Viber introduces public chats in Africa

Telecoms

Viber has revealed that it has opened its latest social channel ‘Public Chats’ to partners in Africa and the Middle East. Brands, organizations, celebrities, public figures and social influencers from these countries can now join Viber’s global platform to reach a local and regional audience.

According to the company, Public Chats are live discussions that Viber users can follow, like and share with their community.

Released in beta version in November 2014 with select global partners, this feature offers a new kind of social experience – tapping into live conversations from celebrities, personalities, brands and organizations. Mobile users can discover new communities, follow interactive chats in real-time and share original pieces of content with friends and contacts.

“The Middle East and Africa are important markets for Viber, and we are pleased to welcome local influencers and brands to our Public Chats platform,” said Mark Hardy, CMO, Viber. “We are sure they will enjoy chatting, commenting and debating live on this active social channel whilst sharing tips, news, and local content to our constantly connected mobile audience across the region.”

Selected partners in Africa, at Pan-African level and in key markets such as South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Egypt, have joined Public Chats for this regional launch in a bid to be the first players to offer local conversations on Viber. African users can now start to follow them from the Viber Public Chats explore page.

Super star of African Music, Youssou NDour, the internationally acclaimed Senegalese singer and composer just joined Viber Public Chats. “The Viber Public Chats channel will enable my fans to follow in real time my music and artistic activities; it will also represent an opportunity for me to engage in discussions designed to forge a peaceful and open world.”

Partners in South Africa include Vanessa Haywood, business woman, sports personality and actress; Cindy Pivacic, HIV awareness creator; Carishma Basday, actress, model and yogi; GreenPop, an environmental NGO on a mission to plant trees; Homeology, an interior design webzine; Gareth Pon, internationally recognised image creator; African Hip Hop music blog; celebrity adventure couple Gugu and Letshego Zulu; Soul Singer Ms Kelle; Celebrity talent, brand and media management specialist Sheree O’Brien and Hint Business Community founded by Brandon Tancott and Willem Gous.

“I decided to join Viber Public Chats to inspire men, women and children to lead active lifestyles”, says Vanessa Haywood. “I have a great love for sport and adventure among other things and Viber Public Chats has an outstanding reach which I am very excited to tap into”.

“We’re in a new era of HIV care and prevention”, says Cindy Pivacic, HIV activist. “Viber Public Chats represent an ideal platform for spreading messages and debating HIV issues.” Cindy’s decision to go public with her status was prompted by her own experience with the disease. After acquiring numerous illnesses associated with HIV and AIDS, Cindy realised that she would not cope without the help of others. “Through the use of Viber Public Chats, I hope to bring together a group of people who have experiences to share with a young audience and discuss HIV knowledge, stigma and prevention and ultimately call on people to get tested.”

With proficient knowledge in the use of mobile photography apps, Gareth Pon is influential both locally and internationally. “One of my many passions is to connect and grow the mobile photography community”, says Gareth Pon. “I see Viber Public Chats as a great way to share, learn, explore and spread creativity of photography through mobile. I look forward to growing my Viber community!”

Jumia recently opened Public Chats in Egypt and Nigeria and were one of the first partners to join this new social channel in the Middle East and Africa. Viber users can expect more Jumia Public Chats to open in the African continent in the coming months.

“We are really excited with this partnership,” stated Jeremy Doutte, CEO of Jumia. “As new African customers discover the Internet first through their mobile, we want to address them wherever they are. Viber is a mobile first company with an outstanding reach in Africa. Jumia is also a mobile first company and the first online shopping destination in Africa. Joining forces will enable both Viber and Jumia to deliver quality content and good vibes to our users.”

In the continent, Pan-African media such as AllAfrica.com and TRUE Africa have joined as partners and are now live on Public Chats. “We’re excited to be an early adopter of this new Viber platform,” said Amadou Mahtar Ba, Chairman of AllAfrica Global Media. “We look forward to inviting African media to comment on current affairs and national events as they happen in their country. Public Chats promise to be an excellent tool to bring together our community of African media.”

Other Pan-African partners include Brand Africa a non-profit organisation and intergenerational movement to create a positive image of Africa, celebrate its diversity and drive its competitiveness as well as fashion influencer and stylist Louis Philippe de Gagoue.

In addition, more than 50 partners have joined Public Chats in key African markets. Viber users can now follow Bella Naija, top lifestyle media in Nigeria, Xtian Dela, Radio Presenter, Blogger & Social Influencer in Kenya, Filfan the first entertainment platform in Egypt, Live FM radio in Ghana, WIW Sport the number 1 Sport news portal in Senegal and Serge Beynaud, Afro Pop Musician and Composer from Ivory Coast.

Public Chats are easy to follow from within the Viber app. Anyone on Viber can follow as many Public Chats as they like. Conversations are multi-media and include text, photos, audio, video, stickers, web links and geo-localization. Users can invite friends to follow their favourite Public Chats and share parts of these conversations. The most popular chats are featured on the home screen of Viber’s Public Chats section. Users can easily find new Public Chats through the search tab or access a chat directly via a customized URL.

Global brands, celebrities and public figures on Public Chats include online media platforms such as Huffington Post, Mashable, BuzzFeed and the BBC; the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modri; Pop star Pixie Lott and Model and Actress Karolina Kurkova.
Source: ITNews Africa 19 January 2016 http://www.itnewsafrica.com/2016/01/viber-introduces-public-chats-in-afr...

Senegal’s incumbent cellcos ‘boycott’ 4G licence tender; ARTP invites bids from new entrants

Abdou Karim Sall, the director of Senegal’s telecoms industry watchdog, the Regulation Authority of Post and Telecoms (Autorite de Regulation des Telecoms et des Postes, ARTP), has announced that the call for applications for 4G mobile licences in the country received no bids from the three incumbents – Sonatel subsidiary Orange, Tigo and Sudatel’s Expresso Telecom – suggesting they may have boycotted the process over a disagreement on the licence fee.

With the regulator refusing to revise its reserve price of XOF30 billion (USD49.86 million) for each of the 20-year concessions, the ARTP confirmed that on 17 December 2015 it received ‘in open violation of the Public Procurement Code and the consultation regulations (Article 3.4 and Article 7.14 of the Regulations of Call for Candidacy) … a signed letter [from the] three operators to report their concern about the licence reserve price’.

Mr Sall’s statement points out that the ARTP considers the licence fee to be appropriate, adding that it was set as a result of ‘a benchmark of over 20 countries in the world, taking into account the quality and quantity of available frequency bands (bands 700MHz, 800MHz and 1800MHz), the population, income of the telecom market in Senegal and obligations of the licence for 4G coverage.

The ARTP recalls that the telecom market in Senegal represents over XOF1 trillion per year, with the rate of return (EBITDA) of operators of 20%-50%. The ARTP considers this price justified under the obligations of the licence, the market potential of 4G and the best international standards.’ He goes on to note that: ‘No formal request to postpone the date for submission of bids has been made by the operators throughout the process.’

In short, the ARTP is dismayed at what it acknowledges to be ‘the collective and coordinated non-participation of the operators’, and confirms it will take the necessary actions as a result of this shortcoming. Furthermore, the watchdog intends to restart the 4G licensing process, this time opening the call for applications to ‘new entrants [and] international telecommunications operators’ wishing to develop Senegal’s mobile market, suggesting too that the trio may have already ruled themselves out of participating and throwing into doubt the government’s planned commercialisation date for LTE-based services in the African state.
Source: Telegeography 19 January 2016