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Africa’s mobile media moves beyond ringtones, football scores and news headlines

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.

Hunting Africa’s newest Holy Grail – An affordable Internet and content device for the home

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.

Online film platform Buni TV reaches 2 million views in year and uses comedy shorts to drive traffic

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.

DRC: The enemies of promise gather to throw away the digital opportunity

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.

Egypt’s regulator NTRA tries to hold back the wave of the future by banning apps like Viber and What’s App on investment and security grounds

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 to the ears – African online mobile music platforms break out all over the continent

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.

Google and Microsoft pitch TV White Spaces as a way to wring out more spectrum and beat the digital divide in rural areas

Around 100 people have gathered this week in Dakar to attend an event jointly co-hosted by Google and Microsoft to look at how TV white Spaces and the technology that can use it will make a contribution to the continent’s access to cheaper Internet. Not since the heady days of African ISPs lobbying for international fibre bandwidth has there seemed to be such a head of steam around a particular issue. Russell Southwood looks at what’s promised and what might be delivered.

Kenya’s Sleepout.com raises seed funding to expand its offer across Africa and into the Middle East

The seed fund sum is a modest US$200,000 but it marks the slow but steady march of business going online in Africa. Sleepout.com attracted this seed funding from Amsterdam-based Africa Media Ventures Fund. It has already invested in EatOut.com and its founder Mikul Shah is a co-founder of this new venture. Russell Southwood spoke to its other co-founder Johan Jenson.

LTE insurgent challenger Smile does a hard launch in Tanzania and will open its network on a wholesale basis to other operators

Smile Communications has put in place the first public roll-out in Africa of LTE in 800 MHz spectrum in Tanzania and has ambitious plans to roll out in the same spectrum in three more countries. This week it moved from soft to hard launch status in Tanzania and the other 3 countries will follow. Russell Southwood spoke to founder and CEO of the company Irene Charnley.

Despite setbacks, Somalia begins to pick itself up and looks at bringing international bandwidth to Mogadishu

It may be two steps forward and one step back but Somalia is beginning to pick itself up off the ground after years of civil war. In the absence of regulation, a telecoms sector has developed. Now the new Government must put in place regulation and start to focus on connecting the disparate parts of the country. Russell Southwood spoke to Tim Kelly, World Bank about what’s been happening there.

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