18 Dec 2014

AfricaCom 2014 speaker Dov Bar Gera, CEO of YooMee on the advantages of LTE

Dov Bar Gera, CEO, YooMee discusses the advantages of LTE and how YooMee are reaching their goal of bringing broadband wireless high speed internet into sub-Saharan Africa.

AfricaCom is the  biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision-makers from the entire digital ecosystem… For more information, visit our website: http://africa.comworldseries.com/

Interview by Telecoms.com

15 Dec 2014

Brett Loubser, Wechat Africa, on the relationship between OTTs and Telco Industry

AfricaCom 2014 speaker Brett Loubser, Head of Wechat Africa discusses one of the hot topics at AfricaCom this year - the relationship between OTTs and Telco industry.

AfricaCom is the  biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision-makers from the entire digital ecosystem… For more information, visit our website: http://africa.comworldseries.com/

Interview by Telecoms.com

11 Dec 2014

Arto Tiitinen, CEO, Tramigo on their vehicle tracking products

AfricaCom 2014 exhibitor Arto Tiitinen, CEO at Tramigo discusses their vehicle tracking products and the company's success in Sub-Saharan Africa.

AfricaCom is the  biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision-makers from the entire digital ecosystem… For more information, visit our website: http://africa.comworldseries.com/

Interview by Telecoms.com

5 Dec 2014

Arthur Bastings, Millicom, on Telco and OTT partnerships

AfricaCom 2014 speaker, Arthur Bastings, Executive Vice President Africa at Millicom, gives an insight into his panel discussion on Telco and OTT partnerships at this years event.

AfricaCom is the  biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision-makers from the entire digital ecosystem… For more information, visit our website: http://africa.comworldseries.com/

Interview by Telecoms.com

3 Dec 2014

AfricaCom 2014 Video

Re-live the excitement of AfricaCom 2014!

Held on 11-13 November 2014 - AfricaCom is the biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision-makers from the entire digital ecosystem…

For more information visit: http://comworldseries.com/africa

27 Nov 2014

Announcing key themes at Connecting West Africa 2015 (Dakar, Senegal, 9-10 June): Get involved now!



The 2015 Connecting West Africa conference will take place in Dakar, Senegal on 9-10 June and we are now planning the programme. 

The conference will cover the following major trends affecting West Africa’s telecoms & ICT market:

  • Developing broadband across the region: regulation, technologies (4G/LTE, satellite, fibre), investment
  • Digital migration: how is the 17th June deadline being met and how will the digital landscape change?
  • Monetising data services: building a new ecosystem & partnerships
  • Enterprise services: strategies for CIOs
  • Cost-efficiency strategies to improve affordability
  • Rural telecoms: technologies and strategies to reach under-served areas
  • Device strategies to increase access to services

In order to make the event as relevant and insightful as possible, we need your feedback! Please get in touch to send us your thoughts on the topics to include and the speakers/companies you want to hear from. If you're interested in sharing your thoughts or if you would like to speak at Connecting West Africa, please post comments in the Linkedin group or contact us.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards
Julie & the Connecting West Africa team

26 Nov 2014

Winner of Ampion Venture Bus announced at AfricaCom



After an exciting journey, this year’s Southern Africa AMPION Venture Bus winner was chosen at the final event at AfricaCom in Cape Town on 13th November.

Clean water for Africa: E-Maji tackles one of Africa's most pressing issues

In Cape Town, nine teams pitched their newly formed startup ideas at the AfricaCom masterclass stage in front of a judging panel of industry experts and an audience of ICT enthusiasts and executives from around the world. The 20 person Jury included leading business representatives such as Emilian Popa, CEO at Groupon South Africa.

Winning on the day was team E-Maji which pitched their smart water quality testing unit. It measures water quality at a drinking water source in real time. If a contamination is detected, the system then uses a built-in GPRS transmitter to send GPS coordinates of the contaminated water source to authorities to facilitate a speedy reaction, but not before the unit shuts down water supply using an electronic water valve. The team designed the unit to be used with Africa’s 700 000 boreholes which have proven very complicated and difficult for authorities to maintain and monitor.
Speaking on the sidelines of the AfricaCom event, co-founder Taf Makura narrated how the team came up with their innovation: "When we got on the bus we had a very clear and simple objective, we were going to use technology to solve a problem without focusing on the technology itself. We were aware of how technological requirements of any kind can quickly get in the way of mass adoption in Africa. Our technology had to work in the background without placing any technical requirements on the people it was meant to help.”
His partner Seida Gharsallah, co-founder of E-Maji and a banker of the year with ING Netherlands, added: “We have every intention of exploring the feasibility of this project!”

This year's AMPION Southern Africa startups are:
  • M.E.M. (Mens et Manus): online platform allowing entrepreneurs in rural areas to obtain or develop knowledge on product design and development of hardware and software consumer products via a feature phone
  • Keetla: provides a platform for schools, parents, teachers and students to be efficiently involved in the education process
  • Road Rules: mobile app to study for ones driver's license on mobile devices
  • Shining Homes: a service allowing clients to book cleaners for their homes in a simple and convenient way
  • Mlimi: platform connecting the agriculture ecosystem allowing for access to inputs, technical information, markets, funding, and a community of like minded stakeholders
  • Da-mark.com: bridges the gap between the informal and the formal sector in Africa
  • My Time for Change: easy to use, transparent web platform improving citizen engagement by connecting organisations in need and potential volunteers
  • SchoolitUp: Working on making education material ( books, uniforms etc.) accessible to everyone by providing an online platform linking both parties
  • E-Maji: see above

AMPIONeer Netia A. McCray, Founder and Executive Director of Mbadika, wrote a daily recap during the 3500km trip from Harare to Cape Town on the AMPION blog. Her impressions on the journey can be read on ampionblog.tumblr.com. The unique experience, she concludes, had everyone on the edge of their seat:"I feel not one AMPIONeer would disagree with the statement that our journey was literally a life-changing experience." Julie Rey, Conference Director of AfricaCom, said of the partnership with Ampion: "There is a great amount of creativity and entrepreneurship in Africa but ideas are not enough without financial backing and business acumen. That is why we started the Entrepreneurs Incubator Hub at AfricaCom and we partner with organisations such as Ampion, who support entrepreneurs and enable the exchange of information and contacts. We look forward to hearing of future successes of Ampion hackathon participants."

About the AMPION Venture Bus
AMPION is the leading pan-African entrepreneurship initiative to enable young Africans to start ICT companies, often creating considerable social impact. AMPION organizes 5 day Venture Bus programs accompanied by international mentors and followed by an extensive incubation program. The Venture Bus journeys are regularly covered by media such as CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera & Bloomberg TV and brought some of Africa’s most innovative companies to life.

25 Nov 2014

Challenges and Solutions for African operators – AfricaCom 2014

Written by: Anthony Vimal, VP, Sales - EMEA - Procera Networks
Source: Procera Networks Blog

AfricaCom 2014 is over and as I sit here by the sea watching the sunset over Cape Town Bay, memories of AfricaCom 2002 comes to my mind. In 2002, when I first attended the AfricaCom show, there were three key challenges faced by African operators:

  • How can we make voice telephony affordable to more people?
  • How can we increase mobile coverage to attract more subscribers?
  • How can we provide better voice quality to our existing customers?

Twelve years later, with high mobile penetration, good mobile coverage and reasonably good voice quality, these challenges have been resolved.

Now with all African operators having launched 3G, the utmost question in their mind is not about whether they should launch 4G. It’s about how can they maximize the limited 3G bandwidth they have to provide a better customer experience and better data services. Today in Sub Saharan Africa, the very first experience of Internet for most of the population will be via a wireless device. However, the high cost of international access bandwidth and limited 3G spectrums is forcing operators to look at how they can maximize the use of their existing bandwidth. In the West, the OTT services such as Netflix and YouTube have seen a rapid growth, but in Africa these types of high data consumption services have been low due to high cost of data transmission and bandwidth.

This has led to many wholesale data service providers offering managed wholesale data services to African operators using satellite and sea/land cable networks. Operators are also starting to deploy data optimization, traffic/bandwidth management and customer experience management solutions to maximize their limited bandwidth. As an example of bandwidth cost, some of the Procera customers in West Africa are paying €300 per month per Mbps for international Internet access, compared to a cost of €4 per month per Mbps in European countries. Some of the Procera customers are using the PacketLogic solution to shape their traffic in their international access links saving bandwidth by 20% to 25%, achieving pay back within 4 months on Procera solutions.

More and more undersea cables are also being laid along the East and West cost of Africa increasing bandwidth to Africa. Satellite operators are launching more geo stationary satellites to increase connectivity to land locked African countries. This combined with operators using traffic management solutions such as Procera PacketLogic and data optimization tools, is enabling end users to get better customer experience and better access to mobile data services.

The key message for any telecom vendor operating in the African market is that world solutions are not always applicable to third world challenges. The key focus for African operators for the next two years will remain reducing the cost of bandwidth and increasing better use of the available bandwidth to provide better customer experience to their subscribers. Procera’s solution RAN perspectives, which was short listed for the GSM Best Customer Experience Management award, in combination with the Procera PacketLogic solution, provides an ideal way for African operators to maximize the use of their existing bandwidth and improve customer experience.

AfricaCom this year was larger than ever with a lot of vendors and many more attendees. I have personally seen this show grow over ten fold in size over the last twelve years. The universal availability of mobile telephony in Africa has brought more benefits to the people of this continent. Long may it continue and grow!

For more information on AfricaCom, visit our website: http://africa.comworldseries.com/

21 Nov 2014

AfricaCom 2014 – Smart Phones, Cheap Phones and even Smarter Cheaper Phones

The mobile ‘phone’ in all its guises, dominated the chatter throughout AfricaCom this year.  The main exhibition hall, keynotes and many of the events were awash with new devices, new operating systems and new services that can be used on mobiles.

Smartphones, cheaper smartphones and even cheaper smarterphones – how to get more phones to more people and offer them something they need and want, and ultimately convert them from feature based devices, to the ever expanding digitally connected world around them. 

But once they have these devices then what?  Content.  Cracking the code on content will determine how successful a product, service or even operator is.  Understanding who people are and, what they want was another common theme dominating many of the sessions and corridor conversations. VAS giants such as Mahindra Comviva to garage developers like I’m Bored and those in between, agree that their business success depends on really getting to know their target audience as an ‘individual,’ and not as part of a mass segment, even as much as collating and tracking 43 personal attributes about a customer to better serve him or her.  Raul Martinez, Commercial Director Africa, Millicom was quoted as saying: “it’s important to know what makes customers tick.”

Paying for these services is also made easier with the many mobile payment methods – traditional and exotic – available to people all across the continent.  Advances in inter-operability payment systems and international remittance via mobile also made an appearance.  These developments will free up trade and add to economic and social progress as they are also tailored to each customer’s payment preference.

This more customer-centric approach is being considered from operators to brands such as BMW’s Connected Drive, which has a captive audience, supplying them with information as and when they need - in the moment.   Technological interfaces are making life easier all round, indicating that the entire digital ecosystem is shifting.  This was also summed up by Dave Coles, Executive Business Development, Platco “We’re going to see a lot of change in the industry, it’s an exciting time.”

However, AfricaCom’s Conference Director, Julie Rey’s comment perhaps best encapsulates what went down here this year: “There has been a palpable buzz across the whole event – all the very different industry players are talking collaboration and next year we look forward to seeing industry embarking on the next phase of its digital transformation.”

18 Nov 2014

AfricaCom Awards 2014 – Winners Announced!

2014 Winners

“The overall quality of the entries this year surpassed expectation,” commented Adam Thompson, Research Manager, Informa Telecoms & Media.  “The innovation taking place in the digital ecosystem across the entire continent is heartening and also world class.  Many are leaders in their fields and pioneers of new technology and services answering the needs of emerging markets that more traditional markets can and should take note of"

Congratulations to all shortlisted entries – the winners for each category in 2014 are:

Best App for Africa

Bharti Airtel- Internet.org App

Best Connectivity Solutions for Africa

WIOCC – Connecting Somalia – closing the final link

Best Cost Efficiency Solutions For Africa

Huawei – Africa’s 1st SDN Innovation

Best Device for Africa

Solarway - Solar Powered Mobile Phone Charging Station

Best Marketing Campaign

Huawei – MTN’s Mandela Birthday‘ 67 Minutes

Best Mobile Money Solution

Bharti Airtel – Airtel Money

Best Network Improvement

WIOCC – Extending WIOCC’s Pan-African Network into Somalia

Best Pan African Initiative
Liquid Telecom – East Africa Fibre Ring

Breakthrough LTE Development

Ericsson – Breakthrough LTE Development – Unitel

Changing Lives Awards

Afrigis - Gender-Based Violence Command Centre (GBVCC)

Excellence in Customer Experience Management

Orange – ’100% Successful Calls’ Suites of services

Most Innovative Service

Millicom Tanzania TIGO – Tigo Pesa – International Mobile Money Transfer

VSAT Innovation for Africa

Liquid Telecom – Shared MPLS Satellite service

Etisalat Winner Idea

MEMMCOL (Interactive Media Interface Design i.e. IMID)

INTERACTIVE MEDIA INTERFACE DESIGN is a design for Energy Meters, it is specifically tailored towards helping Consumers remotely monitor their energy consumption using their Mobile devices (windows, IOS and the Android Platforms). The user interface is unique, interactive and modeled to look like an energy meter with its keypad and display.

IMID will encourage and drive internet usage, promote civilization and be of immense advantage to the energy industry.

Etisalat Winner Product

Exam Mate

Exam Mate is an exam preparatory software, specifically for Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board exams (JAMB). The app was developed as an offline product for mobile PC’s to aid usage amongst exam candidates who do not have access to mobile broadband. Presently, the product is available for download at an online market hub for usage on mobile PC’s.

 From an economic point of view, with an average of 1.5 million candidates seating for JAMB examination annually, getting the product at a very affordable rate across to a projected target of 1 million candidates will generate high revenue.

With detailed voiced explanations in various subjects, applied knowledge will be imparted into the candidates which will remain relevant in whichever field they find themselves later in life.

Orange Social Venture Prize 2014

Out of the 452 submitted projects through Starafrica Orange website , the Orange African Social Venture Prize team has selected 10 projects as finalists and 1 favorite internet project.

The three prize-winners for this year have been selected by the Jury after careful analysis of each of the 11 shortlisted projects.  The API prize has also been selected by the Jury.

The short list is below:

    KamerStartup (Cameroon)
    Station Energy (Ivory Coast)
    Mewanko Farm (Cameroon)
    Agzakhana (Egypt)
    Baobab (Senegal)
    Modisar (Botswana)
    Senemar+ (Cameroon)
    Twinklebox (Kenya)
    Abyster (Cameroon)
    Bouquet Pass Santé (Senegal)
    Pubcell (Ivory Coast) – Favourite internet project

The first prize  has been awarded to Modisar, Botswana.

The project is a livestock farm management application (desktop, web & mobile)  that makes it easy for a farmer to manage his\her farm. The mission of Modisar is of resuscitating the livestock industry and cultivating livestock farming interest among the youth by marrying today’s technologies and the nation’s passion for farming, Modisar aims to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the livestock sector, a major contributor to the national Gross Domestic Product in Botswana.

The second prize  has been awarded to Station Energy, Côte d’Ivoire.

Station Energy has developed an innovative retail concept of energy services. Inspired by both the model service stations gasoline and African grocery shop Station Energy is a solution to enable energy access and affordability for all. In Côte d’Ivoire, it is a shop equipped with photovoltaic panels to provide various shared services (rental batteries allowing access to lighting, renting cold spaces, Internet access, sales of low consumption equipment, etc.) in rural or urban areas.

The third prize  has been awarded to Bouquet Pass Santé, Senegal.

This project is a platform that allows the diaspora or persons residing in Senegal, to pay medical consultation for yourself or for a loved one directly online.

The Mewanko Farm project – Cameroon received the Orange Partner API Prize.

This Cameroon project’s concept is to create a digital community platform for small producers who want to sell their products online. The aim is to increase the income of small farmers by helping them develop their markets through ICT, thus improving their living conditions.

This project will improve food safety and human health by educating farmers about the quality of their production on one hand, and by informing and educating the end consumer on the quality of the food they buy on the other hand.

Congratulations to all 2014 AfricaCom Awards winners!

17 Nov 2014

Collaboration, affordability, data, investment – Business is Booming at AfricaCom 2014

Cape Town, 11-13 November 2014 - Apparent in the number of visitors and quality of stands at this year’s show, business is booming in the telecommunications, ICT and digital media ecosystem. 

OTT-operators: collaboration is the order of the day

The conference started on day 1 with a debate on the evolving relationships between mobile operators (represented by Airtel, MTN, Millicom, Orange) and OTT players (represented by facebook and Twitter).

Historically there has been friction between these two sectors as operators have seen their own subscribers increasingly use OTT services in preference to their own, but at AfricaCom 2014 there were strong signs that we’re entering a new, more collaborative phase. “It was an excellent forum”, Ahmad Farroukh, CEO of MTN SA said. “I came with sharpened weapons, a bit, but I was very happily surprised by Facebook in the way they put things into perspective. I think the approach is completely different now, telcos are not just the pipe – we need to cooperate for our mutual benefit  for three billion people to have more access to the internet”.
Farroukh’s experience was echoed by Arthur Bastings, Executive Vice President Africa at Millicom. “It was a really interesting panel, which featured a more conciliatory stance on the part of the telecoms industry. With players such as facebook, I think historically the relationship has been a bit more fraught, with tension over who gets to participate in what, and how. What I’m seeing is much more realism: as the industry is embracing the realities of the African market, it’s obvious to everyone that facebook in particular is a great entry point to the internet for African customers, so partnerships are in the interest of everyone”. MarcRennard, EVP of Middle East, Africa and Asia at Orange Group, called for more cooperation in investing in networks and services: “we need to work together to target rural areas, to reduce costs, and all stakeholders in the ecosystem must participate in this effort”.

Matthew Reed, Practice Leader, Middle East and Africa at industry analysts Ovum, commented on the discussion: “we are seeing a growing number of partnerships between operators and OTT providers in African markets, but it is still early days in the developments of these new business models, and it is not clear to what extent they will indeed be ‘win-win’”.

Bringing internet to Africa with LTE

The second day of the conference was all about data: how to deliver better and more affordable access to data, what services to introduce, and what devices to support it. The session opened with an inspiring presentation from Fredrik Jejdling, Head of Sub-Saharan Africa at Ericsson, who said: “we believe it is a basic human need to communicate”.

A panel of operator discussed the importance of LTE in Africa’s digital economy. The panel featured representatives of historic mobeil operators Vodacom and Unitel Angola, alongside new LTE-only operators YooMee, Surfline and Smile.the discussion focused mainly on the advantages LTE offers the region, stressing that bandwidth leads to services, and that mobile broadband is the only internet access most consumers are likely to get. But even if you leave aside the small matter of building the infrastructure, there are a number of other obstacles to be overcome, such as shortage of low-frequency spectrum for rural coverage, and the need to lower prices and simplify tariffs.

Dov Bar-Gera, CEO of YooMee, said “95% of the homes in sub-Saharan Africa don’t have internet access, so there is a huge market potential: having such a platform that is dedicated to a large quantity of data means we can bring entertainment to the home of the consumer. If we want to bring internet to the region we have to make access very low cost, so that people can start to make their own content”.

Debates on LTE developments continued in more details in the 3-da LTE conference taking place at AfricaCom, with operators such as MTN, Safaricom, Neotel as well as major vendors Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and more. There was a great sense of expectation and optimism at the show regarding the the positive impact LTE can have on the region, and companies such as those are working hard to bring as many African people as possible into the digital economy, which can only benefit all concerned.

Investment must be supported by governments and regulators

As African operators embark in a new wave of investment to deliver access to mobile broadband, there was a widespread call for more support from governments and regulators. This was the main point in a panel discussion on broadband on the first day, bringing together operators, investors and carriers

Léon-Charles Ciss, Marketing Director at Orange said “We need huge investment. We can’t do miracles; we have to convince governments and regulatory authorities in Africa to take political decisions about tax and investment”.

Spectrum availability is another crucial point hindering broadband developments across Africa, particularly in the largely underserved rural areas. Andile Mcgaba, Chairman of Convergence Partners, said "When authorities do not release spectrum, we are unable to connect rural people and that costs Africa investments to the tune of about $30 billion a year."

It was noted that the countries who are most successful at promoting broadband developments are those with a clear National Broadband Plan such as Nigeria and Ghana, and panellists called for governments to develop clear strategies to support the industry, including public-private partnerships and lower taxation.

Devices: Affordability and local features are key

Devices are a major part of enabling Africans to access communications services and affordability is crucial, as was discussed in a panel including operators Airtel Africa and Millicom as well as Mozilla (Firefox) and handset manufacturer Tecno. Rick Fant, VP Planning and Ecosystem at Mozilla announced that their $33 data phones should come to all markets including Africa soon. Arif Chowdhury, VP at Tecno also announced the launch of a $30 smartphone in Africa in 2015.
However the key element that will increase smartphone penetration, even more so than cost, is the availability of local features: understanding local customers’ needs and making features and content available in local languages make the biggest impact. Raul Martinez, Commercial Director Africa at operator Millicom (Tigo) said “It’s important to understand what makes customers tick and to help them discover the content and features that are available to them”. Operators in Africa are getting more and more involved in handset strategies. Sagar Darbari, Head of Segments & Devices at Airtel Africa, said the group made a call six months ago to launch an Airtel-branded device: “it was tough for a telco to do, particularly in terms of logistics, but it’s been a revelation”.

Monetising services

With better access to data comes the opportunity to deliver more and better services to consumers, be they entertainment, financial services or new revenue streams.

The changing digital ecosystem and collaboration between its stakeholders was once again a major point of debate. Arun Nagar, CEO of VAS platform provider Spice VAS called for the industry to “work together: competition makes the pie bigger for all of us”.  There is still friction between mobile operators and content providers in terms of revenue sharing, as was made clear in the day 3 keynote panel on monetizing content, with representatives from operators Airtel and Vodacom and media groups Ole!, Platco and Apurimac Media.

The consensus was that the industry is going through a transformation and new business models are emerging. Neeraj Gala, Head of Content & Alliances at Airtel Africa, asserted that “The first entertainment device for consumers in Africa is the mobile phone so operators have a strong role to play in building a seamless, uncomplicated ecosystem”, while Herman Singh, Managing Executive at Vodacom eluded the question of revenue sharing by pointing out that “we’re moving to a world of ‘eat as much as you can’ data”. On the content provider side, the focus was more on the changes in the digital ecosystem: Will Green, Founder & CEO of Apurimac Media said “there is a need for a radical shift in the business models”.

Mobile Money still a major opportunity

A two-day event covered the opportunities in Africa's evolving mobile money market, with representatives from mobile operators, regulators, platform providers, banks and alternative players debating new mobile financial services, including mobile bnking for the unbanked.
The debates got off to a philosophical start focusing on what exactly mobile money is and should be. Fredrik Jejdling of Ericsson described banking as a basic human need, and the conference debates concluded that “Mobile money is emotional – it should be quick and easy, turning each individual into an agent, into an ATM”. The debate also covered interoperability and customer service, as well as regulation and cross-border transactions.
New buzz words and acronyms
It wouldn’t be a tech show without acronyms and jargon, and AfricaCom 2014 was no exception.

IoT – the Internet of Things – is the new development of M2M services and was covered in the opening keynote by Ian Kennedy, VP at Cisco as well as in a keynote session on day 3. An entertaining presentation from Edward Makwana, Group Automotive Communications Manager at BMW showcased the features of their ConnectedDrive car, launched in South Africa this year. A panel discussion followed, with representatives of operators (Orange and Vodacom), m-health initiative MAMA, and Google, whose representative Brett StClair gave a live example of the IoT by receiving a call on his Google Glass while on stage.

SDN was another major acronym making an entrance at AfricaCom: software-defined networking was described as the biggest revolution in telecoms since the introduction of IP and offers great opportunities for operators to reduce costs and increase flexibility and time-to–market. The subject is still an emerging topic and will be given more prominence at AfricaCom 2015 with ‘proof of concept’ demos.

A great buzz at the event

AfricaCom’s Conference Director, Julie Rey’s comment perhaps best encapsulates what went down here this year: “There has been a palpable buzz across the whole event. As organisers we are getting the impression that the event has grown to another level. All the very different industry players are talking collaboration and next year we look forward to seeing the industry embarking on the next phase of its digital transformation.”
AfricaCom will return to Cape Town on 17-19 November 2015. For more infrmation visit www.comworldseries.com

12 Nov 2014

Innovative music streaming services: A key area for Africa’s mobile operators to drive data revenues

According to a recent research published by Ovum, Africa is one of the few regions in the world where growth in both mobile connections and service revenue is expected over the next five years*. As the rapid up-take of mobile devices, and in particular smartphones, continues across the continent, competition amongst the mobile operators is increasing, resulting in a rapid decline of pricing for basic telecom services. Africa’s mobile operators have to start exploring alternative channels to facilitate growth.

Amongst Africa’s new smartphone generation, mobile usage patterns are relatively mature and increasing mobile data coverage across the continent is powering consumer demand for new digital services, and by far one of the most popular services is digital music.

As mobile operators hold a strategic position for the delivery of digital content services as well as the billing relationship with the customer, new innovative digital music services, such as music streaming apps, can be a key differentiator to ensuring revenue growth and market share. Last year alone digital revenues doubled in South Africa, accounting for 14 per cent of a total market worth US$63 million.

However, in a complex, multi-language and multi-device market, mobile operators must deliver a truly optimized digital experience to ensure their music offering stands out from other services such as Simfy, Spinlet, iRoking and Mdundo. But, how can mobile operators deliver new innovative music services quickly and cost effectively?

Mobile operators must work closely with existing service providers who understand the market and have experience of delivering digital and music services to Africa. By doing this mobile operators can alleviate the resource demand for content sourcing, development and service execution, but also leverage the experience of the service provider who are already delivering music services across Africa.

One example of how the partnership approach with a service provider can deliver success is the award-winning, music streaming service, “The Kleek”. The Kleek is a pan-Africa mobile music streaming service, backed by Universal Music, developed by IMImobile. The Kleek is a mobile music streaming app specifically designed and built for the African market. With content managed by IMImobile’s DaVinci Content Management System (CMS), The Kleek offers music lovers a catalogue of artists, tracks, genres, interviews and celebrity playlists, exclusive album previews, artist diaries, charts and other content, all of which can be streamed directly to a user’s mobile device.

Mobile operators have the opportunity to cement their music streaming service offering as the leading service in the market but must work in partnership with key service providers to ensure their share in a rapid changing digital music market.

For more information download IMImobile’s Mobile & Digital Entertainment Services solution overview from http://bit.ly/DigitalMusic_IMI

IMImobile are at AfricaCom 2014 in Cape Town on Stand F10. AfricaCom is your essential destination for networking, learning and business development - no other emerging market communications event compares! It is the biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision makers from the entire digital ecosystem.


6 Nov 2014

Top 5 Points African Businesses Must Consider While Procuring Technology Solutions

Africa is one of the fastest growing regions today in the world. After the 2008 global recession when
demand for technology products and services in the developed markets went down, technology firms across the world have focused more on Emerging markets like Africa. While this gives African businesses access to technology which helps in their growth, it is important that the technology solutions they are provided with are relevant to the specific needs and requirements of Africa.

Technology Solutions can revolutionize businesses in Africa but there are certain aspects that one needs to keep in mind while procuring technology solutions. Here are the Top 5 aspects to consider:

  1. Africa Deployment Experience: - The best proof of a technology vendor understanding the African market and of having the ability to deliver is the vendor having existing deployments in Africa. That means that the vendor has actual on the ground experience of deploying their solution in Africa, and so has gone through the learning curve already (Preferably many times in different deployments in different parts of Africa).
    This does not mean that the importance of the vendor’s deployment experience in other markets especially in the developed world goes down. That still is a plus point for the vendor as many companies in the developed markets have a very rigorous vendor selection process and monitor the vendor very closely using strict measures to ensure that they deliver the project. The Africa experience of the vendor is important on top of this, to ensure that the vendor knows how to customize their solution and delivery process to still deliver successfully, despite different infrastructure challenges, unique market dynamics, and work culture in Africa.
  2. Regional Focus On Africa: - It is important that the Vendor has a proper Org wide focus on Africa. This is to ensure that the vendor marshals their best resources in terms of technology and people for delivering projects in Africa at the Sales, Deployment, and Post-Deployment stage. That will ensure that the African businesses get the best technology delivered in time and with high quality, and that they continue to get timely technology support for their business. This is important, since the African businesses are already working in tough, dynamic and competitive markets. They would hence want technology and support to be perfect and of highest quality to help their business.
  3. Solution Should Overcome Local Infrastructure Challenges:- In some markets in Africa, IT and Network infrastructure challenges could exist and the African Technology buyer might want to use e.g. Open Source Database to keep the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the technology lower. The technology vendor’s solution should be able to work in alignment with these needs. E.g. our company Panamax has a Mobile Finance solution called Mobifin which is deployed in 10 countries in Africa, and it very elegantly handles network downtime and network congestion scenarios. The solution has transaction message queues with a retry mechanism, and also sends timely responses to mobile user to let him/her know status of transaction and to prevent multiple transaction attempts by mobile user etc.
  4. Solution Should Be Flexible, Customizable, and Easily Localized: - In many markets in Africa, the regulatory environment is fluid, and so technology solutions should be flexible and customizable to help easily adapt to regulatory changes. Also, many African markets have different languages with their own scripts and also many of the end users cannot read and write, and the technology solutions should be able to address that. That is why our Panamax Telecom and Mobile Finance software solutions are customizable and flexible. Also, our solutions provide Dynamic IVR support to address the market segment which cannot read or write. At Panamax, we have coded our Mobile Finance solution using PHP language to support virtually all language scripts.
  5. Solutions Should have viable commercial models: - While opportunity for business growth is huge in Africa, competition is also tough and like with most other emerging markets funds are also scarce. So African businesses need cost effective solutions provided using favourable and flexible commercial models. So technology providers should like our company Panamax does, provide aggressive pricing to customers in Africa along with the flexibility in commercial model of engagement e.g. We provide both the CAPEX/License Model and the OPEX + Revenue Share Model.

Vijay Krishnan Gopalakrishnan has a keen interest in writing about Telecom Technology and MFS
solutions. His wide experience of working with several clients in Africa has provided him the stimulus for penning down this blog post. He is currently working at Panamax Inc. as a Regional Head for Middle-East & Africa.

Panamax Inc. is the technology solutions arm of the USD 180 Million Bankai Group. We have a great focus on Africa as a region with Panamax software solutions deployed or under deployment in more than 10 countries in the region, and with our parent company Bankai which is one of the world’s biggest wholesale voice player working with telecom service providers across Africa since 2 decades.

Panamax has the following world class software solutions for the Telecom and Finance Industries: (i) End-To-End Carrier Wholesale Needs including billing, routing, and mediation, (ii) Class 4 B2B IP Soft switch with Billing and Routing capabilities, (iii) Class 5 B2C IP Soft Switches, and (iv) A Comprehensive Mobile Finance and Payments Solution.

Panamax Inc. will be at AfricaCom 2014 in Cape Town on Stand B18. AfricaCom is your essential destination for networking, learning and business development - no other emerging market communications event compares! It is the biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision makers from the entire digital ecosystem.

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