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Willstream Labs connects diaspora with merchants to ensure safe payment

M-money services are making steady inroads into how cash is transacted in countries across the continent. Far less progress has been made in enabling low transaction cost payments from the diaspora to individuals and families. Russell Southwood talked to Toffene Kama, Willstream Labs about the service it is pioneering in Senegal.

Season’s Greetings from Balancing Act’s News Update

Dear readers, viewers, contributors and advertisers

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.

ISPs steal a march on mobile operators with LTE roll-outs – YooMee will go live in Cote d’Ivoire in February

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.

Africa’s corporate data market follows consumers and starts to make major transformation

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.

A nice mobile music and video service with a handset attached – Solo launches in Nigeria and turns the business model on its head

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 invests an estimated US$14 million in a Metronet in Kampala to open up 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.

Hybrid provider Eduze wants to get local content available offline on smartphones at high footfall locations

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.

Africa reaches the point where the Digital Divide will turn into a yawning power divide

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.

VoD platforms in Africa will be a key driver of the next spike in bandwidth capacity

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.

Improvements in mobile data in Liberia spur radio station to do international online hook-up to promote local music

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.

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