Africa’s biggest annual meet-point and gabfest is always a good point to take the pulse of the industry. Shocks and changes seem to be coming faster than ever. The mobile incumbents are publicly saying many of the right things but a close up look reveals a sharp contrast between aspiration and reality. Russell Southwood had his ear to the ground throughout the event.
One of the developments that seemed to set the tone of this year’s event was the MTN fine in Nigeria. Nearly everyone I spoke to at some point mentioned it. There was some sympathy and a sense that in many ways that the fine was wrong. But a significant number of people said that they felt the fine was a good thing. The most obvious reason given was that operators should obey the law and they could not be surprised when they were fined when they did not.
The logic of this position was sometimes extended to say that the much more modest Quality of Service fines had been paid but the issue of quality had not been addressed. But rather more worryingly for MTN, there was also a significant degree of “schadenfreude”: industry people – both Africans and others – were happy to see the “arrogant” MTN humbled and with the look of fear in its eyes. But MTN is not alone in feeling pain: Airtel struggles to make its African operations profitable and Millicom is not currently doing well.
Tucked away on the Digital Entertainment stream, there was a presentation from
Dr Hanlie Smuts, General Manager, Product and Digital, MTN SA that seemed to lay out the carrier’s manifesto for changing itself.
She talked of their task being “managed evolution from the traditional telco model”, something she called “transformation”. The company needed to focus on the networks needed for growth of traffic and increased revenues. They needed to get a deeper understanding of the digital ecosystem. She claimed that they could now launch partner services in three weeks:”We really want to be in the collaborate space.”
The claim of three weeks to market drew skeptical responses from those I talked to. As one person said:”It takes them three weeks just to get an Exco meeting organized…” Whatever their aspirations, they are still seen as a bureaucratic and the slow-moving company, the very reverse of innovative.
A couple of very reliable sources told me that MTN wants to become a global media company and brand its services globally: this is hubris of the highest order and I can only say rather glibly, good luck with that one. Almost at the same time I had described in great detail to me how a major mobile operator had signed an expensive exclusive content deal (with a large up-front payment). It now understands the mistake it’s made and wants to get out of it. As one industry inside said to me:”They’re like rabbits trapped by the headlights.”
There’s a real dissonance between this public rhetoric and what the CEOs of the leading mobile operators actually say to each other when they don’t think anyone’s listening. CEOs of two of Africa’s largest mobile operators were heard expressing regret that they missed a major opportunity in not blocking Facebook when it first came out. They then went on to discuss how the five major mobile operators should get together to block Facebook and offer VoLTE. They were unaware that a West African regulator was nearby and rapidly backtracked when his presence became known: oh, no, they protested, they were not suggesting a cartel.
So how do we judge both the effectiveness and the reality of their operators’ transformation rhetoric? Let’s look at what’s actually happening in digital content and services that is a key area that they have to get right if there is to be an African digital future.
Three things are holding back the development of digital content and services: price, access and the revenue share. Data prices are in the more competitive countries down to European and American levels but most Africans do not earn European or American salaries. Prices have to come further down for African users to forget their fear of their bundle running out. Unitel’s “all-you-can-eat” music service Kisom where data is rolled into the price is a good start.
The networks are still not capable of bearing the kind of traffic the digital future will generate. One operator launched a streaming service saying that it could be run over 3G and within two weeks under pressure of customer complaints had to pull the service. There’s a faint feeling that everyone’s giving up on solving this. Both Google and Vodacom (Video Play) have added download to play later functions with 48 hours to watch. This seems to assume that the network issues are not going to be solved in the short to medium term. That brings us to the revenue share.
On the opening panel in the digital entertainment stream, Neeraj Gala, Director for Products and Innovation, Airtel Africa said you need to understand our pain. There are high taxes and government restrictions that make it very expensive to operate.
As last year, he said he was unable to discuss the revenue share with digital content and services operators but that they wanted to make things more transparent. Fellow panelist Marc Herson, 2Go had no such inhibitions and said they got 23% from Airtel. He also said that MTN had written to them to say they were cutting 25% off their “rev share” and backdating it six months. No discussion…
He described how he did a scheme for them that added a large amount of data bundle users at no charge to them. Gala announced that Airtel launching a website so people can sign up to have their service on Airtel (see below). But although he implied the percentage “rev share” would be better, it was unclear whether it would be or by how much.
Websites as a way of doing business (or avoiding doing it) seem to be a popular theme. Another carrier has a website where you submit innovative ideas through a website. As if there were not enough websites, Atul Madan, Senior Vice President and Head Digital Services, Mahindra Comviva sang the virtues of its Mooditt site, where you could…yes, you guessed. Submit you content…So this is how carriers will innovate the future? In this regard, they seemed to have learned from the Over-The-Top operators who are even harder to contact than individual members of the CIA.
There was a revealing moment when Gala from Airtel said the more content they sold, the less their own share of voice and data revenues: in other words, he saw what his customers spent as a “zero sum game” rather than there being parts of the market where revenues might grow.
I should pause at this point to say a big “thank you” to Neeraj Gala for this was the second time he has allowed himself to be grilled by me on a panel. Very few operators justify their rev share practices in public forums and I have a deep respect for him in doing so.
Effectively the mobile operators are advancing towards the future through a process of digging trenches to protect their existing business model. Until they can demonstrate that the transformation rhetoric matches their actions, Africa’s digitial future will be postponed.
Digital Content Africa: Balancing Act’s web TV channel Smart Monkey TV has an e-letter called Digital Content Africa. On a fortnightly basis, it covers online film, music, media, social media, publishing and services and applications. We have already produced 52 issues and these can be viewed on this link:
Essential reading for those in mobile VAS to anyone just interested in what African and relevant international content they can now get online. If you would like to subscribe, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with Digital Content Africa in the title line. Look at the full list of of past issues here:
Videos interviews to watch:
Layne Fletcher, Yum Deliveries on growing the Kenyan market for food deliveries of all types
Stuart Campo on the innovation work UNICEF is doing to improve services for women and children
Doreen Kessey, Ubongo on making edutainment content for phones, TV and web
Layne Fletcher, Yum Deliveries on growing the Kenyan market for online food deliveries of all types
Tanzanian VoD start-up Tango TV founder Victor Joseph on streaming local movies to your TV
Nnenna Nwakanma on Africa's Data Revolution and Open Government for citizens
The Commercial court has ordered telecom giant MTN Uganda to pay a sum of Shs 2.3bn (about $662,000) in damages to EzeeMoney Limited for sabotaging its business.
Justice Henry Peter Adonyo on November 6, 2015 also ordered MTN to stop acting in unlawful and anti-competitive manner, which denies other businesses an opportunity to prosper.
Justice Adonyo said MTN should pay Shs 800m to EzeeMoney in general damages for loss of business. It should also pay a penalty of Shs 1.5bn in punitive damages to deter not only MTN but also warn other companies against uncompetitive business tactics.
It all started when EzeeMoney, which runs an e-money business, obtained a contract from MTN for the provision of digital transmission [E1] and 30 fixed telephone lines to carry out its mobile money business.
EzeeMoney then contracted Yo! Uganda Limited (YUL) to implement the service after Uganda Communications Commission, the regulator, approved it on December 2012, to use the 7711 short code to enable its customers to subscribe for e-money services.
But in 2013, MTN canceled the contract, saying EzeeMoney was a direct competitor to its mobile money business. Through AF Mpanga and company advocates, EzeeMoney went to court, saying MTN's action "restricted and distorted competition."
EzeeMoney said MTN also damaged its ties with YUL and deprived it of services of other telecommunications operators. It argued that MTN used its exclusivity agreements to stop its agents from working for any other firm with similar business, further limiting competition.
In a January 28, 2013 letter to EzeeMoney, MTN appeared to say its business would be disrupted if the former was given access to its platform.
"EzeeMoney is in direct competition with MTN in the provision of mobile money," read the letter in part.
Justice Adonyo said the letter confirmed that MTN was stopping services of the company because it considered it a competitor.
"It is testified that when YUL required the defendant [MTN] to activate the plaintiff's [EzeeMoney]short code on its platform, the defendant declined to do so on the basis that the plaintiff was in direct competition with it," the judge observed.
"YUL then seeing that the plaintiff couldn't carry out the business they had agreed together, by a letter dated 7/2/2013, did terminate all services with the plaintiff as YUL did not want to jeopardize its relationship with the defendant."
David Mpanga, EzeeMoney's lead counsel, said MTN's action of not activating the short code and the subsequent cancellation by YUL led to loss of business.
"The denial of the use of the defendant's [MTN] platform to the plaintiff [EzeeMoney] by the defendant would thus be an act which is prohibited within the meaning of section 53(1) (a) of the Act [Communications] for it limited competition," Adonyo said.
The judge also found that MTN coerced its agents to reject EzeeMoney. One witness, Sammy Mwathi, told court that he was an MTN money agent and he was restricted from dealing with other firms in the same business by signing exclusivity agreement.
"The perusal of the exclusivity agreement itself confirms the position that the defendant acted outside the law for it appears it used coercive methods like denial of services to its agents," he said. "[This] prohibited fair competition... and [was] contrary to the provisions of the law."
Justice Adonyo described MTN's tactics as "malicious".
Source: New Vision 11 November 2015
Africa: Mybucks and Opportunity International Partner to Drive Financial Inclusion for 460 Million Unbanked Citizens of Africa
Chicago and Luxembourg — First-of-its-kind partnership between international NGO and leading fintech company will transform lives and forever change the face of poverty in the developing world
Opportunity, Inc., a next generation microfinance organization that invests philanthropic and social impact capital to spark and scale innovative solutions to global poverty, has entered into a share purchase agreement to sell six banks serving sub-Saharan Africa to the MyBucks Group, a Luxembourg-based financial technology (fintech) company which holds the three brands GetBucks, GetSure and GetBanked. Opportunity International will be a minority shareholder in MyBucks and retain at least one board seat at the parent level and one on the board of each bank. In addition, funding will be made available to the African banks to ensure continued social impact and responsibility. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approval from the Central Bank in each country.
"This partnership will greatly accelerate our work to help lift more people out of poverty, transform their lives and strengthen their families and communities," said Vicki Escarra, Global CEO, Opportunity International. "MyBucks will supercharge our mission by adding significant capital, resources and expertise to help drive financial inclusion of the unbanked and underbanked clients throughout Africa. It also helps us achieve our goal of creating and sustaining 20 million jobs by 2020, which will impact 100 million lives worldwide."
MyBucks has operations in eight African countries, including Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as two European countries, Spain and Poland. This partnership marks the first time a fintech company has acquired banks to bridge the gap between the virtual and traditional worlds of banking to enable faster, more efficient and less expensive access to financial services for clients. In fact, this move is contrary to the current trend worldwide where banks are acquiring fintech companies to add value and expand services.
"MyBucks brings a number of other benefits to banks including integrating cutting-edge digital and mobile banking technology to serve clients in even the most remote areas of Africa," Escarra said. "MyBucks will also expand the number of small, medium and micro-entrepreneurs served. Often, these are small businesses that need financial resources but have been declined by traditional banks. MyBucks uses a comprehensive credit analysis process that can get critical resources into the hands of our clients quickly and efficiently."
MyBucks believes personal financial management is key to helping clients manage their financial affairs, lives and families. Through a unique blend of innovation and cutting-edge technology, the company is refining the process of banking, building credit and accessing other short-term financial services through virtual solutions and advanced technological applications.
"This is truly a groundbreaking partnership between an international non-governmental organization and a leading fintech company in Africa," said Dave van Niekerk, Global CEO, MyBucks. "It offers the best of both worlds by combining MyBucks products, credit expertise and technology with Opportunity International's network, client base and expertise in using financial services to create and expand businesses that help break the cycle of poverty. We're very excited to be joining forces to impact and improve lives in Africa."
Van Niekerk says MyBucks will recapitalize all banks to accelerate growth and support banks in tapping capital markets to raise debt and capital. Upon receiving regulatory approval from the Central Bank on the MyBucks-Opportunity International transaction, MyBucks intends to recapitalize the Malawi bank immediately, followed by the other banks as needed to keep pace with their growing loan books and depositor bases.
Since 1971, Opportunity International has pioneered financial solutions through microfinance institutions (MFIs). Over the past 44 years, the organization has continually found new ways to adapt to changing conditions and target its resources to create a sustainable impact on the lives of clients in Africa, China, India and other areas of the developing world.
"When Opportunity International launched its Banking on Africa Campaign in 2007 we were serving 1.2 million or 1 in 550 people in Africa," Escarra said. "We set a goal to impact 30 million people with loans, deposits and insurance by 2015. We're thrilled to have surpassed that goal. The population in Africa has grown by 290 million people and we have cumulatively impacted 39 million lives, or 1 in 24 people on the continent."
The organization is now in a position to leverage its resources by investing in the highest-performing MFIs and developing partnerships in health care, education and agriculture--the three pillars of transformation widely recognized by the international development community.
As part of the agreement, Opportunity International will open "Transformation Centers" around Africa to deliver outreach services it previously offered through banks, including business and financial training, Social Performance Management, education services, health counseling, agriculture training and other transformative and extension services to help ensure clients can break the cycle of poverty, transform their lives and strengthen their families and communities.
This move to bring partners into its banks is similar to Opportunity International's decision in 2008 to bring other investors into MicroEnsure, which it launched in 2006 as the first organization to provide a financial safety net for families in developing nations. "Additional capital has enabled MicroEnsure to grow very rapidly and provide microinsurance to many millions more clients than would have been possible without the additional investors." MicroEnsure was recently called a "game changer" and won the 2015 Transformational Business Award from The Financial Times and The World Bank's International Finance Corporation.
Source: PR Newswire New York 19 November 2015
Vimpelcom finally announced officially the takeover of its subsidiary Telecel Zimbabwe by ZARNet the Government owned ISP, for a sum of US $40 million. The current Telecel CEO, Angeline Vere, went on to advise staff in Zimbabwe of the change in ownership, that is them now being civil servants.
That the government was interested to buy Telecel Zimbabwe was first announced back in July but until late September, Vimpelcom maintained they would only sell if the price was right. Whether the $40M price makes sense for their investment into the company to date is doubtful though. The company put in $70 million just 3 years ago and is reported to have invested some $237 million since 2009.
Sensing the danger when the indigenisation pressure mounted, Vimpelcom took a more hesitant approach to injecting more money and started, in their financials, reporting the investment at cost, before making no mention of it altogether eventually. Between indigenisation, fellow shareholders (Makamba and company) that Zimbabwe’s ruling party hate for political reasons, unpaid license fees by Telecel, ousted shareholders that wanted back in (Jane Mutasa, War Veterans, Chiyangwa), Vimpelcom had little leverage.
The takeover propels ZARNet into one of the biggest tech companies locally as it already operates an ISP business, website design business as well as an IT company called Portnet Software (provides SAP consultancy) which government took over in September this year.
Source: Techzim 18 November 2015 http://www.techzim.co.zw/2015/11/vimpelcom-officially-announces-takeover...
Alcatel-Lucent's IP and optical technologies to transform TTCL's mobile and fixed access networks in Tanzania
Modernization of IP/MPLS and optical transport will allow TTCL to converge mobile and fixed access operations and meet growing demand for bandwidth with high-quality, reliable and affordable services
Alcatel-Lucent has signed a three-year frame agreement with TTCL - the Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited - under which it will modernize the operator's IP/MPLS and optical transport networks.
The Alcatel-Lucent transformation will allow TTCL to meet the growing demands of its fixed and mobile access customers for efficient, high-speed, high-quality data services in preparation for the launch of 4G LTE services.
Mobile phone use in Tanzania is currently at 75 percent of the population and growing by 20 percent each year. Following an expansion in undersea cable connectivity and the launch of the National ICT Broadband Backbone, broadband has become more accessible in the country, sparking demand for data services as well as the arrival of a number of new service providers.
Alcatel-Lucent will deploy its IP routing and 100G agile optical networking (AON) DWDM technology to transform TTCL's operations, converging fixed and mobile access on to one network, with unified management across the IP and optical layers for improved efficiencies. This will allow TTCL to meet the bandwidth needs of its 300,000 fixed network subscribers - even as data traffic increases with the expected deployment of a 4G LTE network - with high-quality, affordable services.
Phase One of the Nationwide deployment - covering major cities including the capital of Dodoma and the financial centre of Dar Es Salaam - will be completed in December 2015. Alcatel-Lucent is also providing comprehensive training and professional services expertise including site survey, design, installation, testing and commissioning activities as well as migrating services to the new platform.
Source: Press Release
Maputo — The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Wednesday passed the first reading of a government bill amending telecommunications legislation so that telephone operators will be obliged to share facilities,
Introducing the bill, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Carlos Mesquita, said that technological change “has led to the emergence of a new paradigm in the telecommunications sector, which is that of technological convergence”.
Convergence, he continued, is a worldwide trend “for the use of a single infrastructure to provide services which previously required autonomous equipment, communication channels and licensing systems”.
That “single infrastructure” can be used “to carry various communications services such as telephone, internet, data, images, radio, television and computer networks”.
Mesquita said that “in order to improve the functioning of the telecommunications market and guarantee the basic rights of consumers” it would now be obligatory for phone companies “to share the existing infrastructures”.
Public policies in this sector, he added, “should contribute to an increase in coverage of rural areas, an increase in the number of citizens served by high performance fibre-optic networks, and continual improvement in the average Internet speed”.
The government hoped “that we will raise access to the Internet in our country to a new level, compatible with the importance of information and communications technologies, and as a response to the demand from Mozambicans for information, knowledge and services”.
The legal framework of the amended legislation, Mesquita pledged, “seeks to guarantee the licensing and operation of communications services in an environment of technological convergence and the flexibility to deal with rapid changes and to stimulate competition in the telecommunications market”.
The bill was uncontroversial except for the clause on phone-tapping, which states that wire-taps must be authorized by “the relevant authority”. As jurists explained to AIM, the “relevant authority” in this case means a magistrate (which, in the Mozambican system, can be either a judge or a public prosecutor).
This was not good enough for deputies of the former rebel movement Renamo which insisted that the bill should stipulate that only a court can order a phone tap. Without that explicit guarantee, Renamo voted against the bill, while the majority Frelimo Party and the deputies of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) voted in favour.
Source: Mozambique News Agency 18 November 2015
The Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications in Cote d’Ivoire (Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications de CI, ARTCI) has reportedly raised the mobile licence renewal fees due to be paid by the country’s operators to XOF100 billion (USD162.5 million).
According to Agence Ecofin Orange, MTN and Moov were informed of the decision by ICT minister Bruno Nabane Kone, with the regulator also opting to cut the duration of the concessions, from 20 years to 15.
The news site claims that all three cellcos have voiced their disapproval at the licence fee hike, arguing that they are already unfairly burdened given the investment they must make to improve coverage and quality of service (QoS). By comparison, the original 20-year concessions were priced at XOF40 billion.
Source: Agence Ecofin 18 November 2015
Nigerian authorities have agreed that the NGN1.04 trillion (USD5.2 billion) fine imposed on MTN Group’s local unit will not be payable until negotiations between the parties have been concluded, the South African company revealed in a statement to shareholders.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had set a deadline of 16 November 2015 for the payment of the fine, which was issued to MTN Nigeria last month, after it failed to meet a deadline to disconnect around 5.1 million unregistered subscribers. In its press release, MTN reiterated that it is committed to resolving the matter with the NCC as soon as possible and it continuing discussions with Nigerian authorities.
‘Shareholders are advised that the Executive Chairman of the Company, Mr Phuthuma Nhleko, has personally met with the Nigerian authorities to continue the ongoing discussions with them regarding the fine of NGN200,000 for each unregistered subscriber, the equivalent of USD5.2 billion imposed on MTN Nigeria by the NCC. These discussions include matters of non-compliance and the remedial measures that may have to be adopted to address this.’
Source: Telegeography 16 November 2015
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, November 18, 2015/ -- Tigo has announced the launch of a new offer of Techno Y3 Smartphone with a fully-embedded Kiswahili menu as a gift to new and up-coming customers to enable them to share with their beloved ones all the wonderful moments associated with Christmas and New year holidays.
Announcing the new offer at a press function in Dar es Salaam today, Tigo General Manager Diego Gutierrez said the new Smartphone will be sold in all Tigo outlets and agents for as little as Tsh 99,000/= only. This is the first time that a smartphone with Kiswahili menu is being into the market, he said.
According to Gutierrez, the offer, known as “Wagfitishe” will enable Tigo customers to enjoy to the fullest the coming festive season.
According to Gutierrez, customers buying the Smartphone will enjoy a free 6 months’ package of 2GB and airtime worth Tsh 10,000 to call all networks for the first month while there will be a free Tsh 10,000 worth of airtime for the second to the sixth month for customers recharging Tsh 5,000 for Tigo to Tigo network.
The new Smartphone comes with unique special features that include an extended battery life, a dual sim, 8GB memory and a 2M pixel camera.
Last Wednesday (11/11/15), Econet Zimbabwe disconnected more than 1 million subscribers from their network after they reviewed their registration documents, thereby cutting the company’s full-year forecast for subscription from 9 million to around 8 million.
The spokesperson for the Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, Executive Assistant to GCEO Mr Lovemore Nyatsine said “In line with Statutory Instrument 95/2014 promulgated to ensure that customers of mobile networks are registered on the network, Econet has and continues to ensure that its customers are registered on the network and that their details are correct and up to date. Where we identify customer details not complying with our validation exercises, we are mandated to deactivate them after all efforts have been taken to ensure that they comply”.
Some of the subscribers who spoke to Techunzipped, said they were told to reregister and thereafter their lines would be reconnected. This development comes after the operator gave the customers an ultimatum through text messages to register the sims by November 13.
Mr Nyatsine said it was an ongoing exercise to ensure customers register their lines. This is an ongoing exercise and we continue to encourage our customers to update their records with us to avoid inconveniences of being disconnected,” he said.
Source: Techunzipped 16 November 2015
World Panel Inc. has showcased its latest products at AfricaCom and announced a deal with Vodacom as a key retail partner to sell its new SunStream™ in select stores. Executives from both companies were on the floor of the Cape Town tradeshow to unveil the products that directly connect mobile phones to a clean and reliable energy source. World Panel products are the first to stream electricity from the sun directly into mobile devices and they require no chipsets or PC boards. The SunStream and SunStream Plus charge mobile phones at or near the same speed as a wall plug. SunStream products have been built to international standards using industrial grade materials, allowing them to withstand harsh conditions and can even charge while submerged in water.
CSG International, a global provider of interactive transaction-driven solutions and services, today announced that CSG’s partner, Satec, will deploy the company’s award-winning Revenue Management solutions at Angola Telecom. The contract comes on the heels of the successful pilot deployment of CSG Interconnect for Angola Telecom’s wholesale operations. The integrated solution will include CSG Singleview Convergent Rating & Billing, Singleview Customer Management, and Intermediate, as well as the expansion of CSG Interconnect to include CSG Route and Financial Manager.
Senegal has opened a tender for a fourth-generation mobile licence, telecoms regulator ARTP said on state radio on Monday. "Senegal has decided on Monday November 16 to launch the bid for the 4G licence," said Adbou Karim Sall, general manager for ARTP. He did not specify the value of the contract or give an indication of timing.
Orange Horizons is planning to soft-launch ADSL services in South Africa, with technical testing of the broadband services said to have already begun, MyBroadband reports.
Sebastien Crozier, the CEO of the French telco’s international development unit, disclosed: ‘Customers are going to receive an e-mail telling them they have an opportunity to choose Orange as an ISP’, adding that those invited to the trial will be offered something ‘quite interesting’.
While the initial launch date for introducing Orange as an ISP in the country was slated for the end of 2015 (subsequently pushed back to Q1 2016), the CEO now said that the company does not have a fixed launch date.
Source: Telegeography 19 November 2015
Facebook activated its "Safety Check" feature in Nigeria after more than 30 people were killed and dozens wounded in a blast at a market in the northeastern city of Yola.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the social network, made the announcement in a post on his account early Wednesday.
"We've activated Safety Check again after the bombing in Nigeria this evening," Zuckerberg said after Tuesday's attack.
Facebook's decision to implement the feature - which allows users to "check-in" and let family members and friends know they're safe - comes after it received a heavy backlash for activating it for the attacks in Paris on Friday - but not after bomb blasts hit the Lebanese capital, Beirut, a day earlier.
Critics accused the San-Franscisco headquartered website of valuing the lives of Western victims more than those in other regions - a charge denied by Facebook.
"After the Paris attacks last week, we made the decision to use Safety Check for more tragic events like this going forward. We're now working quickly to develop criteria for the new policy and determine when and how this service can be most useful," Zuckerberg said.
Social media users were quick to demand Facebook activate the feature following the bombing in Nigeria. The activation of the safety feature after the deadly Nigeria blast was also welcomed by some users on social media.
But Facebook's move was not enough for other social media users. Unlike after Friday's attacks in France, the social network did not activate the "flag filter tool", which allows users to overlay a particular flag over their profile picture as a way of expressing solidarity.
No one claimed responsibility for the deadly attack in Yola. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for both the Beirut and Paris attacks.
Source: Al Jazeera/All Africa 18 November 2015
AMOS-uplink1Satellite operator Spacecom is providing rural settlements and educational institutions in Cameroon with hybrid cellular and satellite-delivered broadband via the Amos-5 satellite at 17° East.
Spacecom is cooperating with Ringo S. A., a Cameroon ISP, to supply over 120 educational institutions, community centers and rural villages with broadband internet connections.
The solution allows users to take advantage of satellite for downloading data while relying on cellular or other terrestrial data networks for Internet upload requests. A user sends a request to the cloud via a GSM modem and all the information is accessed from the satellite with a high throughput downlink.
Source: Digital TV Europe 18 November 2015
Airtel Africa, which operates in 17 countries across Africa, has announced its partnership with Facebook which will see the launch of Free Basics in Africa.
Free Basics is a set of basic websites and services to introduce people to the internet and demonstrate how it adds value to their lives. They include providing free health, education and finance-related information to people in developing countries so that they can make informed choices and decisions to improve their lives.
In the first phase, Free Basics will be launched in Airtel Nigeria, DRC, Gabon and Niger followed by other Airtel Africa markets. Customers with an Airtel mobile connection will be able to access all the services that form part of Free Basics without paying extra for data charges or rental.
Commenting on the latest partnership with Facebook, Christian de Faria, MD and CEO of Airtel Africa said, "With Africa's widest 3G network, Airtel has been at the forefront of the data revolution in Africa. We are cognizant of the power of internet in changing lives of communities and this partnership with Facebook will aid in bringing more people online and reduce the digital divide."
Source: CIO East Africa 17 November 2015
It may not be common knowledge, but open access is disruptor and one that will ultimately lead to better business and value for end users. This is according to Sven Blom, Head of Sales at Teraco, Africa’s only vendor neutral data centre. He says that open access and a shared infrastructure approach is one of the most progressive ways for Africa to grow.
“We have reached the perfect point of maturity where the market is ready to embrace open access. Teraco has grown its client base to 250, so there is now a proliferation of service providers. All these clients can utilise the ecosystems within Teraco, everyone is connected and it’s all through an open access model. This is very important for transformation for the economy and for the continent,” says Blom.
As defined by Infodev, open access is about creating competition in all layers of the IP network allowing a wide variety of physical networks and applications to interact in an open architecture. Put plainly, anyone can connect to anyone in a technology-neutral framework that encourages innovative, low-cost delivery to users. It encourages market entry from smaller, local companies and seeks to ensure that no one entity can take a position of dominant market power. It requires transparency to ensure fair-trading within and between the layers based on clear, comparative information on market prices and services. It seeks to build on the characteristics of the IP network to allow devolved local solutions rather than centralised ones.
Martin Springer, managing director of CMC Networks, a global telecommunications carrier, says there is a definitive move away from traditional VSAT technology to terrestrial solutions and open access has a direct and positive impact on this evolution: “There is simply more choice and open access improves and enhances our service offerings. It also gives us redundancy and resilience in our network services.”
Springer says that it is just not viable for one company to do it all on their own: “The cost is just too big to bare, so with open access you gain value with increased affordability, more flexibility, much greater agility, and most importantly choice. It can be commercial, technical or geographical, open access helps businesses build out a network and offer value added services to end customers.”
Industry sources quote that passive infrastructure sharing can potentially generate overall cost savings as much as between 15% and 30%, with clear cost savings on yearly site capital expenditure of up to 60%.
Brendan Pronk, chief commercial officer at Comsol Wireless Solutions, a specialist in building customised terrestrial wireless access infrastructure, says that open access network models have been gaining favour in recent years: “This is largely due to their ability to improve penetration and access, stimulate competition and reduce the cost of connectivity.”
He says that for Comsol, the development of a national layer 2 last mile network has been made possible through open access and being able to terminate and cross connect to all the carriers and their communities: “This is done via an open access environment at the Comsol carrier exchange (CCX), as well as levering off of an already well established national fibre infrastructure.” Pronk says that the cost of building multiple dedicated infrastructures would be prohibitive and ultimately affect the end user.
Teraco’s Blom says that through an open access model companies can also deploy technologies quicker: “Sharing can give companies greater leverage and a more efficient and rapid deployment of newer technologies. The cost savings to be made from infrastructure sharing also enables companies to reallocate their competencies and capital on the development of their core business. This is especially the key to success in a competitive and cost conscious market.”
Cape Town will be home to the third Open Access ICT networking event hosted by Teraco and independent fibre network operator, FibreCo. Taking place at the Two Oceans Aquarium on Wednesday 18th November, the “by invitation only” event will pull together the industry’s C-level executives from across Africa to discuss open access and the future of sub-Saharan Africa in the global ICT landscape. Sponsors include: Comsol, CMC Networks, LINX, NAP Africa, Workonline Communications.
For more information on the Open Access event brought to you by Teraco and FibreCo visit https://events.bizzabo.com/OpenAccess2015 or contact Carla Sanderson on (011) 5732800.
Source: Press Release 18 November 2015
Orange, together with the other members of the ACE consortium, announces the start of the next phase of the ACE submarine cable system to expand broadband connectivity and digital services in Africa. For this phase II, the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable system is being extended to South Africa: a 5,000km extension from island of Sao Tomé & Principe, in the Gulf of Guinea, to South Africa that will further strengthen the role ACE is playing in critical infrastructure development in the continent.
Today, nearly 12,000km of fiber optic cable are already used to connect 18 countries - France, Portugal, the Canary Islands (Spain), Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and São Tomé & Príncipe. Two landlocked countries, Mali and Niger, are connected via a terrestrial extension.
When Phase II is completed, ACE will cover a total distance of 17,000km and will allow up to 25 countries to access high speed internet.
Source: APO Press Release
To help ease the high unemployment levels throughout the continent, organisations need to be innovative and create new commercially viable business opportunities. eWaste has captured the headlines in recent months and is no doubt an attractive proposition for companies to help stimulate economy growth.
At the recent national consultative conference on electronic and electrical waste (eWaste) management, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa reaffirmed Government’s commitment to working with the waste sector in meeting its challenges.
The conference focused on issues around the contextualisation of the eWaste challenges in South Africa, the management of eWaste in Municipalities, eWaste Recycling and Policy and legislative environment. eWaste makes up 5 - 8 percent of municipal solid waste in South Africa and is growing at a rate three times faster than any other form of waste.
Xperien CEO Wale Arewa says the challenge in the proper management of eWaste is a result of a lack of recycling infrastructure, poor legislation and inadequate funding. “The eWaste sector is a catalyst for socio-economic development, it is the source of new businesses and jobs."
"As part of the overall concern for the environment, the Department of Environmental Affairs has already seen many new job opportunities created in other areas of recycling such as tyres and plastic packaging. Neither of these, however, have the same challenges as those faced by eWaste," says Arewa.
He says the range of products to be recycled, the diversity of their contents and recoverable components and materials, provide significant challenges and present hazards that need careful management.
Company executives need to consider regulatory compliance, cost and more importantly, the protection of company information. eWaste disposal challenges facing companies in today’s environment include legislative requirements, compliance to Protection of Personal Information Act 2013 (PoPI 2013), the National Environmental Waste Management Act 2008 (NEMWA 2008) and the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (CPA).
Echoing a warning by the e-Waste Association of South Africa, Arewa says Africa is becoming a dumping ground for America and Europe under the guise of donations. "If we do not manage our eWaste, South Africa could find itself and its people in a high risk health and environmental crisis.”
This is aggravated by low levels of consumer awareness as well as unregulated disposal, collection and recycling eWaste processes, amongst others. Research shows that unrestricted use of the informal sector to handle eWaste can create more problems than it solves. Metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic are all present in eWaste. For those workers who spend endless days exposed to dangerous levels of toxic elements with little to no protection, while breaking down electronics by hand, are at huge risk.
"eWaste contains a number of hazardous materials, which if not handled correctly, present huge risks to those who process eWaste as well. That's why we believe any initiative to boost employment in the field of eWaste needs careful consideration. There is certainly an increase in eWaste disposal compliance awareness, customers realise this importance of choosing the correct partner for eWaste disposal," he adds.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for example forecasts that obsolete computers, both in China and in South Africa, will rise by 500% in 2020 compared to their 2007 levels. Statistics show for instance that developed countries will increase their exports of eWaste into China and Africa by 50-80%.
"The World Bank is one of many international institutions that fully appreciate the importance of evaluating the impact of any initiative," says Dr Peter Tobin of IACT-Africa, one of the companies helping Xperien explore the implications of the opportunities and threats presented by eWaste.
For more information contact Xperien on (011) 462-8806 or visit www.xperien.com
Source: Company Press Release 16 November 2015
The Anzisha Prize is thrilled to announce this year’s winner of the US$25,000 grand prize in the fifth year of Africa’s premier award for youth entrepreneurship. Chris Kwekowe (22), founder of Slatecube which offers a job-relevant skills learning platform and job placement services, impressed the judges.
Slatecube has had significant success to date with potential for scale and will serve as an inspiring beacon for other youth interested in entrepreneurship. The decision was not easy, however, given the talented pool of finalists. Fintech entrepreneur Fabrice Alomo (22, Cameroon) was first runner up ($15,000) and fashion entrepreneur Mabel Suglo (22, Ghana) was second runner up ($12,500).
Chris Kwekowe founded Slatecube to increase job access for youth through creating a platform on which they can build job-relevant skills and linking them with virtual internship opportunities that enable them to develop experience. His vision for the venture is to see it grow into a wide-scale provider of relevant job market access, with increasing ability to open doors for job seekers.
The first runner up was Fabrice Alomo from Cameroon, founder of My AConnect. The venture aims to increase the ease with which unbanked people in Cameroon transact and gain access to financial services. My AConnect provides AMoney, and electronic currency with which unbanked individuals can make purchases with over 500 enterprises by depositing money through charge cards. Fabrice’s vision is to increase financial service access for Cameroon’s 17 million unbanked people.
A still impressive second runner up was Mabel Suglo from Ghana, founder of Eco Shoes. Mabel offers an assortment of shoes and accessories that are fashionable and Afro-themed, using recycled materials. Her employee-base is predominantly disabled individuals. She aims to increase their economic participation through job opportunities. Mabel believes that disability is not inability and employs people with a variety of disabilities to create products that she sells into wholesale and retail markets.
The Anzisha Sector Prize in agriculture was awarded to Chantal Butare, founder of Kinazi Dairy Cooperative. Chantal’s cooperative collects milk from over 3,000 families in her community, and processes the milk for sale. She generates income for these families, as well as for 10 milk collectors who are in her employ. Her ambition is motivate for sufficient capital to mechanise her process and increase scale to create revenue for yet more families in her community. Chantal is a shining example of youth role models that Anzisha Prize aims to celebrate: Youth who are operating successfully in sectors that are considered non-traditional for youth, but that have immense potential to catalyse economic growth in Africa.
“Over the past five years, we have seen the Anzisha Prize evolve from a one-time prize for social entrepreneurship, to an entire community of young, innovative leaders across Africa who have access to comprehensive support and networking opportunities,” says Koffi Assouan, Programme Manager, Youth Livelihoods at The MasterCard Foundation. “I continue to be impressed by the caliber of youth entrepreneurs that Africa has to offer and congratulate them on their ability to inspire both ourselves and the rest of the continent.”
The 2015 Anzisha Prize Finalists were celebrated at a prestigious invitation-only ceremony on Tuesday, the 17th of November 2015 at Room Five venue in Rivonia, Johannesburg. The keynote speaker was Alex Okosi, pioneer of MTV Networks in Africa, a staunch proponent for a truly African voice for youth.
The Anzisha Prize is a partnership between African Leadership Academy and The MasterCard Foundation. The 12 finalists for Anzisha Prize for 2015 were selected from an impressive initial pool of 494 young entrepreneurs, up from 339 applications in 2014. The Anzisha Prize is proud to have attracted applicants from 33 African countries, with finalists from Zimbabwe and Ethiopia identified for the first time this year. Applications were also received from a diversity of sectors, with agriculture having the most applicants. Now in its fifth year, The Anzisha Prize celebrated these outstanding young people during Global Entrepreneurship Week joining the worldwide festivities. Having received a share of $75,000, the Anzisha Finalists join a growing pool of now 54 Fellows to receive access to ongoing support to scale their enterprises and expand their impact.
Applications for the next cycle of the Anzisha Prize will open on the 15th of February in 2016. However, nominations for promising youth entrepreneurs are open all year round.
For more information on the Anzisha Prize and to nominate an entrepreneur, please visit the Anzisha Prize website:
Source: How We Made it in Africa 19 November 2015
Cape Town, 18 November 2015 – The African continent’s most prominent ICT and Technology industry’s annual awards event took place in Cape Town this evening with customary flair and anticipation. The AfricaCom Awards for 2015, attracted more entries than ever before, with some serious heavyweight projects giving the judges some added food for thought.
Three of the big winners on the night were Huawei, Project Isizwe and FNB Connect, who both won two awards each. However, all who entered are leaders in their own right, as without compeition there could be no innovation or progression.
The winners are:
Best Network Improvement - Huawei Technologies for their Lampsite Solution in Kenya
Excellence in Customer Experience Management - First National Bank for FNB Connect
Breakthrough LTE Development - Huawei Technologies for their eLTE Solution for Kenya
Best Cost Efficiency Solution for Africa - PCCW Global - Keeping African international voice traffic in Africa
Best Connectivity Solution for Africa - Project Isizwe the city of Tshwane’s Free WiFi project
VSAT Innovation for Africa - Vodacom DRC for their Rural Coverage System
Best Marketing Campaign - Unitel for Kisom
Best Mobile Money Service - Ericsson for their Wallet platform
Best App for Africa - Project Isizwe for their Tshwane WiFi Voice Mobile App
Best Device for Africa - Orange for Orange Klif
Most Innovative Service - First National Bank for FNB Connect
Best Pan African Initiative - Trace TV and Music – Trace Music Star
CEO fof the Year - Millicom Ghana Limited - Mrs Roti Mootman
Changing Lives Awards - Liquid Teleocm - Office of the President (Kenya) and Liquid Telecom - free WiFi in Nakuru County
Says Gemma White at Informa Telecoms & Media, organiser of the event: “We congratulate ach and everyone of the winners on their achievement. The advances and quality of the African ICT and technology industry is represented in these annual awards, they are indicative of a healthy and thriving sector that is changing lives and enhancing human connectivity and interaction. We all look forward to 2016 where we know for certain, that the quality of campaign that will be considered will be of an even higher standard. “
Criteria and entry dates for the AfricaCom 2016 season will be announced soon.
Source: Press Release
The first prize was awarded to Bassita, an Egyptian start-up that has developed the idea of “click funding
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, November 19, 2015/ -- Orange announced the winners of the 2015 Orange African Social Venture Prize during the AfricaCom Awards ceremony held in Cape Town last night. For the fifth year in a row, the Orange Group is recognizing three innovative projects that are set to stimulate development in Africa. The prize aims to encourage entrepreneurs as they launch initiatives using technology to meet the needs of people living in Africa.
More than 600 candidates responded to the call for projects, which ran from May to September 2015, reflecting the potential of the telecommunications sector to support development in Africa in fields as diverse as healthcare, agriculture, education and energy. Eleven projects were selected by a panel of judges, consisting of Orange specialists, the media and institutions that promote development. The shortlisted projects were presented on Orange's pan-African web portal, www.starafrica.com. The three prize-winners received grants of 10,000, 15,000 and 25,000 euros, along with six months of support from Orange experts. The first prize will also be offered a patent registration.
The winning projects:
The first prize was awarded to Bassita (www.bassita.org), an Egyptian start-up that has developed the idea of “click funding”. The platform allows businesses to host their social, cultural or environmental projects and receive donations depending on whether the project reaches its objectives in terms of number of clicks or times shared on social networks.
The socially-responsible start-up upOwa (www.upowa.org) was awarded second prize. The Cameroon-based company has developed an intelligent solar-powered solution that aims to provide electricity to rural areas of Western and Central Africa that have not yet been connected to the national electricity grids.
The third prize was awarded to the Malian company myAgro / N’Ga Sene (www.myagro.org) that has developed a mobile application which enables farmers to buy high-quality seeds and fertilizer, and to benefit from a range of training programs. myAgro is set to play a role in improving agricultural productivity in Africa and facilitating working conditions.
Finally, a “favourite project” was also selected by web users on the StarAfrica portal.
Over 22,000 visitors voted for the Moroccan project Kezakoo (www.kezakoo.com), an e-learning platform that publishes free online educational material (school documents and videos) by allowing members to share their own content with the community.
Source: Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Orange.
Cape Town - Google-owned internet video giant YouTube has switched on offline playback in South Africa, Kenya and Ghana for mobile users.
Users of the YouTube mobile application will be able to tap an offline icon to save videos and then watch them when they have “low or no internet connectivity”.
Videos can be watched for up to 48 hours, wrote Google product manager Matthew Darby in a blog post.
“Starting today, the majority of YouTube videos in these countries will become available for people to view offline, from movies to local comedy and unboxings,” wrote Darby.
“Making these popular videos available for offline playback will help people move past the challenges of data connection, speed and cost to enjoy a smooth, buffer-free version of their favorite content,” he wrote.
Google said it is also working on making content more affordable and accessible to its “growing base of mobile users in the region”..
“Much of the countries in Sub Saharan Africa have proven themselves to be a part of the fast growing mobile-first world in terms of smartphone adoption, but access to high-speed, affordable data remains a big challenge,” said Darby.
“In response, we’ve been working on ways to lessen the demands of speed and data for people using our products in places where there are challenges to access,” wrote Darby.
Internet video consumption is growing in countries such as South Africa, as research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) indicated that the country increased its video consumption by 42% year-on-year.
Source: Fin 24 18 November 2015
Nairobi, Kenya, November 19th, 2015: Bharti Airtel Africa, a leading telecommunications service provider with operations in 17 countries across Africa, has today announced a new platform to support music artists and promote industry growth across Africa.
The Airtel Artist Management System is a new service innovation which will enable upcoming music artists to upload and make available their music to a potential audience base of 83 million subscribers.
The artist will be able to access Airtel Africa's coverage and reach as a trusted provider of mobile services.
Commenting on the new innovation, Airtel Africa, Chief Executive Officer, Christian de Faria CEO of Airtel Africa commented, “We are pleased to announce this new innovation which will not only bring new music to our customers, but at the same time support the development of music artists across our countries. It will give our up and coming music artists access to exclusive channels and events, as well as exposure across existing media, including social media.”
On his part, IMImobile, Chief Executive Officer, Jay Patel noted, “Mobile penetration across many African countries is now pervasive, in some cases, higher than 80%, so ensuring the constant growth of choice and variety of mobile services is key. We are delighted to partner with Airtel Africa to help bring new, affordable, mobile-centric service offerings to market which not only create a richer user experience for subscribers, but will also encourage and support the growth of creative talent across Africa.”
The portal will be available in the first week of December 2015.
Source: Press Release
The government of Botswana expects to launch an initial public offer (IPO) for shares in national fixed line operator Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) by end-December. The much-delayed privatisation will see the state selling off 49% of the telco, with a 44% stake available to the general public and 5% reserved for BTCL employees. Once the IPO is announced, prospective purchasers will be given around eight weeks to register their interest, the government says.
Having initially been planned for 2011, the sale first ran into problems in 2012, before an IPO was cancelled in August 2014. The offer was then rescheduled for November that year, but problems with the sale of shares to employees caused yet another postponement to the end of the following month, but this date too was missed. Earlier this year Botswana’s Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo, said the delays could also be attributed to problems with the transfer of infrastructure from BTCL to national networks firm BoFiNet. Mabeo said that the original ‘Possession and Use’ agreement, which was due to be signed in November 2014 ahead of the planned IPO the following month, was not ‘fit for purpose’. A new Possession and Use document was eventually signed on 4 March 2015, transferring all BTCL infrastructure to state-owned BoFiNet, which was established in 2012 to take over the running of the country’s telecoms networks, with BTCL acting purely as a service retailer.
Source: Telegeography 16 November 2015
Cape Town - Mobile operator Vodacom is being sued for $14bn (R197bn) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by a controlling shareholder of a minority partner in that country.
The legal matter relates to a claim brought forward by Alieu Conteh in the Commercial Court of Kinshasa against respondents, including Vodacom International and Vodacom Congo.
Conteh is the controlling shareholder of Congolese Wireless Networks (CWN), a company that holds a minority 49% stake in Vodacom Congo. Vodacom International holds 51%.
Vodacom, in its interim results statement released last week, disclosed that Conteh has launched a legal challenge against a previous court decision in that country to remove him as a "statutory manager of CWN".
“The action also includes an unsubstantiated claim for $14bn against VIL (Vodacom International) for its alleged role in helping to undermine Conteh’s position as former statutory manager,” read the statement.
However, Vodacom has dismissed Conteh’s claim as being “without merit” and the company said it is opposing the court bid. There have also been no further developments since last week, said Vodacom spokesperson Tshepo Ramodibe.
Ramodibe also told Fin24 that Vodacom has been “roped” in to the matter. Vodacom has 11.9 million subscribers in the DRC.
"It's primarily a shareholder issue with the CWN but because we are a partner in the Vodacom DRC business, this is how Vodacom has been roped in to the conversation,” Ramodibe told Fin24.
"The $14bn that's been stated, we view that as unfounded and without merit. This is a court process that will be handled. But for us it's something that we've declared and put publicly and in all documentation in the JSE, to inform our shareholders of this ongoing legal matter that we're addressing in the DRC,” he said.
This is not the first time that Vodacom has run into controversy in the DRC. In 2012, a political fixer, Moto Mabanga, sued Vodacom for R396m relating to work he claimed to have done for the company. Vodacom was then reportedly ordered by a court in that country to pay Mabanga R159m.
And in 2010, CWN also accused Vodacom of allegedly taking out $200m out of the DRC using fraudulent means.
Source: Fin 24 19 November 2015
Allied Mobile Africa announced today that they have signed a strategic finance and partnership agreement with the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) for debt funding facility of $55 million (approximately R800million). The facility is to drive the company’s growth in South Africa as well as their expansion on the rest of the African continent.
From its inception in 2003 Allied Mobile has grown to be the dominant, cellular product distributor and 3rd-party logistics provider to the mobile telecommunications industry in Africa.
Allied Mobile services a fast-growing mobile communications market in sub-Saharan Africa, which is supported by strong demographic and economic fundamentals. From the provision of full supply chain and logistics services, to full turn-key white-label retail operations enablement, Allied’s market offering and geographical coverage continue to grow as the company leverages favourable market conditions together with its increasing experience, capabilities and relationships. The company is well-positioned to capitalise on associated future opportunities with this new funding from the PIC.
Leveraging its leadership position in South Africa and other existing markets, the Company has been rapidly expanding its presence into a group of high-growth African countries, with sales volumes expecting to grow between 15% and 20% annually. These countries include Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda, DRC, Angola, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and Kenya.
Source: Press Release
IAB SA Bookmark Awards keeps pace with the ever-changing digital industry
With only 10 days to go until the deadline for submissions to the IAB Bookmark Awards, digital marketers have one last chance to get their entries in and face off against the best in the industry. The awards continue to rise in prestige and have become the Academy Awards of the local industry – with one very particular difference. While so many other awards feature the same categories and subcategories every year, the Bookmarks have undergone an exciting revamp to reflect the dynamic nature of the digital space.
The Bookmarks has, in a mere eight years of existence, established itself as the country’s premier digital marketing awards and amongst the most coveted on the marketing landscape as a whole. This is in line with international trends, where digital marketing is increasing in importance at an exponential rate.
Because digital platforms open up infinite opportunities, the opportunity exists to create content that is fresh, vibrant, and free from a formulaic approach. The awards structure was therefore adapted to reflect a world were marketing is moving from conveying a message to creating an experience. Instead of a single expert on marketing, the digital industry requires the input of several experts in several sub-fields such as SEO, social media, content creation, and campaign design. A successful campaign is dependent on all these elements and the Bookmarks highlights the achievements of the best in each discipline.
“With the restructure, we wanted to achieve two goals,” says Fred Roed, Head of IAB SA’s Agency Council. “Firstly, we wanted a structure that promotes ease of use for our entrants. Secondly, we wanted an awards structure that provides those in need of a digital marketing solution with an instant snapshot of the best people in a particular field.
“The restructure is the result of taking the lessons learnt from this year’s event and engaging in extensive shareholder negotiations. The outcome is an increase in subcategories from 52 to 64, but a decrease in categories from 11 to eight. Given that this year attracted a record number of entries, which we expect to beat next year, it was important that the huge number of entrants could find their niche category with ease.
“The purpose of the awards is to recognise the stars of the industry, which is why we have added subcategories such as Best Digital Student and Best Digital Youngster, to unearth and acknowledge the industry’s next big things. As the rapid changes in technology impact directly on digital marketing, the Emerging Digital Technologies and Channels category was added to showcase the activities of the industry’s trailblazers.”
A look at the subcategories that drew the most entries to the 2015 Bookmarks provides a good indication of which prizes will attract the hottest competition for the 2016 awards. Social Media Campaigns garnered the most entries in this year’s Bookmarks with an impressive 75, and given the popularity of these campaigns, strong competition is once again expected.
Along with the increasing presence of social media advertising is the need for campaigns to support each other over multiple platforms. Therefore, the Integrated Multi-Platform campaign subcategory is another that is expected to be fiercely contested, as it was this year.
Other subcategories that will attract a host of top-class entries, if 2015 is anything to go by, are Search Marketing (now split into Organic Search Marketing and Paid Search Marketing), Microsites, and Branded Content.
The absolute final deadline for entries is Monday, 30 November 2015. Those who have not yet done so can submit their entries online. The 2016 awards ceremony will take place on March 3 2016 from 7pm at the Turbine Hall in Newtown, Johannesburg.
A full list of the categories and subcategories can be found here.
IIC Telecommunication and Media Forum, Johannesburg
8-9 December, 2015
Best practice decision making to drive connectivity, accessibility and competitiveness
Supported by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), the International Institute of Communications will hold its final Forum of the year in Johannesburg. Over two days senior delegates from the African communications industry, academia and the international regulatory community will meet to discuss the challenging emerging markets of Africa. For more information please visit the website here