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The pace of change in the telecoms and internet sectors in Africa in 2013 has seemed to accelerate. The established and accepted ways of doing things are being challenged on all sides by both global trends and by things that are particular to Africa.
WiMAX used to be the technology of choice for data insurgent challengers but now they seem to be shifting to LTE. West African ISPs Surfline (in Ghana) and YooMee (Cote d’Ivoire) both look like stealing a march on the mobile operators with LTE roll-outs early next year. Russell Southwood spoke to YooMe Africa’s CEO Dov Bar-Gera about what the company is looking at doing.
For years corporate data customers were the cash cow of operators as they were unable to resist paying ransom prices for basic bandwidth. Now data availability and prices in Africa’s capital cities may almost match those found in the USA and Europe. Russell Southwood looks at how these changes will affect Africa’s corporate customers and operators.
Another made in China African handset launch would be deeply uninteresting. But the unveiling of Solo’s new handset bundled with data and content in Nigeria somehow turns the business model on its head. If you want people to use data, then you’ve you’ve got to offer them things they want. Russell Southwood talks to Solo’s Michael Akindele about how it wants to re-invent the market.
Google has a global ambition to get Internet access available more widely (see Brett St Clair video link on access at the bottom of this story). This week it announced the launch of a Metronet in Kampala designed to open up the market. Russell Southwood spoke to Google’s Access Field Director, Kai Wulff about what it’s setting out to achieve.
Eduze co-founder Charlie Beuthin wants to provide free, local offline content for smartphone users using Wi-Fi boxes in high footfall locations. The content (some of which will be in local languages) will be free at the point of use, supported by advertising and sponsorship. Russell Southwood talked to Charlie Beuthin about the content, the technology and the business model.
The success of many African countries in addressing the digital divide masks a large, yawning hole into which many are about to fall. The more successful they are at addressing the digital divide, the more it turns into the power divide. The shortage of electricity access and poor quality of supply will begin to undermine what has been achieved. Russell Southwood looks at the next big challenge facing Sub-Saharan Africa.
This week Balancing Act is publishing a report on VoD platforms in Africa. Operators need to understand that all the evidence points to VoD platforms meeting a need that up until this point has been met by pirated DVDs. There is now a bewildering array of film and music platforms in particular. Russell Southwood looks at how things are changing now that high speed bandwidth is increasingly available in African countries.
While Liberia is a regular host of fairly useless, high-minded meetings on fragile states, the country’s youth keeps hustling from one small job to another to make ends meet. Liberia’s entertainment industry is not big but it is well alive and kicking, in particular the music side of it. LIB Hipco music and artists are keen to export their music outside of their small country in search of international recognition and other ways to generate revenue.
African fibre development has a fast lane and a slow lane. The number of countries in East Africa that now have multiple redundant connections to neighbours and extensive national fibre backbones is growing. Among those in the slow lane, there has always seemed to be a disproportionate number of Central African countries, where fibre reach has remained limited and monopolies have kept prices high. Russell Southwood looks at how things might be changing for some of these countries.