Vodafone’s contested acquisition of Kabel Deutschland was highly publicized and is but one high-profile move by one of the former “masters of the universe” to address the all-data future. Two similar things have happened in Africa that are closer to home. Firstly, Millicom invested in Rocket Internet’s African companies and MTN pledged a wodge of cash for Amadeus Ventures’ for investment in online and mobile applications and services.
No-one has ever said that Africa is short of potential creative talent – in music, film and writing – but until recently it has lacked the channels through which newcomers can project what they do. Bozza’s digital platform aims to take talent from the slum or township and allow it to connect with potential audiences. Russell Southwood talked to Emma Kaye about how she sees Bozza developing.
The past two years has seen the steady growth of things that are variously called innovation hubs, incubators and accelerators. They are now creating support networks that give ICT entrepreneurs a much better chance of survival. This week Russell Southwood spoke to Josiah Eyison and reflects of the continuing dangers for this ecosystem.
Flashcast’s founder Jeremy Gordon wanted to solve a simple problem. There were very few low-cast advertising channels for small businesses in Kenya. He decided to create a geo-locational, wireless-run bus service in Nairobi. Russell Southwood talked to him about the potential for its new service.
Everyone will nod quickly at the idea that the mobile is Africa’s device of choice but people have been much slower to realize the implications for mobile media. Algy Williams, CEO, Every1Mobile is publishing seven mobile channels (what in old media speak you might have called magazines) on everything from sex and relationships to creative writing. What marks it out as unusual is that it has already gathered sizeable loyal readerships for each of these channels across Africa. Russell Southwood talked to him last week.
Up until now, the focus has largely been on seeing how the price of mobile phones (whether smart or feature phones) can come down to open access to different content and services to wider numbers of people. But the new Holy Grail is finding a cheap household or “on-the-go” device that can deliver both Internet and VoD content to households. Russell Southwood looks at the kind of projects that are coming forward to tackle this need.
There has a big upsurge in launches of online film and music platforms since user bandwidth has started to improve (see Issue 658). But many are little more than technical platforms as they lack both content in depth and do not yet have significant user traffic. Two film platforms stand out as the exception to this rule: Nigeria’s iROKO Partners and Kenya’s Buni TV. This week Russell Southwood talks to the CEO and founder of Buni TV Marie Lora-Mungai.
Last Friday the WACS cable was lit up at the DRC’s landing station in Muanda. This should be a cause for great optimism but the country is run by the enemies of promise so do not expect anything to happen quickly. Russell Southwood reflects on how the digital opportunity might be thrown away by this country’s politicians.
With data revenues set to exceed voice revenues by 2018 according to a GSMA report, there are still some places that are not yet on the programme for the new business model. This week the Egyptian regulator set up a Committee to look at whether to ban apps like Viber and What’s App. Russell Southwood looks at how Africa’s regulators need to stop looking at the future through the rearview mirror of history.
Music is not as bandwidth-heavy as video so there have been a significant number of online mobile music platforms launched in the last 12 months. Russell Southwood looks at the contenders in the field and how they might make out.
The largest of the current online platforms (both on mobile and PC) is iROKING (which is part of iROKO Partners) that also runs a Nollywood film platform in parallel. It received investment from US private equity fund Tiger Global and has been expanding its reach and recently opened a South African office.