AzamTV sets out to become another pan-continental pay TV challenger starting its home market, Tanzania
Despite the seemingly unassailable position of DStv in the pay TV market in Sub Saharan Africa, challengers keep coming forward to take them on. The latest challenger is AzamTV from Tanzania that has ambitious plans to launch itself across the continent. Sylvain Beletre talked to its CEO Rhys Torrington about what its got planned.
AzamTV, launched by Azam Media is a DTH pay TV service in Tanzania which can carry up to 60 African and international channels - in the short term, for a monthly subscription of $8.
In the audiovisual sector, Tanzania (population of 47 M) is becoming one of the most competitive African countries both from an audience and TV offering perspective, despite limited terrestrial broadcast coverage (24% of population), a restricted consumer market and relatively limited broadband access. DTT has been launched carrying some existing free-to-air channels in the country (ITV, TBC1 Star TV, Channel Ten, East Africa TV).
Competition-wise, there are three main pay TV players in Tanzania:
1. StarTimes Tanzania (Star Media Tanzania, the Joint Venture between Chinese StarTimes at 65% and the Government’s Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation - TBC at 35%) markets monthly bouquets ranging from USD 5.60 to 22.50, with an STB priced at between USD40 to USD60, and added a free door to door service. It has some of the following local channels on its platform: STV MUSIC, STV E1, STV E2, STV KUNGFU. In January 2013, TCRA estimated that 2 million DTT STBs had been sold, including 450,000 in the country’s biggest commercial city Dar es Salaam.
2. Zuku pay TV network (monthly subscription from Ts 16,000/USD 9.73) available via satellite is currently present in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania - and will be rolling out to Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi and Zambia.
3/ and DStv (about 80 TV channels) via digital satellite, which reaches between 40,000 to 100,000 homes in the country (DStv refused refused to give us the exact number).
At the start of 2013, Tanzania had around 2.3 million (and growing) households watching free-to-air satellite TV (eg. France24 English) and small local cable operators also reach a few thousand households (eg. CTV in Dar, etc.).
But there is still space for more healthy competition and Azam Media has a few cards up its sleeves.
AzamTV has home-grown channels and programmes, sports content, and exclusive rights. Indeed the AzamTV bouquet includes three home-grown TV channels: Azam One, Azam Two and Sinema Zetu (films in Kiswahili). AzamTV has invested in sports’ rights. The TV network been awarded the television broadcast rights for the Vodacom Premier League, to become exclusively available to AzamTV subscribers. AzamTV will broadcast live and recorded Tanzania Premier League matches and carry on free-to-air channels in each of the countries it covers.
« With so many fans across Tanzania desperately keen to watch their favourite teams it seems an unnecessary waste not to make these matches available straight away.
So, with that in mind, I approached our friends at TBC and asked if they would be willing and able to take our live feed at no charge, beginning this weekend, until the mid-season break. » said Rhys Torrington in another interview.
Azam Media Limited has signed a cooperative arrangement with TBC so that football fans across Tanzania could see Mainland Premier League matches live every weekend until the mid-season break on TBC1, courtesy of AzamTV. The Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) and Tanzania Premier League Interim Committee declared themselves to be very supportive of this pragmatic initiative.
Azam is a family type of business and this has particular strengths when it comes to making financial commitments over a long period. Azam Media belongs to Bakhresa Group from Tanzania which is involved in several sectors: food, football, agro, petroleum, transport, plastic.
It has made efforts to strengthen its technical skills and coverage: the company is investing heavily both in the latest outside broadcast technology and the training of the crew. It purchased two outdoor broadcast vans (OB vans) to cover events. In addition, Eutelsat has developed a training programme for installers called ‘Satëlite’ to ensure that subscribers to AzamTV receive the best service for the installation of their DTH equipment, according to a statement. Over the last two weeks of October 2013 the ‘Satëlite’ team has trained over 500 installers from across Tanzania, says the press statement. Its content is compressed in MPEG4 format and uplinked by Eutelsat to the EUTELSAT 7A satellite from its Cagliari teleport in Sardinia.
AzamTV has not put all its eggs in one basket and is thinkings big. It plans to roll out across Africa and wants to attract 750,000 households in the next 5 years. The TV network has signed on satellite operator Eutelsat Communications in a bid to expand its broadcasting footprint across Africa. The deal entails a long-term contract for capacity on the EUTELSAT 7A satellite.
Azam Media says it plans to use 108 MHz of capacity connected to the satellite’s African footprint as part of its move to broadcast its yet-to-be-launched pay-TV venture, AzamTV, from its Tanzanian base into sub-Saharan Africa. “With the footprint and the services provided by Eutelsat we benefit from a solid platform and unrivalled DTH experience that will help transform into reality our vision of delivering exceptional entertainment at a great price into ordinary TV homes across the region,” added Torrington. After Tanzania, countries that are targeted next are in order, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, DRC, Zambia, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Zimbabwe.
AzamTV certainly faces competition and local consumers have limited resources but there is no reason why local audiences should not be offered another alternative ‘made in Africa’ pay TV bouquet. Competition is still small and content quality is limited compared to what is available in other more developed markets.
« The full service launch will be on 16th December 2013 but those anxious to try the service will be able to obtain decoders from 6th December 2013, though subscription charges will only kick in on 16th. » added Rhys Torrington.
The contact for content acquisition at AzamTV is « innovative, vibrant and dynamic » Efe Atiyio, Director of Programming; efe.atiyio(at)azam-media.com
Azam Media is not looking for outside investors currently Torrington confirmed.
Videos this week:
IAs Jy Sing is now the biggest Afrikaans film of 2013 and has had the biggest opening weekend of any Afrikaans title this year. The film was the number one performer at 12 Ster-Kinekor cinemas, including Brooklyn, Cape Gate, Tygervalley, Irene and East Rand Mall among others. It was also the best performer at certain NuMetro and independent cinemas.
"As Jy Sing and Khumba collectively garnered 27% of the earnings of the industry top 10 this past weekend," says Helen Kuun, CEO of Indigenous Film Distribution, which is the South African distributor for both movies.
As Jy Sing opened on Friday 15 November and grossed just over R1.5m, coming in 7% higher than the opening weekend of last year’s Afrikaans hit rom-com Semi-Soet, and outperforming Klein Karoo by 77%. The film was also 3% bigger than Bakgat 2 - the most successful film in the Bakgat! franchise - on its opening weekend.
Producers Johan Vorster and Arnold Coleske said: "We all got together to make a film for South African families, and it’s been wonderfully fulfilling to see how many families came to watch the film over the weekend."
Khumba’s site average takings increased by 12% from weekend number three to weekend four. The 3D South African computer-animated adventure comedy film was released in both English and Afrikaans on 25 October.
Triggerfish producer Stuart Forrest expressed delight at the enthusiasm with which SA audiences have been receiving Khumba and added that the film was also performing well in Poland currently.
The figures speak for themselves," says Kuun. "Twitter is abuzz with praise for As Jy Sing, with fans calling it a 'must-see' film that is packed full of laughs and has a great soundtrack."
Examiner.com had the opportunity to interview "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," producer Anant Singh. How did you obtain the rights to Nelson Mandela's autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom"? Singh: You know, as a young, activist filmmaker in South Africa I was doing anti-apartheid films and of course I knew Nelson Mandela's story, and it was just sort of a quintessential movie in my mind.
But I never realized it was going to take 25 years, almost, to do. Because it comes with huge challenges, but I'm very proud that we actually managed to get it done.
Q: How did you convince Nelson Mandela to sell you the rights to the film?
Singh: Well you know what happened was I got to meet him about two weeks after he got released in 1990 and we developed a friendship and when he published the autobiography, he chose me as the person to make the film and I was honored by that, but with it came huge responsibility. So it's taken this long because you can't take this very lightly, especially as a South African. So I think we've created something, an independent South African film, which really is here in New York, being able to stand with the best in the world and we're very proud of that.
Q: Can you speak about casting the role of Mandela and why Idris Elba was perfect for the role?
Singh: You know, I think firstly, he was hugely underrated. I think he's highly talented and when you see the film you'll see for yourself. But what I think, also, we needed an actor who was gonna play him from 1948 to 1994 and Idris could do both and that was also very important.
Q: Can you speak about why Justin Chadwick was perfect to direct the project?
Singh: Well Justin and I had done a film together before, a film called "First Grader" in Kenya, and I knew his work from "Bleak House" and "The Other Boleyn Girl," and I just felt that he has the sensibility and something special to do this and of course he has proved that that is totally correct, and he's done an amazing job.
Q: Speak about shooting on location in South Africa and why that was important?
Singh: You know, we shot in many actual locations, the prison that he was held at, where he was released from, Robben Island, the court, the Palace of Justice where he was convicted. So as a South African film we had full access to all of that, which is so important because of its authenticity.
Q: What made Naomie Harris perfect for the role of Winnie?
Singh: You know, Naomi was the only choice that we had for the role and we…she did "First Grader" also, and she's astounding also and is really such a talented actor.
Q: How did you get your start in filmmaking?
Singh: I studied Engineering. I couldn't go to film school because the only film school in South Africa was for white people so I studied Engineering.
The New York Premiere Of "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom" hosted By The Weinstein Company, Yucaipa Films and Videovision Entertainment was held on Thursday, Nov 14. The special event, which was held at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center was supported by Mercedes-Benz, South African Airways and DeLeon Tequila. From the film Director Justin Chadwick, actors Terry Pheto, Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, and producer Anant Singh all walked the red carpet. They were joined Nelson Mandela’s daughter, Zindzi Mandela. The after-party continued at Stone Rose Lounge, where guests enjoyed the “Madame Butterfly” cocktail, which was made of DeLeón Diamante, Grapefruit, Jamaican Jerk, Agave and Mint.
“Mandela” hits theaters on Nov. 29 in LA and NYC and goes wide on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.
It's been another busy year at Mama Dance’s original composition division as demand for their high end advertising scores continues to grow.
International coffee brand Afro Coffee, commissioned the company to compose a track for a TVC for the European launch of their new iced coffee product range.
The brief called for an upbeat, fun, catchy South African flavoured track with a modern, fresh feel but which at the same time also had a strong reference to South African heritage. The composition also needed to have both male and female vocals as the TVC is an animation featuring two “Afro Man” and “Afro Lady” characters.
"It’s always great working with international scripts that need African compositions. We got popular Mama Dance composer Ben Amato to work his magic and he came up with a tune that our Austrian client immediately loved. We’re always able to match a brief perfectly with one of the many composers we work closely with” says Mama Dance music guru Jeff Moffatt.
The male vocals were recorded by renowned Congolese musician Mapumba Cilombo at the Mama Dance studios in Cape Town, whilst top SA vocalist Nomasonto Khumalo recorded her lines in Johannesburg with Ben.
“Everything went really smoothly. Ben did a great job of capturing the energy and vibe that Afro Coffee was after and the animation and music worked together brilliantly”, continues Jeff.
“In fact our client was so happy with the track that they asked us to extend it into a full length version that is available for sale on I-Tunes, with all the proceeds going to the local performing arts charity Likhwezi Arts”.
The TVC can be seen below and you can download the full length version “Sweet & Strong” here
For more info or to view original composition show reels, contact Craig, Dale or Jeff on +27 21 424 0314 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Imagine a future in which the sun is no longer visible in most parts of the world, leaving Africa as the sole oasis of sunshine.
Watch the trailer here:
Local cinemas and TV stations in Kenya may for the first time screen a Kenyan-based Sci-Fi TV series “Usoni”, that casts Africa as the world’s new oasis amidst a dark universe in 50 years to come, as soon after the United States International University (USIU) screens the series by end of November 2013.
“We are trying to push the boundaries in terms of production in Kenya also noting that Kenya has good quality productions,” explained Usoni Producer Denver Ochieng noting that the university-based production encourages youth to come up with innovative concepts in film production, away from the norm.
At a time when Africa receives 50,000 Greencard Lottery wins each year to migrate to the US alone, this new production series seeks to address ongoing immigration issues within the world. It is also expected to change the negative portrayal of Africa as a poverty stricken continent to that of an avenue for development, of which, would gradually discourage youth from seeking “greener pastures” abroad.
As the brain child of Dr. Marc Rigaudis, directed by Cherie Lindiwe from USIU, the new plot revolves around a young couple embarking on a treacherous journey to reach mankind’s last cradle of hope, Africa. However, the couple must beat the impossible odds, experience great sacrifice yet keep their faith before their goal can be achieved.
“Usoni is actually a series focusing on the travel of a couple from the natural disaster stricken Europe to now the now illustrious Africa in 2062. It is a story which focuses on the immigration hurdles of Africans to Europe and looks at how it would be if the reverse were to happen,” Ochieng said.
Thus far since October, the Usoni crew of 20 has generated an audience of over 600 curious fans checking out the official trailer posted on their Facebook page Usoni. The official trailer has generated at least 300 views on Youtube.
The plot will be ready for screening on 27th November 2013 at the USIU auditorium open to the students and public. Perhaps, the ambitious production, depending on the reception, would be the next newest TV series to be aired on local TV stations or even screened internationally.
- The Foreign Press Association has recognised Al Jazeera English for its innovative health and environment programmes at its annual media awards ceremony in London. Commenting on the win, Al Anstey, managing director of Al Jazeera, said, “Al Jazeera English has consistently provided a refreshing approach to reporting in health and environment issues. We are proud to be recognised for this for the second year.”
- Nigeria; On December 3, 2013, Tunde Kelani presents new movie, 'Dazzling Mirage'. Lala Akindoju and Kunle Afolayan lead an all-star cast in the latest
Tunde Kelani movie as a sickle- cell suffer who overcomes social stigma, prejudice and her own low self-esteem, to achieve success, marriage and motherhood. To view and upload the video, click here:
- In an exciting development, STAND UP AFRICA, the premium comedy show that brings together Africa’s finest comedians will be showcased at mainland Europe’s biggest comedy festival in Montreux, Switzerland from the 5th to the 9th of December. STAND UP AFRICA will make for an intriguing addition to the Montreux Comedy Festival with an all star line up that includes African comedy giants Loyiso Gola, Kagiso Lediga, Stuart Taylor, Daliso Chaponda & Joseph Opio. Performance details for STAND UP AFRICA @Montreux Comedy Festival are available on the festival website www.montreuxcomedy.ch.
- Founded in 1985, AITV (Agence internationale de television), a subsidiary of France Télévisions devoted to African news and issues, will close its doors.
Petition grew to ban Melissa Bachman from South Africa after she posted photos with dead lion. This picture has got a TV presenter into very hot water as people signed the petition from all over the World. Killing wild animals for pleasure does not seem to be trendy anymore.
A blue-eyed American hunter with her own specialty TV show found herself on November 20, 2013 in the crosshairs of animal lovers outraged by her safari exploits in South Africa.
Set up by Elan Burman from Cape Town, South Africa, the online petition on Change.org got 400,000 people signed very fast, calling on the South African government to no longer let Melissa Bachman, host of “Winchester Deadly Passion,” into the country. “Melissa Bachman has made a career out of hunting wildlife, for pure sport,” read the petition launched by Cape Town resident Elan Burman.
“She is an absolute contradiction to the culture of conservation (that) this country prides itself on,” it said. In a statement, Change.org said it was the biggest animal-related petition it had ever hosted, gathering 150,000 new signatures since Monday.
A “Stop Melissa Bachman” page on Facebook meanwhile racked up more than 230,000 likes – almost nine times the number of followers of Bachman’s own Facebook account.
Triggering the outrage was a photo that Bachman posted on social media on November 1 of her kneeling and smiling, rifle in hand, behind a lion she had apparently just shot and killed.
“An incredible day hunting in South Africa! Stalked inside 60-yards on this beautiful male lion…what a hunt!” she wrote on her @MelissaBachman Twitter account.
The Minnesota native, who shoots with both firearms and bows and grew up in a family that went hunting every weekend, wrote on her Facebook account that she had earlier bagged “a beautiful Nyala and a Duiker” – two species of antelopes.
The Maroi Conservancy defended her on social media, saying it would not apologize for facilitating her lion shoot in South Africa’s North West Province.
Sponsored by Winchester, a major American firearms manufacturer, Bachman’s show is carried on the Pursuit Channel, a relatively small Alabama-based channel dedicated to outdoor activites such as hunting.
“The more people that can hunt, the more people that can enjoy the lifestyle, the better,” she said in October in a report on Minnesota TV station KSTP about the state’s growing number of licensed female hunters.
Last year the US Fish and Wildlife Service, a federal agency, released a survey indicating a rebound in the popularity of hunting in the United States after many years of decline.
PS: Lions killed in South Africa can be sent to anywhere in Europe or America. In the five years to 2011, 4,062 carcases were exported from the country, the majority of which were lions specifically bred to be killed.
If you own the new OpenView HD satellite decoder, you can now watch e.tv in HD. e.tv and new sister channel eMovies+ are now broadcast in high definition. All locally commissioned content will also now be available in HD to OpenView HD viewers.
That means you can get close and personal with your favourite celebrities when you catch your best shows in better quality.
Here at e.tv we are very excited to offer viewers the best available quality content and you'll be happy to know we are working towards having more movies, sitcoms, dramas and UEFA Champions League available in HD soon.
Getting e.tv in HD, is not the only benefit you get when you buy the new OpenView HD decoder. You also get four new e-family channels to choose from. More kasi content, more movies, more for the kids and more Africa! But the best part is, you only pay once and enjoy forever. OpenView HD has no monthly subscription fees, all you need to access these and more channels for free, is to buy the decoder.
How to Get OpenView HD:
1.PAY ONCE: Buy your OpenView HD equipment (decoder, dish with installation) from any leading retailer, independent installer and whole sale supplier.
2.INSTALL AND ACTIVATE: details included on the box.
3.ENJOY FOREVER: Sit back and enjoy the wonderful experience of multichannel satellite TV with no monthly fees or contracts.
Retailing at approximately R1600, OpenView HD is available at major South African retailers nationwide, including: OK Furnishers, Jet Mart,Pick n Pay, Hirsch’s, Extreme Discounters, Game, Dion Wired, Makro, House & Home, HiFi Corporation.
More about e.tv's 4our new channels:
eKasi+ celebrates and inspires authentic township life. The channel features talk shows, dramas, movies, music, gospel, kids entertainment, lifestyle and reality shows.
eAfrica+ showcases original African stories, created by Africans, for Africans. The channel features African music, dramas, news and your favourite Nollywood movies.
eMovies+ will have abroad range of movie genres ensures that everybody’s needs are catered for.
eToonz+ for quality kids entertainment – where exciting tales create endless adventures!
Full OpenView HD channel list: e.tv, eKasi+, eAfrica+, eMovies+, eToonz+, ASTV, Deen TV, SABC 1, SABC 2, SABC 3, Mindset TV, Da Vinci Learning, Spirit Word Ministries and Inspiration TVGlow TV (from end October 2013).
Go to www.openviewhd.co.za for more information and the easy step-by-step guide on how to buy OVHD.
On Digital Media (ODM), effectively taken over by China's StarTimes TV conglomerate following a cash bail-out, is ordering Chinese from the menu for its new TV dinner. The struggling Woodmead based pay-TV operator is rebranding the damaged TopTV name into StarSat writes Thinus Ferreira
At the same time ODM and StarTimes are in the process of launching and restructuring a new bouquet of TV channels with new packages, heavy with Chinese TV channels and Chinese sourced content.
Besides multiple self-compiled channels which will now bear the StarSat name and logo – Star Music, Star Gospel, Star Guide, Star Movies 1, Star Movies 1 + 2Hrs, Star E1, Star One, Star Africa 2, Novela E1, Novela E2, Kung Fu 1, Star Chinese 2, and Star Bollywood – ODM and StarTimes is adding a new StarSat Chinese package from January.
Like the StarSat Indian additional package and StarSat's pornographic package, StarSat Chinese will be available as an additional bolt-on subscription for R149 per month for 17 further Chinese TV channels.
Also included in the new StarSat general channel line-up is Chinese news and documentary channels such as CCTV9 Documentary, CCTV News and the Times Now news channel sourced from India.
A new white high definition (HD) enabled StarSat HD decoder manufactured in China is now available in South Africa. A StarSat installation costs R599 but existing TopTV subscribers who want to upgrade can order the new StarSat decoder for R300. No HD channels will be available however until 2014 according to the pay-TV operator.
e.tv's newly launched "e+" TV channels are also being added to ODM and StarTimes’ StarSat bouquet according to the new StarSat website.
Sabido Investment Limited's eKasi+, eAfrica+ and eMovies+ channels are coming to StarSat which is already available since mid-October on Platco Digital's new OpenView HD (OVHD) platform but not on MultiChoice's DStv.
e.tv, asked for comment about the additional e.tv channels to be added to StarSat says "e.tv's policy is platform-neutral and we aim to be on as many platforms as possibe. A media statement will be issued as and when e.tv becomes available on new platforms."
StarSat’s porn channels are already running although ODM and StarTimes are not publicising the fact.
Instead of the three sex channels ODM applied for and for which South Africa's broadcasting regulator granted permission, two of the pornographic channels – Private Spice and Playboy TV – are available in a separate sex TV package of R159 per month.
Although no mention is being made of the porno package in press releases or marketing materials, the package is available to subscribers who call the ODM call centre and request the porno bouquet specifically.
In response to a media enquiry ODM says "the Playboy package is being managed and marketed in a very targeted manner". It's not yet clear why the third applied for sex channel, Desire TV, is not available, and whether it would be added later.
Other new TV channels ODM and StarTimes are planning to add to StarSat according to their website include Nat Geo Gold and FOX Crime. FOX Crime is already available since June on MultiChoice's DStv.
While still lacking a proper sport offering, StarSat is adding NBA TV with basketball coverage, and retaining Fuel TV and Setanta Africa.
Other new planned StarSat channels which were not available on TopTV before include Animaux (a French TV channel about the animal world), news channels CNC, TVC News and Bloomberg Television.
StarSat says it hopes to have "over 100 channels" by 1 January 2014. Eddie Mbalo, ODM's acting CEO who will soon be replaced by a CEO from StarTimes, says in a statement that "the new [channel] structure offers more channels per package, and at more competitive prices”.
Although TopTV subscribers were promised at the end of October by ODM that they will get free access in November to new channels, no further channels have so far materialised.
On Sunday ODM and StarTimes broke the promise and told subscribers free channel sampling will now only take place from December.
"For December you will be charged your current package price, but will receive additional channels. In January you will be charged the new package price. If you would like to choose a different package, you should call before 10 December," ODM has now told existing TopTV subscribers.
- A recently launched South African TV channel – Glow TV, in the business of syndicating and displaying content from across the globe, will give SA audiences a taste of Indian television shows. The first television channel from Kagiso Media, Glow TV, is a partnership between Kagiso Media and Nolava Television, and calls itself ‘Eastern inspired’. This is its first television offering as it has a significant holding in the radio business. Full story here
- Third season winner of South Africa’s So You Think You Can Dance reality dance competition, Sibahle Tshibika, is yet to celebrate her achievement after being targeted by kidnappers... On returning to her Khayelitsha home in Cape Town, the 23-year-old was warned by family and community members that kidnappers were in pursuit of her R250 000 prize money and had threatened to hold Tshibika and other family members, including her daughter, at ransom for the winnings.
Source: Screen Africa
- In one of the first commercial deployments of a Cisco cardless CA solution on a one-way broadcast network, Platco Digital is using the company’s VideoGuard cardless conditional access solution for its new OpenView HD free-to-air satellite service. The multichannel service is designed to provide the whole of Africa with affordable multichannel TV. The initial deployment is for the South African market. Consumers there will get access to 10+ new channels. Subscription-free HD television is a first in Africa, the companies report. More here:
- Among the winners of the 16th edition of the Eutelsat TV Awards, the Special Award was given to Canal 2 International from Cameroon. Source: eutelsattvawards
- FOX International Channels (FIC), a 21st Century Fox company, has announced that it is in the final stages of acquiring Setanta Africa Services Ltd., a sports channel bouquet distributed throughout all of sub-Saharan Africa in over one million homes. The acquisition is not final and remains subject to approval by the Irish Competition Authority.
Senior Vice President Commercial, for SES Africa, Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou, says 100 percent digital migration in Africa is unachievable without the satellite component.
As the 2015 deadline set by the International Telecommunication Union for all countries to have migrated from analogue to digital broadcasting, efforts in migration appear to be lagging behind in a number of African countries. Largely ignored too is the fact that digital terrestrial broadcasting roll out in a number of countries will not cover the whole population, meaning a portion of the population will be left without access to television. In Kenya, digital migration is expected to cover “at least 80 percent of the population” according to ICT Cabinet Secretary, Francis Matiangi. This means up to 20 percent of the population may miss out on the 40 new channels expected to come on in the digital TV roll out.
Senior Vice President Commercial, for SES Africa, Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou, says 100 percent digital migration in Africa is unachievable without the satellite component. Digital terrestrial television(DTT) is more efficient where there is a larger number of people, but becomes costly and infeasible in covering sparsely populated areas, where clusters of the population may be spread over a large area.
While a number of digital terrestrial repeaters are required to cover most of a country’s population, a single satellite beam will cover a whole country. Additionally, unlike a DTT signal which decreases in signal strength as one goes further from the repeater, a satellite signal is of the same strength across the country.
Satellite is also easy to manage in terms of implementation of changes as the changes done at the transmitting point, such as addition in number of channels or say upgrading the same to high definition, will be reflected at the receiving unit, as long as it supports the services - a user must have a high definition ready receiver to watch HD channels. In DTT, the changes would require changes in repeater stations, which again may end up being costly in areas with fewer population.
As for the cost, the Vice President says that the cost of a satellite kit is comparable to that of a set top box, which users were already going to purchase in the first place.
When it comes to roll out of digital broadcasting over satellite, Ibrahima says that there are a variety of options to choose from. There however may have to be a policy on what satellite receivers users can purchase, as this will protect the rights of both content providers and broadcasters - such as when a broadcaster has rights to air content in one country. A satellite signal normally covers several countries, thus channels restricted to one country need to be encrypted to be only viewed in set top boxes viewed in those countries.
Options include government sponsored set top boxes, where public channels are offered free for the lifetime of the box, with other channels offered at a cost through pay TV operators.Governments may choose to subsidise the cost, such as from the digital dividend (sale of current broadcasting spectrum).
Governments may also choose to go through one or more existing pay TV operators, allowing the government to leverage on an already existing install base and economies of scale. Here, the pay TV operator is required to carry public channels at no cost. Some countries already have policies requiring pay TV operators to offer free to air channels for free, such as Communications Commission of Kenya Director General, Francis Wangusi, has said in the past on pay TV operators in Kenya.
A variation of partnering with TV operators may see government buying a satellite segment for public channels. A segment on a widely used satellite, such as SES 5, allows the public to use already purchased dishes without need for repositioning to receive public channels.
Other options include offering public channels at standard definition for free but charging for the same in high definition, or having users pay an annual access fee.
All in all, Ibrahima says it would be unfair for taxpayers to be left out of the migration due to their location. “When people want them to vote, they hunt them down, ” he says.
Other benefits of satellite include the provision of internet connectivity to the remote areas, where a 1 to 1.2 metre dish can provide both satellite TV and Internet connectivity starting at 64 kilobits per seconds. The connectivity can also be shared and reconfigured according to usage - such as as increasing the capacity to schools at certain times of the day.
The 10th Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), running from 6-14 December, has selected two African films to be included in the AsiaAfrica out of competition programming segment lineup, which highlights this year's most dynamic, visionary and critically-acclaimed cinema from Asia and Africa.
The programme will allow audiences to discover new cinematic voices, and some of the most celebrated contemporary filmmakers, from the two diverse regions offering tales of hardship, love, and the struggle for freedom.
Director of the AsiaAfrica programme, Nashen Moodley said: "The films selected for this year's AsiaAfrica programme will enthrall audiences with their gripping storylines, brave and poignant themes, and moving performances. This segment is about providing access to a truly global box office, uniting DIFF audiences with film lovers around the world in their experience of these wonderful stories."
Thandie Newton ('Crash') and Chiwetel Ejiofor ('12 Years a Slave') shine in a lavish screen adaptation by Biyi Bandele of the Orange Prize-winning novel 'Half of a Yellow Sun' by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The story spans a generation of Nigerian history through the tumultuous late 1960s, when the country fell into civil war. Through the historical looking glass, two fiercely intelligent sisters battle for love and independence in a patriarchal society in the throes of ethnic strife.
The disturbing 'Of Good Report' is a neo-noir from South African director Jahmil XT Qubeka, depicting the dark side of a rural township where an unassuming teacher arrives at the local school. Despite his excellent references and innocent demeanour, he promptly starts an affair with one of his students, which leads to horrendous consequences. The film was banned, and then unbanned, by the South African censor board earlier this year.
The Association for Transformation in Film and Television (ATFT) brought a group of 12 filmmakers to the American Film Market (AFM) this year. One of the leaders of the association, South African filmmaker Mayenzeke Baza, made it clear that the association’s focus is to nurture filmmakers from traditionally underrepresented groups (Blacks, Women, filmmakers with disabilities) and provide opportunities for them to ascend to the forefront of the film industry.
The group’s visit is the first step in the South African Government’s fulfillment of its promise to explore opportunities in the American film industry.
Sponsored by South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry, the group attended AFM under the banner of “South African Indies”, had numerous meetings with production companies, sales agents and distributors (one filmmaker walked away with a deal), and met with the South African Consul General at his L.A. residence.
In the video that follows, Isaac Mogajane (Blitz Patrollie), Tshego Molete (His Majesty’s Building) and Mayenzeke Baza (I Am A Man, Blood Tokoloshe) spoke to me on behalf of the group to explain its mission, its goals and what it hoped to accomplish at AFM.
Among others, I asked the trio about the realities of the South African film industry, the definition of “South African cinema”, and the reason Afrikaans (White South African) cinema is booming while Black South African cinema seemingly lags behind.
- In November 27, 2013, South Africa-based MultiChoice has added new features to the DStv Explora DVR it launched in August. New features include episode stacking, making individual episodes of the same series in catch-up automatically grouped in one folder, a kids category in DStv Catchup and sub-genres for movies, sport and series categories, the introduction of five colour-coded channel groups to make navigation easier, a playlist featuring the episode number as well as the season number of a show, the ability to use number keys to jump direct to a channel in the guide, an updated SuperSport Active app and a new Easy Info app. Separately, DStv has also unveiled the Explora in East Africa. MultiChoice East Africa regional director Stephen Isaboke said the box would help ensure that DStv subscribers got the best viewing experience of any platform.
- Discovery Communications is set to launch a high definition feed of the Discovery Channel for subscribers of the DStv pay TV platform in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
Riding on the success of their first two features, Adventures in Zambezia (Sony International Acquisitions) and Khumba (Millennium Entertainment), Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation has secured funding for the first phase of development for a 5-film slate.
The company also continues to explore additional financing options and the possible sale of a stake to a strategic partner. Two of the films announced to go into development include Here be Monsters and Seal Team (working titles).
"We have a number of exciting properties in the pipeline," says head of development Anthony Silverston, "But we're particularly excited by these two highly original and exciting high concept stories. And although both stories have an ocean setting, they couldn't be more different!"
Here Be Monsters which was selected for the Creative Focus pitch at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival earlier this year is the next original story from writer Raffaella Delle Donne who worked on both of Triggerfish's previous films. It tells the story of a boy and a sea monster and will be the company's first foray into animating human characters.
Seal Team is an action-comedy that sees a group of Cape fur seals pitted against their natural enemies: the great white sharks of South Africa. The script is currently being written by Brian and Jason Cleveland of CMG who handled world sales on Triggerfish's previous films.
"We had a good working relationship with the Clevelands on Zambezia and were impressed by their passion for the medium and for great stories," says Triggerfish Producer Stuart Forrest. "So it was great when they came with this concept that is so close to home for us. Our first reaction was – why didn’t we think of that?!"
Triggerfish aims to release one film a year starting in 2016 and although the stories so far have been set in Africa, the company has a global vision to create animated films with universal messages for all ages. The development funding was secured from Business Partners' Venture Fund - a specialist risk finance company for formal small to medium enterprises in South Africa and select African countries.
The funds will be used towards developing Triggerfish's slate of 5 animated feature films and to expand the studio’s digital department building on existing properties and exploring new ideas with apps and games. Triggerfish CFO Jean-Michel Koenig who secured the deal says, "We are very pleased with the confidence Business Partners has placed in us as we look to invest further into our development slate."
Khumba is currently on circuit in South Africa, holding the number 1 spot for two weeks and will be rolling out throughout the rest of the world into 2014.
Innovative measures to support funding for local content, collaboration to maximise limited resources and strategic government interventions were some of the critical issues raised at the Fourth National Film Indaba in Johannesburg this week.
Over 300 industry representatives sent a strong signal that the film industry needed to be taken seriously as a social and economic driver.
A wide range of recommendations have been compiled by groups reviewing four strategic issues of Transformation and Human Capital Development; Infrastructural Development; Funding and Institutional Models; and, Markets for South African Content.
The deliberations on November 14 - 15 were part of Indaba to inform the NFVF's long-term macro strategy for the film industry as a response to the National Development Plan and the Revised White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage.
These recommendations, which will inform the final strategy, include:
Strengthening current funding models;
Providing more money for development of product and audience;
Improved intellectual property protection in term of licensing deals, similar to that of the French broadcast model;
Introducing innovative ways to expand audiences including partnering with local government to promote a movie-going culture and a state-funded distribution agency;
Distribution incentives including loyalty cards for local films; and,
The creation of a transformation charter and values statement from all stakeholders.
Opening the conference, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile said the sector was critical to economic development: "As we have gathered here for this Indaba, we are emboldened by the reality that our sector, the cultural and creative industries, including film, now occupies the center stage in ongoing efforts to foster social cohesion and nation building as well as the economic empowerment of the people of South Africa," he said.
"Indeed we have met at a time when our sector is no longer seen as a nice-to-have addition to the ongoing work of socio-economic transformation. It is now firmly at the core of this work," said Minister Mashatile.
The Minister noted that South Africa was on the verge of rolling out digital terrestrial broadcasting.
"This will create numerous opportunities for local content developers, which the industry needs to take full advantage of. Equally, the industry needs to take advantage of the opportunities made possible by advancements in Information and Communications Technology," he said.
Minister Mashatile urged the industry to confront challenges such as the slow pace of transformation across the industry value chain, insufficient skills and enterprise development within the sector as well as the skewed distribution of film production and exhibition opportunities and infrastructure.
The Indaba included an announcement of a new partnership between the NFVF and Department of Women, Children & People with Disabilities. The partnership will provide funding for documentaries produced by film-makers with disabilities; provide sign language at NFVF training programmes and award bursaries for people with disabilities to enroll for film related studies at South African tertiary institutions.
"This is just one of our efforts to ensure that we create an enabling environment for South Africans to tell their own stories in their own languages," said NFVF Council Chairperson Ms Mmabatho Ramagoshi
"We have had rigorous debates and discussions over the past two days," said NFVF CEO Zama Mkosi. "We have listened and taken on board the passions, concerns and insights tabled at this National Film Indaba and we are determined to define a strategy that is inclusive of the voices of the industry."
"These contributions, as well as written contributions submitted by November 30, will help articulate the policy going forward and inform our response to the new policy environment we operate in," said Mkosi.
When Daniel Okalany bought his first computer at the age of 21, he was hooked.
Just two years on, Okalany runs his own mobile gaming company called Kola Studios from an office in the Ugandan capital of Kampala.
Okalany recalled how he was able to buy the PC as part of a government scheme to get more computers into homes.
"It was a Tropix TT3," he said, "My mum paid half for it and I paid the other half. It was about 1.3 million Ugandan Shillings ($500)."
Okalany soon went on to set up Kola Studios with two friends. "Initially, we started the business in my home," he said. "It's very common in Africa for people to play traditional card games and we make these games available on mobile."
At first, the company developed a two-player app called Matatu, a digital version of an old Ugandan card game by the same name.
Matatu proved a smash hit, with 20,000 people downloading the game through the Mac App Store, Google Play and the Windows Store.
We wanted to put the app into schools to help kids to spell. There is a major challenge in the fight against illiteracy.
Today, Kola Studios makes educational games with a fun twist. The company's zombie spelling game, Zword, is designed to help children and adults improve their English language skills.
In order to fight off hordes of zombies, the player must spell words correctly within a time limit. "The faster you type, the faster they die," reads the website's slogan.
According to Unicef, over a quarter of the Ugandan population is illiterate and Okalany hopes games like Zword will help to tackle the problem.
"It was just a concept that we were experimenting with," he said. "We wanted to put the app into schools to help kids to spell. There is a major challenge in the fight against illiteracy."
Despite Kola Studios' meteoric rise, the developer runs on a small staff of just five people. Okalany said the company is starting to take on interns but recruiting workers with the right skills is proving difficult.
After learning how to use a PC as a teenager and studying computer science at Makerere University, in Kampala, Okalany is just one countless budding entrepreneurs to start a tech business in Africa.
The continent's burgeoning smartphone market is giving Africa's enterprising individuals the chance to launch businesses, create jobs and develop a skilled workforce.
Okalany said: "Phones are more popular than computers in Africa. It's less than $100 now for a smartphone."
And mobile games apps are spreading. Nigerian startup Maliyo produces games that reflect the lives of average Nigerians -- including "Okada Ride," in which the player weaves in and out of the pot-holed roads of Lagos, avoiding oncoming traffic.
In February this year, South African developer Thoopid opened for business. The Cape Town-based company is one of many indie game designers springing up in Africa's largest economy.
Just seven months after its launch, Thoopid released its flagship app, Snailboy. The game, which can also run on PC and Mac, features a cheeky garden mollusk as players go on a quest to find his shell, stolen from him by the sneaky "Shadow Gang."
Thoopid co-founder RW Liebenberg said that Snailboy is attracting a wide audience and South Africa is fast becoming a hub for creative talent in mobile gaming.
"It doesn't matter necessarily what country you're in. It's not specifically about what games people want, or what genre they like playing," he added. "If something is easily accessible, it's cheap and it makes me feel good then I want to play it."
And Liebenberg's comments are reflected in the figures, with Snailboy performing well in far away Nigeria and Kenya. As well as a sequel to Snailboy, Thoopid is already planning to roll out two more games next year.
Despite the success of Kola and Thoopid, funding remains a problem for many African entrepreneurs, who struggle to get the financial backing to expand workforces and reinvest in their companies.
If something is easily accessible, it's cheap and it makes me feel good then I want to play it.
Thoopid is fully funded by personal investments from staff while Okalany and his friends ploughed their own savings into Kola Studios to kick-start the company.
"Eventually we got investment from the Savannah Fund," Okalany said.
Based in Nairobi, Savannah Fund is a venture capital firm that provides $25,000-$500,000 investments in high-growth technology web and mobile startups in sub-Saharan Africa.
Mbwana Alliy, managing partner at Savannah Fund, said: "People are doing more of their payments, work and lifestyle on their phone. Whether that's looking up directions, looking for a service or buying something online such as music or games."
Alliy, who previously worked in Silicon Valley, said that Savannah Fund has nine investments spanning Africa from Kenya and Uganda to Nigeria and Ghana.
"As Africa sees its middle class rising, we're going to see people who want to consume. If this fund was here 10 years ago, this wouldn't have been viable," he said.
The fund aims to address skills and the experience gap of entrepreneurs in the region through its Accelerator Program, designed to help individuals build a company and launch products.
But Alliy is keen to stress that the Savannah Fund is not a social project.
"It's about building long-term sustainable businesses," Alliy added, "we're not trying to quick flip things. We're not trying to get the same growth as Silicon Valley. I'm not here to just make a quick buck. We're going to stick it out."
With funding behind him and a growing team, Okalany wants to expand his gaming empire beyond Kenya and Uganda to more nations around the continent.
The young entrepreneur believes Kola Studios can make a success of developing traditional African games, handed down from generation to generation, by moving them into the smartphone world.
When asked about his ambitions for the future, Okalany said: "If we can have the most played game in Africa that would be really cool."
Telkom announced that it will offer its SoftCap customers uncapped data for video and gaming services to maximise the value of the latest bandwidth hungry devices and services.
“As devices evolve and video streaming gains popularity we know that to be relevant we must deliver on the data demands that will enable this trend. We must embrace the data explosion to ensure that our customers can embrace the latest that technology has to offer,” said Erna Korff, Telkom’s Managing Executive for Consumer Marketing.
The do Movies Add-On promotion is effective 1 October. Telkom Softcap customers will receive uncapped data to the following video service providers, excluding third party applications: DStv Catch Up online; DStv BoxOffice online; Apple TV using iTunes and Samsung Video Hub. This offer allows customers to rent movies or catch up on missed episodes without the data being deducted from their in-bundle data cap. The promotion will end on 31 March 2014.
From 4 October, the do Gaming Add-On allows customers to apply for uncapped data for 30 days to activate on some of the major gaming platforms and servers including: PlayStation Network; Xbox Live; Battle.net; Steam; Origin and do Gaming servers. This offer can be used for online gaming; downloading a patch or even downloading a game without the data being deducted from in-bundle data.
Additionally customers can purchase the do Gaming Add-On from 1 November 2013, or after the 30 day trial period, for only R49 per month.
Customers on 1 GB packages can upgrade to receive all this additional value as well as to participate in the do Gaming promotion.
“With the imminent launch of the Xbox One and PS4, which we know will be bandwidth intensive devices, this offer will really enable gamers to utilise these devices to their full potential,” said Korff.
“Telkom Internet has been on a determined drive to truly differentiate our broadband offerings to satisfy the customer’s growing appetite for media rich online content. Just last month we launched several value driven promotions including the double your data offer, social networking enhancements and free Night surfer data from midnight to 06:00 in the morning,” she added.
“We will continue to strive towards becoming South Africa’s best ISP as we deliver the best connected home experience in South Africa,” concluded Korff.
The profits of Naspers have been rising in the three months to September this year, thanks to the media group’s overseas Internet operations and the weaker South African currency.
Overseas profits now outdo the profits the firm generates in South Africa and Internet businesses have exceeded pay-TV as the firm’s major operation.
Koos Bekker, the CEO of Naspers, confirmed that the make-up of the business has been altered in the past couple of years.
“We are busy building ecommerce platforms, in particular online classifieds, and are rolling out digital terrestrial television (DTT) across more cities in West and East Africa,” Bekker said.
Bekker made these comments as the firm posted interim core headline earnings that surged 16 percent to R12.48 a share from R4.1 billion ($406.3m) to R4,9 billion ($485.6m) in total.
This was achieved notwithstanding the fact that the firm had invested R3 billion ($297.3m) in fostering future growth prospects in the six months to September.
Core earnings from China’s Tencent and Russia’s Mail.ru surged 47 percent to R4.5 billion ($446m).
eCommerce profits almost doubled to R7.9 billion ($783m) during the period under review.
Paul Theron, an equity analyst at Vestact, recently told business news network, CNBC Africa, Naspers had become a “success story.”
He said the firm was strategic enough in making bolt-on acquisitions earlier than most when it bought Mail.Ru and Tencent a couple of years back.
“I still believe the firm has lots of upside,” Theron said.
This year alone, Naspers’ stock price has surged almost 80 percent to R972, turning it into one of the most prized shares on the JSE.
- Kenya, Senegal maximise the Net the most: Kenya and Senegal have been identified as two African countries in which the internet is having the most significant economic impact. A report entitled Lions go digital: The Internet’s transformative potential in Africa, released by management consulting company McKinsey, lists countries according to the contribution the internet makes to local GDP.
- In February 2014 SAE Institute will continue to set the bar for higher education in Africa by launching their Bachelor of Arts in Film Production degree in Cape Town. More here
- Total Media Networks, the owner of South American OTT service Totalmovie, has merged with OTT Networks to launch a white label internet TV-as-a-service firm called UUX.
- JSE-listed media giant, TMG, has announced the acquisition of 32.26 percent stake in Ghana’s Multimedia Group for R144 million ($14.6m). source: Ventures Africa
- BT Group is watching Africa and has identified five key areas it will invest in to grow revenue: fibre, television and sport, IT services, mobility and investment in high-growth markets. Source Techcentral
MEDEF and the French Ministry of Economy organized today, Wednesday, December 4, 2013 “An Economic Forum on Africa and France”: heads of states, ministers, African and French business leaders gathered around Pierre Moscovici, before a summit at the Elysee in Paris.
Which are the sectors that could benefit from the African Growth? It is often forgotten but television and the media have a role to play through the Francophonie.
Africa is a pocket of growth for groups of French media. Over the next thirty years, the number of Francophones is expected to triple in the world. Over 80% of them live in Africa.
The potential is great for all publishers and distributors of French content. Analysts expect a growth of 3 % per year for the media on the African territory.
Canal Plus is considering new acquisitions. Africa could give players francophone media further international dimension to compete with Anglophone giants active in the industry. Canal + is already in ambush. The group is present in Africa through satellite pay TV , and produces more international content .
French TV group TF1 is very interested to grow its production abroad. In the publishing segment, Lagardère could look into the region. The group, specialized in educational textbooks is already established in Morocco.
Bfmtv - Translated by Balancing Act, 4 Dec 2013.
Pay-TV services provider StarTimes has slashed prices for its digital set-top box by Sh500, angling to woo TV owners yet to buy the gadget amid looming December 13 switch-off in Nairobi.
The firm said Friday its DVB T2 (digital video broadcasting - second generation terrestrial) decoder will drop to Sh2,999 and a further 43 per cent price cut on antenna and cable, as Nairobi dwellers prepare for the analogue signal switch-off.
The outdoor antenna and a 10-metre cable will retail at Sh800 from Sh1,400 previously, while the same with a 15-metre cable will retail at Sh900 from Sh1,600.
"In the coming days, many Kenyans especially in Nairobi will be required to acquire approved digital boxes. Most of those who will be affected are first-time buyers. We have therefore thought of making it easier for them to access our premium digital television service," said chief executive Leo Lee.
The move comes few days after retail chain Nakumatt reported a surge in sales of digital television sets across all its outlets. It said the value of TV sets sold has "more than tripled" in six months to end of October, ahead of the looming deadline.
"Sales data captured in the last six months ended October confirm that the range of Samsung TVs featuring in-built DVB-T2 tuners have been enjoying brisk sales, easily touching the Sh30 million a month mark," it said in a statement.
Samsung Electronics East Africa chief operating officer Robert Ngeru said the firm is now delivering a wider range of smart LED TVs with in-built DVB-T2 tuners. All 2013 TV models by Samsung that are 28-inch and above, he said, are DVB-T2 compliant.
In a gazette notice published October 18, the government affirmed that the analogue TV broadcast transmission switch-off date for Nairobi and its environs will be on December 13, coinciding with the country's celebration of 50 years of independence.
- Follow the first web TV in West Africa dedicated to human rights here:
- Public French audiovisual production fund for the South granted EUR 300 000 to 17 fiction and documentary projects. During its second session in November 2013, the Francophone Fund selected 17 television projects from 16 different countries. The total amount allocated is 300 000 euros. The Francophone audiovisual production Fund for the South takes place since 1988 under the program Images of the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF). It has an annual $ 1.3 million budget equally divided between cinema and audiovisual production.
- Kenya’s leading manufacturing conglomerate, Kenafric has been sued by United States TV giant, Time Warner on Copyright infringement of its cartoon trademark product, BEN 10. BEN 10 is a popular American cartoon franchise created by Cartoon Networks and “Man of Action”. With three Emmys under its belt, the cartoon has grossed over $22 billion in sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Cartoon Networks Inc., the TV unit of Time Warner wants the Kenyan conglomerate to stop the production of its chewing gum with BEN 10 branded wrapping paper. Source: Ventures Africa
As African telecommunications operators start to position themselves to offer voice, video and broadband services as bundled offerings, they need to rethink the way that they provision said services and market them to end-users. That’s according to Mark Tinka, Head of Engineering at SEACOM, who says that the shift from provisioning these services separately to offering them in a single converged package has a range of commercial and operational implications for operators.
“As we have seen in the rest of the world, African fixed-line operators must prepare themselves to offer triple-play services over a single wire,” says Tinka. “To be successful in this, they will need to shift their business models from being network-oriented to being service-oriented. It is less about the infrastructure they are providing the service on, and more about the services that run on top of it.”
Traditional operators have delivered services discretely, i.e, media houses deliver television, voice carriers deliver telephony and Internet service providers deliver access to the Internet, says Tinka, and in most cases, these are three different companies. The new, “converged” operator will need to provide all these services (voice, video, Internet access, e.t.c) over a single piece of wire to the end user. This has a number of implications for the way that an operator manages the infrastructure underpinning these services, says Tinka. “To deliver all these services through a single wire, operators must ensure that they are able to offer a high quality of service, irrespective of what the customer is doing at a given time,” he adds. “Some services such as voice-over-IP have a relatively limited impact on the network, but are sensitive to latency and packet loss.”
Others such as video streaming demand enormous amounts of bandwidth – a compressed high-definition stream over an IP network needs 12 to 18 Mbps of bandwidth per second. Then, consider the fact that one person in the home might be watching a stream while recording another, while another person wants to download a big file or make a voice call. “Legacy copper networks will not be able to cater for this world, and we are going to need to see major investments in fibre to the home. Operators will also need to invest in IP multicast solutions to save on bandwidth used to deliver television over fibre, and put the right management solutions in place to guarantee and manage quality of service.” Tinka says.
With all these services running through one cable, reliability will be of paramount importance as will network efficiency. “Users have grown accustomed to reliability from the individual service providers of old – it’s raining, you pick up your phone, you still get dial tone,” he adds. New operators looking to offer unified services over a single wire will need to offer, at the very least, the same level of reliability as the traditional players did, or better. Certainly not worse. Moreover, these new operators will also need to make substantial investments into the reliability of metro, backhaul and international connectivity to meet the demands of their customers, says Tinka.
Ultimately, the vision should be to make the technology transparent to the end-user so that he or she doesn’t know or need to care that the line is a fibre optic cable running at, say, 100Mbps. Customers should simply know that they are buying, say $40 a month, for unlimited Internet access and national calls as well as 100 channels of television. The details about the infrastructure are not relevant to the end user. They just want their sports and home cooking channels, Facebook and YouTube, and to call the local pizza house for a home delivery.
As the world's fastest growing market for mobile phones, Africa is ripe for the upcoming disruption that will be ushered in by ubiquitous Internet access through smartphones.
The previous wave of mobile phone adoption on the continent from 2000 to 2010 accelerated at an impressive 30% compound annual growth rate powered by affordable dumb and feature phones sold at mass market price points.
Today, the narrative is changing.
The continent's smartphone market is expected to double in the next four years and device manufacturers who dominated the narrative over the past decade such as Nokia are making big bets on the continent's smartphone future. Microsoft/Nokia through the Lumia Windows phone line are betting that the continent's rising economic fundamentals coupled with a rising hunger for connected devices will spur significant demand.
Huawei has since 2011 bet that its sub $100 Android devices will herald a new era of smartphone penetration in some of Africa's largest mobile phone markets like Nigeria and Kenya.
Samsung has adopted a similar strategy, targeting student populations and engaging celebrities to trigger mass appeal and its tactics appear to be gaining traction.
According to International Data Corp, 52% of all smartphones sold on the continent in the second quarter of 2013 were Samsung phones and the company has quickly ascended in a short period of time to become Africa's smartphone leader. Chinese manufacturer Tecno has also increasingly been making its intentions clear: "Our desire is to flood the African mobile phone markets with Tecno smartphones," its director of marketing, Boukali Mounir said in an interview recently.
Tecno humbly started out by introducing relatively simple phones in the African market but very quickly scaled up its offerings to include affordable smartphones and now has its ambitions set on continent-wide domination. Then there is the Blackberry, which despite its cataclysmic woes in Western markets, continues to enjoy significant patronage on the continent.
The coming African smartphone wave poses an interesting dilemma for app developers on the continent. Should they invest their skills acquisition and app development efforts in Africa's feature phone past or its exciting smartphone future? After all, despite the growth prospects, Africa is still largely a feature phone play with smartphones making up 18% of phones in Africa.
Though the continent's smart phone penetration rate might appear low relative to its number of feature phone users, the addressable market for smartphone users on the continent is already sizeable and is currently growing at about 19% year over year. With 650 million mobile phone subscribers in Africa, there are already about 100 million smartphone users with the number set to double to 200 million users in the next four years.
At present, South Africa is reportedly sub-Saharan Africa's largest smartphone market at 19% penetration followed closely by Tanzania, Nigeria and Kenya. Launching the right product with cross-country appeal would be key to success and carrier billing for local apps by indigenous mobile operators would provide a decent monetization path for breakout hits.
Much has been analyzed about Africa's rising middle class, a demographic that has been touted to be the world's fastest growing. Despite the controversy surrounding who really comprises this base, McKinsey posits that in the next few years, 40% of the growth in spending power on the continent will be driven by households with an average income of more than $20,000 a year.
What makes the continent's smartphone user base particularly interesting is its demographic composition. Africa's smartphone owners overlap significantly with its rising consumer class. Asides the relatively formidable size of their wallets, they are typically the most tech savvy cohort of the general populace and the most likely to use mobile apps solving key pain points in their day to day lives from mobile commerce to transit ticketing.
The launch of Uber (the Silicon Valley based startup that connects riders with a driver at the tap of a button on its smartphone app) in Johannesburg, South Africa this past August points to the fact that the philosophy of betting on the continent's smartphone future is increasingly gaining traction.
It might be early days in Africa's smartphone history but at its current pace of growth, the future will very quickly merge with the present and eventually supersede it.
While feature phone penetration will continue to maintain its healthy lead, smartphone adoption would take on a hockey stick adoption path; a trend that savvy entrepreneurs and app developers will inevitably profit from. The impact that rapid adoption of smartphones on the continent will usher in are legion. From education to retail, Africa's smartphone wave will redefine the continent's future in myriad sectors and at scale.
Bangalore, November 12, 2013: OnMobile Global Limited, a leading global telecom value-added services (VAS) company with presence in 59 countries, has tied up with Airtel Africa to power a service called Airtel Football across the continent. As part of this engagement, OnMobile has partnered with Goal.com, who holds the rights for live match alerts for English Premier League matches in Africa. Airtel subscribers will benefit from updates on their favorite football clubs and live match alerts.
This association has evolved incredibly achieving an adoption rate of 11.6 million subscribers across 11 countries in Africa since its launch in August 2012 making Airtel Football one of the most all-encompassing operator-branded mobile football subscription services.
This service is an offshoot of OnMobile’s and Airtel’s vision to reach out across subscriber segments – from the bottom of the pyramid users to Smartphone users as well as high-value customers. This also supports Airtel’s objective of adapting to the enormous proliferation of Mobile Internet users across the continent.
“Football in Africa is a television phenomenon – especially on paid channels. A lot of subscribers across the continent do not have access to television but love Football nonetheless. OnMobile is excited to power this service, through our partnership with Airtel, a leading global operator. Our aim is to directly touch the lives of millions of sport lovers and offer our consumers the best possible user experience,” said Biswajit Nandi, Vice President, Africa and Middle East, OnMobile.
Andre Beyers, Chief Marketing Officer, Airtel Africa said, “Football is the greatest passion in Africa. Our vision is to enable and take the game to all fans, even those without access to television. Combining Airtel’s customer reach and knowledge with OnMobile’s strong technology, we believe that we can take the world of football closer to the fans.”
The football service which is accessible through SMS, IVR, USSD, WAP, Web and, very shortly a handset app, is currently available in English, French, Swahili and Hausa. More languages are in the process of being added to ensure all subscribers receive official, authentic and the latest football news in their preferred language.
OnMobile, headquartered in Bangalore, India, with services in 59 countries, is the leading Value Added Services [VAS] company for Mobile, Landline and Media Service Providers. OnMobile offers an innovative array of products in Mobile Entertainment, Search and Discovery, Data Services and Mobile Social Networking and is a leader in the VAS Managed Services industry. The products span a range of channels including SMS, Voice, Video, WAP, Web, USSD and On-Device Portals, enabling OnMobile’s 100 telecom and media customers to generate high revenues. With over 1600 employees worldwide, OnMobile has offices around the globe, including London, Paris, Madrid, Silicon Valley, and Seattle.
For further information, please visit www.onmobile.com
Ster-Kinekor Theatres has completed the digital conversion of all its 438 cinemas around South Africa as it seeks to provide audiences with the best possible movie viewing experience.
HumanIPO reported earlier this year Ster-Kinekor had started the process of converting its cinemas to the latest digital technology, allowing South Africans to enjoy the release of a new international film at the same time as elsewhere in the world.
Fiaz Mahomed, chief executive officer (CEO) of Ster-Kinekor, said: ““The digital rollout across our sites is the single largest investment by our company, as we continue in our efforts to innovate the cinema experience to ensure our customers enjoy ‘great moments at their greatest.”
The film distributor began the process in June, completing it this week with the conversion of its final South African cinema in Kimberley.
« The company believes it was the “fastest successful digital conversion process for any cinema chain of our size anywhere in the world”.
Mahomed said the company had managed to continue running its normal operations across all its cinemas during the upgrade with the minimum of disruption.
“With the digital technology, the entire cinema viewing experience has undergone a profound change,” the company said. “The picture quality and clarity of the image is considerably improved while the state-of-the-art surround sound has also been upgraded.”
“Mahomed said: “This is an exciting evolution in cinema in South Africa, and I would like to congratulate the dedicated and professional team for making it happen in record time for Ster-Kinekor.”
Kenyan companies are turning to 3D advertising to engage with audiences and lure investors.
The bleary-eyed caveman is furious. He's been waiting for ages for a file to download only to be failed by slow internet speeds. Frustrated, he slaps his computer screen and then slumps down defeated on his seat.
Behind him, another caveman connected to high-speed internet pokes fun at him. Showing off, he clicks a button and downloads his favorite song in just a couple of seconds before bursting into a highly entertaining dance.
Featuring what has become one of Kenya's most popular TV characters, this catchy and memorable 3D ad for the Faiba internet service went viral in the East African country when it was first aired last year. And this was exactly what animator Michael Muthiga hoped to achieve when he created it for Kenyan telecommunications operator Jamii Telecommunications Limited (JTL).
"Firstly, it was the fact that it was a new medium of advertising and people didn't expect it," says Muthiga, director at Fatboy Animations, citing the reasons for the ad's popularity.
"Second, the creativity in it and the story, the whole concept, it was a funny one. Thirdly, we actually sat down to decide how we wanted this character to look and I think that went a long way also in making it a big success."
The popularity of that first ad spurred the creation of a whole new series of cavemen ads, which in turn helped JTL to become a household name.
"I think it gave a freshness that then got people thinking and saying, 'these guys have brought on something that is new to the market, let's give them a chance,'" says Cyrus Sang of JTL. "That gave us the advantage."
But this gain did not come cheap. Creating a 3D animation commercial in Kenya will set a company back several thousand dollars.
"We spent, I mean, quite a huge sum on this advertising project and it was worth every penny that we put into it," says Sang.
Though 3D animation is nothing new in Kenya, it has not been widely used in TV commercials. But after the big success of the five-part animated cavemen series, Muthiga says that the industry is now growing at a fast pace.
"As far as advertising is concerned 3D animation is booming," says Muthiga. "Most clients want to go that way, animation -- whatever creates a buzz with the audience, that's what the client will want to go for," he adds.
The emphasis on advertising is also a sign of a changing and improved economic environment. According to the World Bank, the Kenyan economy expanded by 4.6% last year, in line with a wider trend that sees many African countries routinely among the fastest growing economies in the world. This big growth potential is increasingly attracting profit-seeking international investors.
As far as advertising is concerned 3D animation is booming.
Cynthia Nyamai, a Kenyan public relations consultant says that the new players in the field are shrinking the market share and forcing local companies to spend bigger sums to be more visible.
"For a very long time in the African markets, and also in Kenya, people didn't really take advertising that seriously," she says. "In fact, if you look at most companies, when it comes to advertising, when it comes to their budget, unfortunately advertising used to take a very small percentage," adds Nyamai.
"This is a market and new people are coming in so they need to be heard, they're fighting for the same market space so a lot of companies now have to spend more in advertising."
This can only be good news for people like Muthiga. The young animator says the only way is up for the industry as it has only scratched the surface.
"We've just tapped into a very small segment of the animation industry, very tiny," he says. "There's so much which we can do which we still haven't done and I believe in my lifetime, and the lifetime of my company we might not even get to do half of the whole industry."
- 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. - See more here
- Global search engine giant Google has launched a lightspeed fibre network in the city of Kampala, Uganda to facilitate faster internet connection speeds.
With a population of almost three million people living in and around Kampala, internet access hasn’t been as fast and available as it could be, according to Google. See more here
- The Cheetah Code is a web TV series spotlighting Africa’s young entrepreneurs and emerging technology sector. See more here
iROKOtv Star Week: Chika Nancy Ike - Nollywood actress and UN Ambassador
Stunning Nollywood actress, Chika Nancy Ike, is an UN Ambassador who grew up in a close knit family of eight in Lagos, Nigeria. Born on 8th November, 1985, she started acting at the age of six in her local church and watched numerous of movies whilst growing up; this is what inspired her to join the Nigerian movie industry. In 2005, Chika got her big break starring in Sweet Love and 'Bless the Child', a Nollywood movie directed by Tchidi Chikere.
Have a look at some of her best movies on iROKOtv.
Spirit Of A Princess (2012)
A myth exists that the prosperity of a community depends on whoever the princess marries. Three noblemen undertake the daring task of achieving the impossible to prove themselves worthy of the role. Kenneth Okonkwo, Chika Ike, Ugezu J. Ugezu.
White Chapel (2011)
Best friends since childhood share everything including men. Their close relationship starts to break down when one of them keeps secret about an affair that she is having with a dashing young man. Mercy Johnson, Chika Ike, Olu Jacobs.
Breath Of Love (2010)
An industrious banker ends up dating the good Samaritan that kindly brings her home one night after she drinks to the point of inebriation. As their relationship becomes serious it becomes clear that their differing religions present a huge problem for their families and friends. Ramsey Nouah, Chika Ike, Chigozie Atuanya, Ruth Kadiri.
Standing Order (2006)
A banker is distraught when his father-in-law whom he was close to, dies. Misfortune hits twice when he then loses his job due to an unfair accusation levelled against him. Out of frustration he joins a cult to make money, unaware of the grave consequences. Kanayo O. Kanayo, Clem Ohameze, Chika Ike
Breaking News (2007)
A fun-filled family holiday becomes nightmarish for a carefree young girl when violent armed robbers strike on the night of their arrival. Tormented by the events of that night and unable to sleep she turns to sleeping pills. Emeka Ike, Chika Ike, Uche Elendu.
Royal Covenant (2009)
A prince returns to his village from America to find out that his love has left the community with her banished mother after adultery allegations. He is desperate to find her again but is hesitant because of a royal covenant in place. Vitalis Ndubuisi, Nuella Njubigbo, Jim Iyke.
Endless Tears (2007)
A married couple, expecting their first child are faced with financial woes, when to their delight the industrious husband is offered a job as a general manager by a sly woman with an ulterior motive. Mike Ezuruonye, Bob Manuel Udokwu, Chika Ike.
Catch up on some hot and exclusive movies on iROKOtv PLUS. For FREE and classic Nollywood movies, log on to iROKOtv.com
South Africa: French actor Nicolas Duvauchelle to star in Oliver Hermanus new film
French actor Nicolas Duvauchelle has signed up to star in Oliver Hermanus’ third feature film, The Endless River. Duvauchelle and Hermanus met earlier this year in Paris and immediately hit it off. The film is set in the Overberg region of the Western Cape and tells the story of a French expatriate who’s family is the victim of a brutal farm murder.
Principle photography is scheduled for April 2014 and casting for the South African co-stars and supporting cast is underway.
Hermanus’ last film, Skoonheid, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival 2011 and won the Queer Palm Award. It went on to represent South Africa as the nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Academy Awards.
"I am really excited to be working with Nicolas on this film. He is the kind of actor that really excites me as a filmmaker. I think he is going to bring something unforgettable to this story," Hermanus said.
Touted as a rebel, Duvauchelle seem to be one of the most promising young actors in France and Europe. While studying to become a pharmacy employee, he was discovered in a boxing club in Paris.
Felix Dexter: Funny To The End
Friends and colleagues remember The Real McCoy star as a private man with an exceptional comedy gift
The news of his death on October 18 sent shock waves through the world of British comedy. But to those who knew him, Felix Dexter’s decision to keep news of his illness out of the public domain, was no surprise.
Full story here:
Tolu Ogunlesi, a renowned Nigerian journalist and freelance writer for Ventures Africa, has won the 2013 CNN/MultiChoice Africa Journalist of the Year Award.
FOX International Channels Europe & Africa has announced the appointment of Kelly Butler as SVP FOX Sports Europe & Africa. The former CEO of Setanta Africa joins FIC Europe & Africa’s executive staff following the company’s acquisition of Setanta Africa, which was approved by the Irish Competition Authority on November 6th, 2013.
Calling for documentary proposals from South African filmmakers.
We want powerful African stories that engage universal themes. We are seeking extraordinary stories from the fullest possible range of genres and subject matter.
NHU Africa calls for submissions
The Natural History Unit of Africa (NHU Africa) is announcing the last call for submissions in 2013. Commissioning takes place throughout the year at NHU Africa, but producers submitting proposals for this call will be reviewed soonest.