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.
In June this year, Liquid Telecom took over former Rwandan incumbent Rwandatel, absorbing all of its assets except its property. The company is headed up by former Rwandan Communications Minister Sam Nkusi who is bullish about its future prospects. Russell Southwood spent last week in Kigali and explains how the Rwandan telecoms and Internet landscape is changing and catches up with Liquid’s Nkusi.
This month has been one for announcements of Fibre-To-The-Home roll-outs. What was once considered exceptional will soon become normal as bandwidth delivery ramps up in Africa’s key markets. Russell Southwood looks at who is doing what and casts an eye over ipNX’s latest launch in Nigeria.
Officially launched this week, SmartMonkeyTV.com will replace Balancing Act’s existing You Tube channel. It will be a hybrid channel with video clip interviews, e-letters and some other surprises from time to time. Below Russell Southwood sketches out why he decided to launch it and how Balancing Act’s existing readers will find it a useful addition to their weekly diet of information about Africa.
(The bracketed items in italics are a selection of videos that illustrate what Smart Monkey TV covers and why you might be interested in it.)
Lesotho is the fifth African market that Vodacom has launched M-Pesa in and it’s been learning the lessons from the other countries it has rolled out in. It has sought to ramp up numbers fast to get a critical mass and then switch to encouraging transactions. Muchangwe Ferrao looks at how Vodacom tackled the M-Pesa launch.
Until recently there were so many gaps in the ICT entrepreneurship ecosystem that new start-ups did not have much of a fighting chance of success. However, even with the recent improvements there has still been an “equity gap” for newer start-ups. The creation of the Angel Africa network and its Angel Fair event next week may change things. Russell Southwood talks to co-founder and long-time ICT activist Eric Osiakwan.
African data networks have improved immeasurably in the last 3 years. There are still many problems like under-provisioning and vandalism but they are beginning to start to work. However, go only a short distance from the core networks and it’s a very different picture. This week we talk to Brian Longwe, Programme Manager, Internet Now! about the forgotten Internet users of Gulu.
LTE will be a game changer in terms of how a significant number of Africans use their phones. Its implementation has been slow so far because of the many obstacles it faces: a shortage of devices, lack of appropriate spectrum and waiting to get back investment on 3G. But from our tracking it’s clear that a momentum is building up that will see LTE implementation as the big story on data in 2014. Russell Southwood looks at the current state of play.