-commerce business Niokobok enables Senegalese people living abroad to send basic necessities to their families back home avoiding the extra cost of transferring money.

Etisalat Prize for Innovation
The ‘Etisalat Nigeria Prize for Innovation’ seeks to promote the utilisation of mobile broadbansd in Africa.  The inaugural ‘Etisalat Prize for Innovation is aimed at encouraging and celebrating valuable innovation in the African market and will awarded in two categories; the first prize of $25, 000 for the most innovative product or service launched in the last 12months and a second prize of $10,000 for the most innovative idea. 
Etisalat believes innovation should go beyond improvements in existing products and services and instead have real valuable social or economic impact to customers.

Winner of first prize of $25, 000 is Mobile Maths Practice

Winner of second prize of $10,000 iConnect Project

Speaking on the success of the competition which witnessed an impressive array of entries for the two award categories, Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Steven Evans, explained that the competition was instituted to provide the opportunity for innovative and relevant mobile broadband products/services and ideas.
He said, “We are delighted at the creativity shown by all the entries and this is a clear indication of the importance of broadband in Africa. Innovative broadband projects, products and services have improved the way we live and work and so we launched this award because we realise the importance of broadband in the industry. Innovation is core to our business strategy at Etisalat Nigeria and we see ourselves as a young and innovative business setting the pace for others in the Nigerian telecommunications industry”.
Mobile Maths Practice – a mobile application to help students around the globe prepare for maths exams.  The invention relates to wireless communications and methods and systems in which a wireless service provider may offer wireless data messages to mobile subscribers.
iConnect Project – supplies mobile broadband internet connection vehicles to schools in a variety of geo-locations.  The vehicles are refurbished shipping containers connected to a truck head and are fully mobile and are therefore scheduled into a school’s timetable which enables sharing and full connectivity.


About AfricaCom Awards
The AfricaCom Awards celebrate and reward excellence in the African Telecommunications Market.  Now in its 5th year, the Awards ceremony is the high-point of the AfricaCom conference and exhibition.  http://www.africacomawards.com

About AfricaCom  2012
AfricaCom is Africa’s largest communications conference & exhibition.  Now in its 15th year, this trailblazing event gathers together 8,000 senior decision-makers from the telecoms, media and ICT industries.  This year a record 200+ speakers will share their vision of Africa’s future communications landscape and the agenda has expanded to incorporate 14 co-located events which will attract new audiences from the apps development, broadcast and business sectors. For more info see: www.comworldseries.com/africa.

About Orange
France Telecom-Orange is one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators with sales of 45.3 billion euros for 2011 and has 170,000 employees worldwide at 30 September 2012, including 105,000 employees in France. Present in 33 countries, the Group has a total customer base of 227 million customers at 30 September 2012, including 169 million mobile customers and 15 million broadband internet (ADSL, fibre) customers worldwide. Orange is one of the main European operators for mobile and broadband internet services and, under the brand Orange Business Services, is one of the world leaders in providing telecommunication services to multinational companies.

France Telecom (NYSE:FTE) is listed on NYSE Euronext Paris (compartment A) and on the New York Stock Exchange.
For more information (on the internet and on your mobile): www.orange.com, www.orange-business.com, www.orange-innovation.tv or to follow us on Twitter: @presseorange.
Orange and any other Orange product or service names included in this material are trade marks of Orange Brand Services Limited, Orange France or France Telecom.

About Etisalat
In just 4 years of operations, Etisalat Nigeria has become a major industry player with a growing subscriber base of over 14 million in a highly competitive market. Its portfolio of voice and data-centric products include – easy starter, easycliq, easybusiness, and easyblaze; all tailor-made to meet the needs of its customers. For its outstanding performance, it has won several awards including ‘Brand of the Year’, ‘Best Telecom Customer Service’ Telecom Innovations Company of the Year, and ‘Most Innovative Corporate Social Responsibility Company’, among others. Etisalat Nigeria is one of the 16 operations of the Etisalat Group that spans across Africa, Middle East and Asia serving over 170 million subscribers; and it is committed to delivering innovative and quality services to its growing subscribers.

14 Nov 2012

Thousands gathered today at AfricaCom to see star speakers

***Join us for day 3! *** Share your thoughts on #AfricaCom @allaboutcom

Thousands gathered today at AfricaCom to see star speakers and find out about the latest products in the digital market
At 9am today in sunny Cape Town the convention centre was buzzing with people: visitors of the AfricaCom exhibition open for the 2nd day as well as conference delegates here to see some of the show’s star speakers take the stage in the keynote session.

They were certainly not disappointed. The session’s keynote speaker was Alan Knott-Craig, arguably the most experienced man in South Africa’s mobile market, having worked at Telkom, launched Vodacom ZA and turned it into a pan-African business, and now heading challenger operator Cell C. 

He gave a frank, inspiring and entertaining presentation on the evolution of the telecoms market in Africa and future challenges and opportunities.  His keynote was followed by 2 panel discussions: one on the evolution of the digital ecosystem (with panellists from Orange, MTN and Alcatel-Lucent) and one on handset strategies with Nokia, MTN, Orange, Unitel and Qualcomm.

Following the keynote the conference broke into streams and 3 co-located events: AfricaCast for the broadcasting industry, Enterprise ICT Africa targeted at CIOs and IT professionals, and the new AfricApps, for the developer ecosystem. 

Outside the conference sessions, the AfricaCom exhibition has been full of activity. Over 300 companies showcased their solutions and products for the African market, while the thousands of visitors mingled, checked out new products, shared ideas and made new contacts.

The exhibition closed at 7pm with Alcatel-Lucent's networking drinks at the Masterclass Theatre.

Today is due to end in glamorous fashion at the AfricaCom Awards (currently taking place at the Waterfront Lookout), where the achievements of Africa’s digital industry will be celebrated over a gala dinner with live music and entertainment. 

Tomorrow’s conference will focus on innovation, with contributions from entrepreneurs, content providers, app developers, social media players, telcos and much more. Don’t miss the sessions as some of the world’s biggest brands will be sharing their views: Facebook, Groupon, Universal, Endemol, YouTube and more.

Enterprise ICT

Enterprise ICT Africa opened today at the CTICC for the first day of illuminating discussions around the ICT needs of enterprises in Africa. It was perhaps only to be expected that Cloud would figure prominently in discussions as industry leaders join to attempt a 'demystifying' of the subject. All agreed that Cloud is a 'must play' area, but the questions remain - how, where and with whom? 
Speakers debated the issues, and the panel included experts like Camille Mendler, Principal Analyst for Verticals at Informa Telecoms & Media, Riaan Van Niekerk, CIO at McGregor BFA, Fidel Mabutho Mbhele, Director: ICT Policy & Strategy, Western Cape Govt., Edwin Paalvast, SVP, Service Provider EMEAR at Cisco, and Shinya Kukita, Chief Manager - International SI Service Business Development Division for NEC.

Join us tomorrow for further insight into this market opportunity.


AfricApps launched today with a fantastic day one of interactive developer sessions. Opening with Paul Lee the hugely respected Senior Product Manager at Google who is responsible for championing Google's mobile data strategy in Africa. Other major highlights included presentations from Afrozaar and 2go, culminating in a mobile apps dragon den!

AfricApps developers bravely pitching their apps

Make sure to join us for Day 3!

What's happening tomorrow: take a look at the full agenda here
AfricaCom Conference sessions

- 09:00 - 11:30 AfricaCom Keynotes – Vision for Africa: Service Innovation in a Digital Africa (location - Auditorium 2)
- 12:10 – 15:30 Content & Data  (location - Auditorium 2)
- 12:10 – 13:00 Infrastructure Sharing (location – Roof Terrace room)
- 12:10 – 13:20 Roaming & Interconnect  (location – MR 1.41)
- 14:00 – 15:00 Rural Telecoms  (location – Roof Terrace room)
- 11:50 – 17:40 Africa Cast (location – MR 1.61)
- 11:30 – 17:00 Enterprise ICT (location – Strelitzia Restaurant)
- 12:00 – 17:35 AfricApps (location – Jasminium Restaurant)
- 15:40 – 16:20 AfricaCom closing Keynotes – Regulatory Evolution  Africa (location - Auditorium 2)

The Exhibition
(FREE for all Visitors)

- 10:00 - 17:00 - The AfricaCom Exhibition(FREE for all Visitors)
- 10:30 – 12:10 The AfricaCom Masterclass Theatre - located in the exhibition (FREE for all Visitors)
-  Sessions on Network strategies - Mobile Broadband /LTE, Fibre and Satellite

AfricaCom delegates are tweeting - join them!

"Africacom is certainly gaining huge momentum now. Very impressive turnout and quality of showcase and speakers."
Mayan Mathen, Dimension Data @mayanm

"At Africacom 2012 in Cape Town. Again convinced of the fact that Africa is the real frontier for growth and future opportunities!"
Pieter Swanepoel @swapieter

 “Brilliant #AfricaCom conference. The startup ecosystem still be discovered. It's a shared goal of all those that attended. We'll get there!”
Marc Elias @ MarcBElias

“#AfricaCom the CEM master class was outstanding. Thanks.”
MM @mishamatee

Don't forget to tweet about your thoughts on this year's AfricaCom?
Tweet about your experience using #AfricaCom @allaboutcom on twitter!

We look forward to welcoming you tomorrow!

Kind Regards

The AfricaCom Team

13 Nov 2012

The 15th Annual AfricaCom opened today in sunny Cape Town

***Join us for day 2! *** Share your thoughts on #AfricaCom @allaboutcom

The 15th Annual AfricaCom opened today in sunny Cape Town. Visitors turned up en masse to the now extended event with new conference sessions and a bigger than ever exhibition. For the first time an extra day was added to the event, allowing participants more flexibility to share their time between the conference sessions and meeting people in the exhibition.

From the opening at 11am the Cape Town convention centre was buzzing with activity. People coming from all corners of Africa and beyond were checking the displays in the exhibition, catching up with contacts and checking the conference sessions.

Three new sessions were scheduled for delegates, all so popular there was only standing space left in the rooms. In the morning the Africa Industry Outlook - led by Informa Telecoms & Media’s analyst team - gave an in-depth overview of new revenue opportunities in the African digital market.

In the afternoon the Mobile Money Lab looked at both established mobile money services from companies such as MTN and Fundamo/Visa and new models from companies like Zunguz, Pbel and Ching. Running in parallel was a new session dedicated to those doing most to promote innovation in the market: the Entrepreneurs Incubator Hub, with representatives of investors, incubators, accelerators and entrepreneurs.

AfricaCom has become an unmissable meeting place for Africa’s booming digital sector as well as for companies around the world checking the opportunities in the market. “It’s great to see that as the event evolves with the market, a new crowd has joined the traditional telco professionals from the content, new media and enterprise sectors” says Julie Rey, Research Director at organisers Informa Telecoms & Media.

Tomorrow the main keynote session will open the day with a presentation from Cell C’s CEO Alan Knott-Craig and panel discussions on the evolving ecosystems and handsets & devices.


Make sure to join us for Day 2!

What's happening tomorrow:

AfricaCom Conference sessions

- 9:00 - 11:10 AfricaCom Keynotes – Vision for Africa: Game changing Market Evolution
- 12:00 – 16:30 Connecting Africa
- 12:00 – 16:30 Customer Experience Management
- 12:00 – 16:30 Mobile Broadband & LTE
- 11:45 – 17:40 Africa Cast
- 11:30 – 19:00 Enterprise ICT
- 12:00 – 19:00 AfricApps
- 16:30 – 16:50 AfricaCom Keynotes - Vision for Africa: Investing in Convergence


The Exhibition (FREE for all Visitors)

- 10:00 - 19:00 - The AfricaCom Exhibition
- 11:00 – 16:00 The AfricaCom Masterclass Theatre - sessions on Vas & CEM


AfricaCom Awards

From 19:00 AfricaCom Awards 2012 - celebrating the triumphs and innovations of Africa’s telecom, media and ICT markets taking place at the Waterfront Lookout.

What are your thoughts on this year's AfricaCom?

Tweet about your experience using #AfricaCom @allaboutcom on twitter!

We looking forward to welcoming you tomorrow!
The AfricaCom Team

12 Nov 2012

The AfricaCom team is getting ready for tomorrow's show

The AfricaCom team is getting ready for tomorrow's show. The whole team is buzzing with excitement as we prepare to welcome 8000+ delegates, 200+ speakers and 300+ exhibitors.

The FTTH Africa Summit (Day 1) took place at 8am and welcomed over 120+ delegates. The summit had industry experts sharing their experiences and best practice models on variety of topics aimed at the telecoms sector, policy-makers, ministries, local, provincial and national government leaders as well competition authorities.

The venue is extremely packed with delegates on each seat
The Mobile Monday pre-event AfricaCom Networking party is currently taking place at Trinity Cape Town from 16.30 to 21.30. The evening features presentations from speakers such as Alan Knott-Craig JR’s before moving on to networking, drinks, snacks, music and more – all within an informal setting.

Alan Knott-Craig JR’s presentation was well received!
Qualcomm reports "about 5bn smartphones to be shipped from 2012 - 2016 of which half is going to Africa"
The Mobile Monday Networking Party is buzzing with lots of people
Nearly all of the exhibition stands have been set up. We look forward to seeing you all tomorrow until Thursday 15 November.

Convergence Partners stand is already built!
Spice Vas Africa is getting ready to welcome you tomorrow!

Visit www.comworldseries.com/africa for more information about AfricaCom.