Issue no. 109 21 July 2011

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  • Africa’s TV content market DISCOP is coming back to Nairobi in September. Since 2008, it has not only made it easier for African TV buyers to do deals for content but has become an international meeting point for those involved in the development of the industry. Before Discop launched in Africa, broadcasters on the continent had limited options to buy TV content. Sithengi closed in 2006, leaving only MIP-TV and the small MICA market held during Fespaco. Balancing Act’s Sylvain Béletre spoke to Regional Manager for Africa Cherise Barsell from the event’s organiser Basic Lead before she left at the end of July to review progress to date.

    Q: What does the Sub-Saharan African audiovisual market look like?

    A: 47 Sub-Saharan African countries have 42 million TV households, the world’s fastest growing number of pay-TV subscribers, 310 million mobile subscribers and 45 million Internet users. The audiovisual industry is seeing incredible growth- it’s a very dynamic emerging market indeed!

    Q: How has Discop Africa's attendance evolved over the past three years?

    A: For our inaugural event, we ensured buyers would be present by covering the travel expenses for many African broadcasters – and we were successful with 163 buyers in total. In order to focus on more serious buyer, we limited our travel offers. The following three editions attracted fewer buyers - between 105 and 125 - but sellers noticed that buyers who made it were more serious about acquiring content. They had made a personal investment to come and that showed in their meetings.

    Our last edition in Accra - February 2011 - attracted 171 buyers, our highest turnout yet, and proof that Discop has established itself as a must-attend event for the TV industry. Buyers present included programming, acquisitions and co-production executives from 99 Sub-Saharan African TV Stations and Pay-TV platforms.

    The feedback we got is that meeting exchanges improved in quality and have prompted more long term deals and relationships. We succeeded in attracting all major US Studios, Latin America’s top Telenovelas suppliers, TV formats licensors, packaged TV channels and 14 African companies were amongst the 88 international vendors exhibiting at the last Discop Accra.

    We've built the largest TV trade event focused on the African region. Today, 95% of Sub-Saharan African broadcasters and pay-TV operators attending Discop markets never or seldom attend any other major international television content market. If you are interested in entering the African market, Discop is the place to be.

    Q: What were your most successful initiatives over those events?

    A: Our main objective and central achievements has been creating a platform for African broadcasters to access content- which didn’t exist when we entered the market. We have also taken the time to listen to our clients’ needs and to address gaps we have seen in the industry. For example, we have adapted our market to provide African producers’ access to both the domestic and international marketplace, with an understanding that there is a growing demand from broadcasters looking for quality African content. We are also seeing more niche channels and TV programmes showcasing Africa across Europe, Asia and North America and these channels are able to access programming at Discop.

    To further support producers, we have designed Discopro, a full-day conference and pitching session to foster partnerships between African broadcasters, producers, and international parties interested in co-production opportunities.

    We also set up sessions to highlight major African TV industry issues and opportunities, such as digitalization, sports content, channel branding, multi-platform distribution, regulation, and educational content.

    Furthermore, we offer international distributors a chance to learn about the region by offering country focus sessions with leading broadcasters in a different dynamic African country each edition. Our upcoming edition will welcome TV channels and platforms from Uganda.

    Q: Has the African TV market shifted since 2009?

    A: It has changed a lot in some countries. We have witnessed the arrival of new entrants, both in the paid and FTA space. Back in 2009, pay-TV challengers Canal + and DSTV essentially had a market monopoly. This has changed with the launch of Smart TV, Star TV, Zuku TV, Top TV and many more. Attracted by the noise of opportunities, more African and foreign investors and content suppliers - Chinese, European, American - have put money in the African TV industry. We have also seen new international bouquets offering African content. Discop has contributed to making the African TV market more visible and has helped provide more structure by creating an exchange between Africans. TV channels on the continent are also becoming more competitive and more proactive to adapt to market changes and growth.

    Q: Over the last three years, have you noticed changes in the way buyers and sellers do business?

    A: Buyers and sellers who attended our events have become more prepared and more professional. Successful sellers now prepare in advance to sign on the spot and adjust their pricing to accommodate the African market. While a growing percentage of channels are starting to pay closer to international rates, buyers also have more negotiation room with access to more distributors. Most buyers and sellers now know that Basic Lead provides advanced services to help match buyers and sellers depending on their content needs and offerings, and they are taking advantage of these services. Sellers who are serious about supplying large or expensive content catalogues in Africa also understand that it takes time to build relationships and follow up on deals. Many of these relationships have been created and reinforced at Discop.

    Q: What would you advise buyers and sellers planning to attend your upcoming events?

    A: Basic Lead provides a number of services for exhibiting sellers and buyers so that they can essentially show up at our market knowing what they have to sell and buy and we will take care of the meetings for them. To optimize these meetings, its important to make contact beforehand, make sure buyers are familiar with your content, and gauge interest. Discop participants have access to online meeting services with buyer and seller search engines six weeks in advance of the market with support from our multilingual team of operators.

    It also helps to stay up-to-date with the African audiovisual industry. Balancing Act and Discop both provide our clients with industry resources. Discop also offers conference sessions that can improve your business or provide you with new contacts.

    Q: So give us a preview of what’s happening at the next DISCOP

    A: The Discop Nairobi program will include the second edition of the Discopro training and pitching program dedicated to trans-cultural co-production opportunities (Tuesday 6 September 2011) and the “African Sports Rights Market” Focus Group, a prelude to a new and independent networking initiative designed to support funding, production and distribution of sports television content produced in Africa (Thursday 8 September). We will also announce other major initiatives in 2012 to support market growth, but my lips are sealed on the details for now.

    Q: When is the next Discop Africa taking place?

    A: Discop Nairobi will take place from Wednesday 7 to Friday 9 September 2011 at the Hilton Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.



    Video clips that might interest you on Balancing Act’s Web TV channel

    What Kenyans watch on TV: Joe Otin, Media Research and Monitoring Manager, Synovate
     
    Joe Otin, Media Research and Monitoring Director, Synovate on the Portable People Meter
     
    Wachira Waruru, CEO, Royal Media on using local content to become No 1
     
    Farah Chaudhry, Hd of Marketing, A24 Media on the launch of Africa: What's Your Story?
     
    Douglas Namale, Kibera News Network on community news gathering and online TV
     
    Patrick Shomba, CEO, Ghetto Films on using film as an educational tool
     
    Dayo Ogunyemi, CEO, Cinemart on the launch of a new mass market cinema chain
     
    Shalini Gidoomal on the FilmAid Film Festival, Nairobi
     
    Shuaib Nda Adama, Executive Director, NTA on the digital broadcast transition in Nigeria

    Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on:
    @BalancingActAfr

     

  • Ster-Kinekor will release two new Afrikaans movies in June and July 2011, Ek lief jou and Ek joke net, while Platteland and ‘n Saak van Verloof will be released later in the year.

    “South Africa offers an abundance of diverse locations, competitive production costs, professional directors and a pool of talented actors and actresses: All of these factors add up to a burgeoning local film industry that is producing world class movies. It is therefore no surprise that the industry’s local talent is being recognised and promoted in a host of Afrikaans movies set to feature on the big screen this year. In addition with over 4.9 million Afrikaans speaking households in South Africa and a whopping 4.3 million living in urban areas, there is definitely a huge audience ready to watch the modern Afrikaans romantic comedy, musical and more serious pieces.”

    So says Fiaz Mohamed, CEO of Ster-Kinekor Theatres, who adds, “Ster-Kinekor is in full support of this development. The modern Afrikaans movie boasts fun, romance and high profile leads that appeal to a good cross section of audiences.”

    Ek Lief Jou is a heart-warming South African musical / romance directed by Ate de Jong, starring Kurt Darren, Christina Storm , Ilse de Vis and Andre Fauenstein. Ek Joke Net is a hilarious Candid Camera styled movie that promises to keep audiences in stitches. The cast of Ek joke net can be seen at the East Rand Mall on 2 July from 5pm.

    According to Ster-Kinekor the recent 64th Cannes International Film Festival provided solid proof that the South African film industry, and the Afrikaans genre in particular, is becoming a force to be reckoned with, as Skoonheid, a film by South African director Oliver Hermanus, became the first Afrikaans film ever to be screened at Cannes. Skoonheid was selected for the “Un Certain Regard” section, as one of 20 films from various countries. The 64th Cannes International Film Festival took place in May and showcased a total of 49 films. Hermanus previously co-wrote and directed the award-winning drama Shirley Adams, about a destitute Cape Flats mother battling to care for her disabled son.

    Mohamed concludes, “The genre of Afrikaans movie-come-musical will appeal to a wide audience and is certainly set for a successful future. With the kind of output we are seeing from Afrikaans directors, who knows, perhaps South Africa is on track to being the next Bollywood, with these Afrikaans movies taking the lead!”

    Interesting facts about the Afrikaans consumer:

    In the last week …

    1.7 million watched a video/dvd

    1.7 million read a book

    1.1 million used a computer at home

    Half a million played a computer/PlayStation game *

    *Latest AMPS

  • Odeon Cinemas release of Nollywood’s The Mirror Boy grossed £40,000 at the UK box office. It was ranked No 11 on the Odeon Box office chart in the opening weekend of its release and No 28 in the National Box office. Close to 5,000 people have seen the film with about 4,600 of those paying to watch.

    The film did particularly well in the London cinemas (Greenwich, Surrey Quays, Streatham, Lee Valley and West Thurrock) and encouraging figures were recorded in Manchester and Birmingham.
     
    This has encouraged the senior management at Odeon to look at programming at least another 2 titles before the year runs out. One of such titles slated for a September 2nd release is Anchor Baby. View website here:

  • Nigerians in Africa, Europe and America were filled with a feeling of nostalgia as they watched live the Red Carpet of the Whizkid album launch in Lagos, Nigeria on Sunday.

    Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook literally were ablaze as Nigerians and Africans in the Diaspora watched live Nigeria’s version of glitz and glamour. Tweets flew faster when a friend or loved one was recognised on the Red Carpet. A viewer from America, who watched the show remarked on Twitter: “This is awesome, a Pay TV that is making us see live wot is hapinin in Naija...HiTV’s gbasky”.

    Indeed, HiTV is ‘gbasky’ (good) as the Diaspora Nigerian said because not only did the Pay TV afford Nigerians the opportunity of seeing last Sunday’s show live, it has been doing that for some time now with a prospect of enlarging the scope to cover North Africa and the Middle East soon as revealed by Head of Operations, HiTV UK, Babatunji Amure.

    A proud Amure in an interview some few days after the event disclosed that the marriage between HiTV and Nigerian artistes is one made in heaven. “HiTV’s relationship with Nigerian artistes is one that could best be described as made in heaven because it has been a win-win affair, that is why they (artistes) keep coming back to us anytime they want to do a show either in Nigeria or in the UK because a show advertised on HiTV is bound to be sold out here in the UK because we are in the homes of all Nigerians and other nationals in Europe and America.”

    The HiTV UK official said he was the proudest Nigerian on Sunday as HiTV showed the Whizkid red Carpet live. “I was one proud Nigerian as the show was being aired. The Red Carpet was aired across Europe on the HiTV UK channel, it was only available on our channel and none else and that fact alone made me a proud Nigerian.”

    He talked about the impact HiTV UK had on Nigerian artistes taking their shows to the UK. “The impact is very significant as all the artistes recognise HiTV UK as the major means of advertising their events and any event HiTV UK supports fully is guaranteed to be sold out. The channel is the most watched African channel across Europe, no doubt a force to reckon with, as a result, the impact of the channel promoting any event in the UK or Europe is considered to have been a sold out event, as we plan each campaign based on the expected audience,” Amure said even as he revealed the channel enters into a mutually beneficial financial arrangement with the organisers “we work with because each event has its own merits and we work based on that.”

    HiTV UK has worked in collaboration with artistes who had their shows such as comedians Basket Mouth, AY Live, Julius Agwu’s Crack Ya Ribs, Figurine premiere, The Mirror Boy premiere and theatrical, Asa and Wande Coal UK tour among others “but we decided to step up the game by airing live the Whizkid’s album launch Red Carpet. Only a Nigerian company with the interest of Nigerian artistes at heart would be able to do that because what we did with the Whizkid was to sell Nigeria’s version of Red Carpet not only to Nigerians, but viewers from across the world,” Amure said.

    Toyin Subair has said in a statement that one of the objectives of HiTV is to sell Nigerian channels to the world. “One of the things I do tell people is this, if HiTV stops selling in Nigeria totally, and we continue to create the channels we are creating, the next three years, we continue what we are doing outside Nigeria, the amount of money we would be making as a company would be huge because the business outside Nigeria is so huge for Nigerian music, films and productions”.

    “We are the first African channel that will be measured in the UK by an approved audience rating agency, and as I am talking today, we have 280,000 homes that are watching HiTV alone and that same broadcast is being showed up in Russia. And we have not done the amount of things we should do. And by the time we add some live shows and all kinds of programmes from Nigeria, we would expand it and I am sure that by the time we are entering the beginning of next year, we would have 700,000 homes guaranteed that will be watching us in the UK and that is money based on advertising and in terms of content and use.”

    He continued: “For instance, an AY (comedian) comes to us that he wants to do a show in the UK and we advertise it for him completely. The show is sold out, and on the day of the show, people buy tickets for 100 pounds that is N20, 000 to watch the show and there are more people outside than inside. He makes his own money, ticket man makes his own money, it brings more money for us and we do that for how many comedians and actors/actresses in the UK today. And if the channel was not there, marketing becomes more difficult; those shows are more difficult to see. The channel is more successful because it has more concept even from local brand, marketed and put together properly, it insists on quality of production, then that means more shows. The next time, we will not just be doing one show; by the time we are finished with all of these guys, when next they want to go to the UK, they want to do 18 shows and tours. And the amount of money they will be making now, it will not just be the small money from one show. So you can see the multiplier effect if we get it right locally.”

    One of the biggest show organisers in the country, comedy merchant Opa Williams, organiser of the popular Nite of A Thousand Laughs show, has commended HiTV on the feat it achieved by showing the Whizkid Red Carpet show live to Nigerians in the Diaspora. 
    “I have never doubted HiTV’s intentions to the entertainment sector, and now that it has started taking us to the world, this is the beginning of new things to come.”  Williams who is planning to tour some parts of Africa, UK, Europe and America with his flagship show said he does not need to worry too much with HiTV having signals in these places. “My promotion for the show is guaranteed. This is good news.”

  • The search for the next Hollywood star is on, and it starts in Motherland-Africa. The new television reality show, ‘Search for Africa’s Next Hollywood Star’, according to its organisers, is to recruit acting talent in West Africa for Hollywood.

    Performers will be selected from Ghana and Nigeria. The TV show is organised by The Latin Dance Company, Nigeria, and their Ghanaian collaborators, Davis Media and Paradise Entertainment. Acting coach, Tracey Moore, and film producer and director, Samad Davis, both from the USA, will work closely with the contestants.

    The competition will see five Nigerians and five Ghanaians vie for the star prize, which includes a one year contract with a Hollywood agent and an opportunity to star alongside African American actor, Morris Chestnut, in a movie project by Davis.

    The duo was in the country and they were part of an interactive session held recently in Lagos. Moore, who was visiting Nigeria for the first time, talked about her excitement at coming to Africa to help mould a screen star.

    She has worked with musicians including 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes and Cee Lo, and African American actor, Laz Alonzo, who starred alongside Paula Patton in the 2011 movie ‘Jumping the Broom’.

    Moore said she felt it is important for the TV series to start in Africa, because there are so many untapped talents on the continent who do not have the opportunity to showcase their potentials. Moore, who teaches a monologue and scene class called ‘The Spirited Actor’, said the 10 contestants will be flown to New York where the selection process will take place.

    “I am happy to be here to share my experiences and bring to the motherland my expertise; to make someone here shine in Hollywood. I am proud to be part of this project. I feel blessed to be doing this,” she said.

    Davis emphasised the point that the show’s participants will benefit from the learning process, because even though there will be one winner, they will be trained by some of the best hands in Hollywood who will judge their performances on the 13 week show.

    Davis, who has worked on some music and movie projects in Ghana, also gave reasons why they chose to stage the Reality TV Show in Africa.

    “Africa is filled with so much talent. There are existing institutions that take care of such talent, but we are using this time to connect Africa with Hollywood,” he said.

    “The show is open to everybody and offers talented individuals an opportunity to display their talents,” he added. According to him, Moore will be there to motivate, inspire, teach character development, technique, approach, research and how to process, tap into and utilise the best and the worst of one’s personal qualities or experiences and bring it to their character to create depth.

    The show’s auditioning process is moulded after the pattern of American Idol where before audition, contestants will pay some money into the project’s bank account. The judges have the responsibility of choosing the final ten participants.

    To enter for the competition, interested persons are to buy a form worth four thousand naira. The bank teller received after purchasing the form should be presented at the audition venue.

    According to the organisers, auditions will hold from June 29 with the first stop at Planet One, Maryland, Lagos. The audition train will then move to NICON Luxury Hotel, Garki, Abuja, on July 4; and berth at Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, on July 8.

    From the auditions, only five Nigerians will be chosen and flown to New York for the show proper. According to Charles Agbemashior of TLDC, the final two contestants will then be taken to Hollywood for the finale of the show, where the winner will be selected.

    Moore is a professional casting director who has worked on feature films, TV, sitcoms and commercials. She is also a music coach for popular artists in the United States; while Davis co-runs a production company with a branch in Ghana. He directed the film ‘Two Can Play That Game’ starring Vivica A. Fox and Morris Chestnut.

  • StarTimes DTV has by far connected over 200,000 customers in the East African region, the Chief Marketing Officer Star DTV Uganda Kevin Chen has said.

    StarTimes DTV is a Chinese-owned digital satellite pay TV and also operates in the East African countries of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. In Africa, it operates in about 10 countries and its headquarters are based in Beijing, China. StarTimes officially begun its operations in Uganda in March, 2010 and so far has a customer base of 30,000 subscribers.

    "We have been able to get a good number of subscribers within just four months of our operation in the region because we incorporate most of the local channels and provide a clear signal. This enables people in distant areas to enjoy clear signals," Chen told East African Business Week in an interview last week.

    Chen said since they opened shop in Burundi in March 2010, they have connected 8,000 customers and 100,000 customers in Tanzania where they started operations in the same period. In Rwanda where they started operations in 2006, Chen said they have a customer base of 30,000 whereas the rest are in Kenya where they have a partnership with KCB.

    Chen said once connected, customers do not need to line up to renew their subscription because they buy a scratch card, load it and send a message and the subscription is renewed. "This kind of flexibility has made StarTimes very easy to use and affordable compared with other pay TV channels," said Chen. He said customers have liked their services because of the technology they use. "Customers cut costs because they do not need a dish to get connected which would come with added costs. All you need is Star DTV-enabled decoder," he noted. The decoders have an attached antenna that works as a receiver in the place of a dish.

    The initial installation fee is UShs120,000 (about US$60) while the monthly subscription fee is UShs 15,000 ($7.5) and offers about 36 channels for all the East African countries.

    Though this is way cheaper compared to other digital pay TVs, they are yet to introduce football channels to step up competition with Dstv which charges UShs399,000 (about $199.5) for initial installation and about UShs180,000 ($90) for monthly subscription.

    However Chen said next year they will introduce a package of UShs25,000 ($12.50) inclusive of football channels that offer live access to premiership and other major European leagues.

    Startimes has been competitive in the areas of entertainment, wildlife, fashion and news channels like BBC, Al Jazeera and France24. Chen further added that in Uganda they will be spreading to Mbarara in western Uganda and Gulu, northern Uganda early next year. ”We have a commitment with International Telecommunication Union to ensure that by 2012 Uganda has no anologue system,” noted Chen.

  • Arabsat has announced the launch of a Moroccan television and radio bouquet on BADR-4, accessible in the Middle East, North Africa and in much of Europe. The package includes eight television stations and six radio stations.

    Eng. Khalid bin Ahmed Balkheyour President & CEO of Arabsat said the package was launched from an integrated digital broadcasting platform in Rabat (Morocco) in cooperation with the "National Union for Radio and Television of Morocco "where the operation started in June 2011.

    "We expect that many other private and government TV and radio channels will join this bouquet by the end of this year. By building platforms for digital broadcasting Radio & TV in a number of Arab countries, Arabsat aims to serve its customers and provide the best services and solutions suited to serve viewers anywhere with an optimum quality level. "Balkheyour said.

  • China has secured a larger share of Kenya’s television market after one of its firms won a licence for distributing digital signals in the country, further cementing the hold of the Asian country in the economy.

    The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) is set to award the licence to Pan African Network Group for one of the two new digital signal distribution licences in a bid that had attracted Signal Distributors Ltd, Mayfox Ltd, Globecast Africa, Africa Link Agencies and a consortium of local broadcasters Nation Media Group and Royal Media Services.

    Kenya’s TV market is migrating from the current analogue broadcasting platform to digital broadcasting by next June as part of a global initiative that will see broadcasters cede transmission of their content to the Chinese company, which will earn a distribution fee.

    “It was the only one (Pan African Network) that qualified and this means that the second licence remains free for now,” Francis Wangusi, the director of broadcasting at CCK told the Business Daily on Wednesday, adding that the regulator is yet to decide whether to issue or scrap the second licence.

    The licence will be issued on three conditions: that it will be on an open access platform; must have national coverage, and the investor must show proof of resources or funding needed for putting up the national infrastructure.

    Already, the government has awarded another transmission licence to Signet—a subsidiary of state-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), which was last embroiled in a tussle with local broadcasters after it issued content from eight channels to a private Swedish pay-TV firm for onward distribution without their permission.

    The content was meant for testing and some broadcasters have pulled out of the deal, arguing against the takeover of the broadcasting services by foreign firms. Pan African Network becomes the second Chinese firm to seek a piece of the of Kenya’s digital TV market after Smart DTV secured the contract to supply set-top boxes—gadgets that allow viewers to access digitised content using their analogue TVs instead of buying expensive digital sets.

    Pan African Network Group will roll out its network alongside Signet which has been hit by funding challenges that has limited its reach to the capital Nairobi and its environs.

    Signet needs about Sh4 billion to expand countrywide, but the government said it lacks funds amid low revenue collection and priority spending on infrastructure and food subsidies.

    Signet and the new digital signal carrier are to move to a higher technology (DVB-T2) from the earlier version (DVB-T), owing to the improved features of the new technology and the government ban of the latter version.

  • In June 2011, Nigeria’s Pay TV, HiTV announced that it added a new channel, Hip TV to its Premium bouquet.

    The new channel which was launched on May 31 according to a statement signed by HiTV’s Brand/Marketing Manager, Mrs. Kemi Fashina, is a “new attraction to HiTV.”
     
    Fashina said the launch of the new channel is in line with the Pay TV’s resolve to bring the best of entertainment to its valued subscribers and Nigerians in general. “Hip TV is a lifestyle and entertainment channel that showcases the hottest happenings in the entertainment world, both locally and internationally. Produced by the organizers of Hip Hop Awards, the channel features award shows, celebrity lifestyle, hottest gossips, fashion tips, album launches among others”, Fashina said.
     
    The channel, the statement said, is targeted at young adults who desire first hand information on their favorite celebrities. The Hip on TV crew has travelled to cover high profile events such as the BET Awards and the famous Rio De Janerio carnival among other carnivals in Brazil as well as other star studded events across the world, “indeed they have a catalogue of exciting content for television’’

  • As African telecom players innovate to beat their competitors, South Africa's MTN Group has pulled a first by announcing a brand and content licensing agreement with Trace, an entertainment television channel.

    Trace is largely a music video channel that promotes urban contemporary music videos and is available on various cable and satellite pay television platforms.

    As Africa's Internet speeds go up and prices come down, courtesy of fiber-optic cables, one of the major challenges facing Africa is a lack of locally relevant and available content to attract more people online.

    The deal with Trace will let MTN offer what it has called innovative entertainment services to the fast-growing youth segment within the African mobile market. On Monday MTN launched the offer in Cameroon, and it is due to be rolled out in multiple locations. Launches are planned in Ivory Coast, South Africa and Nigeria in the next few months.

    "MTN youth subscribers will benefit from the unique entertainment experience around the Trace brand, including exciting local and international content on entertainment and sports, live events and television," according to a statement issued by the MTN Group.

    "Any initiative that works to raise the local content that African people access and consume is most welcome, regardless of whether this content is delivered via traditional TV, mobile phone or the Internet," said Wairagala Wakabi, a researcher at Collaboration on International ICT Policy in Eastern and Southern Africa (CIPESA).

    He said many African countries have aspirations for their media, specifically radio and TV, and deliver a bigger proportion of their programming as local content, but due to logistical and capacity problems, these hopes are not translated into reality.

    "States, including through their universal access funds, obviously have a big role to play here, but it will be a happy day when MTN, Trace and others leverage on the successes they score within the entertainment sector to also get into innovations that directly impact on the livelihoods of our people in ways entertainment would never," Wakabi said.

  • TV Globo Internacional, the international version of Brazil's main broadcaster TV Globo, is to celebrate 12 years in the TV market with a major push into new markets. The channel already reaches 575,000 subscribers in 115 countries, through some 70 cable TV operators, satellite TV platforms and IPTV platforms worldwide.

    According to Marcelo Spinola, the international signal's CEO, said to 'Todo TV News' that nowadays the channel is going through its second phase after its launch in the countries where large numbers of Brazilian migrants live in Portugal and Angola.

    "Today's second phase means our subscriber data base is growing but we are also implementing local programming in the five feeds we have: Japan, Portugal, Europe, the Americas and Africa," he declared.

    This strategy consists of a different programming schedule depending on the region the channel gets received with local production in each of them through independent producers or through co-productions.

    As for the US, TV Globo Internacional has a locally produced program made by a citizen living in this country. But this program has its Japanese version and it shows the real life of the Brazilian community in every country.

    Regarding multiplatform distribution, there will be lineal and non lineal contents here such as the VOD. In fact the broadcaster has a VOD service in Portugal's pay-TV operator ZON. "For our Portuguese subscribers we offer TV Globo Portugal's contents for the VOD platform" he highlights.

    HDTV services will arrive as part of a third phase. "When the time comes the channel will have its own HDTV version but we need subscribers with HDTV STB's. And not very many operators have a big number of HDTV decoders. So we still believe this need does not exist yet" he concludes.

  • Africa’s biggest media firm, Naspers said that while it was always looking for good- value acquisitions, it would focus more this year on growing its businesses organically and developing new technologies.

    Naspers’s two biggest earners for its financial year to March were once again its pay-TV and internet businesses. The media company has gained a reputation for growth through acquisition, spending R5,5bn in the past financial year.

    Naspers financial director Steve Pacak, however, said the company would concentrate on finding companies that were a "good fit" at "a good price".

    "Part of Naspers’s growth strategy is that it makes acquisitions, and this will not change, but in the current market some valuations for internet are a bit rich," Pacak said.  "Of course, we are on the lookout for companies that fit our strategy and are fairly valued."

    Naspers CEO Koos Bekker said in a statement that the company would also be investing in its pay-TV division. Pacak said the cost of development would be felt in next year’s financial results.

    Naspers, which largely avoided the slump experienced by the media industry because of its diversified interests, reported a 13% profit rise for its financial year to the end of March, to R6bn, or R16,12 per share, largely on the strength of its internet and pay-TV businesses. It has issued a dividend of 270c, 15% up on the previous year.
    Naspers has not escaped the downturn completely, with print operations seeing a "modest" 9% revenue rise, and restructuring and further retrenchments on the cards for its Media24 division.

    The increase in pay-TV subscription is attributed by Naspers to the World Cup and the cheaper Compact bouquet. Revenue increased 19% to R21bn and it added 977,000 subscribers to its base.

    Naspers’s share of income from associates, including Tencent in China, Mail.ru Group in Russia and Abril in Brazil, increased 60% to R3,3bn, the company said.
    Abdul Davids, an analyst for Kagiso Asset Management, said the results showed that the balance sheet was healthy.

    "Pay-TV continues to grow, despite increased costs and development spend. Tencent continues to make a massive contribution, but the other internet businesses have proved a mixed bag." He was confident social media in developing countries would continue to grow — good news for Tencent and Russia’s Mail.ru.

    Investors were displeased with Naspers’s profit estimate in mid- June, expecting something closer to 20%, resulting in a 3% drop in the share price on June 14.

  • Digital TV Labs, which provides independent, specialised receiver conformance products and services, has announced that it has been contracted by NGB – Next Generation Broadcasting, which operate as the consumer brand Smart TV – to supply a DVB-T/T2 receiver conformance regime which will assist the successful rollout of DTT services in select African markets.

    NGB works with local governments and broadcasters across Africa, specifically Ghana, Kenya and Uganda, providing “well established, independent and reliable DTT distribution platforms”. These include an 8-20-channel pay-TV bouquet as well as free-to-air services and interactivity and are already deployed.

    Digital TV Labs has been working with NGB to help it develop a pragmatic set-top-box specification and to roll out a conformance regime that’s appropriate to the African markets, balancing the cost of the tests against potential market size. Digital TV Labs’ Hong Kong office already has excellent working relationships with many of the potential Asian suppliers into the African market, so is ideally suited to service demand.

    Anders Liljekvist, Director of Business Development with NGB, says, “We are extending the number of STB suppliers for our African operations and needed to set up a structured approval process with more extensive conformance testing to ensure that our customers can buy good quality equipment and thus also be able to better enjoy our pay-TV services. Rather than building such activities in-house we decided that it was a better idea to leverage the extensive experience and good reputation of Digital TV Labs. The fact that many suppliers already are familiar with Digital TV Labs from similar conformance testing for other markets is of course also a major facilitator in launching this.”

    Because Digital TV Labs is able to quickly customise its Evora iSuite to cater for bespoke conformance regimes, a cost-effective test regime is up and running with the first receivers having already passed through the process for initial examination.

    Keith Potter, CEO, Digital TV Labs, explains, “We are working very closely with NGB to provide a realistic market proposition using our considerable expertise. By working with us and our Evora iSuite product, NGB gains access to a wider supply chain with lower receiver costs while at the same time being able to be sure of the quality. This in turn reduces churn and lowers customer supports costs.”

  • The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Democratic Republic of Congo’s ban of a private broadcaster favorable to opposition presidential candidate Etienne Tshisekedi. The blocking and ban of the broadcaster since Saturday is in violation of the country’s press laws.

    Radio Lisanga Télévision (RLTV), based in the capital, Kinshasa, lost its signal without formal notice, the station’s director-general, Basile Olongo Pongo, told CPJ. The same day, Congolese Communication Minister Lambert Mende issued a decree indefinitely banning the station across the country over “programs that are promoting violence and contribute to disturb public order," according to news reports.

    In an interview with CPJ today, Mende said that the station had “called on youth to take to the streets and explained how to make Molotov cocktails.” According to local press freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED), which monitored RLTV’s programs, the government’s accusations are baseless. RLTV has drawn the ire of the government with a nightly talk show called “Support Etienne Tshisekedi,” where presenters and guests are critical of incumbent President Joseph Kabila, who is seeking a second five-year term in November presidential elections, according to JED and local journalists.

    A presenter for the program, Baby Balukuna, was injured in a June 19 attack by unidentified men armed with machetes as he exited the station’s studios, UN-sponsored station Radio Okapi reported.

    “The summary banning of RLTV is nothing but political censorship,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “The authorities took the station off the air without following due process and should lift the ban immediately.”

    The government suppressed RLTV’s signal a day after the station extensively covered a July 9 march by militant members of Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress party who were carrying the body of one of their members, Serge Lukusa, according to local journalists. The militants said Lukusa had died after inhaling tear gas during the violent dispersal by security forces of an earlier sit-in, but Mende told the press Lukusa died a “natural death,” according to news reports.

  • Journalists from the private media were reportedly barred from attending a meeting between Robert Mugabe and Fifa president Sepp Blatter. According to Newsday, only photographers working for ZBC and the Herald, plus the presidential photographer, were allowed in as well as photographers who work for Zifa and Fifa. Fifa is the international governing body for football while Zifa is the governing body for football in Zimbabwe.

    After the meeting Blatter said Mugabe had talked about the governments' interest in the development of sport, especially football. Zifa have asked Fifa for US1.5m for their operations; and Blatter said his organisation is looking into the request.

    Mugabe said Blatter's visit is a great honour to the nation; this at a time when Fifa's reputation is in tatters in other parts of the world, following the corruption scandal that has rocked the organisation.

    The Fifa president also had a separate meeting with Morgan Tsvangirai, where they discussed football development in Zimbabwe.

  • Digital pay TV company, DStv, has introduced Drifta, a mobile TV decoder to its Nigerian subscribers.

    The Drifta is a mobile TV decoder that receives a DVB-H signal and converts to a Wi-Fi signal for Wi-Fi enabled viewing devices such as laptops, PCs, tablets and smartphones.

    Currently, the device is compatible with the iPod Touch, the iPhone, iPad, PCs and notebooks. Unlimited access will be enjoyed by subscribers on DStv Mobile network coverage areas including Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Onitsha, Asaba, Benin City, Kaduna and Enugu.

    The channels to be accessed by the three bouquet options are, NTA Plus and Channel O on the Free bouquet. Entertainment channels, Mini bouquet, and SS Blitz, SS9 and SS10 will be on Maxi bouquet while only DStv premium subscribers will have access to all the above channels as well as  SS3 on the Maxi plus bouquet.

    Managing Director of MultiChoice Nigeria, Joseph Hundah noted that it was the company’s core mission to provide subscribers with more control over their television viewing experience.

  • Content security specialist Irdeto is securing South Africa’s first broadcast mobile TV service.

    In partnership with Korean manufacturer Valups, Irdeto is delivering content from pay TV operator DStv to devices including laptops, iPads, iPod Touches and iPhones.
    The content is secured using a Valups dongle, which DStv has branded Drifta, which has embedded security hardware and software from Irdeto and works with Irdeto’s Conditional Access System 3 solution.

    The Drifta is available from retailers in South Africa for SAR599 (€110). It will launch soon in Ghana, Kenya, Namibia and Nigeria. A monthly DStv Mobile subscription is also required but DStv premium subscribers can access the service for no additional fee.

    Francois Theron, CEO DStv Mobile said: “DStv Mobile was tasked with the challenge of taking Africa into the innovative, exciting and very important realm of mobile TV. An increasing number of Africans can now access broadcast mobile television and Multichoice Africa wanted to be the first to ensure our subscribers could watch their favourite content however and wherever they like.”

  • 21 - 31 July 2011
    DIFF - 32nd Durban International Film Festival
    Venue: Durban, South Africa

    Contact: Durban Film Office –
    For more information please visit here:

    31 July 2011
    The African Audio-Visual Awards (TAVA)
    Venue: Lagos, Nigeria

    TAVA Awards is a platform created to celebrate the finest Africans behind great films, television productions, advertisements and music videos. All those who employ sound a picture to tell their stories in order to create entertainment. Entries to the awards closes on June 15th.
    For more information please visit here:

    July - Sept. 2011 (final dates tba)
    African film festival (AFF) in NYC
    NYC, USA

    Outdoor Summer Screenings in NYC Parks. Featuring dance, music, food and of course films. AFF programs year-round; therefore, AFF organisers accept submissions on an ongoing basis.
    For more information please visit here:

    9 - 14 August 2011 (tbc)
    Lola Kenya Screen
    Venue: Nairobi, Kenya

    Tel:[+254] 20 315 258, 221 3 318
    For more information please visit here:
    director@lolakenyascreen.org

    21 – 24 August 2011
    The 13th PAMRO meeting and All Africa Media Research Conference
    Venue: Dakar, Senegal
    at the Le Méridien President Hotel.
    For more information please visit here:

    27 August - 4 September 2011 (final date tba)
    Zimbabwe International Film Festival

    Competitive for features, shorts, documentary with 12 ‘Mweya Awards’ in different categories.
    please e-mail for further details zimfilmfest@zol.co.zw

    31 August - 10 September 2011
    Mostra de Venise

    Tel: [+39] 041 5218706
    Fax: [+39] 041 5218879
    For more information please visit here:
    indoffice@labiennale.org

    11 - 14 Septembre 2011
    HighwayAfrica 2011
    Venue: Rhodes Uni., Grahamstown, SA.

    A show focused on journalism and new multimedia. For fourteen years the Highway Africa conference has been at the centre of Africa’s debates on journalism and new media. The conference has over the years become the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world. For more information please visit here:

    3 - 8 Octobre 2011
    « Festival du Court Métrage Méditerranéen de Tanger »
    Venue: Tangier, Morocco

    A festival focused on short films.
    E-mail : ccm@menara.ma

    5 - 9 October 2011
    Africa in the Picture
    Venue: Bioscoop het Ketelhuis in Amsterdam, NL

    Tel:[+31] 20 622 7 151
    Fax:[+31] 20 627 15 44
    For more information please visit here:
    info@aitp.nl

    20 - 22 October 2011
    ZAFAA 2011 - The Zulu African Film Academy Awards
    Venue: London, UK

    Closing Date for Entries is Friday May 20th 2011.
    African Film Festival & Academy Awards
    For more information please visit here:

    21 - 29 October 2011
    Cinemed (« le Festival du cinéma méditerranéen »)
    Venue: Montpellier, France

    Tel. +33 (0) 499 13 73 73
    Fax +33 (0) 499 13 73 74
    info@cinemed.tm.fr
    Deadline: 8 July 2011
    For more information please visit here:

    21 - 30 October 2011 (tbc)
    Kenya International Film Festival (KIFF)
    Venue: Nairobi, Kenya

    Tel:[+254] 2 201 05 26
    Fax:[+254] 722 897 216
    For more information please visit here:

    25-28 October 2011
    CDN WORLD SUMMIT 2011
    Venue, Hilton Paddington Hotel, London

    We are pleased to announce our partnership with BT Wholesale as the host operator and those already confirmed to the stellar line up which will include over 80 speakers.The full value chain is represented including content providers, broadcast operators, traditional and telco CDNs, represented by industry leaders such as; FilmFlex Movies, BT Wholesale and AT&T.
    For more information please visit here:

    26 - 31 October 2011
    Annual Tricontinental Human Rights Film Festival
    Venue, Cape Town, South Africa

    Tel: [+27] 21 788 5462 - Fax: [+27] 21 788 5469
    For more information please visit here:

    27 October – 6 November 2011
    Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival
    Venue: Edinburgh's Filmhouse cinema

    The UK's largest African Film Festival

    29 October - 6 November 2011
    Festival Amakula Kampala
    Venue: Uganda, Kampala

    Tel: [+256] 41 427 35 32
    For more information please visit here:
    info@amakula.com

    31 October - 7 November 2011
    Out In Africa
    South African Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
    Venue: various, see website

    For more information please visit here:

    25 November - 4- December of 2011
    International Film Schools Festival  - 34es « Rencontres Henri Langlois »
    Venue: TAP
    (theatre auditorium de Poitiers) in Poitiers (France).
    The Festival organiser invites African film students to join is. The Festival gathers about 15000 participants and about 100 professionals. A trade market is held on the side (includes CineSud).
    For more information please visit here:

    30 November - 3 December 2011
    MYCONTENT, 4th Dubai International Character & Licensing Fair and 4th Dubai World Game Expo.
    Venue: Dubai

    MYCONTENT - (exhibition & conference) in dedicated to the Middle East & North Africa. It is MENA region’s 2nd entertainment content marketplace which will be held in conjunction with 4th Dubai International Character & Licensing Fair and 4th Dubai World Game Expo.
    For more information please visit here:

  • Employees of the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) are up in arms after their director general, Albertus Aochamub, recently received N$90 000 after tax as a "performance payment". Aochamub received the payout after "reaching certain milestones" after he joined the beleaguered corporation some eight months ago. Employees are furious about the bonus, because they charge that not only is the NBC already in a financial mess, but they have been waiting for their annual salary increases for the past three months to no avail.

    Confirming the recent board decision, board chairman Sven Thieme on Friday said the performance payment was in line with Aochamub's appointment agreement. Speaking from Johannesburg, Thieme said Aochamub receives "a much lower than normal basic salary" but has a performance element built into his contract which he receives once "certain milestones are reached".

    Serge Agnéro was nominated in July 2011 as MD of Canal+ Côte d’Ivoire. He will be reporting to Jean-Christophe Ramos, Director of Canal+Afrique.

  • Chinese television shops for journalists in East Africa

    China Central Television (CCTV), the Chinese national broadcaster has announced several vacancies for East African electronic media journalists, setting the stage for increased competition for the limited talent-base.

    According to the CCTV recruitment team in Kenya, the media house is looking for a team of TV anchors, journalists, reporters, cameramen, studio technicians, editors, and commentators to support its international broadcasting service.

    The recruitment drive is part of CCTV's effort to become a global media network with increased international influence. The broadcast house currently operates six international channels in six different languages, including; Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic. CCTV also has 21 public channels and 19 pay television channels in operation in China with a focus on almost every aspect of the Chinese social life, according to information on its website.

    In Africa, CCTV's international news channel is currently aired via several pay television platforms such as; StarTimes, and MultiChoice Africa's DSTV for free, just like other 24-hours news stations including; BBC, CNN, Sky News, Aljazeera and France24. Unlike CCTV, the well-established Western channels operate in the region with local stingers and correspondents. The establishment of CCTV's regional office also calls for a competitive human resource base to be relevant to its target audience. The television is now looking for journalist with over three years' experience of working within the television and media industry.

    It is also targeting studio technicians who possess over six years experience of working within the television media industry. The recruitment of such limited talent to fill CCTV's vacancies is likely to create human resource gaps in the region's heated media industry.

    China Television's recruitment drive comes at a time when more international television houses are firming up their presence on the African continent. For instance, India's United Television recently launched its international movie channel in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa as it moves to strengthen its presence on the continent.

    Africa has also witnessed the entry of major television players from Europe and China like; Star DTV, a growing multi-national pay-television channel with operations in Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

    Source: bizcommunity, Walter Wafula, 5 Jul 2011.

    Twenty aspirant South African filmmakers have been selected to be part of the DStv Film Skills Development Programme (FSDP) for 2011. Chosen from over 160, entrants, the aspirant filmmakers have now taken the first steps to achieve their dreams in film. The programme is targeting to train 26 filmmakers.

Issue no. 109 21 July 2011

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  • Africa’s TV content market DISCOP is coming back to Nairobi in September. Since 2008, it has not only made it easier for African TV buyers to do deals for content but has become an international meeting point for those involved in the development of the industry. Before Discop launched in Africa, broadcasters on the continent had limited options to buy TV content. Sithengi closed in 2006, leaving only MIP-TV and the small MICA market held during Fespaco. Balancing Act’s Sylvain Béletre spoke to Regional Manager for Africa Cherise Barsell from the event’s organiser Basic Lead before she left at the end of July to review progress to date.

    Q: What does the Sub-Saharan African audiovisual market look like?

    A: 47 Sub-Saharan African countries have 42 million TV households, the world’s fastest growing number of pay-TV subscribers, 310 million mobile subscribers and 45 million Internet users. The audiovisual industry is seeing incredible growth- it’s a very dynamic emerging market indeed!

    Q: How has Discop Africa's attendance evolved over the past three years?

    A: For our inaugural event, we ensured buyers would be present by covering the travel expenses for many African broadcasters – and we were successful with 163 buyers in total. In order to focus on more serious buyer, we limited our travel offers. The following three editions attracted fewer buyers - between 105 and 125 - but sellers noticed that buyers who made it were more serious about acquiring content. They had made a personal investment to come and that showed in their meetings.

    Our last edition in Accra - February 2011 - attracted 171 buyers, our highest turnout yet, and proof that Discop has established itself as a must-attend event for the TV industry. Buyers present included programming, acquisitions and co-production executives from 99 Sub-Saharan African TV Stations and Pay-TV platforms.

    The feedback we got is that meeting exchanges improved in quality and have prompted more long term deals and relationships. We succeeded in attracting all major US Studios, Latin America’s top Telenovelas suppliers, TV formats licensors, packaged TV channels and 14 African companies were amongst the 88 international vendors exhibiting at the last Discop Accra.

    We've built the largest TV trade event focused on the African region. Today, 95% of Sub-Saharan African broadcasters and pay-TV operators attending Discop markets never or seldom attend any other major international television content market. If you are interested in entering the African market, Discop is the place to be.

    Q: What were your most successful initiatives over those events?

    A: Our main objective and central achievements has been creating a platform for African broadcasters to access content- which didn’t exist when we entered the market. We have also taken the time to listen to our clients’ needs and to address gaps we have seen in the industry. For example, we have adapted our market to provide African producers’ access to both the domestic and international marketplace, with an understanding that there is a growing demand from broadcasters looking for quality African content. We are also seeing more niche channels and TV programmes showcasing Africa across Europe, Asia and North America and these channels are able to access programming at Discop.

    To further support producers, we have designed Discopro, a full-day conference and pitching session to foster partnerships between African broadcasters, producers, and international parties interested in co-production opportunities.

    We also set up sessions to highlight major African TV industry issues and opportunities, such as digitalization, sports content, channel branding, multi-platform distribution, regulation, and educational content.

    Furthermore, we offer international distributors a chance to learn about the region by offering country focus sessions with leading broadcasters in a different dynamic African country each edition. Our upcoming edition will welcome TV channels and platforms from Uganda.

    Q: Has the African TV market shifted since 2009?

    A: It has changed a lot in some countries. We have witnessed the arrival of new entrants, both in the paid and FTA space. Back in 2009, pay-TV challengers Canal + and DSTV essentially had a market monopoly. This has changed with the launch of Smart TV, Star TV, Zuku TV, Top TV and many more. Attracted by the noise of opportunities, more African and foreign investors and content suppliers - Chinese, European, American - have put money in the African TV industry. We have also seen new international bouquets offering African content. Discop has contributed to making the African TV market more visible and has helped provide more structure by creating an exchange between Africans. TV channels on the continent are also becoming more competitive and more proactive to adapt to market changes and growth.

    Q: Over the last three years, have you noticed changes in the way buyers and sellers do business?

    A: Buyers and sellers who attended our events have become more prepared and more professional. Successful sellers now prepare in advance to sign on the spot and adjust their pricing to accommodate the African market. While a growing percentage of channels are starting to pay closer to international rates, buyers also have more negotiation room with access to more distributors. Most buyers and sellers now know that Basic Lead provides advanced services to help match buyers and sellers depending on their content needs and offerings, and they are taking advantage of these services. Sellers who are serious about supplying large or expensive content catalogues in Africa also understand that it takes time to build relationships and follow up on deals. Many of these relationships have been created and reinforced at Discop.

    Q: What would you advise buyers and sellers planning to attend your upcoming events?

    A: Basic Lead provides a number of services for exhibiting sellers and buyers so that they can essentially show up at our market knowing what they have to sell and buy and we will take care of the meetings for them. To optimize these meetings, its important to make contact beforehand, make sure buyers are familiar with your content, and gauge interest. Discop participants have access to online meeting services with buyer and seller search engines six weeks in advance of the market with support from our multilingual team of operators.

    It also helps to stay up-to-date with the African audiovisual industry. Balancing Act and Discop both provide our clients with industry resources. Discop also offers conference sessions that can improve your business or provide you with new contacts.

    Q: So give us a preview of what’s happening at the next DISCOP

    A: The Discop Nairobi program will include the second edition of the Discopro training and pitching program dedicated to trans-cultural co-production opportunities (Tuesday 6 September 2011) and the “African Sports Rights Market” Focus Group, a prelude to a new and independent networking initiative designed to support funding, production and distribution of sports television content produced in Africa (Thursday 8 September). We will also announce other major initiatives in 2012 to support market growth, but my lips are sealed on the details for now.

    Q: When is the next Discop Africa taking place?

    A: Discop Nairobi will take place from Wednesday 7 to Friday 9 September 2011 at the Hilton Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.



    Video clips that might interest you on Balancing Act’s Web TV channel

    What Kenyans watch on TV: Joe Otin, Media Research and Monitoring Manager, Synovate
     
    Joe Otin, Media Research and Monitoring Director, Synovate on the Portable People Meter
     
    Wachira Waruru, CEO, Royal Media on using local content to become No 1
     
    Farah Chaudhry, Hd of Marketing, A24 Media on the launch of Africa: What's Your Story?
     
    Douglas Namale, Kibera News Network on community news gathering and online TV
     
    Patrick Shomba, CEO, Ghetto Films on using film as an educational tool
     
    Dayo Ogunyemi, CEO, Cinemart on the launch of a new mass market cinema chain
     
    Shalini Gidoomal on the FilmAid Film Festival, Nairobi
     
    Shuaib Nda Adama, Executive Director, NTA on the digital broadcast transition in Nigeria

    Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on:
    @BalancingActAfr

     

  • Ster-Kinekor will release two new Afrikaans movies in June and July 2011, Ek lief jou and Ek joke net, while Platteland and ‘n Saak van Verloof will be released later in the year.

    “South Africa offers an abundance of diverse locations, competitive production costs, professional directors and a pool of talented actors and actresses: All of these factors add up to a burgeoning local film industry that is producing world class movies. It is therefore no surprise that the industry’s local talent is being recognised and promoted in a host of Afrikaans movies set to feature on the big screen this year. In addition with over 4.9 million Afrikaans speaking households in South Africa and a whopping 4.3 million living in urban areas, there is definitely a huge audience ready to watch the modern Afrikaans romantic comedy, musical and more serious pieces.”

    So says Fiaz Mohamed, CEO of Ster-Kinekor Theatres, who adds, “Ster-Kinekor is in full support of this development. The modern Afrikaans movie boasts fun, romance and high profile leads that appeal to a good cross section of audiences.”

    Ek Lief Jou is a heart-warming South African musical / romance directed by Ate de Jong, starring Kurt Darren, Christina Storm , Ilse de Vis and Andre Fauenstein. Ek Joke Net is a hilarious Candid Camera styled movie that promises to keep audiences in stitches. The cast of Ek joke net can be seen at the East Rand Mall on 2 July from 5pm.

    According to Ster-Kinekor the recent 64th Cannes International Film Festival provided solid proof that the South African film industry, and the Afrikaans genre in particular, is becoming a force to be reckoned with, as Skoonheid, a film by South African director Oliver Hermanus, became the first Afrikaans film ever to be screened at Cannes. Skoonheid was selected for the “Un Certain Regard” section, as one of 20 films from various countries. The 64th Cannes International Film Festival took place in May and showcased a total of 49 films. Hermanus previously co-wrote and directed the award-winning drama Shirley Adams, about a destitute Cape Flats mother battling to care for her disabled son.

    Mohamed concludes, “The genre of Afrikaans movie-come-musical will appeal to a wide audience and is certainly set for a successful future. With the kind of output we are seeing from Afrikaans directors, who knows, perhaps South Africa is on track to being the next Bollywood, with these Afrikaans movies taking the lead!”

    Interesting facts about the Afrikaans consumer:

    In the last week …

    1.7 million watched a video/dvd

    1.7 million read a book

    1.1 million used a computer at home

    Half a million played a computer/PlayStation game *

    *Latest AMPS

  • Odeon Cinemas release of Nollywood’s The Mirror Boy grossed £40,000 at the UK box office. It was ranked No 11 on the Odeon Box office chart in the opening weekend of its release and No 28 in the National Box office. Close to 5,000 people have seen the film with about 4,600 of those paying to watch.

    The film did particularly well in the London cinemas (Greenwich, Surrey Quays, Streatham, Lee Valley and West Thurrock) and encouraging figures were recorded in Manchester and Birmingham.
     
    This has encouraged the senior management at Odeon to look at programming at least another 2 titles before the year runs out. One of such titles slated for a September 2nd release is Anchor Baby. View website here:

  • Nigerians in Africa, Europe and America were filled with a feeling of nostalgia as they watched live the Red Carpet of the Whizkid album launch in Lagos, Nigeria on Sunday.

    Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook literally were ablaze as Nigerians and Africans in the Diaspora watched live Nigeria’s version of glitz and glamour. Tweets flew faster when a friend or loved one was recognised on the Red Carpet. A viewer from America, who watched the show remarked on Twitter: “This is awesome, a Pay TV that is making us see live wot is hapinin in Naija...HiTV’s gbasky”.

    Indeed, HiTV is ‘gbasky’ (good) as the Diaspora Nigerian said because not only did the Pay TV afford Nigerians the opportunity of seeing last Sunday’s show live, it has been doing that for some time now with a prospect of enlarging the scope to cover North Africa and the Middle East soon as revealed by Head of Operations, HiTV UK, Babatunji Amure.

    A proud Amure in an interview some few days after the event disclosed that the marriage between HiTV and Nigerian artistes is one made in heaven. “HiTV’s relationship with Nigerian artistes is one that could best be described as made in heaven because it has been a win-win affair, that is why they (artistes) keep coming back to us anytime they want to do a show either in Nigeria or in the UK because a show advertised on HiTV is bound to be sold out here in the UK because we are in the homes of all Nigerians and other nationals in Europe and America.”

    The HiTV UK official said he was the proudest Nigerian on Sunday as HiTV showed the Whizkid red Carpet live. “I was one proud Nigerian as the show was being aired. The Red Carpet was aired across Europe on the HiTV UK channel, it was only available on our channel and none else and that fact alone made me a proud Nigerian.”

    He talked about the impact HiTV UK had on Nigerian artistes taking their shows to the UK. “The impact is very significant as all the artistes recognise HiTV UK as the major means of advertising their events and any event HiTV UK supports fully is guaranteed to be sold out. The channel is the most watched African channel across Europe, no doubt a force to reckon with, as a result, the impact of the channel promoting any event in the UK or Europe is considered to have been a sold out event, as we plan each campaign based on the expected audience,” Amure said even as he revealed the channel enters into a mutually beneficial financial arrangement with the organisers “we work with because each event has its own merits and we work based on that.”

    HiTV UK has worked in collaboration with artistes who had their shows such as comedians Basket Mouth, AY Live, Julius Agwu’s Crack Ya Ribs, Figurine premiere, The Mirror Boy premiere and theatrical, Asa and Wande Coal UK tour among others “but we decided to step up the game by airing live the Whizkid’s album launch Red Carpet. Only a Nigerian company with the interest of Nigerian artistes at heart would be able to do that because what we did with the Whizkid was to sell Nigeria’s version of Red Carpet not only to Nigerians, but viewers from across the world,” Amure said.

    Toyin Subair has said in a statement that one of the objectives of HiTV is to sell Nigerian channels to the world. “One of the things I do tell people is this, if HiTV stops selling in Nigeria totally, and we continue to create the channels we are creating, the next three years, we continue what we are doing outside Nigeria, the amount of money we would be making as a company would be huge because the business outside Nigeria is so huge for Nigerian music, films and productions”.

    “We are the first African channel that will be measured in the UK by an approved audience rating agency, and as I am talking today, we have 280,000 homes that are watching HiTV alone and that same broadcast is being showed up in Russia. And we have not done the amount of things we should do. And by the time we add some live shows and all kinds of programmes from Nigeria, we would expand it and I am sure that by the time we are entering the beginning of next year, we would have 700,000 homes guaranteed that will be watching us in the UK and that is money based on advertising and in terms of content and use.”

    He continued: “For instance, an AY (comedian) comes to us that he wants to do a show in the UK and we advertise it for him completely. The show is sold out, and on the day of the show, people buy tickets for 100 pounds that is N20, 000 to watch the show and there are more people outside than inside. He makes his own money, ticket man makes his own money, it brings more money for us and we do that for how many comedians and actors/actresses in the UK today. And if the channel was not there, marketing becomes more difficult; those shows are more difficult to see. The channel is more successful because it has more concept even from local brand, marketed and put together properly, it insists on quality of production, then that means more shows. The next time, we will not just be doing one show; by the time we are finished with all of these guys, when next they want to go to the UK, they want to do 18 shows and tours. And the amount of money they will be making now, it will not just be the small money from one show. So you can see the multiplier effect if we get it right locally.”

    One of the biggest show organisers in the country, comedy merchant Opa Williams, organiser of the popular Nite of A Thousand Laughs show, has commended HiTV on the feat it achieved by showing the Whizkid Red Carpet show live to Nigerians in the Diaspora. 
    “I have never doubted HiTV’s intentions to the entertainment sector, and now that it has started taking us to the world, this is the beginning of new things to come.”  Williams who is planning to tour some parts of Africa, UK, Europe and America with his flagship show said he does not need to worry too much with HiTV having signals in these places. “My promotion for the show is guaranteed. This is good news.”

  • The search for the next Hollywood star is on, and it starts in Motherland-Africa. The new television reality show, ‘Search for Africa’s Next Hollywood Star’, according to its organisers, is to recruit acting talent in West Africa for Hollywood.

    Performers will be selected from Ghana and Nigeria. The TV show is organised by The Latin Dance Company, Nigeria, and their Ghanaian collaborators, Davis Media and Paradise Entertainment. Acting coach, Tracey Moore, and film producer and director, Samad Davis, both from the USA, will work closely with the contestants.

    The competition will see five Nigerians and five Ghanaians vie for the star prize, which includes a one year contract with a Hollywood agent and an opportunity to star alongside African American actor, Morris Chestnut, in a movie project by Davis.

    The duo was in the country and they were part of an interactive session held recently in Lagos. Moore, who was visiting Nigeria for the first time, talked about her excitement at coming to Africa to help mould a screen star.

    She has worked with musicians including 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes and Cee Lo, and African American actor, Laz Alonzo, who starred alongside Paula Patton in the 2011 movie ‘Jumping the Broom’.

    Moore said she felt it is important for the TV series to start in Africa, because there are so many untapped talents on the continent who do not have the opportunity to showcase their potentials. Moore, who teaches a monologue and scene class called ‘The Spirited Actor’, said the 10 contestants will be flown to New York where the selection process will take place.

    “I am happy to be here to share my experiences and bring to the motherland my expertise; to make someone here shine in Hollywood. I am proud to be part of this project. I feel blessed to be doing this,” she said.

    Davis emphasised the point that the show’s participants will benefit from the learning process, because even though there will be one winner, they will be trained by some of the best hands in Hollywood who will judge their performances on the 13 week show.

    Davis, who has worked on some music and movie projects in Ghana, also gave reasons why they chose to stage the Reality TV Show in Africa.

    “Africa is filled with so much talent. There are existing institutions that take care of such talent, but we are using this time to connect Africa with Hollywood,” he said.

    “The show is open to everybody and offers talented individuals an opportunity to display their talents,” he added. According to him, Moore will be there to motivate, inspire, teach character development, technique, approach, research and how to process, tap into and utilise the best and the worst of one’s personal qualities or experiences and bring it to their character to create depth.

    The show’s auditioning process is moulded after the pattern of American Idol where before audition, contestants will pay some money into the project’s bank account. The judges have the responsibility of choosing the final ten participants.

    To enter for the competition, interested persons are to buy a form worth four thousand naira. The bank teller received after purchasing the form should be presented at the audition venue.

    According to the organisers, auditions will hold from June 29 with the first stop at Planet One, Maryland, Lagos. The audition train will then move to NICON Luxury Hotel, Garki, Abuja, on July 4; and berth at Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, on July 8.

    From the auditions, only five Nigerians will be chosen and flown to New York for the show proper. According to Charles Agbemashior of TLDC, the final two contestants will then be taken to Hollywood for the finale of the show, where the winner will be selected.

    Moore is a professional casting director who has worked on feature films, TV, sitcoms and commercials. She is also a music coach for popular artists in the United States; while Davis co-runs a production company with a branch in Ghana. He directed the film ‘Two Can Play That Game’ starring Vivica A. Fox and Morris Chestnut.

  • StarTimes DTV has by far connected over 200,000 customers in the East African region, the Chief Marketing Officer Star DTV Uganda Kevin Chen has said.

    StarTimes DTV is a Chinese-owned digital satellite pay TV and also operates in the East African countries of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. In Africa, it operates in about 10 countries and its headquarters are based in Beijing, China. StarTimes officially begun its operations in Uganda in March, 2010 and so far has a customer base of 30,000 subscribers.

    "We have been able to get a good number of subscribers within just four months of our operation in the region because we incorporate most of the local channels and provide a clear signal. This enables people in distant areas to enjoy clear signals," Chen told East African Business Week in an interview last week.

    Chen said since they opened shop in Burundi in March 2010, they have connected 8,000 customers and 100,000 customers in Tanzania where they started operations in the same period. In Rwanda where they started operations in 2006, Chen said they have a customer base of 30,000 whereas the rest are in Kenya where they have a partnership with KCB.

    Chen said once connected, customers do not need to line up to renew their subscription because they buy a scratch card, load it and send a message and the subscription is renewed. "This kind of flexibility has made StarTimes very easy to use and affordable compared with other pay TV channels," said Chen. He said customers have liked their services because of the technology they use. "Customers cut costs because they do not need a dish to get connected which would come with added costs. All you need is Star DTV-enabled decoder," he noted. The decoders have an attached antenna that works as a receiver in the place of a dish.

    The initial installation fee is UShs120,000 (about US$60) while the monthly subscription fee is UShs 15,000 ($7.5) and offers about 36 channels for all the East African countries.

    Though this is way cheaper compared to other digital pay TVs, they are yet to introduce football channels to step up competition with Dstv which charges UShs399,000 (about $199.5) for initial installation and about UShs180,000 ($90) for monthly subscription.

    However Chen said next year they will introduce a package of UShs25,000 ($12.50) inclusive of football channels that offer live access to premiership and other major European leagues.

    Startimes has been competitive in the areas of entertainment, wildlife, fashion and news channels like BBC, Al Jazeera and France24. Chen further added that in Uganda they will be spreading to Mbarara in western Uganda and Gulu, northern Uganda early next year. ”We have a commitment with International Telecommunication Union to ensure that by 2012 Uganda has no anologue system,” noted Chen.

  • Arabsat has announced the launch of a Moroccan television and radio bouquet on BADR-4, accessible in the Middle East, North Africa and in much of Europe. The package includes eight television stations and six radio stations.

    Eng. Khalid bin Ahmed Balkheyour President & CEO of Arabsat said the package was launched from an integrated digital broadcasting platform in Rabat (Morocco) in cooperation with the "National Union for Radio and Television of Morocco "where the operation started in June 2011.

    "We expect that many other private and government TV and radio channels will join this bouquet by the end of this year. By building platforms for digital broadcasting Radio & TV in a number of Arab countries, Arabsat aims to serve its customers and provide the best services and solutions suited to serve viewers anywhere with an optimum quality level. "Balkheyour said.

  • China has secured a larger share of Kenya’s television market after one of its firms won a licence for distributing digital signals in the country, further cementing the hold of the Asian country in the economy.

    The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) is set to award the licence to Pan African Network Group for one of the two new digital signal distribution licences in a bid that had attracted Signal Distributors Ltd, Mayfox Ltd, Globecast Africa, Africa Link Agencies and a consortium of local broadcasters Nation Media Group and Royal Media Services.

    Kenya’s TV market is migrating from the current analogue broadcasting platform to digital broadcasting by next June as part of a global initiative that will see broadcasters cede transmission of their content to the Chinese company, which will earn a distribution fee.

    “It was the only one (Pan African Network) that qualified and this means that the second licence remains free for now,” Francis Wangusi, the director of broadcasting at CCK told the Business Daily on Wednesday, adding that the regulator is yet to decide whether to issue or scrap the second licence.

    The licence will be issued on three conditions: that it will be on an open access platform; must have national coverage, and the investor must show proof of resources or funding needed for putting up the national infrastructure.

    Already, the government has awarded another transmission licence to Signet—a subsidiary of state-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), which was last embroiled in a tussle with local broadcasters after it issued content from eight channels to a private Swedish pay-TV firm for onward distribution without their permission.

    The content was meant for testing and some broadcasters have pulled out of the deal, arguing against the takeover of the broadcasting services by foreign firms. Pan African Network becomes the second Chinese firm to seek a piece of the of Kenya’s digital TV market after Smart DTV secured the contract to supply set-top boxes—gadgets that allow viewers to access digitised content using their analogue TVs instead of buying expensive digital sets.

    Pan African Network Group will roll out its network alongside Signet which has been hit by funding challenges that has limited its reach to the capital Nairobi and its environs.

    Signet needs about Sh4 billion to expand countrywide, but the government said it lacks funds amid low revenue collection and priority spending on infrastructure and food subsidies.

    Signet and the new digital signal carrier are to move to a higher technology (DVB-T2) from the earlier version (DVB-T), owing to the improved features of the new technology and the government ban of the latter version.

  • In June 2011, Nigeria’s Pay TV, HiTV announced that it added a new channel, Hip TV to its Premium bouquet.

    The new channel which was launched on May 31 according to a statement signed by HiTV’s Brand/Marketing Manager, Mrs. Kemi Fashina, is a “new attraction to HiTV.”
     
    Fashina said the launch of the new channel is in line with the Pay TV’s resolve to bring the best of entertainment to its valued subscribers and Nigerians in general. “Hip TV is a lifestyle and entertainment channel that showcases the hottest happenings in the entertainment world, both locally and internationally. Produced by the organizers of Hip Hop Awards, the channel features award shows, celebrity lifestyle, hottest gossips, fashion tips, album launches among others”, Fashina said.
     
    The channel, the statement said, is targeted at young adults who desire first hand information on their favorite celebrities. The Hip on TV crew has travelled to cover high profile events such as the BET Awards and the famous Rio De Janerio carnival among other carnivals in Brazil as well as other star studded events across the world, “indeed they have a catalogue of exciting content for television’’

  • As African telecom players innovate to beat their competitors, South Africa's MTN Group has pulled a first by announcing a brand and content licensing agreement with Trace, an entertainment television channel.

    Trace is largely a music video channel that promotes urban contemporary music videos and is available on various cable and satellite pay television platforms.

    As Africa's Internet speeds go up and prices come down, courtesy of fiber-optic cables, one of the major challenges facing Africa is a lack of locally relevant and available content to attract more people online.

    The deal with Trace will let MTN offer what it has called innovative entertainment services to the fast-growing youth segment within the African mobile market. On Monday MTN launched the offer in Cameroon, and it is due to be rolled out in multiple locations. Launches are planned in Ivory Coast, South Africa and Nigeria in the next few months.

    "MTN youth subscribers will benefit from the unique entertainment experience around the Trace brand, including exciting local and international content on entertainment and sports, live events and television," according to a statement issued by the MTN Group.

    "Any initiative that works to raise the local content that African people access and consume is most welcome, regardless of whether this content is delivered via traditional TV, mobile phone or the Internet," said Wairagala Wakabi, a researcher at Collaboration on International ICT Policy in Eastern and Southern Africa (CIPESA).

    He said many African countries have aspirations for their media, specifically radio and TV, and deliver a bigger proportion of their programming as local content, but due to logistical and capacity problems, these hopes are not translated into reality.

    "States, including through their universal access funds, obviously have a big role to play here, but it will be a happy day when MTN, Trace and others leverage on the successes they score within the entertainment sector to also get into innovations that directly impact on the livelihoods of our people in ways entertainment would never," Wakabi said.

  • TV Globo Internacional, the international version of Brazil's main broadcaster TV Globo, is to celebrate 12 years in the TV market with a major push into new markets. The channel already reaches 575,000 subscribers in 115 countries, through some 70 cable TV operators, satellite TV platforms and IPTV platforms worldwide.

    According to Marcelo Spinola, the international signal's CEO, said to 'Todo TV News' that nowadays the channel is going through its second phase after its launch in the countries where large numbers of Brazilian migrants live in Portugal and Angola.

    "Today's second phase means our subscriber data base is growing but we are also implementing local programming in the five feeds we have: Japan, Portugal, Europe, the Americas and Africa," he declared.

    This strategy consists of a different programming schedule depending on the region the channel gets received with local production in each of them through independent producers or through co-productions.

    As for the US, TV Globo Internacional has a locally produced program made by a citizen living in this country. But this program has its Japanese version and it shows the real life of the Brazilian community in every country.

    Regarding multiplatform distribution, there will be lineal and non lineal contents here such as the VOD. In fact the broadcaster has a VOD service in Portugal's pay-TV operator ZON. "For our Portuguese subscribers we offer TV Globo Portugal's contents for the VOD platform" he highlights.

    HDTV services will arrive as part of a third phase. "When the time comes the channel will have its own HDTV version but we need subscribers with HDTV STB's. And not very many operators have a big number of HDTV decoders. So we still believe this need does not exist yet" he concludes.

  • Africa’s biggest media firm, Naspers said that while it was always looking for good- value acquisitions, it would focus more this year on growing its businesses organically and developing new technologies.

    Naspers’s two biggest earners for its financial year to March were once again its pay-TV and internet businesses. The media company has gained a reputation for growth through acquisition, spending R5,5bn in the past financial year.

    Naspers financial director Steve Pacak, however, said the company would concentrate on finding companies that were a "good fit" at "a good price".

    "Part of Naspers’s growth strategy is that it makes acquisitions, and this will not change, but in the current market some valuations for internet are a bit rich," Pacak said.  "Of course, we are on the lookout for companies that fit our strategy and are fairly valued."

    Naspers CEO Koos Bekker said in a statement that the company would also be investing in its pay-TV division. Pacak said the cost of development would be felt in next year’s financial results.

    Naspers, which largely avoided the slump experienced by the media industry because of its diversified interests, reported a 13% profit rise for its financial year to the end of March, to R6bn, or R16,12 per share, largely on the strength of its internet and pay-TV businesses. It has issued a dividend of 270c, 15% up on the previous year.
    Naspers has not escaped the downturn completely, with print operations seeing a "modest" 9% revenue rise, and restructuring and further retrenchments on the cards for its Media24 division.

    The increase in pay-TV subscription is attributed by Naspers to the World Cup and the cheaper Compact bouquet. Revenue increased 19% to R21bn and it added 977,000 subscribers to its base.

    Naspers’s share of income from associates, including Tencent in China, Mail.ru Group in Russia and Abril in Brazil, increased 60% to R3,3bn, the company said.
    Abdul Davids, an analyst for Kagiso Asset Management, said the results showed that the balance sheet was healthy.

    "Pay-TV continues to grow, despite increased costs and development spend. Tencent continues to make a massive contribution, but the other internet businesses have proved a mixed bag." He was confident social media in developing countries would continue to grow — good news for Tencent and Russia’s Mail.ru.

    Investors were displeased with Naspers’s profit estimate in mid- June, expecting something closer to 20%, resulting in a 3% drop in the share price on June 14.

  • Digital TV Labs, which provides independent, specialised receiver conformance products and services, has announced that it has been contracted by NGB – Next Generation Broadcasting, which operate as the consumer brand Smart TV – to supply a DVB-T/T2 receiver conformance regime which will assist the successful rollout of DTT services in select African markets.

    NGB works with local governments and broadcasters across Africa, specifically Ghana, Kenya and Uganda, providing “well established, independent and reliable DTT distribution platforms”. These include an 8-20-channel pay-TV bouquet as well as free-to-air services and interactivity and are already deployed.

    Digital TV Labs has been working with NGB to help it develop a pragmatic set-top-box specification and to roll out a conformance regime that’s appropriate to the African markets, balancing the cost of the tests against potential market size. Digital TV Labs’ Hong Kong office already has excellent working relationships with many of the potential Asian suppliers into the African market, so is ideally suited to service demand.

    Anders Liljekvist, Director of Business Development with NGB, says, “We are extending the number of STB suppliers for our African operations and needed to set up a structured approval process with more extensive conformance testing to ensure that our customers can buy good quality equipment and thus also be able to better enjoy our pay-TV services. Rather than building such activities in-house we decided that it was a better idea to leverage the extensive experience and good reputation of Digital TV Labs. The fact that many suppliers already are familiar with Digital TV Labs from similar conformance testing for other markets is of course also a major facilitator in launching this.”

    Because Digital TV Labs is able to quickly customise its Evora iSuite to cater for bespoke conformance regimes, a cost-effective test regime is up and running with the first receivers having already passed through the process for initial examination.

    Keith Potter, CEO, Digital TV Labs, explains, “We are working very closely with NGB to provide a realistic market proposition using our considerable expertise. By working with us and our Evora iSuite product, NGB gains access to a wider supply chain with lower receiver costs while at the same time being able to be sure of the quality. This in turn reduces churn and lowers customer supports costs.”

  • The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Democratic Republic of Congo’s ban of a private broadcaster favorable to opposition presidential candidate Etienne Tshisekedi. The blocking and ban of the broadcaster since Saturday is in violation of the country’s press laws.

    Radio Lisanga Télévision (RLTV), based in the capital, Kinshasa, lost its signal without formal notice, the station’s director-general, Basile Olongo Pongo, told CPJ. The same day, Congolese Communication Minister Lambert Mende issued a decree indefinitely banning the station across the country over “programs that are promoting violence and contribute to disturb public order," according to news reports.

    In an interview with CPJ today, Mende said that the station had “called on youth to take to the streets and explained how to make Molotov cocktails.” According to local press freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED), which monitored RLTV’s programs, the government’s accusations are baseless. RLTV has drawn the ire of the government with a nightly talk show called “Support Etienne Tshisekedi,” where presenters and guests are critical of incumbent President Joseph Kabila, who is seeking a second five-year term in November presidential elections, according to JED and local journalists.

    A presenter for the program, Baby Balukuna, was injured in a June 19 attack by unidentified men armed with machetes as he exited the station’s studios, UN-sponsored station Radio Okapi reported.

    “The summary banning of RLTV is nothing but political censorship,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “The authorities took the station off the air without following due process and should lift the ban immediately.”

    The government suppressed RLTV’s signal a day after the station extensively covered a July 9 march by militant members of Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress party who were carrying the body of one of their members, Serge Lukusa, according to local journalists. The militants said Lukusa had died after inhaling tear gas during the violent dispersal by security forces of an earlier sit-in, but Mende told the press Lukusa died a “natural death,” according to news reports.

  • Journalists from the private media were reportedly barred from attending a meeting between Robert Mugabe and Fifa president Sepp Blatter. According to Newsday, only photographers working for ZBC and the Herald, plus the presidential photographer, were allowed in as well as photographers who work for Zifa and Fifa. Fifa is the international governing body for football while Zifa is the governing body for football in Zimbabwe.

    After the meeting Blatter said Mugabe had talked about the governments' interest in the development of sport, especially football. Zifa have asked Fifa for US1.5m for their operations; and Blatter said his organisation is looking into the request.

    Mugabe said Blatter's visit is a great honour to the nation; this at a time when Fifa's reputation is in tatters in other parts of the world, following the corruption scandal that has rocked the organisation.

    The Fifa president also had a separate meeting with Morgan Tsvangirai, where they discussed football development in Zimbabwe.

  • Digital pay TV company, DStv, has introduced Drifta, a mobile TV decoder to its Nigerian subscribers.

    The Drifta is a mobile TV decoder that receives a DVB-H signal and converts to a Wi-Fi signal for Wi-Fi enabled viewing devices such as laptops, PCs, tablets and smartphones.

    Currently, the device is compatible with the iPod Touch, the iPhone, iPad, PCs and notebooks. Unlimited access will be enjoyed by subscribers on DStv Mobile network coverage areas including Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Onitsha, Asaba, Benin City, Kaduna and Enugu.

    The channels to be accessed by the three bouquet options are, NTA Plus and Channel O on the Free bouquet. Entertainment channels, Mini bouquet, and SS Blitz, SS9 and SS10 will be on Maxi bouquet while only DStv premium subscribers will have access to all the above channels as well as  SS3 on the Maxi plus bouquet.

    Managing Director of MultiChoice Nigeria, Joseph Hundah noted that it was the company’s core mission to provide subscribers with more control over their television viewing experience.

  • Content security specialist Irdeto is securing South Africa’s first broadcast mobile TV service.

    In partnership with Korean manufacturer Valups, Irdeto is delivering content from pay TV operator DStv to devices including laptops, iPads, iPod Touches and iPhones.
    The content is secured using a Valups dongle, which DStv has branded Drifta, which has embedded security hardware and software from Irdeto and works with Irdeto’s Conditional Access System 3 solution.

    The Drifta is available from retailers in South Africa for SAR599 (€110). It will launch soon in Ghana, Kenya, Namibia and Nigeria. A monthly DStv Mobile subscription is also required but DStv premium subscribers can access the service for no additional fee.

    Francois Theron, CEO DStv Mobile said: “DStv Mobile was tasked with the challenge of taking Africa into the innovative, exciting and very important realm of mobile TV. An increasing number of Africans can now access broadcast mobile television and Multichoice Africa wanted to be the first to ensure our subscribers could watch their favourite content however and wherever they like.”

  • 21 - 31 July 2011
    DIFF - 32nd Durban International Film Festival
    Venue: Durban, South Africa

    Contact: Durban Film Office –
    For more information please visit here:

    31 July 2011
    The African Audio-Visual Awards (TAVA)
    Venue: Lagos, Nigeria

    TAVA Awards is a platform created to celebrate the finest Africans behind great films, television productions, advertisements and music videos. All those who employ sound a picture to tell their stories in order to create entertainment. Entries to the awards closes on June 15th.
    For more information please visit here:

    July - Sept. 2011 (final dates tba)
    African film festival (AFF) in NYC
    NYC, USA

    Outdoor Summer Screenings in NYC Parks. Featuring dance, music, food and of course films. AFF programs year-round; therefore, AFF organisers accept submissions on an ongoing basis.
    For more information please visit here:

    9 - 14 August 2011 (tbc)
    Lola Kenya Screen
    Venue: Nairobi, Kenya

    Tel:[+254] 20 315 258, 221 3 318
    For more information please visit here:
    director@lolakenyascreen.org

    21 – 24 August 2011
    The 13th PAMRO meeting and All Africa Media Research Conference
    Venue: Dakar, Senegal
    at the Le Méridien President Hotel.
    For more information please visit here:

    27 August - 4 September 2011 (final date tba)
    Zimbabwe International Film Festival

    Competitive for features, shorts, documentary with 12 ‘Mweya Awards’ in different categories.
    please e-mail for further details zimfilmfest@zol.co.zw

    31 August - 10 September 2011
    Mostra de Venise

    Tel: [+39] 041 5218706
    Fax: [+39] 041 5218879
    For more information please visit here:
    indoffice@labiennale.org

    11 - 14 Septembre 2011
    HighwayAfrica 2011
    Venue: Rhodes Uni., Grahamstown, SA.

    A show focused on journalism and new multimedia. For fourteen years the Highway Africa conference has been at the centre of Africa’s debates on journalism and new media. The conference has over the years become the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world. For more information please visit here:

    3 - 8 Octobre 2011
    « Festival du Court Métrage Méditerranéen de Tanger »
    Venue: Tangier, Morocco

    A festival focused on short films.
    E-mail : ccm@menara.ma

    5 - 9 October 2011
    Africa in the Picture
    Venue: Bioscoop het Ketelhuis in Amsterdam, NL

    Tel:[+31] 20 622 7 151
    Fax:[+31] 20 627 15 44
    For more information please visit here:
    info@aitp.nl

    20 - 22 October 2011
    ZAFAA 2011 - The Zulu African Film Academy Awards
    Venue: London, UK

    Closing Date for Entries is Friday May 20th 2011.
    African Film Festival & Academy Awards
    For more information please visit here:

    21 - 29 October 2011
    Cinemed (« le Festival du cinéma méditerranéen »)
    Venue: Montpellier, France

    Tel. +33 (0) 499 13 73 73
    Fax +33 (0) 499 13 73 74
    info@cinemed.tm.fr
    Deadline: 8 July 2011
    For more information please visit here:

    21 - 30 October 2011 (tbc)
    Kenya International Film Festival (KIFF)
    Venue: Nairobi, Kenya

    Tel:[+254] 2 201 05 26
    Fax:[+254] 722 897 216
    For more information please visit here:

    25-28 October 2011
    CDN WORLD SUMMIT 2011
    Venue, Hilton Paddington Hotel, London

    We are pleased to announce our partnership with BT Wholesale as the host operator and those already confirmed to the stellar line up which will include over 80 speakers.The full value chain is represented including content providers, broadcast operators, traditional and telco CDNs, represented by industry leaders such as; FilmFlex Movies, BT Wholesale and AT&T.
    For more information please visit here:

    26 - 31 October 2011
    Annual Tricontinental Human Rights Film Festival
    Venue, Cape Town, South Africa

    Tel: [+27] 21 788 5462 - Fax: [+27] 21 788 5469
    For more information please visit here:

    27 October – 6 November 2011
    Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival
    Venue: Edinburgh's Filmhouse cinema

    The UK's largest African Film Festival

    29 October - 6 November 2011
    Festival Amakula Kampala
    Venue: Uganda, Kampala

    Tel: [+256] 41 427 35 32
    For more information please visit here:
    info@amakula.com

    31 October - 7 November 2011
    Out In Africa
    South African Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
    Venue: various, see website

    For more information please visit here:

    25 November - 4- December of 2011
    International Film Schools Festival  - 34es « Rencontres Henri Langlois »
    Venue: TAP
    (theatre auditorium de Poitiers) in Poitiers (France).
    The Festival organiser invites African film students to join is. The Festival gathers about 15000 participants and about 100 professionals. A trade market is held on the side (includes CineSud).
    For more information please visit here:

    30 November - 3 December 2011
    MYCONTENT, 4th Dubai International Character & Licensing Fair and 4th Dubai World Game Expo.
    Venue: Dubai

    MYCONTENT - (exhibition & conference) in dedicated to the Middle East & North Africa. It is MENA region’s 2nd entertainment content marketplace which will be held in conjunction with 4th Dubai International Character & Licensing Fair and 4th Dubai World Game Expo.
    For more information please visit here:

  • Employees of the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) are up in arms after their director general, Albertus Aochamub, recently received N$90 000 after tax as a "performance payment". Aochamub received the payout after "reaching certain milestones" after he joined the beleaguered corporation some eight months ago. Employees are furious about the bonus, because they charge that not only is the NBC already in a financial mess, but they have been waiting for their annual salary increases for the past three months to no avail.

    Confirming the recent board decision, board chairman Sven Thieme on Friday said the performance payment was in line with Aochamub's appointment agreement. Speaking from Johannesburg, Thieme said Aochamub receives "a much lower than normal basic salary" but has a performance element built into his contract which he receives once "certain milestones are reached".

    Serge Agnéro was nominated in July 2011 as MD of Canal+ Côte d’Ivoire. He will be reporting to Jean-Christophe Ramos, Director of Canal+Afrique.

  • Chinese television shops for journalists in East Africa

    China Central Television (CCTV), the Chinese national broadcaster has announced several vacancies for East African electronic media journalists, setting the stage for increased competition for the limited talent-base.

    According to the CCTV recruitment team in Kenya, the media house is looking for a team of TV anchors, journalists, reporters, cameramen, studio technicians, editors, and commentators to support its international broadcasting service.

    The recruitment drive is part of CCTV's effort to become a global media network with increased international influence. The broadcast house currently operates six international channels in six different languages, including; Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic. CCTV also has 21 public channels and 19 pay television channels in operation in China with a focus on almost every aspect of the Chinese social life, according to information on its website.

    In Africa, CCTV's international news channel is currently aired via several pay television platforms such as; StarTimes, and MultiChoice Africa's DSTV for free, just like other 24-hours news stations including; BBC, CNN, Sky News, Aljazeera and France24. Unlike CCTV, the well-established Western channels operate in the region with local stingers and correspondents. The establishment of CCTV's regional office also calls for a competitive human resource base to be relevant to its target audience. The television is now looking for journalist with over three years' experience of working within the television and media industry.

    It is also targeting studio technicians who possess over six years experience of working within the television media industry. The recruitment of such limited talent to fill CCTV's vacancies is likely to create human resource gaps in the region's heated media industry.

    China Television's recruitment drive comes at a time when more international television houses are firming up their presence on the African continent. For instance, India's United Television recently launched its international movie channel in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa as it moves to strengthen its presence on the continent.

    Africa has also witnessed the entry of major television players from Europe and China like; Star DTV, a growing multi-national pay-television channel with operations in Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

    Source: bizcommunity, Walter Wafula, 5 Jul 2011.

    Twenty aspirant South African filmmakers have been selected to be part of the DStv Film Skills Development Programme (FSDP) for 2011. Chosen from over 160, entrants, the aspirant filmmakers have now taken the first steps to achieve their dreams in film. The programme is targeting to train 26 filmmakers.

Issue no 563 15th July 2011

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  • There has hardly been a week without headlines on mobile apps in the last six months (see further in the newsletter, the announcement of Zantel launching an apps store in Tanzania). The launch of the Apple apps store in July 2008 has undoubtedly been a turning point in what is today considered as a sector that generates at the global level US$ billion of annual revenues through apps downloads. Consultancy and research company, Balancing Act, has just released a new report entitled “Mobile apps for Africa: Strategies to make sense of free and paid apps” which analyses the nascent apps ecosystem in Africa while providing an analytical framework allowing African mobile operators or other stakeholders to decide on what strategy to adopt regarding mobile apps.

    The 131 pages report “Mobile apps for Africa: Strategies to make sense of free and paid apps” contains 15 illustrated boxes, 26 tables, 39 charts and 2 maps. It is divided into three distinctive parts: Part 1: The users, the device and the usage; Part 2: The developers and the content; Part 3: Distribution platforms and distribution strategies.

    According to Isabelle Gross, the author of the report, there is sufficient evidence to indicate that smartphones will take a significant market share in Africa too. Usage surveys show that African mobile users are carrying out more and more “non-voice” activities on their phone. The rate of smartphone penetration in South Africa for example is promising and more African countries will follow on its path as smartphones prices will come down in the next two years.

    The handsets pyramid which currently is made up of over 80% basic phones in some African countries will be shifting in the next years and the changes will be top-down with a larger representation of smartphones and feature-rich phones. The report provides smartphone penetration forecasts for different markets. At present, Nokia’s handsets remain African’s favourite mobile phones but as the adoption of smartphones gathers pace, it will lose it leadership in favour of other OEMs. BlackBerry is currently the favourite brand among young South Africans.

    African countries with a large subscriber base and a growing smartphone penetration rate present the best opportunities for mobile apps. Smartphones drive the consumption of mobile apps and as more African mobile users will have a smartphone in their pocket in the near future, the case of providing them with content is getting more compelling for local developers.

    The report finds that African mobile apps developers are usually young graduates. In terms of gender, male developers outpace female developers. However, there are no figures on their number per country but estimates suggest a couple of hundred in small African countries and two or three thousand in large African countries. The African “developers’ ecosystem” remains fragmented but there is a growing number of initiatives that try to bring in more structure as well as funding to support interesting projects and talented developers. The report provides further insights on what type of mobile apps are more likely to make money in Africa as well as recommendations for African developers on how to optimise the revenue that they can expect to be making from the various apps stores that are available today to them. For local developers it is all about knowing what mobile users want and what are the best ways to get it to them.

    The revenues generated by the main international apps stores are tantalising for mobile operators and most of them across the world still have to decide if they want to become a mere “dump” pipe channelling all the content to their mobile subscribers’ handsets or decide to step in and start to supply content to their subscribers in order to get a share of this revenue. African mobile operators and in particular those one that have launched 3G services, are facing precisely this dilemma.

    The report provides an overview of the “distribution platforms ecosystem” and evaluates how disruptive the international apps stores have been so far for African mobile operators. Several African mobile operators are looking at launching their own apps store but so far only Orange Tunisie and Tunisiana have officially announced the launch of their apps store. Safaricom in Kenya and MTN in South Africa are rumoured to be thinking about launching their own apps store. The report further looks at how the growth of the international apps stores will affect Africa and what is changing in the apps ecosystem that could benefit Africa.

    A set of 8 recommendations are also provided to help mobile operators to identify what to look for when planning to launch an apps store. They are based on early lessons from emerging countries mobile operators that have launched apps stores. The report concludes by a detailed business case on launching an apps store in an African country and forecast revenue from paid applications, data revenue from apps downloads and revenue from advertising and in-apps purchases.

    More details are available here:

    or contact igross@balancingact-africa.com


    Video clips that might interest you on Balancing Act’s Web TV channel

    IsisNyong'o, MD Africa, InMobi on mobile advertising in Africa

    En francais: Karim Sy, Jokko Labs, Dakar

    Arthur Goldstuck, CEO, WorldWideWorx on the mobile Internet in South Africa

    Mikul Shah, Managng Director, Eat Out
    on expanding into East Africa

    David Afugani, Chief Marketing Officer, RLG
    on its Made in Ghana mobile handsets

    Francis Ebuehi, Country Manager, Dealfish West Africa on the its online classifieds site

telecoms

  • In its first response to the local loop unbundling (LLU) document published by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) last month, Telkom has shown it is reluctant to fast-track the unbundling process.

    Telkom says LLU has proven costly and complicated, even for Europeans, and that the process is far more intricate than its detractors would have consumers believe.

    Telkom’s group executive for regulatory affairs, Andrew Barendse, says developed world approaches to LLU are being used as a guideline for SA, but that this is inappropriate as SA’s telecommunications industry is comparatively immature. Rather, SA should look for policy lessons from Brazil, China, Indian and Russia (the so-called Bric nations), he says.

    Barendse says consumers and competitors alike must bear in mind what he calls “the three Cs” when discussing LLU. He says research into other, similar markets that have undergone LLU shows the process to be complex, costly and, in the case of SA, potentially counterproductive.

    Richard Majoor, a legal representative from Telkom says LLU might lead to “suboptimal network performance. The process is complex — it’s not merely a handover of infrastructure, but it requires product management.”

    Majoor reiterates Barendse’s suggestion that LLU might prove counterproductive and may not result in reduced costs for consumers as many pundits claim.

    Telkom’s executive for economic regulation, Izaak Coetzee, says consumers and competitors must realise that line rental represents a loss for the company and that Telkom offers line rental below cost and cross-subsidises the shortfall via call traffic.

    Coetzee says the financial impact of LLU on access providers depends on the type of LLU, the degree of cost recovery allowed and the level at which wholesale prices are set. Icasa needs to specify these variables if Telkom is to calculate accurately whether or not unbundling will benefit consumers.

    He also says that there is a misconception that as the copper network is already built no further investment is required. The cost of maintaining the ageing copper network shouldn’t be underestimated and needs to be factored into LLU discussions, he adds.
    Thamsanqa Kekana, Telkom’s senior legal advisor for regulatory affairs, says “Icasa claims to know more about the business of LLU than the operator”. He says Icasa claims LLU will increase broad-based penetration because Telkom’s network is underutilised, but that this is not necessarily the case.

    Kekana says Telkom wants Icasa to conduct a regulatory impact assessment before imposing either LLU, or any other regulations. He adds that SA’s low fixed-line penetration rates could result in LLU having an adverse impact on jobs and future investment in network infrastructure.

    “There are alternatives to LLU and Telkom is committed to work with government to achieve universal broadband access,” says Kekana. 

  • Two giants in the telecommunication industry in the country had their main offices in Kumasi closed down by the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) for non-payment of taxes.

    The companies, Mobile Telecommunications Network (MTN) and Millicom Ghana Limited, operators of Tigo, had their offices located at Nyiaeso, Kumasi, locked up in the early hours of Tuesday, with the padlocks bearing the KMA seals.

    According to the Public Relations Officer (PRO) to the Mayor of Kumasi, Mr. Clement Kegeri, the two telecommunication giants owed a total of GH ¢626.011 for the period 2009 to date, as property taxes on their masts erected within the Kumasi Metropolis.

    He gave the breakdown as MTN GH ¢300,177 and Tigo GH ¢325,894. Mr. Kegeri said persistent attempts by the KMA to get the companies to honour their obligations had proved futile, as the companies were skeptical over the right of the KMA to collect property taxes from them.

    Acting on the Local Government Act 642, section 34, according to Mr. Kegeri, the KMA had no any other option than to close down the offices, saying until the last drop of the final cedi on the debt is paid, the KMA would not open the offices.

    He said section 34 of the Local Government Act empowers the assemblies to charge fees and rates on properties within their localities, saying the same law also enjoins them to issue permits on properties before construction, and also charge fees and taxes on them.

    He, therefore, rubbished the claims by these telecommunication companies that the KMA could not charge them property taxes.

    The PRO further disclosed that the fee fixing resolution of the assembly had been gazetted by Parliament, and for that matter, their fees and rates were legitimate.

    He told journalists that the KMA, since 2009, had embarked on education on the need for companies and other property owners to honour their tax obligations, adding, "Sometime ago, this same exercise affected some radio stations in the metropolis."

    At the time pressmen were sent to the premises of MTN and TiGo, a few staff and customers were seen standing outside.

    On seeing the journalists, vehicles belonging to these companies hurriedly drove away from the premises to avoid the lens of cameras which were there to take photographs of the closed offices.

  • Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) insists that mobile phone users in the country will hit six million next year even as latest statics depict a decline in mobile penetration rate.

    According to the most recent statistics from RURA, the mobile penetration rate was 36.3 per cent in March this year but slid to 34.4 per cent in April before rising slightly to 36 per cent in May.

    The decline in mobile penetration rate, according to industry experts, is one of the effects of RURA's decision to revoke Rwandatel's mobile license.

    The RURA report indicates the combined active subscribers dropped by 46,824 users from 3,777,090 million in March to 3,730,226 users in May with April recording only 3,589,057 users.

    MTN remains the leading operator with 2,638,838 subscribers in March, 2,727,135 in April and 2,764,201 in May compared to Tigo's 742,861 subscribers in March, 861,922 in April and 966,065 by end of May.

    Despite the negative trend, RURA says it will not scale-down its ambitious target, saying they are still firm on to attaining their target.

    The regulator's Director General, Regis Gatarayiha, told Business Time that there was a drop after Rwandatel's mobile license was cancelled in March.

    "A month later, subscribers migrated to either operator (TIGO or MTN). We assume the missing figures were holding more than one SIM card of different operators then after they decided to stick to one operator," he explained.

    Gatarayiha noted the ambitious six million is difficult to meet with two operators but he remains upbeat about the heightened competition.

    "With three telecoms, we had anticipated each to attain two million users by 2012," he added.

    In January, the country had recorded a healthy growth in cell phone users with the country's three telecom operators adding some 1.2 million subscribers only in 2010.

    Mobile subscribers had clocked 3.6 million by January from 2.4 million in January 2010.

    Tigo Rwanda's Marketing Manager, Nina-Claudia Ndabaneze attributed the TIGO's growth to a combination of coverage expansion and product rollout all over the country, including new service centres leading to new user on its network.

    RURA figures indicate that MTN's subscriber base has only increased by 4.7 percent since March.

    In last year's budget, the government removed Value Added Tax (VAT) on mobile handsets and import duty on SIM cards to increase penetration of telecommunication services to the lower segments of the population. This decision aimed at boosting the country's mobile penetration rate.

  • Namibia has moved up in the ranking of most affordable mobile prepaid prices in Africa and currently offers the eighth cheapest price on the continent.

    Data released yesterday by Dr Christopher Stork of Research ICT Africa show Namibia's drastic jump from 22nd place in March to the top ten following MTC's recent price drop.

    An MTC subscriber in Namibia currently pays US$2,81 locally for a Low User Basket of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2006 definition), Stork said. This equates to 46 minutes and 33 SMSes in a month.

    Three months ago, the same basket in Namibia cost US$7,76.

    MTC Namibia recently launched a campaign where calls across networks cost 38 Namibian cents, including 100 free SMSes a day subject to recharging.

    "This reduces prices from N$1,50 per minute for Tango Per Second to 38 Namibia cents for example - a 75 per cent drop," Stork said.

    At the top of the African rankings currently is Egypt with US$1,54. Uganda is in tenth spot, charging US$2,94 for the OECD Low User Basket. South Africa is 40th on the ladder.

internet

  • Phase3 Telecom has entered into a pact with French INEO Energie Du Export for the expansion of communications network coverage from Benin Republic to Togo.

    According to Chief Executive Officer, Phase3 Telecom, Mr. Stanley Jegede this development is a fulfilment of his company's expansion plan for the sub-region through its West Africa One transmission network to cover all countries in the zone.

    Jegede explained that West Africa One network is an aerial optic fibre transmission system, which tends to run from Nigeria to different countries in West Africa providing physical telecommunications infrastructure link across countries.

    He also said that the network has been heavily supported by the West Africa Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (WATRA), described it as a massive boost towards its programme of providing affordable and reliable telecommunications link in the West Africa sub-region.

    Jegede said the decision to award the contract to INEO Energie Du Export was based on the track record of the firm in the area of optic fibre installation.

    "INEO Energie is the global leader when it comes to installation of power line infrastructure. We went through a very tedious process before We eventually settling for them. We are quite happy to have chosen them to help fulfil our efforts of providing the West Africa region with a robust telecommunications infrastructure that is second to none," he said.

    Jegede emphasised that the firm would continue to provide very high quality optic fibre connection running on electricity power transmission lines and will offer subscribers the latest technologies in the industry.

    "We have already showed the benefits of aerial optic fibre in Nigeria and its effectiveness in helping to ensure high quality communications services to customers. This is the sort of experience that we want to take across all of West Africa," he said.

    Jegede, whose firm runs the region's only aerial optic fiber network, added that given that Nigeria and indeed the West African region was still a developing, road construction and building of other infrastructure would be very frequent, leading to underground cables often being cut.

    As said by him, this situation highlights the need for a network that would not easily be affected by such developments, stressing that this is where the Phase3 aerial optic fiber network comes in especially as electricity power transmission networks often have dedicated routes by law.

    Jegede further said that with this would afford many operators to embrace aerial optic fiber use, as it provides a huge relief for them whenever the underground optic fibers fail.

    "In Nigeria today all the operators including those that have their own transmission networks have embraced Phase3's aerial optic services especially after they have seen the advantages that it offers them. We believe that even for those that may already have excess capacity, aerial optic fibre provides a very reliable backup and alternative," he said.

    Emphasising that this is in addition to the fact that there are certain areas of coverage of the Phase3 aerial optic fibre system which other terrestrial network are not designed to reach currently due to the countries road and highway network.

  • President Mwai Kibaki launched  last Friday a key website making Kenya the first country in sub Saharan Africa to offer loads of government data to its citizens.

    The government has released several large datasets, including the national census and statistics on government spending at national and county level to enhance transparency in governance and access to information.

    The data presented in user-friendly format is now available online via an open data portal.

    In an interview with Nation, Dr Ndemo said the website will be one of the first and largest government data portals in sub-Saharan Africa.

    "With the open data portal, such obstacles will be a thing of the past. Information is power and we are aiming to empower citizens by enhancing their access to usable data that was not accessible easily to the public," said Ministry of Information Permanent Secretary, Dr Bitange Ndemo.

    "For the first time, Kenyans will have information about their community at their fingertips allowing them to make informed decisions at a personal level--currently most decisions people make are not scientific since they are not based on data yet data is available but inaccessible," he added.

    The PS said the portal is part of an initiative of pushing local content to the Internet and to offer over 70,000 Kenyans who graduate from Kenyan colleges annually to manipulate the data for beneficial use.

    "By creating a knowledge society, you create a knowledge economy...we do not want to lag behind as we watch other countries releasing data to their people for profitable use...we have not even scratched the surface in terms of data, we are working on data centres, which was our last piece of infrastructure development," he said.

    The information on the portal is from published government data available from the ministries of Finance, Planning, Local Government, Health, Education and the Kenya National Bureaus of Statistics.

    According to Dr Ndemo, much of this information is also available at the World Bank and the United Nations thus it beats logic why it has not been openly availed to citizens.

    Dr Ndemo said globally, governments are adopting the concept of open data to reap benefits of a more informed citizenry.

    This, he said, would deter public servants and politicians from vices such as fraud that thrive in situations where secrecy and monopoly of information abounds.

    Dr Ndemo said data users will be able to create maps and other visualizations and directly download underlying data for their own uses.

    "Data is not information until it is converted to make sense to users...that is what we have done at the portal," Dr Nemo said.

    This has never happened before and it welcomes an era of openness where the citizen will be empowered to put leaders to account in the use and distribution of public resources.

    For instance it will now be near impossible to misuse public funds since all records pertaining spending shall be available online for citizens to scrutinise and ascertain if 'what is on the paper tallies with what is on the ground'.

    For decades, it has been the practice of some unscrupulous government officials to misuse public funds and misinform that the money has been spent to implement 'non-existent' projects.

    With the open data portal, constituents will track monies assigned on projects and point out discrepancies between expenditure reports and reality at the grassroot.

    Dr Ndemo said the Ministry of Information and Communications will give grants to support the development of innovative high-impact web and mobile applications to ensure useful and relevant applications are built.

    Through the Kenya ICT Board, the Ministry will make a Call for Proposals for ideas on how to use government data.

    The Call for Proposals is open from July 8 - August 8; the best proposals will receive $50,000 each (for companies) and $10,000 (for teams and individuals). At least 30 grants will be awarded in 2011.

    The portal is managed by the Kenya ICT Board in partnership with the World Bank and Socrata, a US-based developer and provider of Open Data Services that enable federal, state, and local governments to improve the reach, usability and social utility of their public information assets.

  • Internet users provided a list of service stations in SA that had fuel supply on Thursday. The page called #gotpetrol was started on popular social networking site Twitter by Andy Parks.

    The names of services stations with fuel, the street name and city were being tweeted since early morning hours. “Total garage William Nicol JHB near Sandton drive,” wrote Sarah Theron. “Just filled up at Caltex next to Bryanston Shopping Centre (just off Grosvenor). Looks like they only had 93 Unleaded,” said another, Jon Hoehler.

    Tweets were streaming through quickly from various parts of the country. Some users gave their views on the strike by fuel workers, while others cracked jokes about it. “Did u know jhb has a petrol station almost every 2kms … they missing one important thing wait I know FUEL,” tweeted Brenz2011.

    “The strikes have barely started and people already struggling to get petrol. Wonder how long this will last? Anyway, it spells chaos,” wrote Marynamoore.

    Earlier, the Fuel Retailers Association said at least 150 service stations in Gauteng and 50 in KwaZulu-Natal were without fuel by the close of business on Wednesday.

    Chief executive Reggie Sibiya said the strike had crippled the country and was “bleeding businesses”.

    Automobile Association spokesman Gary Ronald said the Twitter feed was useful and well thought out. He said fuel shortages were more widespread than initially anticipated, and spread faster than previous years.

    “I think what has happened now is that the contingency plans by the refineries have not worked as well as they thought they would.”

    This year, motorists listened to the warnings ahead of the strike and had rushed to top up their tanks for the weeks ahead, said Ronald. “If a lot of people did that, the demand of fuel would have increased and supply decreased, and now there is not enough supply available for everybody. This accelerated the shortages. But some stations had refuelled overnight.”

    The 70 000 fuel workers from the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood, and Allied Workers Union, the Allied Workers Union, and the General Industries Workers Union of SA downed tools on Monday, demanding a minimum salary of R6 000/month and a 40-hour working week.

computing

  • The centralised database system being put in place by the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA) for the entire insurance industry in the country is scheduled to go live during the current quarter of the year. The centralised database will be a repository of all the insurance industry data.

    Chairman, Information Technology Committee of NIA, Olawale Adedokun, who made this known in the committee's report to members of the association in Lagos recently, informed that the system is currently undergoing pilot test run.

    The insurance industry had in the last quarter of 2010 set out to develop and implement a centralised database system, which will be repository of all insurance policies underwritten by the insurance companies.

    Adedokun stated that "the centralised database system has since been developed and currently undergoing pilot test run. It is expected to go live within the third quarter of year 2011."

    He added that the project team set up with the mandate to evolve a framework for the implementation of the database solution has been able to produce documentations among which are "user requirement definition, RFP, project charter and implementation plan".

    Apart from serving as authentic repository of the Nigerian insurance industry data, the system is also intended to provide mechanisms for the verification of Insurance Certificates issued or presented as evidence of insurance for Motor and Marine at the first instance and then other classes of insurance.

    Besides, it is expected that the solution will help in providing qualitative analysis of industry performance and serve as source of historical data for benchmarking, while also enabling the financial information of NIA members to be rendered electronically for ease of analysis.

    By the time the centralised insurance database solution becomes fully operational, it is expected that it will help in eradicating fake insurances, minimise multiple fraudulent claims and most importantly provide authentic, qualitative and comprehensive data on insurance for national policy formulation.

    In the same vein, it is anticipated that the system will provide easy verification of all policies issued, improve proper collection of taxes on compulsory insurance transactions, facilitate recovery of stolen vehicles, as well as enhance transparency and accountability among stakeholders thereby restoring confidence in the insuring public.

    Chairman of NIA, Mr. Olusola Ladipo-Ajayi, confirmed that the insurance companies were required to send the data of their underwritten policies to the association, and that such data would be stored in its central database.

    He said, "It is only the things that are input into the database that you can make reference to. So, all the companies are now busy updating their data and sending them to NIA so that we can feed them into the central database. Whenever you need to make reference to it, what will come out from the database will match what your policy holder is carrying."

    The NIA, however, pointed out that the association would not kick-start the new system until it has been able to get it right.

  • The government has set aside some $700,000 (about Sh1 billion) to assist small entrepreneurs that can develop software and services for the country's Information and Communication Technology (ICT) market.

    Under the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (Costech) a programme called Dar Teknohama Business Incubator, has been established with the aim to stimulate growth of technology-based start-up companies in the country.

    "The key focus is to help young people to turn their brilliant ideas into business. There are university students who have already developed software that can offer solutions to corporate companies," the progamme chief executive officer George Mulamula told The Citizen in Dar es Salaam.

    He was attending the Dar es Salaam version of BarCamp, a platform for open discussions about the current state of the ICT industry that brought together technology developers, start-up enthusiasts and entrepreneurs within and outside Tanzania.

    "We hope the industry has great potential to contribute to poverty reduction and wealth creation of individuals and the nation as a whole."

    According to Mr Mulamula, the programme helps emerging companies to gain access to mentorship, training, shared space, professional assistance as well as assisting the entrepreneurs with contacts of potential institutions that can provide them with capital for their venture.

    The programme is partly-funded by World Bank's Information for Development (InfoDev), the government and also by the private sector.

    "We are looking to start up with about 15 both physical and virtual companies and about 25 pre-incubator individuals for this year," he said.

    However, according to him, to start with, the focus would be on ICT companies with a turnover of between $20,000 and $60,000.

    Also, under the programme, the beneficiaries will be empowered on issues pertaining to intellectual property with the view to protecting their innovations.

  • SA youth radio station YFM has launched YTV, a service that streams live video content of its studio. What sets the service apart is that the video feed is able to scale itself dynamically depending on the viewer’s bandwidth so there is no need for the visual feed to buffer.

    The project is the pilot site for technology developed by Immedia. Developed over three years in conjunction with the University of Cape Town and the CSIR, the software is called Adaptive Real Time Internet Streaming Technology (Artist) and the company hopes it will help bridge the gap between bandwidth supply and content demand.

    Inmedia director Bevan Andries says the benefit of Artist in the radio environment is that it adds “eyes to ears, faces to voices and the visual to the audible”.

    The service is only available on Windows for now, but YFM music and digital manager Mervyn Sigamoney says the station hopes to take the technology onto mobile platforms via iOS and Android applications in coming months, as well as to Apple desktops and laptops.

    Andries says the adaptable bitrate aspect of the technology means it is ideally suited “to developing markets like ours where bitrates vary vastly between users”. He says the technology is also good for the global mobile device industry because data networks are becoming increasingly congested. “All networks are experiencing increased congestion, and products like this should help to ease that.”

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • MTN Group Ltd. (MTN), Zambia’s second- largest mobile phone operator, said it plans to spend an extra $40 million expanding its operations in Zambia this year.

    “This will be in addition to the $220 million we have spent” so far, said Farhad Khan, head of the company’s Zambian unit, in an interview today in the capital, Lusaka.

    The money will be spent on an improving capacity and coverage, expansion of so-called third-generation, or 3G, services, and its business continuity and disaster recovery program, the company said in a separate statement.

    MTN, based in Johannesburg, is expanding in Zambia and had 2.2 million subscribers in the southern African nation as of June 30, making it the largest mobile operator after Airtel Zambia, a unit of India’s Bharti Airtel Ltd. (BHARTI)

    The South African company currently has 3G equipment at about 120, or 20 percent, of its second-generation sites in Zambia, it said. “This will be a substantial focus for us going forward to ensure that this number is increased, hopefully to 220-plus by end-2012,” it said.

  • After 10 months of speculation, Vox Telecom has finally confirmed that it’s going private. Assuming it gets the necessary approvals, the company will delist from the JSE after receiving a R500m acquisition offer from a consortium comprising Lereko Metier Trustees and Investec Bank.

    And in a surprise development, former Internet Solutions CEO Angus MacRobert will be appointed as co-CEO of Vox Telecom, alongside Doug Reed, its current CEO, provided the acquisition and delisting go ahead, which seems likely.

    Vox shareholders are being offered 45c/share or one share in a special purpose vehicle created by the members of the bidding consortium for every 10 Vox shares held. They may also elect to accept a combination of these two options.

    The proposed deal carries the support of 40,1% of existing shareholders and 53,4% of shareholders entitled to vote (RMB, Mvelaphanda and the IDC) and an application will be made to the JSE to terminate the company’s listing on AltX.

    The offer represents a premium of 23% to the 30-day volume weighted average price of Vox Telecom’s ordinary shares. The total value of the deal is R499m.

    “The independent board of Vox Telecom has considered the terms of the offer, and based on the information currently available to it, is unanimous in its support for the proposed transaction, subject to receiving a favourable opinion from KPMG, the independent advisor to Vox,” the company says in a statement.

    “Vox’s goal of raising capital through its AltX listing has not materialised as expected, mainly due to a lack of institutional investor support for small cap firms,” the company says. “With recent regulatory announcements providing more certainty for the telecommunications sector, Vox has started adjusting its business strategy so that it can continue to provide clients with compelling products and services. Delivering on this strategy is best achieved in an unlisted environment where management can focus on the business without distraction, particularly as there is potential for pressure on short term profitability.”

    The deal must still get shareholder approval as well as a nod from the JSE, the SA Reserve Bank, the Takeover Regulation Panel and the competition authorities.

  • Through all the North African uprisings and instability, Morocco has emerged as the most politically stable and therefore attractive market in North Africa for telecom investments, according to a new report from Pyramid Research.

    Morocco is expected to maintain a strong position when compared to other regional, Middle East and African, telecom markets. "Pyramid Research forecasts total revenue to increase by a 4.1% CAGR over the next five years, from a projected $4.47bn in 2010 to $5.47bn in 2015," indicates Hosn. "The mobile segment, comprised of voice and data, made up 71.6% of total revenue in 2010, a figure Pyramid Research expects to increase slightly over the forecast period, reaching 76.3% by 2015, thanks to tremendous growth in mobile broadband uptake and increased competition amongst the three mobile providers," he adds.

    "Through all the North African uprisings and instability, Morocco has emerged as the most politically stable and therefore attractive market in North Africa for investments," Hosn states. As the major players seem to have found their strategic partnerships, the smaller companies remain a deep well of possibilities and opportunities. The coming years will see strong growth in the three major players and with it will come evermore dependence from the smaller specialized service providers.

    "Whether it be VOIP providers, broadband Internet repackaging, or pay-TV installers, the smaller companies will be called to duty and therefore present a viable investment option for investors looking to capture a share of the projected $1.44bn data segment by 2015, or other promising indicators," he indicates.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Mobile phone operator, Essar Telecom has unveiled a new offer that allows its subscribers to make free on-net calls between 6am and 6pm, as the scramble for users intensifies in Kenya.

    - Airtel Tanzania Limited has extended its rural coverage by launching affordable communication services in Ruvuma Region in Tanzania.

    - Airtel Sierra Leone, the local mobile unit of Indian telecoms group Bharti Airtel, has expanded coverage of its wireless network to Sahn Malen in the Pujehun District in the south of Sierra Leone.

    - Orange Uganda has launched sub-Saharan Africa’s first HD voice service in Uganda. HD calls limit the interference of background sounds with noise reduction technology and eliminate the cracks and hisses.

    - Lars Reichelt, ex-CEO of Cell C  that the South African third mobile operator has covered over 60% of the South African population with their HSPA+ network.

    - Mobile web browser Opera has announced the launch of Opera 11.50 with language support for Swahili and Zulu.

    ­- Tigo Ghana lost nearly a million customers between February to June 2011, according to data from the National Communications Authority (NCA), as collected from the mobile networks. The data showed that Tigo's subscriber base dropped from 4.136 million in February to 3.223 million in June - a loss of 913,191 subscribers. Rival network Mtn gained just under 600,000 new customers, taking them to 8.967 million subscribers, while Vodafone gained 544,880 subscribers to take its base to 3.426 million. Expresso the only CDMA network in the country also lost 6,631 subscribers to end the period with 220,920 customers.

    - Ethiopia's monopoly mobile network, Ethio Telecom says that it has registered a remarkable increase in the number of mobile subscribers over the past weeks, and has now exceeded 10 million subscribers. The total customer base, including fixed line and internet subscribers now reaches 11.3 million.

Digital Content

  • Etisalat has partnered with smartphone company EMS to develop a new mobile application store for Blackberry customers. Launching initially in Tanzania where Etisalat operates under the name of Zantel, the move is a first for Sub Saharan Africa.

    The Zantel Blackberry app store will give customers access to a wide range of content including entertainment, games, Instant Messaging, social networking, news, weather and working tools such as word/ calendar.

    Mr. Essa Al Haddad, Group Chief Marketing Officer, Etisalat, said, "Zantel was well known in the Tanzanian for providing innovative products and services. Innovation is of prime importance when we select and develop strategic partnerships."

    "We will be encouraging young Tanzanian developers to design mobile applications that are exciting and engaging for our African customers. By sharing with them the latest in software development tools will can help grow local talent and provide new commercial opportunities for them," Al-Haddad added.

    Zantel Chief Commercial Officer, My Norman Moyo, said, "The Tanzanian and wider African market had a growing demand for BlackBerry applications. It's never been easier to develop applications for BlackBerry smartphones, and we look forward to seeing the rich catalogue of personal and business apps continue to grow."

    Mr. Babar Khan, EMS CEO, reinforced the partnership's potential to innovate and grow the Sub Saharan African market, and at the same time provide customers far greater choice and personal customization.

    Khan stated, "This will be a rich content experience for BlackBerry users. The portal will enable them browse for the apps and ringtones of their choice and download Tanzania-specific content such as the latest relevant news from trusted African publishers."

  • A new study on mobile telephone use among East African youth shows that they spend billions of shillings monthly on airtime purchase. The three week study by Kenyan based research firm Consumer Insight that covered 3,600 youth aged between 7-24 years shows that their monthly mobile airtime expenditure stands at $70 million monthly (Sh 6.3 billion). This totals to Sh75.6 billion annually.

    East Africa's leading mobile telephone company Safaricom realised a turnover of Sh94 billion in 2010. According to the study, Kenyan youth top the list with a monthly expenditure of $38 million (Sh3.4 billion), followed by Uganda and Tanzania at $20 million (Sh1.8 billion) and $12 million (Sh1.1 billion) respectively.

    The study further reveals that whereas there were no significant numbers of mobile lines amongst the youth in the region few years ago, the situation is now completely different with 52 percent of all East African youth claiming to have active sim cards (94 percent of those have handsets).

    Sixty two percent of these youths have one sim card and 23 percent have 2 sim cards. Eighty Eight percent of East Africa youth aged 20-24 are active sim card owners, followed by youth aged 13-19 and 7-12 at 45 percent and 6 percent respectively. Kenyan youth are the most active sim card owners (64 percent), followed by Uganda and Tanzania youths at 53 percent and 41 percent respectively. In this category, male lead at 55 percent, followed by female at 50 percent.

    According to the study, the major barrier for unconnected youth from acquiring a mobile phone is parental or institutional restriction, although cost of handset is still a barrier at less than 20 percent.

    The study also revealed that slightly over a third (35 percent) of all the youth in East Africa are connected to the internet, with chatting being the most dominant activity. More than half (68 percent) are on social networks, 90 percent of which are on Facebook and 17 percent on twitter. Kenyan youths are the most connected (49 percent), followed by Tanzanian and Ugandan youths at 30 percent and 26 percent respectively.

More

  • ­Nigerian CDMA network operator, Starcomms has announced that its CEO/Managing Director, Maher Qubain is stepping down from the company. The company also named Logan Pather as Acting CEO and Managing Director. Logan joined Starcomms in February 2011 in the capacity of Chief Operating Officer.

    - Lars Reichelt, the CEO of South Africa’s mobile operator Cell Cfor the past two-and-a-half years has resigned for personal reasons. Cell C’s board has already begun the process of looking for a new CEO, its chairman Simon Duffy says. Duffy, who will step in as acting CEO with immediate effect until a replacement for Reichelt has been found.

  • Digital Migration and Spectrum Policy Summit
    30 July- 1 August 2011, Nairobi, Kenya

    Conference convened by the ATU
    Summary: Convener:ATU/Sponsor
    For more information visit here:

    Mobile Entertainment Africa
    23 -24 August, 2011, Cape Town, South Africa

    From the team behind the Mobile Web in Africa series of events comes Mobile Entertainment Africa. Aiming to create a fantastic annual event which showcases the very latest information relating to maximising the entertainment opportunities on handheld devices, both from within Africa and further afield. Ticket subsidies are available for mobile start-ups and developers. For more information on Mobile Entertainment Africa, including the latest news and updates, visit here:
    or send an email to info@allamber.co.uk. 

    Connecting Rural Communities Africa Forum
    24 - 26 August, 2011, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, in conjunction with the Tanzanian Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology and the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority will be holding the sixth annual Connecting Rural Communities Africa Forum in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 24 – 26 August 2011. With a milieu of ICT organisations such as Ericsson and Helios Towers Nigeria, the event promises to be an engaging forum in identifying regulatory, technical, financial and social challenges in providing connectivity in Africa.
    For more information visit here:

    Nigeria Com
    September 20 - 21 September, 2011, Lagos, Nigeria

    For more information visit here:

    North Africa Com
    11 - 12 October, 2011, Tunis, Tunisia

    For more information visit here:

    CDN World Summit
    26 - 28 October 2011
    Hilton Hotel Paddington, London.

    The 3rd annual CDN World Summit promises to be the largest and most
    comprehensive CDN event ever.The full value chain is represented including content providers,broadcast operators, traditional and telco CDNs, represented by industry leaders such as; FilmFlex Movies, BT Wholesale and AT&T.
    For more information visit here:

    Africa Com
    November 9 - November 10, 2011, Cape Town, SA

    For more information visit here:

    World Telecom Summit 2011
    9–11 November, 2011, Singapore Marriott Hotel

    World Telecom Summit 2011 is the must-attend event of the year. Bringing together top level executives and key decision makers of preeminent telecommunications companies from around the world, this is the perfect opportunity to meet the who’s who of the telecommunications and mobile industry.  It is the summit that addresses the evolving needs of telecommunications and mobile community. Get up to date with the latest innovations and technological advancements in the industry and gain access to the minds of the movers and shakers of the industry.
    Take advantage of the Limited Early Bird Rates for Operator Pass!
    For more information please visit here:
    or contact Vivian at vivian.ho@olygen.com

  • Telcom Project Controller – South Africa
    Candidates of South African nationality preferred. Candidates should also have at least 5 years experience as a Project Controller in the Telecommunications industry (with a vendor/ operator in South Africa).

    SUMMARY
    Under general direction, responsible for the overall project management function, providing leadership, coordination and management activities; creates and maintains a uniform approach to project management and serve as a change agent for continuous improvement through improved/enhanced methodologies; applies project management knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques in supporting project leads and driving the development and application of project management methodology and culture.
    For further information or to apply click here:

  • Bharti Airtel and IBM - Africa
    India’s Bharti Airtel has inked its second large-scale deal with US-based vendor IBM in less than a year, with the operator announcing a ten-year deal under which IBM will provide IT solutions to Airtel employees across its 16 African subsidiaries. According to India’s Economic Times, Airtel has said that under the terms of the latest agreement between the two companies, IBM will provide services for its staff in both French and English, while also implementing and maintaining a standard operating environment, using state-of-the-art platforms, tools and management processes. Airtel expects the consolidation of its helpdesks to allow for increased cost savings and better efficiencies as the process for addressing IT operational issues is streamlined. No financial details of the deal have been disclosed. Commenting on the deal, Manoj Kohli, Bharti Airtel’s CEO (International), noted: ‘This agreement enables us to provide the best IT capabilities to our employees with a focus on making innovative mobile solutions available across Africa.’

Edition Française, 14 juillet 2011, No 162

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Editorial

  • Durant les six derniers mois, il n’y a pas eu de semaine sans un article sur les applications mobiles. Le lancement du kiosque de téléchargement d’Apple (l’ apps store d’Apple) en juillet 2008 a été un tournant de ce secteur qui aujourd’hui génère un chiffre d’affaires annuel mondial de plusieurs milliards de dollars US à travers des millions de téléchargements d’applications mobiles chaque jour. Balancing Act vient de publier un rapport intitulé « les applications mobiles en Afrique: quelles stratégies pour les applications mobiles payantes et gratuites ? » Le rapport analyse l’écosystème des applications mobiles en Afrique et fournit un cadre d’analyse permettant aux opérateurs mobiles africains ou toute autre organisation de décider de la stratégie à adopter en ce qui concerne les applications mobiles.

    Le rapport « les applications mobiles en Afrique: quelles stratégies pour les applications mobiles payantes et gratuites ? » est un document de 125 pages contenant 15 encadrés, 26 tableaux, 39 graphes et 2 cartes. Il est divisé en trois parties couvrant 1) les usagers mobiles, leurs portables et leur usage, 2) les développeurs et le contenu, 3) les plateformes de distribution et les stratégies de distribution.

    Selon Isabelle Gross, l’auteur du rapport, il y a suffisamment d’indicateurs aujourd’hui qui montrent que les smartphones vont aussi prendre une plus grande part de marché en Afrique. Des enquêtes sur les usages du téléphone mobile en Afrique montrent que les africains utilisent de plus en plus leur portable pour des activités qui ne sont pas liées à la téléphonie. Le taux de pénétration des smartphones en Afrique du Sud est prometteur et plus de pays africains vont lui emboîter le pas avec la baisse prévisible des prix des smartphones dans les deux ans à venir. La pyramide des portables qui dans certains pays africains comporte encore aujourd’hui plus de 80% de portables de base va changer dans les prochaines années – un changement du haut vers le bas avec un plus grand nombre de smartphones et de portables à fonctionnalités avancées. Le rapport fournit des prévisions quant au taux de pénétration des smartphones dans différents marchés africains. Aujourd’hui les combinés Nokia restent les portables préférés des africains mais avec l’accélération de la vitesse de pénétration des smartphones, le fabricant de portable perdra sa position de leader en faveur d’autres équipementiers. BlackBerry est aujourd’hui la marque préférée des jeunes en Afrique du Sud.

    Les pays africains avec une importante base d’abonnés mobiles et un taux de pénétration de smartphones en croissance présentent les meilleures chances pour les applications mobiles. Les smartphones poussent à la consommation d’applications mobiles et comme de plus en plus d’abonnés mobiles africains en auront un dans leur poche dans les années à venir, la problématique du contenu à leur offrir devient plus intéressante pour les développeurs locaux. Le rapport établit que les développeurs africains d’applications mobiles sont pour la plupart jeunes et diplômés. Le nombre de développeur de sexe masculin dépasse largement celui du sexe féminin. Il n’y a pas de chiffres sur leur nombre exact par pays mais nos estimations avancent un chiffre de 100 à 200 dans des petits pays africains et entre 2,000 et 3,000 dans les plus grands pays africains. « L’écosystème » des développeurs africains reste fragmenté mais de plus en plus d’initiatives sont lancées avec pour objectif de structurer le secteur et de soutenir financièrement les projets intéressants et les développeurs à talent. Le rapport révèle aussi quelles sont les applications mobiles susceptibles de générer le plus d’argent en Afrique et fait aussi des recommandations aux développeurs africains en terme de d’optimisation des revenus qu’ils peuvent escompter des différents kiosques de téléchargement disponibles aujourd’hui. Pour les développeurs locaux, il s’agit de savoir ce que les utilisateurs mobiles veulent et d’identifier les meilleurs moyens de leur fournir ce contenu.

    Les chiffres d’affaires réalisés par les principaux kiosques internationaux de téléchargement (l’apps store d’Apple, l’Android Market de Google, etc) sont bien tentants mais pour la plupart des opérateurs mobiles, il leur reste toujours à décider s’ils veulent juste devenir une « canalisation » acheminant le contenu vers le portable de leurs abonnés ou s’ils doivent s’impliquer dans la création et la fourniture de contenus pour leurs abonnés pour avoir une part des ces revenus. Les opérateurs mobiles africains et en particulier ceux qui ont lancé des services 3G sont confrontés au même dilemme. Le rapport détaille « l’écosystème » des plateformes de distribution  et évolue le niveau de disruption que ces plateformes ont causé en Afrique. Plusieurs opérateurs mobiles africains envisagent de lancer leur propre kiosque de téléchargement d’applications mobiles (comme par exemple Safaricom au Kenya et MTN en Afrique du Sud) mais jusqu’à présent seulement trois opérateurs mobiles ont annoncé officiellement le lancement de leur kiosque. Il s’agit de Tunisiana et d’Orange en Tunisie et tout récemment de Zantel en Tanzanie. Le rapport évalue aussi comment la croissance des kiosques internationaux va affecter les opérateurs africains et quels sont les changements dans la distribution d’applications mobiles qui pourraient bénéficier au continent. Le rapport fait 8 recommandations qui seront susceptibles d’aider les opérateurs mobiles africains à identifier les éléments à considérer pour développer et lancer leur propre kiosque. Ces recommandations sont basées sur l’analyse des kiosques de téléchargement lancés par certains opérateurs mobiles dans des pays émergeants. Le rapport conclut sur une analyse commerciale détaillée du lancement d’un kiosque de téléchargement en Afrique avec des prévisions sur le chiffre d’affaire dérivé des applications mobiles payantes, les revenus data générés par le téléchargement des applications mobiles et les revenus additionnels issus de la publicité et des achats réalisés au travers des applications mobiles.

  • Depuis près d'un mois, les populations du Burkina Faso connaissent régulièrement des coupures tant sur les réseaux de téléphonie fixe et mobile, qu'au niveau de l'internet. Des actes de vandalisme sur les installations de l'Office national de télécommunication (Onatel) sont à l'origine de ces désagréments. Une visite de terrain conduite par les techniciens de l'Office, suivie d'une conférence de presse animée par le directeur général de la société, Mohamed Morchid, ont permis aux hommes de presse de mesurer l'importance des dégâts commis par les criminels des télécommunications.

    Le premier site visité est situé à Somgandé, un quartier de Ouagadougou. Le spectacle est surprenant. Là les installations de l'Onatel, ont été forcées, des câbles de connexion sectionnés et emportés par des délinquants. Cet acte de vandalisme a privé près de 400 abonnés de la zone de Somgandé de téléphone fixe et d'internet à connexion filaire. Le scénario est le même à Sanyiri, et à la Zone 1, des quartiers de la capitale, où les installations techniques de la nationale des télécommunications ont été cambriolées. Au niveau du grand pont de Boulmiougou, c'est la fibre optique, qui transporte les connexions téléphoniques et internet de la Côte d'Ivoire, du Bénin et du Sénégal (pays d'approvisionnement) vers le Burkina, qui a été sectionnée. Conséquence les villes du Faso et principalement sa capitale Ouagadougou, ont été coupées du jus pendant plusieurs jours.

    La principale motivation des sabotent des installations de l'Onatel demeure la recherche du cuivre qu'ils monnaient. Selon les responsables de la société, de 2007 à 2010, la société a subi 227 attaques. Dans le premier semestre de 2011, 202 attaques dont 99 au seul mois d'avril, ont été perpétrées contre les installations de l'Onatel. Au total 4800 abonnés ont été privés de connexion après le sabotage du 20 au 27 juin 2011.

    Ces actes de vandalisme coûtent énormément chers à la société. Pour son directeur général, ces attaques ont provoqué un manque à gagner d'environ 1,5 milliard de francs CFA pour l'Onatel en 2010. «La situation risque d'être pire cette année si les vandalismes contre nos installations se poursuivent», a indiqué Mohamed Morchid. Les investissements pour la réparation des dégâts empêchent la société, de l'avis de ses responsables, de se développer. «Nous passons notre temps à réparer les installations victimes de sabotage. Ce qui fait que nous n'arrivons pas développer nos installations», a déploré le directeur général.

    Pour sécuriser les installations, les responsables de l'Onatel ont déjà engagé des vigiles positionnés en des endroits bien précis de la ville. Ils comptent également créer un numéro vert par lequel, les populations pourront alerter les employés sur d'éventuels comportements suspects. Ils entendent également renforcer leur coopération avec la gendarmerie et la police afin de mettre la main sur les bandits. Pour l'instant, le sabotage des installations demeure le gros problème à résoudre pour l'Onatel.

    Fasozine
  • Dans la nuit du samedi à dimanche 3 juillet 2011, des cas de vols et de cambriolage ont été enregistrés dans plusieurs bureaux de la société des télécommunications guinéennes (Sotelgui) et du département des télécommunications et des nouvelles technologies de l'information, a constaté Aminata.com.

    A la Sotelgui, ce sont les départements du système de protection du réseau, de l'énergie, de gestion des risques, de la planification, de la distribution des factures et du service réclamation clientèle qui ont été visités par les malfaiteurs. Soit un total sept bureaux.

    Des portes défoncées, des bureaux éventrés, des tiroirs et des armoires cassés, sont les traces laissées des voleurs qui, par endroit ont éparpillé des dossiers à même le sol, apparemment sans rien y toucher.

    Sur la liste des biens emportés à la Sotelgui, figurent des ordinateurs de bureau et des portables, des câbles, des caisses à outils, des extincteurs, de l'argent, des imperméables, des cartes de recharge pour une valeur d'un million cent mille.

    Une opération qui laisse les travailleurs dans une atmosphère peu ordinaire. Chacun se demandant sur le mobile du vol et surtout de l'identité et des complices des malfaiteurs. Cet endroit placé sous la haute surveillance d'un poste de gendarmerie, appuyée par des vigiles.

    A la direction nationale des nouvelles technologies de l'information, située dans les locaux de l'ARPT, ce sont quatre bureaux aux portes métalliques qui ont été cassés avec une rare cruauté.

    Ce qui fait dire à la directrice nationale, Salematou Condé, encore sous le choc au moment où nous passions, que c'est « plus qu'un vol, c'est un acte criminel ». dans ce service, ils sont nombreux à penser de sabotage.

    Tout comme à la Sotelgui, à la direction nationale des NTIC, les enquêtes sont ouvertes pour tenter d'identifier les auteurs et leurs complices. En attendant, au moins six suspects seraient entendus pour les besoins de la cause. Nous y reviendrons.

    A rappeler que ce vol a lieu au moment où l'on parle des opérations d'audit et de contrôle interne qui ont permis de détecter certains fraudeurs sur le trafic international par l'ARPT.

    Aminata
  • Les travaux de la deuxième réunion préparatoire du Groupe Afrique en prévision de la Conférence mondiale de radiocommunications, qui aura lieu en janvier 2012 à Genève, ont débuté hier au Kiffan Club (Bordj El Kiffan, Alger-Est).

    Sur les 54, 34 pays africains ont répondu présent à cet important rendez-vous dont l’objectif, insiste-t-on, est d’harmoniser les positions de ces pays avant d’aller à la Conférence de Genève. «Pour ce rendez-vous d’Alger, le groupe africain est dans les meilleures conditions pour réussir ce challenge qu’est l’harmonisation des positions. Dois-je rappeler que, fort de ses 54 pays, soit 27% des voix, le groupe africain influe fortement sur la prise de décision lors des travaux du CMR-12», souligne Moussa Benhamadi, ministre de la Poste et des Technologies de l’information et de la communication, dans son discours d’ouverture. Dans la foulée, M. Benhamadi s’est appesanti sur l’importance des investissements consentis dans le cadre de l’ambitieux programme e-Algérie afin de s’arrimer au train du progrès technologique. «Ces investissements portent sur une modernisation des infrastructures de télécommunication et nécessitent un effort national d’adaptation judicieuse de nos besoins en fréquences en s’inscrivant dans la tendance mondiale.

    C’est certainement à ce prix que l’on pourra engager des projets portant sur la téléphonie mobile, notamment la 3G et 4G, ainsi que l’internet à haut et très haut débit», a-t-il indiqué en adjoignant à ce package la télévision numérique. De son côté, Abdelkader Messahel, ministre délégué aux Affaires maghrébines et africaines qui était présent à la cérémonie inaugurale, dira : «Je ne suis pas un spécialiste des télécommunications mais je suis très attaché aux questions africaines et à la coordination de nos positions.» «Nous sortons d’un grand sommet où les chefs d’Etat africains ont réitéré leur volonté de coordination et d’harmonisation des positions africaines dans tous les grands événements qui touchent notre planète», a-t-il ajouté. Rappelant à son tour les enjeux cruciaux de cette réunion préparatoire, il a passé en revue quelques thèmes qu’il estime pertinents pour la réussite de ces consultations. Parmi ces sujets d’importance : l’obtention de nouvelles fréquences. «Il est évident que nous allons vers une forme de saturation et il est juste d’aspirer à une répartition équitable des fréquences pour l’Afrique, tant celles-ci constituent un élément-clé de la diffusion des messages», plaide-t-il. M. Messahel n’a pas manqué de glisser un mot, au passage, sur le sempiternel litige lié au brouillage des ondes «et les auditeurs algérois en savent quelque chose…».

    Enfin, le «Monsieur Afrique» de la diplomatie algérienne a mis l’accent sur la «fracture numérique» qui creuse l’écart technologique entre le Nord et le Sud en appelant vivement à la réduction de cette fracture avec le soutien de l’Union internationale des télécommunications (UIT).
    Justement, l’un de ses représentants était dans la salle en la personne de François Rancy, directeur du bureau des radiocommunications au sein de l’UIT. Invité à dire quelques mots, M. Rancy a salué ces assises en déclarant : «Le travail que vous allez réaliser durant ces quatre jours est fondamental.» «Le rôle des groupes régionaux est précieux dans la mesure où cela nous permet de confronter six groupes au lieu de 200 pays.»
    Ainsi, jusqu’au jeudi 14 juillet, les experts en télécoms du continent ont toute latitude d’affiner les positions exprimées au cours de la réunion précédente qui s’est tenue, rappelle-t-on, à Abuja (Nigeria) du 1er au 3 février 2011.

    El Watan
  • Coopération. « Nous avons fait appel à une coopération internationale pour améliorer d'une manière durable l'environnement des TIC. C'est la raison de l'arrivée à Madagascar de l'expert de l'UIT, Jean Jacques Massima-Landji, chef de bureau de liaison de l'UIT à Yaoundé, pour une assistance technique », a informé Augustin Andriamananoro, lors d'une visite de courtoisie de l'UIT au ministère des Affaires Etrangères à Anosy, hier.

    Notons que l'UIT est une institution spécialisée des Nations Unies pour les technologies de l'information et de la communication. Ayant son siège à Genève, en Suisse, elle compte 192 Etats membres et plus de 700 membres de secteurs et associés.

    Réingénierie. L'OMERT a annoncé qu'il lance un programme pour renforcer et améliorer la qualité de ses services. D'après les représentants de cette organisation, ce programme vise un renforcement de capacité des cadres, un appui institutionnel stimulant la croissance du secteur, une réorganisation appuyée par une reformulation de la stratégie d'ensemble de l'entité et une stratégie de communication au service d'une redynamisation en profondeur des services fournis par l'OMERT.

    Schéma directeur. La mission de l'expert de l'UIT a commencé hier et ne se terminera que vers la fin de la semaine. En effet, selon Augustin Andriamananoro de l'OMERT, un schéma directeur sera élaboré, après la consultation des acteurs concernés par les NTIC, de l'Etat, et des opérateurs du secteur privé.

    Pour sa part, l'expert Jean-Jacques Massima-Landji de l'UIT a noté que son objectif est de mettre un cadre convenable afin de rendre l'environnement propice aux activités. « Nous ne sommes pas en concurrence avec les opérateurs.

    Nous voulons plutôt mettre à la disposition des Malgaches les outils favorisant la formation des PMI et des PME. Un schéma directeur sera élaboré et sa validation attirera certainement les bailleurs de fonds », a-t-il expliqué.

    En outre, il a précisé qu'il n'y a plus question de passerelle unique actuellement car Madagascar dispose de deux câbles de fibre optique sous-marins. Avec le réseau satellitaire, il faut parler de passerelle multiple, a-t-il conclu.

  • Les travaux d'installation de la boucle optique urbaine de Douala ont été lancés officiellement vendredi dernier par le Minpostel. Ils s'achèvent en octobre. « On semble ne pas s'en rendre compte, mais c'est une révolution qui est en train de se produire dans le domaine des télécommunications ».

    Cette confidence du représentant d'une entreprise de services Internet récemment installée au Cameroun édifie mieux, sur les retombées prochaines de la boucle optique urbaine en cours d'installation à Douala.

    C'est même une « smart city » qui va naître ici, la toute première du Cameroun, selon le ministre des Postes et télécommunications, Jean-Pierre Biyiti bi Essam.

    « En dotant Douala de la première boucle optique, le gouvernement entend affermir et consolider le rôle et la place de Douala comme porte d'entrée du Cameroun, mieux, comme hub de l'Afrique centrale.

    Les populations de Douala bénéficieront des dernières avancées de la société de l'information, parce que la boucle optique ouvre en effet la porte à la Smart Society », a affirmé le Minpostel.

    Pour Biyiti bi Essam, cette boucle optique fait partie des projets structurants à installer de toute urgence et s'inscrit dans le cadre de la mise en oeuvre d'un vaste programme de maillage complet du territoire national.

    Au 1er juillet d'ailleurs, le ministre a révélé que le Cameroun dispose d'un linéaire posé en fibre optique de plus de 5000 km, constitué entre autres la pose d'un linéaire de 3200 kilomètres lancée à Kye-Ossi en 2009, (où 3000 km sont déjà effectifs). La préparation de la réception à Kousseri, du chantier est en cours.

    En rappel, le long du tracé du pipeline Tchad-Cameroun, l'infrastructure à fibre optique avait déjà été posée, qui constitue l'épine dorsale du projet Central Africa Backbone (CAB). D'autres initiatives sont en cours dans ce domaine.

    Pour ce qui est de Douala, il s'agit de construire 50 km de boucle en fibre optique, dont 20 kilomètres sur de nouvelles tranchées, et 30 kilomètres sur les canalisations existantes. Les travaux, d'une valeur de 3 milliards 125 millions de Fcfa seront effectués par le groupement Huawei Technologies et Avilyos.

    La maîtrise d'oeuvre est assurée par Maas Telecom Corporation. Après Douala, chaque capitale régionale sera dotée de sa boucle optique. Et on annonce pour bientôt, le tour de Yaoundé.

     «Les travaux permettront, selon Raphael Nlend directeur de la Planification et du développement des Postes et télécommunications, d'interconnecter les administrations à haut débit, la e-governance ; Internet haut débit pour les ménages et les entreprises et d'autres services, tels que la vidéoconférence, etc. ».

    Lors de l'installation de cette boucle optique, il sera aussi question d'effectuer des travaux spéciaux, en vue de marquer une séparation nette avec les autres réseaux tels que Camwater.

    « Si tout se passe bien, le projet finira en fin septembre et le 7 octobre, on pourra le réceptionner », assure-t-on au Minpostel. Et pour boucler la boucle, c'est un Biyiti bi Essam triomphateur qui dira : « On ne viendra pas vous dire, mais vous verrez les bienfaits de la boucle optique qui sera installée ».

    Le Potentiel
  • L'internet est en passe d'être disponible gratuitement partout à travers l'île grâce à l'installation de zones wifi. Ce projet concernera néanmoins, dans un premier temps, certaines petites zones.

    Un projet pilote sera d'abord lancé dans les municipalités, les districts councils ainsi que les centres communautaires. « Cela nous permettra de déterminer les failles, et si tout va dans la bonne direction, nous établirons les zones wifi, partout à travers l'île », déclare un responsable du projet à lexpress.mu. Le projet pilote devrait normalement être lancé dans trois mois.

    Par la suite, ce sont les gares routières, les plages ou encore les centres commerciaux, en l'occurrence tous les endroits où il y a une forte affluence, qui capteront l'internet. « Ces zones wifi distribueront l'internet sur une région d'un peu plus d'un kilomètre à la ronde », explique un officier du National Computer Board (NCB)

    Ainsi, il sera désormais possible de consulter les mails et de surfer sur le net partout à travers l'île, à n'importe quelle heure, sans débourser le moindre sou, par le truchement de son téléphone mobile ou son ordinateur portable. « Nous précisons aussi qu'il y aura néanmoins des restrictions dans l'utilisation du wiki : il ne sera pas possible, par exemple, de télécharger à volonté », poursuit-il.

    « Ce projet s'inscrit dans le cadre de la démocratisation de l'internet. Avec ce projet, nous ciblons principalement les personnes qui n'arrivent toujours pas à avoir accès à l'internet. L'internet est en passe de devenir un droit.

    Etant donné que Maurice est un petit pays, il nous est donc pas difficile d'établir des zones wifi, partout à travers l'île », avance un haut fonctionnaire du ministère des TIC. Ce projet, attend d'être entériné par le Conseil des Ministres.

    L’Express
  • Le débat sur le ticket présidentiel et les émeutes de l'électricité sont été les principaux sujets de recherche sur internet au Sénégal durant le mois de juin, indique un communiqué de Google Sénégal transmis à l'APS.

    Ces résultats ont été obtenus grâce à l'outil de recherche Google Insights ou zeitgeist qui permet d'avoir des données et des tendances de recherche globale, régionale, indique Google Sénégal.

    Selon cet outil, la radio RFM et la télé TFM (Groupe Futurs Médias) ont occupé durant le mois de juin les deux premières places du TOP 10 des recherches mensuelles au Sénégal sur Google.

    Les portails internet Seneweb (4e), Leral.net (9e) et Rewmi (10e) sont aussi dans le Top 10, selon Google Sénégal qui précise que "pour le mois de juin, les internautes sénégalais se sont principalement intéressés à l'information avec le débat sur le ticket présidentiel et les émeutes de l'électricité".

    "Ce top 10 confirme aussi la tendance des Sénégalais à aller de plus en plus sur Internet pour s'informer", souligne le même document.

    Facebook caracole toujours en tête des "recherches les plus populaires" alors que Seneweb passe devant Google , Youtube et Hotmail, indique le communiqué.

    Tiré de l'Allemand, "Zeitgeist", qui signifie air du temps, a été utilisé par Google pour "définir les grandes lignes des millions de recherches effectuées sur Google chaque année", explique le communiqué.

    APS
  • Nairobi a lancé ce vendredi 8 juillet la «Kenya Open Data Initiative» qui rend public et accessible à tous des importantes bases de données statistiques du gouvernement. Pour commencer, l’Etat kenyan a mis en ligne plus de 160 bases de données statistiques sur son portail dédié à l’Open Data. Un site web très design et simple d’usage où l’on retrouve les bases de données classées par thèmes (population, éducation, énergie, santé, pauvreté) et par comtés.

    Il est possible de télécharger les données aux formats «.PDF» mais aussi et surtout en «.CSV» et «.XLS». Ces derniers formats offrent une base de donnée «clean» et exploitable par les programmeurs qui vont pouvoir la «traiter» et transformer ces listes de statistiques imbitables en visualisation de données graphiques (cartes, graphiques, timeline…) compréhensibles par tous. Ces visualisations donnent du sens à ces informations statistiques et permettent un usage personnalisé grâce à la possibilité de jouer avec les données, de les croiser, de comparer les comtés entre eux, de choisir les paramètres que l’on souhaite visualiser…

    C’est la société Socrata, basée à Seattle, qui a conçue cette plateforme Open Data. Socrata est leader dans ce domaine et a notamment réalisé les plateformes sophistiquées du gouvernement américain. Dans un communiqué daté du 8 juillet, jour du lancement officiel, Socrata décrit la plateforme kenyanne comme «le projet Open Data le plus élaboré au monde».
    Pour le gouvernement kenyan, cette initiative innovante marque une volonté claire de s’engager vers plus de transparence et d’interactivité avec les citoyens en ouvrant les accès à ces bases de données. L’Open Data est une étape fondamentale vers une gouvernance 2.0 qui utilise notamment les outils collaboratifs du web pour bâtir une société plus ouverte et renforcer le lien avec les citoyens. Outre les services de géolocalisation des infrastructures publiques (santé, mairie, écoles…), les citoyens peuvent ainsi exercer leur droit de regard «actif» sur les dépenses publiques, la traçabilité de l’usage de leurs impôts, la gestion des ressources naturelles, veiller à l’application concrète des politiques annoncées…

    «En ouvrant au public ces données statistiques, le gouvernement kenyan attend des citoyens qu’ils aident et qu’ils contribuent à utiliser ces données pour le développement», a déclaré le ministre de l’Information et des Communications, Samuel Poghisio, lors de la cérémonie de lancement en présence du président Mwai Kibaki. Son Premier secrétaire, Bitange Ndemo a annoncé que le gouvernement kenyan est disposé à rendre public encore plus de données statistiques. Selon Bitange Ndemo, cette politique de l’Open Data va également permettre de booster l’écosystème web kenyan avec le développement d’applications mobiles basées sur ces données statistiques. Pour Nairobi, l’impact de cette ouverture devrait avoir une retombée économique certaine avec un secteur ICT qui représentera à court-terme 15% du PIB contre près de 10% aujourd’hui.

    C’est à Nairobi que le mouvement Tech africain est le plus développé en Afrique avec des acteurs influents tels que Ory Okolloh, devenue directrice de la stratégie de Google en Afrique, le pionnier Erik Hersman qui a fondé le pôle technologique iHub à Nairobi, le brillant programmeur David Kobia d’Ushahidi… Ces jeunes geeks sont devenus des personnages incontournables du développement socio-économique grâce à un usage maîtrisé des nouvelles technologies. Ils sont aussi des cyber-activistes pro-démocratiques qui militent pour plus de transparence et l’Open Data. Ushahidi mais aussi les programmeurs de iHub, ont travaillé sur ce projet en partenariat avec la Banque Mondiale et le gouvernement kenyan qui a débloqué un budget afin de soutenir la programmation d’applications et de logiciels autour de ces bases de données.

    Ce service Open Data révolutionne la gouvernance de Nairobi et confirme l’avance technologique du Kenya. Même si le Maroc est le premier Etat africain à avoir lancé un portail Open Data  en mai dernier (seulement 24 bases de données publiques), le projet kenyan, à peine lancé, s’impose déjà comme un modèle politique et technologique visionnaire en Afrique.

    Slate Afrique
  • Placé sous la tutelle du ministère de la Poste et des technologies de l'information, par décret n°2011-118 du 22 juin 2011, portant attribution des membres du gouvernement, le Village des technologies de l'information et de la biotechnologie (Vitib) a reçu la visite du ministre Koné Nabagné Bruno, le vendredi 1er juillet dernier.

    Au cours de la réunion de prise de contact qu'il a eue avec les premiers dirigeants de l'entreprises, le ministre Koné Nabagne Bruno a exprimé son regret de constater que cet important outil de développement n'ait pas pu réaliser de résultats probants après quatre ans d'existence.

    Cependant, il a indiqué avoir confiance en l'avenir du Vitib pour jouer pleinement ce rôle de pôle de développement qui lui a été assigné. «Tout est réuni actuellement pour en faire une véritable vitrine des TIC en Côte d'Ivoire (...) Il faut se donner les moyens pour aller de l'avant», a déclaré Koné Bruno.

    Zone franche spécialisée dans les technologies de l'information et de la communication et la biotechnologie, Vitib a commencé ses activités en 2008. Il cristallise les ambitions du gouvernement de faire de la Côte d'Ivoire une plaque tournante des technologies de pointe dans la sous-région et en Afrique.

    Potentiel bassin d'emplois, Vitib a également pour rôle de promouvoir l'exportation, réduire la fracture numérique, d'attirer les investissements directs, de promouvoir le transfert des technologies et favoriser la création de Pme nationales performantes ainsi que la recherche appliquée.

    Depuis le début de ses activités, une cinquantaine d'entreprises ont reçu leur agrément. La dernière en date est France Télécom à travers sa filiale Orange Côte d'Ivoire qui prévoit d'installer à Grand-Bassam un centre de Recherche et développement.

  • Le ministre de la Technologie de l'Information et de la Communication (TIC) annonce que l'ICT Academy accueillera ses premiers étudiants à partir du mois d'août. Le Conseil des ministres a approuvé le projet, ce vendredi 8 juillet.

    Un centre de formation dédié uniquement aux professionnels du secteur des TIC. C'est ce que prévoit le ministre Pillay Chedumbrum, pour ce centre de formation qui démarre ses opérations en août de cette année. Il l'a annoncé ce vendredi 8 juillet, lors de l'inauguration des nouveaux locaux d'Accenture Information Technology situés, à Ebène.

    « L'industrie des TIC dans le contexte global a besoin de ressources humaines qualifiées et reconnues pour renforcer notre avantage concurrentiel et ainsi positionner l'île Maurice comme un leader dans la région africaine. L'ICT Academy répondra au manque de professionnels dans le domaine des TIC », affirme le ministre des TIC.

    Ce centre de formation se situera à Ebène mais une branche sera également implantée dans les locaux de la Mauritius Institute for Training and Development (MITD), à Phoenix. Le ministre explique que les formations seront très accessibles.

    « L'académie acceptera les élèves de la Form IV à monter. Les plus jeunes seront formés à la MITD tandis que les professionnels seront à Ebène », précise-t-il. Il ajoute que les cours seront assurés par des experts de ce secteur.

     « Les formateurs seront eux-mêmes formés. Nous comptons prendre des gens du secteur pour encadrer ceux qui souhaitent intégrer l'industrie ou qui veulent progresser dans le milieu des TIC », rajoute Tassarajen Pillay Chedumbrum.

    En ce qu'il s'agit des locaux d'Accenture ITO, les employés de cette entreprise occupaient l'immeuble depuis quelques mois déjà. Les 4 étages inaugurés ce vendredi 8 juillet comportent les espaces de travail, des salles de réunion équipées technologiquement et des lieux dédiés aux heures de pause.

    John Malepa, nouveau directeur du centre de développement technologique d'Accenture à Maurice déclare que « la démarche d'Accenture à Maurice s'inscrit dans la durée et qu'il souhaite continuer à poursuivre sa contribution au développement économique du pays ».

    L’Express
  • Selon un cabinet américain, le Maroc est le marché « le plus attractif» pour les investisseurs dans la région, notamment dans les télécommunications.

    Le secteur des télécommunications ne perd pas son attractivité pour les investisseurs étrangers, même s'il a connu depuis sa libéralisation en 1996 un essor remarquable. En fait, le développement de ce secteur présente encore une marge importante, notamment pour certains de ses segments, en particulier l'Internet et même la téléphonie mobile, qui semble saturée, dispose de plusieurs pistes et de créneaux à investir, tel que le contenu. Ce qui fait dire à un cabinet de consulting américain du nom de “Pyramid Research”, basé au Massachusetts, que le Maroc s'impose comme le marché «le plus attractif» et «le plus stable politiquement» pour les investisseurs dans la région de l'Afrique du Nord, notamment en ce qui concerne les télécommunications.

    Pour les analystes de ce cabinet, qui ont réalisé un rapport sur les secteurs des télécommunications, des médias et des technologies au Maroc, le Royaume gardera une «position solide» dans le secteur des télécommunications en Afrique et dans la région du Moyen-Orient. Ce qui se traduira par une amélioration des revenus globaux du secteur qui devront enregistrer, au cours des cinq prochaines années, selon le rapport, un taux de croissance annuel moyen de 4,1 %, en passant d'une projection de 4,47 milliards de dollars en 2010 à 5,47 milliards en 2015.

    En plus de la libéralisation du secteur des télécommunications, qui est la plus réussie au Maroc, cette attractivité est due également à la stabilité politique à toute épreuve du pays, comme le met en évidence la profonde mutation que connaît le pays actuellement et qui se passe plutôt dans le calme. Cet aspect a été également évoqué par le rapport du cabinet américain qui signale que «malgré la conjoncture que connaît l'Afrique du Nord, le Maroc se positionne en tant que marché le plus stable politiquement et, de ce fait, le plus attractif pour les investisseurs dans la région».
    À ce sujet, explique-t-on, les PME-PMI opérant dans le secteur des télécommunications au Maroc représentent un «large réservoir regorgeant de possibilités et d'opportunités» pour les investisseurs étrangers. Surtout que les prochaines années devront connaître, d'après le rapport, une forte croissance des opérations d'opérateurs du secteur.

    Ce qui ne manquera pas, selon les auteurs de ce rapport, de renforcer l'importance et le rôle des petits fournisseurs de services spécialisés et de les rendre davantage plus sollicités par les investisseurs étrangers.

    Il est à rappeler que plusieurs opérateurs télécoms et investisseurs étrangers ont investi le secteur depuis sa libéralisation. Il s'agit notamment de Vivendi (France) qui contrôle Maroc Telecom, France Telecom qui est actionnaire de Méditelecom, du consortium constitué d'Al Ajial Investment Fund Holding et de l'opérateur koweïtien “Zain” qui sont entrés dans le capital de l'opérateur marocain Wana…

    Les trois opérateurs marocains se livrent une concurrence intense. Ce qui se traduit par une certaine reconfiguration de la structure concurrentielle du secteur, avec des changements de positions ou des rapprochement entre ces opérateurs. Cette concurrence est acharnée notamment dans les segments de la téléphonie mobile et de l'Internet. Ainsi, on note une nette percée de Wana dans le GSM, grignotant des parts à l'opérateur historique qui, de son côté, reconquiert la première position sur le marché de l'Internet.

    Selon les dernières statistiques publiées par l'Agence nationale de réglementation des télécommunications (ANRT), relatives au premier trimestre de l'année en cours, le parc des abonnés au mobile a atteint 33.375.498, en hausse de 4,36% sur un trimestre. Ce qui fait passer le taux de pénétration du mobile à 104,78% à fin mars 2011 contre 101,49% à fin décembre 2010.
    La répartition des parts de marché entre les trois opérateurs montre que IAM détient 49,90% du parc mobile à fin mars 2011, suivi de Médi Telecom (33,32%) et Wana Corporate (16,78%). Le prépayé prédomine toujours avec une part de 96,02% contre 3,98% pour le post-payé.

    Le Maroc
  • Un responsable de la NCC salue les perfomances d'une société nigérianne de télécom - Le vice-président exécutif de la Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Eugène Juwah, a félicité la société nigériane de communication, Main one cable, pour son rôle de pionnier dans la fourniture de services de large bande en gros qui a  considérablement réduit la fracture numérique entre l'Afrique et le monde extérieur. «Je viens à Main One pour la première fois. Je dois dire que je suis vraiment impressionné par ce que j'ai vu ici", a-t-il déclaré à la presse.

    Main One est la première société disposant de câble sous-marin et offrant un accès ouvert et des services de large bande en gros en  Afrique de l'Ouest.

    Entièrement détenue par des Africains, elle envisage d'étendre la capacité nécessaire sur tout le continent en assurant une réduction des coûts de communication à haut débit à travers l'Afrique.

    «Je suis surtout impressionné par le fait qu'elle est gérée par des Nigérians depuis qu'elle a été mise sur pied. Je suis également impressionné par le fait qu'il n'y a pas eu d'interruption de service depuis un an", a déclaré M. Juwah.

    Pas moins de 40 opérateurs de télécommunications et fournisseurs de services Internet (FSI) au Nigeria et au Ghana sont abonnés aux services haut débit sur le réseau Main one.

  • Les responsables marketing du groupe Parabole ont annoncé que pour la première fois dans l'Océan Indien, Eurosport sera diffusé en Haute Définition sur la chaîne n°80 de Parabole.

    Selon eux, la demande évolue avec le temps et la technologie. « Dans les magasins, on vend de plus en plus de grands écrans plats. Mais le fait de les avoir ne servira à rien, si on ne dispose pas d'une bonne qualité d'image. Les gens veulent du sport avec des images à haute définition et nous avons décidé de les satisfaire.

    Ces abonnés de Parabole qui recevaient la chaîne Eurosport bénéficieront sans supplément de prix de l'Eurosport HD », a expliqué Zaona Rabetsitonta, directrice du marketing et de la communication de Parabole Madagascar.

    Plus régionale. Aujourd'hui, le marché de la haute définition est en plein essor. En outre, Eurosport fait partie du Top5 des chaînes les plus regardées du câble, du satellite et de l'ADSL en Métropole. En 2008, cette chaîne a été lancée en HD.

    Mais ce n'est qu'aujourd'hui qu'elle est disponible à la Réunion, à Maurice, à Mayotte et à Madagascar, via Parabole. Notons qu'après TF1 HD, l'Eurosport HD est la 2ème chaîne en haute définition offerte aux abonnés de Parabole.

    Par ailleurs Zaona Rabetsitonta a noté qu'en général, les offres du groupe Parabole se centre beaucoup plus sur les chaînes de la zone de l'Océan Indien, pour une adaptation aux besoins des 6,000 abonnés sur Madagascar.

  • Africa Web Summit
    17-18 septembre 2011, Brazaville, Congo

    Brazzaville sera au cœur de l’actualité des nouvelles technologies de l’information et de la communication en Afrique à travers un grand rendez-vous d’échange, d’apprentissage et de vulgarisation des nouveaux outils du domaine. Un panel d’experts de haut niveau provenant d’Europe, d’Amérique, d’Asie et d’Afrique procédera au développement des thématiques liées au secteur. Des sociétés spécialisées exposeront leurs œuvres et services web en marge du sommet.
    Pour plus d’informations visitez

  • - La dernière née des sociétés de téléphonie mobile exerçant en Côte d’Ivoire, GreeN, vient de procéder à un réaménagement à la tête de sa direction. Depuis vendredi, le nouveau patron se nomme Sylla Yaya. Il était, depuis janvier 2001, le directeur des ressources humaines (Drh). Et de 2008 à 2010, il était le chef de division des opérations de la société.

    - Patrick Benon quitte la direction générale de Bénin Télécoms pour rejoindre le groupe Orange. Urbain Fadegnon, actuel directeur général Adjoint est nommé par l'arrêté 2011 n° 138/MCTIC/DC/SGM/DRH/SGPSC, Directeur Général par intérim de la société Bénin Télécoms.

  • Appel d’offres pour le recrutement d’un cabinet chargé de réaliser un audit organisationnel et de fonctionnement de l’Autorité de Régulation Multisectorielle - Niger
    L’Autorité de Régulation Multisectorielle (ARM) lance le présent appel d’offres
    pour le recrutement d’un cabinet chargé de réaliser un audit organisationnel et de fonctionnement de l’Autorité de Régulation Multisectorielle.
    L’appel d’offres s’adresse aux cabinets dont la compétence est internationalement
    reconnue, disposant de l’expertise requise, justifiant d’une expérience en matière d’audit organisationnel et de fonctionnement d’une structure et d’une bonne connaissance des secteurs régulés par l’Autorité de Régulation Multisectorielle.

    Les consultants intéressés peuvent retirer le dossier d’appel d’offres auprès
    du secrétariat de l’Autorité de Régulation Multisectorielle, 64 Rue des bâtisseurs,
    BP 13 179 Niamey, Tél (00227) 20 73 90 08 / Fax (00227) 20 73 85 91.

    Les candidats répondant aux critères de soumission et d’éligibilité précisés
    dans les termes de référence devront déposer leurs offres au secrétariat de
    l’Autorité de Régulation Multisectorielle au plus tard le 16 août 2011 à 16
    heures.

    L’ouverture des plis se fera le même jour à 16 heures 30 minutes dans la salle
    de réunion de l’ARM en présence des représentants des soumissionnaires qui
    souhaitent y prendre part.

    Les soumissionnaires resteront engagés par leurs offres pour un délai de 90
    jours, à compter de la date de remise des offres. Par décision motivée, l’ARM
    se réserve le droit de ne donner aucune suite au présent appel d’offres.
    Pour télécharger l’appel d’offres cliquez ici.

Balancing Act "Dernières Nouvelles"-Edition Française, 14 juillet 2011, No 162

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Editorial

  • Durant les six derniers mois, il n’y a pas eu de semaine sans un article sur les applications mobiles. Le lancement du kiosque de téléchargement d’Apple (l’ apps store d’Apple) en juillet 2008 a été un tournant de ce secteur qui aujourd’hui génère un chiffre d’affaires annuel mondial de plusieurs milliards de dollars US à travers des millions de téléchargements d’applications mobiles chaque jour. Balancing Act vient de publier un rapport intitulé « les applications mobiles en Afrique: quelles stratégies pour les applications mobiles payantes et gratuites ? » Le rapport analyse l’écosystème des applications mobiles en Afrique et fournit un cadre d’analyse permettant aux opérateurs mobiles africains ou toute autre organisation de décider de la stratégie à adopter en ce qui concerne les applications mobiles.

    Le rapport « les applications mobiles en Afrique: quelles stratégies pour les applications mobiles payantes et gratuites ? » est un document de 125 pages contenant 15 encadrés, 26 tableaux, 39 graphes et 2 cartes. Il est divisé en trois parties couvrant 1) les usagers mobiles, leurs portables et leur usage, 2) les développeurs et le contenu, 3) les plateformes de distribution et les stratégies de distribution.

    Selon Isabelle Gross, l’auteur du rapport, il y a suffisamment d’indicateurs aujourd’hui qui montrent que les smartphones vont aussi prendre une plus grande part de marché en Afrique. Des enquêtes sur les usages du téléphone mobile en Afrique montrent que les africains utilisent de plus en plus leur portable pour des activités qui ne sont pas liées à la téléphonie. Le taux de pénétration des smartphones en Afrique du Sud est prometteur et plus de pays africains vont lui emboîter le pas avec la baisse prévisible des prix des smartphones dans les deux ans à venir. La pyramide des portables qui dans certains pays africains comporte encore aujourd’hui plus de 80% de portables de base va changer dans les prochaines années – un changement du haut vers le bas avec un plus grand nombre de smartphones et de portables à fonctionnalités avancées. Le rapport fournit des prévisions quant au taux de pénétration des smartphones dans différents marchés africains. Aujourd’hui les combinés Nokia restent les portables préférés des africains mais avec l’accélération de la vitesse de pénétration des smartphones, le fabricant de portable perdra sa position de leader en faveur d’autres équipementiers. BlackBerry est aujourd’hui la marque préférée des jeunes en Afrique du Sud.

    Les pays africains avec une importante base d’abonnés mobiles et un taux de pénétration de smartphones en croissance présentent les meilleures chances pour les applications mobiles. Les smartphones poussent à la consommation d’applications mobiles et comme de plus en plus d’abonnés mobiles africains en auront un dans leur poche dans les années à venir, la problématique du contenu à leur offrir devient plus intéressante pour les développeurs locaux. Le rapport établit que les développeurs africains d’applications mobiles sont pour la plupart jeunes et diplômés. Le nombre de développeur de sexe masculin dépasse largement celui du sexe féminin. Il n’y a pas de chiffres sur leur nombre exact par pays mais nos estimations avancent un chiffre de 100 à 200 dans des petits pays africains et entre 2,000 et 3,000 dans les plus grands pays africains. « L’écosystème » des développeurs africains reste fragmenté mais de plus en plus d’initiatives sont lancées avec pour objectif de structurer le secteur et de soutenir financièrement les projets intéressants et les développeurs à talent. Le rapport révèle aussi quelles sont les applications mobiles susceptibles de générer le plus d’argent en Afrique et fait aussi des recommandations aux développeurs africains en terme de d’optimisation des revenus qu’ils peuvent escompter des différents kiosques de téléchargement disponibles aujourd’hui. Pour les développeurs locaux, il s’agit de savoir ce que les utilisateurs mobiles veulent et d’identifier les meilleurs moyens de leur fournir ce contenu.

    Les chiffres d’affaires réalisés par les principaux kiosques internationaux de téléchargement (l’apps store d’Apple, l’Android Market de Google, etc) sont bien tentants mais pour la plupart des opérateurs mobiles, il leur reste toujours à décider s’ils veulent juste devenir une « canalisation » acheminant le contenu vers le portable de leurs abonnés ou s’ils doivent s’impliquer dans la création et la fourniture de contenus pour leurs abonnés pour avoir une part des ces revenus. Les opérateurs mobiles africains et en particulier ceux qui ont lancé des services 3G sont confrontés au même dilemme. Le rapport détaille « l’écosystème » des plateformes de distribution  et évolue le niveau de disruption que ces plateformes ont causé en Afrique. Plusieurs opérateurs mobiles africains envisagent de lancer leur propre kiosque de téléchargement d’applications mobiles (comme par exemple Safaricom au Kenya et MTN en Afrique du Sud) mais jusqu’à présent seulement trois opérateurs mobiles ont annoncé officiellement le lancement de leur kiosque. Il s’agit de Tunisiana et d’Orange en Tunisie et tout récemment de Zantel en Tanzanie. Le rapport évalue aussi comment la croissance des kiosques internationaux va affecter les opérateurs africains et quels sont les changements dans la distribution d’applications mobiles qui pourraient bénéficier au continent. Le rapport fait 8 recommandations qui seront susceptibles d’aider les opérateurs mobiles africains à identifier les éléments à considérer pour développer et lancer leur propre kiosque. Ces recommandations sont basées sur l’analyse des kiosques de téléchargement lancés par certains opérateurs mobiles dans des pays émergeants. Le rapport conclut sur une analyse commerciale détaillée du lancement d’un kiosque de téléchargement en Afrique avec des prévisions sur le chiffre d’affaire dérivé des applications mobiles payantes, les revenus data générés par le téléchargement des applications mobiles et les revenus additionnels issus de la publicité et des achats réalisés au travers des applications mobiles.

  • Depuis près d'un mois, les populations du Burkina Faso connaissent régulièrement des coupures tant sur les réseaux de téléphonie fixe et mobile, qu'au niveau de l'internet. Des actes de vandalisme sur les installations de l'Office national de télécommunication (Onatel) sont à l'origine de ces désagréments. Une visite de terrain conduite par les techniciens de l'Office, suivie d'une conférence de presse animée par le directeur général de la société, Mohamed Morchid, ont permis aux hommes de presse de mesurer l'importance des dégâts commis par les criminels des télécommunications.

    Le premier site visité est situé à Somgandé, un quartier de Ouagadougou. Le spectacle est surprenant. Là les installations de l'Onatel, ont été forcées, des câbles de connexion sectionnés et emportés par des délinquants. Cet acte de vandalisme a privé près de 400 abonnés de la zone de Somgandé de téléphone fixe et d'internet à connexion filaire. Le scénario est le même à Sanyiri, et à la Zone 1, des quartiers de la capitale, où les installations techniques de la nationale des télécommunications ont été cambriolées. Au niveau du grand pont de Boulmiougou, c'est la fibre optique, qui transporte les connexions téléphoniques et internet de la Côte d'Ivoire, du Bénin et du Sénégal (pays d'approvisionnement) vers le Burkina, qui a été sectionnée. Conséquence les villes du Faso et principalement sa capitale Ouagadougou, ont été coupées du jus pendant plusieurs jours.

    La principale motivation des sabotent des installations de l'Onatel demeure la recherche du cuivre qu'ils monnaient. Selon les responsables de la société, de 2007 à 2010, la société a subi 227 attaques. Dans le premier semestre de 2011, 202 attaques dont 99 au seul mois d'avril, ont été perpétrées contre les installations de l'Onatel. Au total 4800 abonnés ont été privés de connexion après le sabotage du 20 au 27 juin 2011.

    Ces actes de vandalisme coûtent énormément chers à la société. Pour son directeur général, ces attaques ont provoqué un manque à gagner d'environ 1,5 milliard de francs CFA pour l'Onatel en 2010. «La situation risque d'être pire cette année si les vandalismes contre nos installations se poursuivent», a indiqué Mohamed Morchid. Les investissements pour la réparation des dégâts empêchent la société, de l'avis de ses responsables, de se développer. «Nous passons notre temps à réparer les installations victimes de sabotage. Ce qui fait que nous n'arrivons pas développer nos installations», a déploré le directeur général.

    Pour sécuriser les installations, les responsables de l'Onatel ont déjà engagé des vigiles positionnés en des endroits bien précis de la ville. Ils comptent également créer un numéro vert par lequel, les populations pourront alerter les employés sur d'éventuels comportements suspects. Ils entendent également renforcer leur coopération avec la gendarmerie et la police afin de mettre la main sur les bandits. Pour l'instant, le sabotage des installations demeure le gros problème à résoudre pour l'Onatel.

    Fasozine
  • Dans la nuit du samedi à dimanche 3 juillet 2011, des cas de vols et de cambriolage ont été enregistrés dans plusieurs bureaux de la société des télécommunications guinéennes (Sotelgui) et du département des télécommunications et des nouvelles technologies de l'information, a constaté Aminata.com.

    A la Sotelgui, ce sont les départements du système de protection du réseau, de l'énergie, de gestion des risques, de la planification, de la distribution des factures et du service réclamation clientèle qui ont été visités par les malfaiteurs. Soit un total sept bureaux.

    Des portes défoncées, des bureaux éventrés, des tiroirs et des armoires cassés, sont les traces laissées des voleurs qui, par endroit ont éparpillé des dossiers à même le sol, apparemment sans rien y toucher.

    Sur la liste des biens emportés à la Sotelgui, figurent des ordinateurs de bureau et des portables, des câbles, des caisses à outils, des extincteurs, de l'argent, des imperméables, des cartes de recharge pour une valeur d'un million cent mille.

    Une opération qui laisse les travailleurs dans une atmosphère peu ordinaire. Chacun se demandant sur le mobile du vol et surtout de l'identité et des complices des malfaiteurs. Cet endroit placé sous la haute surveillance d'un poste de gendarmerie, appuyée par des vigiles.

    A la direction nationale des nouvelles technologies de l'information, située dans les locaux de l'ARPT, ce sont quatre bureaux aux portes métalliques qui ont été cassés avec une rare cruauté.

    Ce qui fait dire à la directrice nationale, Salematou Condé, encore sous le choc au moment où nous passions, que c'est « plus qu'un vol, c'est un acte criminel ». dans ce service, ils sont nombreux à penser de sabotage.

    Tout comme à la Sotelgui, à la direction nationale des NTIC, les enquêtes sont ouvertes pour tenter d'identifier les auteurs et leurs complices. En attendant, au moins six suspects seraient entendus pour les besoins de la cause. Nous y reviendrons.

    A rappeler que ce vol a lieu au moment où l'on parle des opérations d'audit et de contrôle interne qui ont permis de détecter certains fraudeurs sur le trafic international par l'ARPT.

    Aminata
  • Les travaux de la deuxième réunion préparatoire du Groupe Afrique en prévision de la Conférence mondiale de radiocommunications, qui aura lieu en janvier 2012 à Genève, ont débuté hier au Kiffan Club (Bordj El Kiffan, Alger-Est).

    Sur les 54, 34 pays africains ont répondu présent à cet important rendez-vous dont l’objectif, insiste-t-on, est d’harmoniser les positions de ces pays avant d’aller à la Conférence de Genève. «Pour ce rendez-vous d’Alger, le groupe africain est dans les meilleures conditions pour réussir ce challenge qu’est l’harmonisation des positions. Dois-je rappeler que, fort de ses 54 pays, soit 27% des voix, le groupe africain influe fortement sur la prise de décision lors des travaux du CMR-12», souligne Moussa Benhamadi, ministre de la Poste et des Technologies de l’information et de la communication, dans son discours d’ouverture. Dans la foulée, M. Benhamadi s’est appesanti sur l’importance des investissements consentis dans le cadre de l’ambitieux programme e-Algérie afin de s’arrimer au train du progrès technologique. «Ces investissements portent sur une modernisation des infrastructures de télécommunication et nécessitent un effort national d’adaptation judicieuse de nos besoins en fréquences en s’inscrivant dans la tendance mondiale.

    C’est certainement à ce prix que l’on pourra engager des projets portant sur la téléphonie mobile, notamment la 3G et 4G, ainsi que l’internet à haut et très haut débit», a-t-il indiqué en adjoignant à ce package la télévision numérique. De son côté, Abdelkader Messahel, ministre délégué aux Affaires maghrébines et africaines qui était présent à la cérémonie inaugurale, dira : «Je ne suis pas un spécialiste des télécommunications mais je suis très attaché aux questions africaines et à la coordination de nos positions.» «Nous sortons d’un grand sommet où les chefs d’Etat africains ont réitéré leur volonté de coordination et d’harmonisation des positions africaines dans tous les grands événements qui touchent notre planète», a-t-il ajouté. Rappelant à son tour les enjeux cruciaux de cette réunion préparatoire, il a passé en revue quelques thèmes qu’il estime pertinents pour la réussite de ces consultations. Parmi ces sujets d’importance : l’obtention de nouvelles fréquences. «Il est évident que nous allons vers une forme de saturation et il est juste d’aspirer à une répartition équitable des fréquences pour l’Afrique, tant celles-ci constituent un élément-clé de la diffusion des messages», plaide-t-il. M. Messahel n’a pas manqué de glisser un mot, au passage, sur le sempiternel litige lié au brouillage des ondes «et les auditeurs algérois en savent quelque chose…».

    Enfin, le «Monsieur Afrique» de la diplomatie algérienne a mis l’accent sur la «fracture numérique» qui creuse l’écart technologique entre le Nord et le Sud en appelant vivement à la réduction de cette fracture avec le soutien de l’Union internationale des télécommunications (UIT).
    Justement, l’un de ses représentants était dans la salle en la personne de François Rancy, directeur du bureau des radiocommunications au sein de l’UIT. Invité à dire quelques mots, M. Rancy a salué ces assises en déclarant : «Le travail que vous allez réaliser durant ces quatre jours est fondamental.» «Le rôle des groupes régionaux est précieux dans la mesure où cela nous permet de confronter six groupes au lieu de 200 pays.»
    Ainsi, jusqu’au jeudi 14 juillet, les experts en télécoms du continent ont toute latitude d’affiner les positions exprimées au cours de la réunion précédente qui s’est tenue, rappelle-t-on, à Abuja (Nigeria) du 1er au 3 février 2011.

    El Watan
  • Coopération. « Nous avons fait appel à une coopération internationale pour améliorer d'une manière durable l'environnement des TIC. C'est la raison de l'arrivée à Madagascar de l'expert de l'UIT, Jean Jacques Massima-Landji, chef de bureau de liaison de l'UIT à Yaoundé, pour une assistance technique », a informé Augustin Andriamananoro, lors d'une visite de courtoisie de l'UIT au ministère des Affaires Etrangères à Anosy, hier.

    Notons que l'UIT est une institution spécialisée des Nations Unies pour les technologies de l'information et de la communication. Ayant son siège à Genève, en Suisse, elle compte 192 Etats membres et plus de 700 membres de secteurs et associés.

    Réingénierie. L'OMERT a annoncé qu'il lance un programme pour renforcer et améliorer la qualité de ses services. D'après les représentants de cette organisation, ce programme vise un renforcement de capacité des cadres, un appui institutionnel stimulant la croissance du secteur, une réorganisation appuyée par une reformulation de la stratégie d'ensemble de l'entité et une stratégie de communication au service d'une redynamisation en profondeur des services fournis par l'OMERT.

    Schéma directeur. La mission de l'expert de l'UIT a commencé hier et ne se terminera que vers la fin de la semaine. En effet, selon Augustin Andriamananoro de l'OMERT, un schéma directeur sera élaboré, après la consultation des acteurs concernés par les NTIC, de l'Etat, et des opérateurs du secteur privé.

    Pour sa part, l'expert Jean-Jacques Massima-Landji de l'UIT a noté que son objectif est de mettre un cadre convenable afin de rendre l'environnement propice aux activités. « Nous ne sommes pas en concurrence avec les opérateurs.

    Nous voulons plutôt mettre à la disposition des Malgaches les outils favorisant la formation des PMI et des PME. Un schéma directeur sera élaboré et sa validation attirera certainement les bailleurs de fonds », a-t-il expliqué.

    En outre, il a précisé qu'il n'y a plus question de passerelle unique actuellement car Madagascar dispose de deux câbles de fibre optique sous-marins. Avec le réseau satellitaire, il faut parler de passerelle multiple, a-t-il conclu.

  • Les travaux d'installation de la boucle optique urbaine de Douala ont été lancés officiellement vendredi dernier par le Minpostel. Ils s'achèvent en octobre. « On semble ne pas s'en rendre compte, mais c'est une révolution qui est en train de se produire dans le domaine des télécommunications ».

    Cette confidence du représentant d'une entreprise de services Internet récemment installée au Cameroun édifie mieux, sur les retombées prochaines de la boucle optique urbaine en cours d'installation à Douala.

    C'est même une « smart city » qui va naître ici, la toute première du Cameroun, selon le ministre des Postes et télécommunications, Jean-Pierre Biyiti bi Essam.

    « En dotant Douala de la première boucle optique, le gouvernement entend affermir et consolider le rôle et la place de Douala comme porte d'entrée du Cameroun, mieux, comme hub de l'Afrique centrale.

    Les populations de Douala bénéficieront des dernières avancées de la société de l'information, parce que la boucle optique ouvre en effet la porte à la Smart Society », a affirmé le Minpostel.

    Pour Biyiti bi Essam, cette boucle optique fait partie des projets structurants à installer de toute urgence et s'inscrit dans le cadre de la mise en oeuvre d'un vaste programme de maillage complet du territoire national.

    Au 1er juillet d'ailleurs, le ministre a révélé que le Cameroun dispose d'un linéaire posé en fibre optique de plus de 5000 km, constitué entre autres la pose d'un linéaire de 3200 kilomètres lancée à Kye-Ossi en 2009, (où 3000 km sont déjà effectifs). La préparation de la réception à Kousseri, du chantier est en cours.

    En rappel, le long du tracé du pipeline Tchad-Cameroun, l'infrastructure à fibre optique avait déjà été posée, qui constitue l'épine dorsale du projet Central Africa Backbone (CAB). D'autres initiatives sont en cours dans ce domaine.

    Pour ce qui est de Douala, il s'agit de construire 50 km de boucle en fibre optique, dont 20 kilomètres sur de nouvelles tranchées, et 30 kilomètres sur les canalisations existantes. Les travaux, d'une valeur de 3 milliards 125 millions de Fcfa seront effectués par le groupement Huawei Technologies et Avilyos.

    La maîtrise d'oeuvre est assurée par Maas Telecom Corporation. Après Douala, chaque capitale régionale sera dotée de sa boucle optique. Et on annonce pour bientôt, le tour de Yaoundé.

     «Les travaux permettront, selon Raphael Nlend directeur de la Planification et du développement des Postes et télécommunications, d'interconnecter les administrations à haut débit, la e-governance ; Internet haut débit pour les ménages et les entreprises et d'autres services, tels que la vidéoconférence, etc. ».

    Lors de l'installation de cette boucle optique, il sera aussi question d'effectuer des travaux spéciaux, en vue de marquer une séparation nette avec les autres réseaux tels que Camwater.

    « Si tout se passe bien, le projet finira en fin septembre et le 7 octobre, on pourra le réceptionner », assure-t-on au Minpostel. Et pour boucler la boucle, c'est un Biyiti bi Essam triomphateur qui dira : « On ne viendra pas vous dire, mais vous verrez les bienfaits de la boucle optique qui sera installée ».

    Le Potentiel
  • L'internet est en passe d'être disponible gratuitement partout à travers l'île grâce à l'installation de zones wifi. Ce projet concernera néanmoins, dans un premier temps, certaines petites zones.

    Un projet pilote sera d'abord lancé dans les municipalités, les districts councils ainsi que les centres communautaires. « Cela nous permettra de déterminer les failles, et si tout va dans la bonne direction, nous établirons les zones wifi, partout à travers l'île », déclare un responsable du projet à lexpress.mu. Le projet pilote devrait normalement être lancé dans trois mois.

    Par la suite, ce sont les gares routières, les plages ou encore les centres commerciaux, en l'occurrence tous les endroits où il y a une forte affluence, qui capteront l'internet. « Ces zones wifi distribueront l'internet sur une région d'un peu plus d'un kilomètre à la ronde », explique un officier du National Computer Board (NCB)

    Ainsi, il sera désormais possible de consulter les mails et de surfer sur le net partout à travers l'île, à n'importe quelle heure, sans débourser le moindre sou, par le truchement de son téléphone mobile ou son ordinateur portable. « Nous précisons aussi qu'il y aura néanmoins des restrictions dans l'utilisation du wiki : il ne sera pas possible, par exemple, de télécharger à volonté », poursuit-il.

    « Ce projet s'inscrit dans le cadre de la démocratisation de l'internet. Avec ce projet, nous ciblons principalement les personnes qui n'arrivent toujours pas à avoir accès à l'internet. L'internet est en passe de devenir un droit.

    Etant donné que Maurice est un petit pays, il nous est donc pas difficile d'établir des zones wifi, partout à travers l'île », avance un haut fonctionnaire du ministère des TIC. Ce projet, attend d'être entériné par le Conseil des Ministres.

    L’Express
  • Le débat sur le ticket présidentiel et les émeutes de l'électricité sont été les principaux sujets de recherche sur internet au Sénégal durant le mois de juin, indique un communiqué de Google Sénégal transmis à l'APS.

    Ces résultats ont été obtenus grâce à l'outil de recherche Google Insights ou zeitgeist qui permet d'avoir des données et des tendances de recherche globale, régionale, indique Google Sénégal.

    Selon cet outil, la radio RFM et la télé TFM (Groupe Futurs Médias) ont occupé durant le mois de juin les deux premières places du TOP 10 des recherches mensuelles au Sénégal sur Google.

    Les portails internet Seneweb (4e), Leral.net (9e) et Rewmi (10e) sont aussi dans le Top 10, selon Google Sénégal qui précise que "pour le mois de juin, les internautes sénégalais se sont principalement intéressés à l'information avec le débat sur le ticket présidentiel et les émeutes de l'électricité".

    "Ce top 10 confirme aussi la tendance des Sénégalais à aller de plus en plus sur Internet pour s'informer", souligne le même document.

    Facebook caracole toujours en tête des "recherches les plus populaires" alors que Seneweb passe devant Google , Youtube et Hotmail, indique le communiqué.

    Tiré de l'Allemand, "Zeitgeist", qui signifie air du temps, a été utilisé par Google pour "définir les grandes lignes des millions de recherches effectuées sur Google chaque année", explique le communiqué.

    APS
  • Nairobi a lancé ce vendredi 8 juillet la «Kenya Open Data Initiative» qui rend public et accessible à tous des importantes bases de données statistiques du gouvernement. Pour commencer, l’Etat kenyan a mis en ligne plus de 160 bases de données statistiques sur son portail dédié à l’Open Data. Un site web très design et simple d’usage où l’on retrouve les bases de données classées par thèmes (population, éducation, énergie, santé, pauvreté) et par comtés.

    Il est possible de télécharger les données aux formats «.PDF» mais aussi et surtout en «.CSV» et «.XLS». Ces derniers formats offrent une base de donnée «clean» et exploitable par les programmeurs qui vont pouvoir la «traiter» et transformer ces listes de statistiques imbitables en visualisation de données graphiques (cartes, graphiques, timeline…) compréhensibles par tous. Ces visualisations donnent du sens à ces informations statistiques et permettent un usage personnalisé grâce à la possibilité de jouer avec les données, de les croiser, de comparer les comtés entre eux, de choisir les paramètres que l’on souhaite visualiser…

    C’est la société Socrata, basée à Seattle, qui a conçue cette plateforme Open Data. Socrata est leader dans ce domaine et a notamment réalisé les plateformes sophistiquées du gouvernement américain. Dans un communiqué daté du 8 juillet, jour du lancement officiel, Socrata décrit la plateforme kenyanne comme «le projet Open Data le plus élaboré au monde».
    Pour le gouvernement kenyan, cette initiative innovante marque une volonté claire de s’engager vers plus de transparence et d’interactivité avec les citoyens en ouvrant les accès à ces bases de données. L’Open Data est une étape fondamentale vers une gouvernance 2.0 qui utilise notamment les outils collaboratifs du web pour bâtir une société plus ouverte et renforcer le lien avec les citoyens. Outre les services de géolocalisation des infrastructures publiques (santé, mairie, écoles…), les citoyens peuvent ainsi exercer leur droit de regard «actif» sur les dépenses publiques, la traçabilité de l’usage de leurs impôts, la gestion des ressources naturelles, veiller à l’application concrète des politiques annoncées…

    «En ouvrant au public ces données statistiques, le gouvernement kenyan attend des citoyens qu’ils aident et qu’ils contribuent à utiliser ces données pour le développement», a déclaré le ministre de l’Information et des Communications, Samuel Poghisio, lors de la cérémonie de lancement en présence du président Mwai Kibaki. Son Premier secrétaire, Bitange Ndemo a annoncé que le gouvernement kenyan est disposé à rendre public encore plus de données statistiques. Selon Bitange Ndemo, cette politique de l’Open Data va également permettre de booster l’écosystème web kenyan avec le développement d’applications mobiles basées sur ces données statistiques. Pour Nairobi, l’impact de cette ouverture devrait avoir une retombée économique certaine avec un secteur ICT qui représentera à court-terme 15% du PIB contre près de 10% aujourd’hui.

    C’est à Nairobi que le mouvement Tech africain est le plus développé en Afrique avec des acteurs influents tels que Ory Okolloh, devenue directrice de la stratégie de Google en Afrique, le pionnier Erik Hersman qui a fondé le pôle technologique iHub à Nairobi, le brillant programmeur David Kobia d’Ushahidi… Ces jeunes geeks sont devenus des personnages incontournables du développement socio-économique grâce à un usage maîtrisé des nouvelles technologies. Ils sont aussi des cyber-activistes pro-démocratiques qui militent pour plus de transparence et l’Open Data. Ushahidi mais aussi les programmeurs de iHub, ont travaillé sur ce projet en partenariat avec la Banque Mondiale et le gouvernement kenyan qui a débloqué un budget afin de soutenir la programmation d’applications et de logiciels autour de ces bases de données.

    Ce service Open Data révolutionne la gouvernance de Nairobi et confirme l’avance technologique du Kenya. Même si le Maroc est le premier Etat africain à avoir lancé un portail Open Data  en mai dernier (seulement 24 bases de données publiques), le projet kenyan, à peine lancé, s’impose déjà comme un modèle politique et technologique visionnaire en Afrique.

    Slate Afrique
  • Placé sous la tutelle du ministère de la Poste et des technologies de l'information, par décret n°2011-118 du 22 juin 2011, portant attribution des membres du gouvernement, le Village des technologies de l'information et de la biotechnologie (Vitib) a reçu la visite du ministre Koné Nabagné Bruno, le vendredi 1er juillet dernier.

    Au cours de la réunion de prise de contact qu'il a eue avec les premiers dirigeants de l'entreprises, le ministre Koné Nabagne Bruno a exprimé son regret de constater que cet important outil de développement n'ait pas pu réaliser de résultats probants après quatre ans d'existence.

    Cependant, il a indiqué avoir confiance en l'avenir du Vitib pour jouer pleinement ce rôle de pôle de développement qui lui a été assigné. «Tout est réuni actuellement pour en faire une véritable vitrine des TIC en Côte d'Ivoire (...) Il faut se donner les moyens pour aller de l'avant», a déclaré Koné Bruno.

    Zone franche spécialisée dans les technologies de l'information et de la communication et la biotechnologie, Vitib a commencé ses activités en 2008. Il cristallise les ambitions du gouvernement de faire de la Côte d'Ivoire une plaque tournante des technologies de pointe dans la sous-région et en Afrique.

    Potentiel bassin d'emplois, Vitib a également pour rôle de promouvoir l'exportation, réduire la fracture numérique, d'attirer les investissements directs, de promouvoir le transfert des technologies et favoriser la création de Pme nationales performantes ainsi que la recherche appliquée.

    Depuis le début de ses activités, une cinquantaine d'entreprises ont reçu leur agrément. La dernière en date est France Télécom à travers sa filiale Orange Côte d'Ivoire qui prévoit d'installer à Grand-Bassam un centre de Recherche et développement.

  • Le ministre de la Technologie de l'Information et de la Communication (TIC) annonce que l'ICT Academy accueillera ses premiers étudiants à partir du mois d'août. Le Conseil des ministres a approuvé le projet, ce vendredi 8 juillet.

    Un centre de formation dédié uniquement aux professionnels du secteur des TIC. C'est ce que prévoit le ministre Pillay Chedumbrum, pour ce centre de formation qui démarre ses opérations en août de cette année. Il l'a annoncé ce vendredi 8 juillet, lors de l'inauguration des nouveaux locaux d'Accenture Information Technology situés, à Ebène.

    « L'industrie des TIC dans le contexte global a besoin de ressources humaines qualifiées et reconnues pour renforcer notre avantage concurrentiel et ainsi positionner l'île Maurice comme un leader dans la région africaine. L'ICT Academy répondra au manque de professionnels dans le domaine des TIC », affirme le ministre des TIC.

    Ce centre de formation se situera à Ebène mais une branche sera également implantée dans les locaux de la Mauritius Institute for Training and Development (MITD), à Phoenix. Le ministre explique que les formations seront très accessibles.

    « L'académie acceptera les élèves de la Form IV à monter. Les plus jeunes seront formés à la MITD tandis que les professionnels seront à Ebène », précise-t-il. Il ajoute que les cours seront assurés par des experts de ce secteur.

     « Les formateurs seront eux-mêmes formés. Nous comptons prendre des gens du secteur pour encadrer ceux qui souhaitent intégrer l'industrie ou qui veulent progresser dans le milieu des TIC », rajoute Tassarajen Pillay Chedumbrum.

    En ce qu'il s'agit des locaux d'Accenture ITO, les employés de cette entreprise occupaient l'immeuble depuis quelques mois déjà. Les 4 étages inaugurés ce vendredi 8 juillet comportent les espaces de travail, des salles de réunion équipées technologiquement et des lieux dédiés aux heures de pause.

    John Malepa, nouveau directeur du centre de développement technologique d'Accenture à Maurice déclare que « la démarche d'Accenture à Maurice s'inscrit dans la durée et qu'il souhaite continuer à poursuivre sa contribution au développement économique du pays ».

    L’Express
  • Selon un cabinet américain, le Maroc est le marché « le plus attractif» pour les investisseurs dans la région, notamment dans les télécommunications.

    Le secteur des télécommunications ne perd pas son attractivité pour les investisseurs étrangers, même s'il a connu depuis sa libéralisation en 1996 un essor remarquable. En fait, le développement de ce secteur présente encore une marge importante, notamment pour certains de ses segments, en particulier l'Internet et même la téléphonie mobile, qui semble saturée, dispose de plusieurs pistes et de créneaux à investir, tel que le contenu. Ce qui fait dire à un cabinet de consulting américain du nom de “Pyramid Research”, basé au Massachusetts, que le Maroc s'impose comme le marché «le plus attractif» et «le plus stable politiquement» pour les investisseurs dans la région de l'Afrique du Nord, notamment en ce qui concerne les télécommunications.

    Pour les analystes de ce cabinet, qui ont réalisé un rapport sur les secteurs des télécommunications, des médias et des technologies au Maroc, le Royaume gardera une «position solide» dans le secteur des télécommunications en Afrique et dans la région du Moyen-Orient. Ce qui se traduira par une amélioration des revenus globaux du secteur qui devront enregistrer, au cours des cinq prochaines années, selon le rapport, un taux de croissance annuel moyen de 4,1 %, en passant d'une projection de 4,47 milliards de dollars en 2010 à 5,47 milliards en 2015.

    En plus de la libéralisation du secteur des télécommunications, qui est la plus réussie au Maroc, cette attractivité est due également à la stabilité politique à toute épreuve du pays, comme le met en évidence la profonde mutation que connaît le pays actuellement et qui se passe plutôt dans le calme. Cet aspect a été également évoqué par le rapport du cabinet américain qui signale que «malgré la conjoncture que connaît l'Afrique du Nord, le Maroc se positionne en tant que marché le plus stable politiquement et, de ce fait, le plus attractif pour les investisseurs dans la région».
    À ce sujet, explique-t-on, les PME-PMI opérant dans le secteur des télécommunications au Maroc représentent un «large réservoir regorgeant de possibilités et d'opportunités» pour les investisseurs étrangers. Surtout que les prochaines années devront connaître, d'après le rapport, une forte croissance des opérations d'opérateurs du secteur.

    Ce qui ne manquera pas, selon les auteurs de ce rapport, de renforcer l'importance et le rôle des petits fournisseurs de services spécialisés et de les rendre davantage plus sollicités par les investisseurs étrangers.

    Il est à rappeler que plusieurs opérateurs télécoms et investisseurs étrangers ont investi le secteur depuis sa libéralisation. Il s'agit notamment de Vivendi (France) qui contrôle Maroc Telecom, France Telecom qui est actionnaire de Méditelecom, du consortium constitué d'Al Ajial Investment Fund Holding et de l'opérateur koweïtien “Zain” qui sont entrés dans le capital de l'opérateur marocain Wana…

    Les trois opérateurs marocains se livrent une concurrence intense. Ce qui se traduit par une certaine reconfiguration de la structure concurrentielle du secteur, avec des changements de positions ou des rapprochement entre ces opérateurs. Cette concurrence est acharnée notamment dans les segments de la téléphonie mobile et de l'Internet. Ainsi, on note une nette percée de Wana dans le GSM, grignotant des parts à l'opérateur historique qui, de son côté, reconquiert la première position sur le marché de l'Internet.

    Selon les dernières statistiques publiées par l'Agence nationale de réglementation des télécommunications (ANRT), relatives au premier trimestre de l'année en cours, le parc des abonnés au mobile a atteint 33.375.498, en hausse de 4,36% sur un trimestre. Ce qui fait passer le taux de pénétration du mobile à 104,78% à fin mars 2011 contre 101,49% à fin décembre 2010.
    La répartition des parts de marché entre les trois opérateurs montre que IAM détient 49,90% du parc mobile à fin mars 2011, suivi de Médi Telecom (33,32%) et Wana Corporate (16,78%). Le prépayé prédomine toujours avec une part de 96,02% contre 3,98% pour le post-payé.

    Le Maroc
  • Un responsable de la NCC salue les perfomances d'une société nigérianne de télécom - Le vice-président exécutif de la Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Eugène Juwah, a félicité la société nigériane de communication, Main one cable, pour son rôle de pionnier dans la fourniture de services de large bande en gros qui a  considérablement réduit la fracture numérique entre l'Afrique et le monde extérieur. «Je viens à Main One pour la première fois. Je dois dire que je suis vraiment impressionné par ce que j'ai vu ici", a-t-il déclaré à la presse.

    Main One est la première société disposant de câble sous-marin et offrant un accès ouvert et des services de large bande en gros en  Afrique de l'Ouest.

    Entièrement détenue par des Africains, elle envisage d'étendre la capacité nécessaire sur tout le continent en assurant une réduction des coûts de communication à haut débit à travers l'Afrique.

    «Je suis surtout impressionné par le fait qu'elle est gérée par des Nigérians depuis qu'elle a été mise sur pied. Je suis également impressionné par le fait qu'il n'y a pas eu d'interruption de service depuis un an", a déclaré M. Juwah.

    Pas moins de 40 opérateurs de télécommunications et fournisseurs de services Internet (FSI) au Nigeria et au Ghana sont abonnés aux services haut débit sur le réseau Main one.

  • Les responsables marketing du groupe Parabole ont annoncé que pour la première fois dans l'Océan Indien, Eurosport sera diffusé en Haute Définition sur la chaîne n°80 de Parabole.

    Selon eux, la demande évolue avec le temps et la technologie. « Dans les magasins, on vend de plus en plus de grands écrans plats. Mais le fait de les avoir ne servira à rien, si on ne dispose pas d'une bonne qualité d'image. Les gens veulent du sport avec des images à haute définition et nous avons décidé de les satisfaire.

    Ces abonnés de Parabole qui recevaient la chaîne Eurosport bénéficieront sans supplément de prix de l'Eurosport HD », a expliqué Zaona Rabetsitonta, directrice du marketing et de la communication de Parabole Madagascar.

    Plus régionale. Aujourd'hui, le marché de la haute définition est en plein essor. En outre, Eurosport fait partie du Top5 des chaînes les plus regardées du câble, du satellite et de l'ADSL en Métropole. En 2008, cette chaîne a été lancée en HD.

    Mais ce n'est qu'aujourd'hui qu'elle est disponible à la Réunion, à Maurice, à Mayotte et à Madagascar, via Parabole. Notons qu'après TF1 HD, l'Eurosport HD est la 2ème chaîne en haute définition offerte aux abonnés de Parabole.

    Par ailleurs Zaona Rabetsitonta a noté qu'en général, les offres du groupe Parabole se centre beaucoup plus sur les chaînes de la zone de l'Océan Indien, pour une adaptation aux besoins des 6,000 abonnés sur Madagascar.

  • Africa Web Summit
    17-18 septembre 2011, Brazaville, Congo

    Brazzaville sera au cœur de l’actualité des nouvelles technologies de l’information et de la communication en Afrique à travers un grand rendez-vous d’échange, d’apprentissage et de vulgarisation des nouveaux outils du domaine. Un panel d’experts de haut niveau provenant d’Europe, d’Amérique, d’Asie et d’Afrique procédera au développement des thématiques liées au secteur. Des sociétés spécialisées exposeront leurs œuvres et services web en marge du sommet.
    Pour plus d’informations visitez

  • - La dernière née des sociétés de téléphonie mobile exerçant en Côte d’Ivoire, GreeN, vient de procéder à un réaménagement à la tête de sa direction. Depuis vendredi, le nouveau patron se nomme Sylla Yaya. Il était, depuis janvier 2001, le directeur des ressources humaines (Drh). Et de 2008 à 2010, il était le chef de division des opérations de la société.

    - Patrick Benon quitte la direction générale de Bénin Télécoms pour rejoindre le groupe Orange. Urbain Fadegnon, actuel directeur général Adjoint est nommé par l'arrêté 2011 n° 138/MCTIC/DC/SGM/DRH/SGPSC, Directeur Général par intérim de la société Bénin Télécoms.

  • Appel d’offres pour le recrutement d’un cabinet chargé de réaliser un audit organisationnel et de fonctionnement de l’Autorité de Régulation Multisectorielle - Niger
    L’Autorité de Régulation Multisectorielle (ARM) lance le présent appel d’offres
    pour le recrutement d’un cabinet chargé de réaliser un audit organisationnel et de fonctionnement de l’Autorité de Régulation Multisectorielle.
    L’appel d’offres s’adresse aux cabinets dont la compétence est internationalement
    reconnue, disposant de l’expertise requise, justifiant d’une expérience en matière d’audit organisationnel et de fonctionnement d’une structure et d’une bonne connaissance des secteurs régulés par l’Autorité de Régulation Multisectorielle.

    Les consultants intéressés peuvent retirer le dossier d’appel d’offres auprès
    du secrétariat de l’Autorité de Régulation Multisectorielle, 64 Rue des bâtisseurs,
    BP 13 179 Niamey, Tél (00227) 20 73 90 08 / Fax (00227) 20 73 85 91.

    Les candidats répondant aux critères de soumission et d’éligibilité précisés
    dans les termes de référence devront déposer leurs offres au secrétariat de
    l’Autorité de Régulation Multisectorielle au plus tard le 16 août 2011 à 16
    heures.

    L’ouverture des plis se fera le même jour à 16 heures 30 minutes dans la salle
    de réunion de l’ARM en présence des représentants des soumissionnaires qui
    souhaitent y prendre part.

    Les soumissionnaires resteront engagés par leurs offres pour un délai de 90
    jours, à compter de la date de remise des offres. Par décision motivée, l’ARM
    se réserve le droit de ne donner aucune suite au présent appel d’offres.
    Pour télécharger l’appel d’offres cliquez ici.

Issue no 562 8th July 2011

node ref id: 22406

Top story

  • Beyond donor-funded web services and apps, new online commercial services are beginning to set up and attract traffic. Some like Eat Out in Kenya are generating actual revenues and have ambitious expansion plans, both geographically and with new online services. Unable to afford large marketing budgets, it has forged alliances with old print media. Russell Southwood talked to Mikul Shah, Managing Director, Eat Out.

    Q: Where did you get the idea for Eat Out?

    A: I was familiar with Top Table and London Eating from living in the UK. Eating out is primarily based on word of mouth. Restaurants don’t get much Return On Investment on print advertising. You don’t know how your money’s worked for you.

    Q: How did you get started and how does it work?

    A: We did a pilot with young restaurant owners who we knew would get the idea. It quickly worked without any SEO or search engine marketing and quickly captured the market.

    It works like Top Table but there is no integration with restaurant booking systems. We make the booking confirmation to the user by either SMS or e-mail but the booking with the restaurant is a manual process. There are no automated booking systems. We want to become start integrating with the Point of Sale systems but most are not online and those that are have too many different systems.

    The system is very simple because a lot of people are scared off from filling in a form and we’re not taking credit card information. But we get a tremendous response to our 10% off offers where you have to ring a special number.

    Q: How did you start collaborating with print partners?

    A: Our focus was web-based because we didn’t have the money to market the product so we thought let’s focus on keeping users booking through us. After a while, because we had all this information on restaurants, we thought we should turn our attention to print.

    We identified suitable print partners and offered them chef and restaurant reviews and shared ad revenues generated by these sections. It did a lot for the magazines and raised our profile. The print partners are free publications include Kenya Concierge (which goes into hotel rooms) and Buzz.

    Q: What’s the business model?

    A: We offer a two-tier service to restaurants. For US$1,000 a year, they get our booking service and banner advertising. There are 200 of these premium restaurants. Then for US$200 a year you get listed and have your telephone number: there just over 200 restaurants in this category.

    Q: Are you on mobile phones?

    A: We have recently launched a mobile site which is available on the following platforms: Blackberry, iPhone, Android and Samsung’s Bada. It’s not expensive and each website is launched by the app.

    We’re going to do an East Africa-wide app and we’re targeting iPhone and Android for that. We’re also talking about a “white label” version of the application for the mobile operators. There’s a huge war between operators on data use. We’re in negotiation with Safaricom and they’ve just put Eat Out on their portal.

    Q: Do you have other services?

    A: We also do Flicks Cinema Guide and have other products in line. One of our new products is Eat In where you can order restaurant food to be delivered. We will take payment and pay after a week or a month depending on the volume of orders, taking a 10% commission. We’re putting up the three largest shopping centres that have food courts. Lots of clients asked for this service. After that we want to add hospitality including hotels, lodges and accommodation. There is US$1 billion in tourism and we believe it would be easy to tap into a small amount.

    Q: You’ve attracted investment?

    A: Eat Out attracted a lot of attention from venture capital companies. After some discussion with two of them, we sold a 20% interest in the company to a Dutch company called Africa Media Ventures. This sale valued the company at US$1 million and our turnover in the last 12 months has been US$150,000.

    Q: What’s the traffic like on the site?

    A: We get 100,000 page views and 50,000 visits a month. In 2010 we actually booked 12,000 seats excluding parties above 20 seats. The mobile site has only just been launched so use is still in the hundreds but at the end of July we will start marketing it.

    Q: Who are your competitors?

    A: We don’t have competitors online really but I guess Yellow Pages and Mocality are our biggest competitors online.

    Q: Is there more potential for expansion?

    A: There is additional restaurant list potential because we believe so far we only have 75% penetration. We want to go to Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda and we’re talking to print partners there.

    Q: What other sites are there in Kenya?

    Dealfish is now one of the most popular online sites in Kenya and there a lot of other classified players. There are a few property sites and South Africa’s Bid or Buy (the equivalent of eBay) has opened in Kenya. There used to be lots of Groupon-style sites but only two have survived, Rupu and Zetu. I don’t think the market is big enough for this kind of product. There is some hype but it’s inflating real potential.

     


    This week on Balancing Act’s Web TV Channel:

    Remy Nweke, blogger, ICT Realms Online
    on the three big issues facing Nigeria, one which is the digital transition.

    Francis Ebuehi, Country Manager, Dealfish West Africa on the its online classifieds site

    David Afugani, Chief Marketing Officer, RLG on its Made in Ghana mobile handsets

    Nigel Waller, CEO and founder of Movirtu on the Cloud Phone and low-income and rural users

    Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on:
    @BalancingActAfr

     

telecoms

  • Mobile Number Portability (MNP) comes into effect in Ghana, bringing another revolution into the country’s already dynamic telecoms industry.

    On Thursday June 30, 2011, Parliament adopted the report of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation on the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) Regulations 2011, Legislative Instrument (LI) 1994, and by that action, MNP received the legal backing to begin.

    MNP is a process that allows a mobile subscriber who for any reason chooses to change from the existing provider to a competitor to do so and still keep his or her favourite mobile number including the code.

    Porting is a process that allows subscribers on network ‘A’ to move to network ‘B’ without having to be assigned a new number. This development is likely to make Ghana’s telecoms sector which industry players have described as ‘extremely competitive’ even more competitive. And this competition has been cited to have led to innovation in the sector.

    Initially, MNP was scheduled to have started on July 1, 2011, but was postponed to July 7, because July 1 was a public holiday.

    The system to be implemented in Ghana, according to Mr. Joshua K. Peprah, Director, Regulatory Administration at the NCA is “recipient network driven”. What this means, he says, is that the network that the subscriber is switching to is the one to initiate the move. “The subscriber only has to go to the recipient network, or the network he or she wants to switch to and the switch is initiated at that point.”

    He said the donor network or the network provider the subscriber is switching from would only have to accept or reject with reasons.

    According to the NCA there are only few reasons for rejecting porting. These are: number not being active on the donor network – that is the network that a subscriber is moving away from. Fraud having been reported; phone reported stolen; not enough of the ID items matching with the request.

    The request to port to a different operator may not be rejected in the case of debt still owed to the donor network, according to the NCA.

    It also says the donor network is obliged to refund any unused portion of deposit that the customer paid to it, after subtracting unpaid bills and usage that has not yet been billed, especially in the case of post-paid customers. Prepaid subscribers however, would lose their credit if they switch to another provider before they have exhausted their calling credit, the NCA says.

    The porting or switching to a new provider, according to the NCA, can be done within 24 hours of the request. It is however, not clear who the biggest gainers would be among the country’s five mobile operators. Six companies are licensed to operate in Ghana – these are MTN, Vodafone, Tigo, Airtel, Expresso and Globacom. But Globacom is yet to start operations.

    Even though, some subscribers are excited about the prospects, and have indicated their desire to port, service quality, price and what other value added services the providers offer are likely to determine which network the largest number of subscribers would move to.

    Some mobile subscribers on Facebook have written on their pages that they would port. One person however, wrote on the Facebook page: “A friend’s description of MNP is moving from one crappy network to anoter”.

    The steps to porting are simple. A subscriber who wants to port would have to go to the recipient operator or provider that he or she wants to switch to with the phone. Subscriber must have a valid ID card to be able to initiate the process, because ownership of the phone would be verified, it is important that one uses the same ID card that one used to register the phone.

    The recipient network would initiate all the necessary processes and a new SIM card would be provided to the subscriber, provided there are no valid reasons as outlined by the NCA for the donor network to reject the porting request.

    Porting should have cost the subscriber $2.5 but some of the providers, have offered to absorb cost.

  • Egypt's revolution has not dimmed Telecom Egypt's ambition to push further into mobile phone services and the company aims to secure a mobile virtual network licence towards the end of the year, its chairman said.

    The mostly state-owned landline monopoly is relying, for now, on data services to offset lower fixed-line income and has also been trying to establish a mobile operation to boost longer-term growth prospects.

    Telecom Egypt owns a 45 percent stake in Vodafone's Egyptian mobile venture but does not have management control and only consolidates part of the profits from that business.

    Analysts have played down the prospect the army-backed government overseeing the country since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in February will take major decisions affecting the telecom sector without a stronger popular mandate.

    But Telecom Egypt chairman Akil Beshir said it was in talks with the national telecoms regulator over an MVNO licence.

    "Many people do not expect this government to take a major decision like introducing an MVNO, but we keep working on it," he told Reuters in an interview, adding a decision to grant the licence could come towards the end of the year.

    Beshir said his goal was to transform the 80-percent state-owned company into a "total telecom service provider" and that meant pushing into mobile services as a priority.

    Vodafone Egypt and Mobinil dominate the mobile market, followed by Etisalat Misr.

    Telecom Egypt offered, a year ago, to buy out Vodafone's 55 percent stake in Vodafone Egypt but the two sides could not agree on a price and Beshir said there were no talks over a buyout for the time being.

    "So, MVNO would be a good way of leveraging the partnership," he said, indicating Vodafone could collaborate on the MVNO if it felt the service was not competing directly with its own.

  • Microfone Telecom Nigeria, an initiative of the Nigerian Capital Development Fund, is looking to take over the operations of fixed line incumbent Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL), after the latest attempt to sell the ailing telco was cancelled last month. Local newspaper The Punch reports that Microfone has submitted a letter of intent to the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to assume the operations of NITEL, stating that it wishes ‘to provide services to the very poor but hardworking Nigerians in the remotest parts of the country.’ The letter continues: ‘We hereby request that you [the BPE] consider transferring NITEL to Nigerians via Microfone Telecom Nigeria Limited for the benefit of the grass roots, the poor and underserved majority of Nigerians. We have a solution-driven approach and ability to resolve the current NITEL ailments within a short time that will benefit the company and further prepare it for sale to any future prospective and serious buyer.’ Microfone added that it is prepared to offer the BPE a management and transformation contract that includes financing the development of NITEL and the sale of the company at the end of the contract period.

    The latest attempt to privatise NITEL was cancelled last month when the reserve bidder, British Virgin Islands-based Omen International, failed to meet the deadline to pay a bid security. Omen was invited to re-register its interest in buying NITEL in March 2011, after preferred buyer New Generation Telecommunications repeatedly missed the payment deadlines for its bid of USD2.5 billion. Omen offered USD956.9 million during the latest attempt to privatise the company, held in February 2010. The government began seeking a buyer for a minimum 75% of NITEL and 100% of M-Tel in July 2009 after previous majority shareholder Transcorp divested its stake earlier in the year. The BPE is now reportedly considering other options for NITEL, including setting a minimum price and offering it to the remaining bidders, as well as liquidating the struggling company, or restarting the whole bidding process again.

  • Essar Telecoms yuMobile has welcomed a proposals for a common system facilitating mobile money transfers across networks. The proposal is part of the recommendation by a task force set up by the PMs office to look into mobile telephony improvement in Kenya.

    A common transfer system will mean that a subscriber of any mobile network will be able to send and receive money via their mobiles to and from any other network.

    "It is our desire to give our subscribers the very best in services and one way of doing that is to ensure that we eliminate any blockages that hinder consumers from making choices that suit their needs" says Madhur Taneja, yuMobile Country Manager. A shared money transfer system will offer convenience and flexibility to users.

internet

  • The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank has approved three projects totaling US$92 million to boost ICT infrastructure and access to better services in three African countries. Burkina Faso, Guinea and The Gambia received grants of US$23 million, US$ 34 million and US$35 million respectively, as part of a US$300 million West Africa Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (WARCIP) as endorsed by the Board on January 20, 2011.

    According to Boutheina Guermazi, one of the two Task Team Leaders with Mavis Ampah, "the three nations currently have some of the highest connectivity costs in the world, and are among the few countries in West Africa which are not connected to the global network of broadband optical fiber infrastructure".

    The Gambia and Guinea, as smaller coastal states are often seen as unattractive investment opportunities and consequently by-passed by private submarine cable consortia, he added. Burkina Faso, as a landlocked country, has always depended on the cooperation of its neighbors for international access, often at high and uncompetitive prices. The projects will help usher in major infrastructural revolution in these countries.

    "Addressing connectivity gaps and deployment of broadband networks in The Gambia, Guinea and Burkina Faso will stimulate investment and economic growth in the three countries and will accelerate the realization of an integrated regional ICT market", said Mavis Ampah.

    The projects' development objectives are to contribute to increasing the geographical reach of broadband networks and to reducing the costs of communications services in each of the territories of The Gambia, Guinea and Burkina Faso.

    The projects are designed to encourage and support private sector investment using catalytic financing and PPP arrangements to minimize public investment.

    The projects recognize that the creation of pro-competitive enabling environments is a prerequisite for affordable connectivity. The projects therefore focus on fostering an enabling environment in the sector by facilitating liberalization, open and non-discriminatory access to capacity, as well as building capacity of regulators to ensure that fair rules of competition apply in the sector, emphasized the Task Team Leaders.

    "This is truly a unique opportunity to transform the lives of average citizens by providing better and affordable basic services through the use of ICT", said Boutheina Guermazi.

  • Government needs to make it easier for telecommunications operators to build infrastructure, especially fibre-optic networks, as red tape and conflicting requirements are slowing the ability of companies to build broadband networks.

    Howard Earley, chief operating officer at Dimension Data subsidiary Plessey, says receiving the necessary environmental approvals and permits from municipalities and the department of water affairs to build fibre networks is becoming a big issue.

    “There’s not a uniform environmental standard from one metro to the next and no uniform mechanism from the department of water affairs,” Earley says.

    Earley says that although it’s important for regulations to protect the environment, new and uniform rules are needed to guide fibre projects. Plessey is responsible in large part for the Vodacom, MTN and Neotel fibre build between Johannesburg and Durban and Earley says the project has been delayed because of outstanding licences from water affairs. “The consortium can’t get them and until they do that link can’t be used for the purpose it was intended.”

    Different rules from municipalities have also slowed progress. “If you get to a bridge, one guy will say hang it under the bridge, while the next will say they want in-road trenching, and so it carries on, so there is no universal approach.”

    Earley says the country would be “much better served” if there was one standard which operators were expected to adhere to.

    Even within big metros, there are sometimes conflicting requirements, he says. “It would be very good if there was one overall body that decided on the standards and what was required and who the issuing party would be in terms of giving you the licence to operate.”

    One way this could happen is if one central government department took ownership of the issue, though Earley admits this could take time. He feels it’s an issue the department of communications should deal with in its forthcoming broadband strategy document. “If we could just get the bigger metros to agree [on standards], that would be first prize.”

    Elsewhere in Africa, environmental impact approvals are not nearly as stringent as they are in SA, but Earley thinks that in many of these markets the rules are too lax. “There should be some minimum requirements.”

  • Access to high-speed internet in Zimbabwe continues to be prohibitive partly due to charges levied by operators but the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) says the recent surge in competition should see costs dramatically going down.

    Responding to inquiries from Standard Business, Potraz deputy director general Alfred Marisa said the reduction of costs is also a function of competition, as there is need for a number of companies to sell bandwidth.

    "In our case, one other consideration is that we are a landlocked country, hence in order to access the undersea cable we have to incur extra costs of leasing capacity from operators in countries with a coast line to connect to the undersea cable," he said.

    PowerTel was the first company to provide access to the undersea cable through Botswana and has recently established another link to the Seacom through Mozambique.

    Marisa said due to competition brought about by Ecoweb, a subsidiary of Econet Wireless and sourcing of cheaper bandwidth from Seacom, Powertel had already on two occasions reduced its bandwidth charges.

    "With TelOne recently connecting to the undersea cable, we expect an increase in competition which should drive bandwidth costs further down," he said.

    Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, Sam Kundishora said although Zimbabwe has a high-speed link through undersea cable connecting via Mutare-Beira, the challenge lies with lack of feeders.

    "The major challenge we are facing is that there are no feeders into the high-speed link in terms of last mile connectivity, and this is consequently restricting the link to certain areas," said Kundishora, adding that the country had high-speed internet access in excess of one gigabyte per second.

computing

  • Tech Mahindra, a global systems integrator and business transformation consulting company, plans to establish its Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) operations in Nigeria.

    The company hopes that by establishing their headquarters in Nigeria, the West African country will serve as a gateway to other African markets.

    Tech Mahindra’s President of Corporate Affairs and Business Services Group Sujit Baksi says the company plans to increase its African footprint after two years of Nigerian operations.

    Baksi adds that over the last two years, the firm has partnered with a number of leading telecom operators in Nigeria, including MTN and Multi-Links and also recently won a lucrative Bharti Airtel Africa deal to set up Airtel’s BPO operations in seven countries.

    “We are extremely excited to be a part of the growing market in Africa. We have already helped our customers in Africa reduce their operating costs and generate new revenue streams. Tech Mahindra has recruited over a thousand local employees in Nigeria and it is our strategy to nurture local talent for effectively executing our BPO operations,” says Baksi.

  • South Africa's Dimension Data (DiData) has acquired US enterprise cloud company OpSource for an undisclosed sum, as part of its efforts to accelerate and expand its cloud computing service offerings.

    The move will see DiData creating a centralised cloud solutions business unit, of which OpSource will form part. The unit will report directly to Dimension Data CEO Brett Dawson.

    OpSource provides expertise and automation technology to operate high-availability, business-critical cloud computing and hosting environments to over 600 enterprises, service providers and software-as-a-service independent software vendors.

    It employs 150 people and is headquartered in Santa Clara, California with operations in Virginia, the United Kingdom, Ireland and India.

    "Market readiness for cloud services is being enabled by technology maturation, along with clients' needs for more flexible services-centric, IT sourcing options," Dawson said in a statement this week. "Our decision to accelerate our focus on cloud services aligns to our long-standing strategy to become a services-led business."

    Over the past few years, Dimension Data has been building cloud-related skills and capabilities in the areas of virtualisation, data centre and storage, managed services and hosting, and IT outsourcing - all critical to enabling cloud architectures for clients.

    "OpSource brings a rich set of services, a sound cloud architecture, and extensive experience in cloud services that will meet immediate client needs - in addition to a cloud infrastructure which supports development and growth in this space," said Dawson. "We believe OpSource provides us with an accelerated time-to-market as their infrastructure and services are well-established and tested."

    According to OpSource co-founder and CEO Treb Ryan, mapping a migration path and architectural design for cloud is complex and requires in-depth understanding of an organisation's entire IT infrastructure, architecture, and relative interdependencies and risks.

    "An understanding of IT integration across disparate multi-technology, multi-geography, IT environments is critical to evolving toward cloud-based architectures," he said. "We believe that as part of Dimension Data, OpSource will be better able to capitalise on the global cloud computing market opportunity.

    "We're thrilled to be a part of the Dimension Data family."

    In July 2010, Japan's Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT), a leading global telecoms provider, acquired Dimension Data for approximately £2.1-billion, leading to its delisting from the JSE.

  • Knowledge of computers is to become compulsory for students aspiring to join the government's tertiary training institutions.

    A baseline survey conducted by the Ministry of Higher Education in the 47 mid-level colleges in the country shows that 80 per cent of students, lecturers and administrators in the institutions are not computer proficient.

    The survey further notes that studies in computers will be offered during the first year of learning, regardless of the course that one will be pursuing in colleges.

    "A curriculum is to be developed for all entry level students to ensure they acquire good foundation computer skills," the government report says, adding that where already offered, the curriculum is to be revised.

    This means that more than 18,000 students currently enrolled in the institutions that include polytechnics, university colleges, technical training institutes and institutes of technology may undergo refresher courses in computers.

    Findings from the baseline indicate that the institutions do not have a formal computers policy. Of the few institutions, only a fifth have developed computers work plans and have made budget allocations.

    Although a high level of confidence has been registered in the relevance of existing computers policies, respondents cast doubt on institutional capacity for policy implementation.

    "The ministry will explore globally recognised options or other internationally certifiable computer courses that are aligned to the job market and for which students will earn additional certifications," the report says.

    The findings that are yet to be made official to the colleges say the curriculum is not in-step with job market requirements.

    Lecturers are aware of the potential of computers to enrich teaching practices, but have neither the skills nor the access to computers to integrate the new tools and methodologies in curriculum.

    The survey was conducted starting last year and the aim was to assess computer proficiency in the colleges at a time that Kenya is working towards becoming a middle income economy and eventually a knowledge society by implementing its developmental blueprint -- Vision 2030.

    In the new order, course schedules will be reviewed to allow for the acquisition of computer skills. "Additional attention needs to be given to ensure that adequate time is built into class schedules to accommodate this," says the report.

    The registered frequency of use of computers in teaching practice was rated poorly. "This is partly due to low computer (knowledge) among lecturers since the art of teaching and learning through and with computers is largely driven by individuals rather than institutional policy."

    The report therefore recommends a review in the curriculum at the teacher training institutions.

    Access to tools and resources at the institutions should also be planned. "The complexity of integrating computers in education demands careful planning and execution," says the report.

    Specialised computer skills are required in the work place for production and communication, and are seen as an essential complement to traditional content knowledge, in courses such as engineering, science, and accounting.

    This, according to the report calls for systemic collection and analysis of data on the level of computers use in the institutions.

    Most of the students expressed concerns that both the curriculum and assessment systems were outmoded.

    Secondary school leavers who do not proceed to university directly join the colleges for two year craft courses or three year diploma (technician) courses.

    And primary school leavers who do not join secondary school may join the many youth polytechnics which are also considered tertiary institutions.

    National polytechnics, technical teachers colleges, institutes of technology, technical training institutes, industrial training centres, youth polytechnics, vocational training centres and other private commercial colleges shall be affected by this new plan.

    There has been an upgrading of the institutions to universities of technology but there is also the upgrading of youth polytechnics to technical institutions.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • South Africa's MTN has said that it will support plans by the Rwandan government to float its 10 percent stake in MTN Rwanda onto the local stock market, ending speculation that MTN might try to buy the stake instead.

    The government previously said that it wanted to sell the stake, and that it is also seeking to boost its newly opened stock exchange by floating state-owned companies on it.

    "We have not made a final decision on how to structure our shares. But we would wish the public to own what they have done in Rwanda," Shauket Fakie, MTN Group Executive in charge of business risk management told Business Times last week.

    The government would have needed approval from MTN, as the (55%) majority shareholder, to float its stake on the stock market.

    The country currently has three mobile networks, and the Mobile World analysts estimate their market shares at: MTN (53%); Rwandatel (33%) and Tigo (14%)

  • Mobile telephony in Kenya has lost the shine to attract investments owing to major cut in tariffs, Telkom Kenya CEO Mickael Ghossein has said. The company which has announced plans to inject Sh8 billion this year to build infrastructure for improving its network in addition to Sh7 billion invested in 2010, says it does not expect immediate returns on the investment.

    With uncertainties in the market and increasing global cost of doing business it is pushing hopes of return on their investments to between five to eight years. "We keep on investing but the returns are not assured, expectations for 2011 are worse," said Ghossein in an interview.

    Telkom has been in the forefront of lobbying for a stop to further reduction in mobile interconnection rates. "Voice has become more or less free. globally, there are big hopes in data," he said adding the roll out of its 3G next month will boost its share in the data market. Telkom has also postponed plans to launch its triple play technology which would have seen it add cable TV to its voice and data offering.

    Ghossein says this would call for money to be put in IPTV (Internet Protocol television) a system through which Internet television services are delivered but they are short of money to do it "This country has big potential, but with low revenues there is no enough money to invest back," adding lack of content was also an issue.

    According to CCK figures, Orange managed to increase its GSM service subscriber numbers by almost a million between October and December to get 8.5 market share. It is targeting to 2.8 million subscribers by the end of this year and hoping to take the second position -currently held by Airtel - in the next two years.

  • Zambia’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has issued an unconditional final authorisation for the creation of a joint venture between Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) and Liquid Telecommunications Holdings Limited of Mauritius. According to the Zambia Times, under the terms of the approval, a new company – CEC Liquid Telecommunications – will be created, with the joint venture expected to be a 50/50 split between the two partner companies. Both CEC and Liquid are expected to invest a combined USD30 million in the venture.

    Despite CEC already being operational in the fibre-optic sector, and holding a market share of around 40%, the CCPC said that it did not envisage the deal raising any competition concerns, with the watchdog’s director of consumer and public relations Brian Lingela noting: ‘The board held that no market player was likely to be removed from the market as a result of the joint venture, as Liquid Telecoms had no known presence in Zambia.’

  • iBurst Africa is a wireless data provider established by its current founder and CEO, Thami Mtshali, to offer superior connectivity solutions to consumers and businesses on the African continent.

    iBurst Africa has established operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Ghana and intends to launch its services in newly independent, South Sudan.

    iBurst, which was established in April 2005, has invested heavily in the South African market but is seeing a higher return on investment in the DRC. To date the central African country is its most lucrative market on the continent.

    “The DRC has a population of about 80 million people. It’s a very good market for iBurst Africa,” says Mtshali.

    “The DRC remains one of our company’s most profitable markets.”

    When asked if iBurst Africa will ever be Africa’s leading data provider – Mtshali confidently points to his company’s success in the DRC as an indication of things to come.

    Mtshali recalls a time in 2006 when he had to drive from Kinshasa in the DRC to Congo Brazzaville in order to send a 2MG file.

    “Today the same place has a lot of broadband services. There’s been a substantial growth in Africa within the entire broadband space,” says Mtshali.

    Mtshali did however state that starting an ISP business on the continent could be daunting due to regulatory and language barriers.

    “To conduct a business in Mozambique I have to know how to speak Portuguese, and then as soon as I enter the DRC I have to speak Belgian French. It can get confusing,” says Mtshali.

    Apart from language barriers, African businesses also grapple with outdated and unwritten laws.

    “Some of the licenses are written in the country’s native language and require shareholders agreements be written in a similar language,” says Mtshali.

    In some countries, company laws are less stringent. “For example in the DRC, iBurst Africa did not have to issue a shareholders certificate, however we were charged for other business activities including billboard advertising, transfer of money, importing and exporting duties”.

    While in Nigeria Mtshali says he struggled to get reliable Internet connectivity. He even had to resort to using a competitor’s connection in order to watch a YouTube video.

    Inspite of the numerous challenges faced by African business people, Mtshali is adamant that the best strategy for a successful entry into Africa is to understand the risks and “Just do it!”

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Mobile operator, MTC Namibia, has announced that it is in the process of extending its coverage to areas that are not covered countrywide. Currently, MTC network performance coverage is 90 percent in terms of geographical location while the actual population covered is 64 percent. MTC recently finalized strategic plans with all 13 Regional Governors to identify areas that are not covered in their regions.

    - In Kenya, mobile operator, yu, has launched the lowest cross-network SMS rate in the market. Its subscribers can now send text messages to other local networks for 50 cents. Its competitors, Airtel charge Sh1 while Safaricom and Telkom charge Sh2 for messages across networks.

    - MTN and airtime remittance services provider, TransferTo, have teamed up to offer international mobile top-up services to customers across borders via TransferTo’s global network. The service is available through various channels, please click here, or via sending partners in countries such as the UK, the US, Canada, France, Spain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Digital Content

  • Tech4Africa, one of the continent’s most prominent web and emerging technology conferences, has launched an initiative called Ignite, which will provide leading African startups with the opportunity to pitch their products to a carefully curated panel of Angel investors, mentors and business leaders.

    Startups selected to partake in the Tech4africa Ignite pitches will be given five minutes to showcase their products, with the opportunity to gain not only potential investors but also invaluable exposure to the wider Tech4Africa audience of thought leaders, decision makers, journalists, influential people and potential recruits.

    From the initial applications, a select group of the most innovative startups will be chosen. This group will each be asked to present a working prototype of their product in front of the judging panel at Tech4Africa. The presentations will take place in the main auditorium at the conference, which runs from 27 to 28 October 2011.

    Gareth Knight, the Managing Director of Tech4Africa, motivated the case for a competition like Ignite by using a number of high profile examples of startups who had gone onto greater success because of presentations they had made at tech conferences:

    “Twitter, FourSquare and Gowalla ‘broke’ in the US market, through their pitch stand demonstrations at SXSW,” he said, referring to the interactive component of the film, interactive and music festival, South by South West, held annually in Austin, Texas.

    Knight went on to speak about the motives behind Tech4Africa’s decision to launch the Ignite initiative saying, “Our DNA is: engage, inspire, enable and innovate and it is for this reason that we decided to launch Ignite to highlight amazing ideas and allow African startups to use Tech4Africa as a platform to enable them to gain valuable press exposure and early stage investment.”

    From the top eight presentations, a winner will be chosen. Although there is no formal prize, the winner will be given the chance to present their product to the entire Tech4Africa audience. They will also receive valuable exposure and profiling through the Tech4Africa website and Tech4Africa.tv.

    The names which will appear on the judging panel have yet to be released, although Tech4Africa are stressing the high calibre of the speakers who will be appearing at this year’s conference.

    The keynote addressees include Josh Spear, one of the youngest and most respected digital marketing strategists in the world, and Herman Chinery-Hesse, sometimes referred to as ‘The Bill Gates of Africa’. Spear and Chinery-Hesse join African and international thought leaders from organisations like Amazon, Hewlett Packard, Johns Hopkins University and Mozilla, amongst others.

    The deadline for Ignite submissions is 31 August and the finalists will be announced in the first week of September.

  • BlackBerry is the most desirable handset among teenagers and tertiary-level students in SA, but they aren’t using the devices to make voice calls.

    A new study from London-based research firm MobileYouth shows that one in two students in SA wants a BlackBerry.

    SA’s online student community business, Student Village, was one of the local companies to conduct research for the final report. Managing partner Marc Kornberger says that although Android is growing in popularity in the youth market, the most desired phone remains the BlackBerry.

    The report suggests that handset manufacturers that will enjoy the most success with younger consumers will be the ones that can offer compelling alternatives to BlackBerry’s messenger service, BBM. The report says use of SMS will fall 20% in the next three years as more and more young people move to data-based messaging applications.

    Kornberger says part of the reason for BlackBerry’s popularity can be attributed to a shift in the way youngsters communicate. “Gone are the days of making voice calls,” he says. “Students now communicate with friends via social networks and chat services.”

    Student Village’s research shows students use their phones mainly for accessing Facebook and other social media. “Facebook sees the most prevalent use,” says Kornberger. “Students are also using their handsets to surf the Internet and SMS. The third most common handset use is listening to music and radio. Voice ranks very low down on the list.”

    Not only did MobileYouth find that seven out of ten students are already using a smartphone, but that by next year a staggering 15m young South Africans will be using smartphones of some description.

    The report also provides insights into how youngsters would like to receive marketing messages on their mobile phones. “We asked students what their preferred medium is for marketing messages. Some agencies would tell you that short codes and 2D codes are the best approaches. They’d be wrong,” says Kornberger.

    “Almost 63% of students said they favoured SMS over any other method,” says Kornberger. “Across the board, the least-preferred method was short codes where you have to SMS a number to get something back.”

    He says the youth expects three things from marketing: it needs to be easy, trusted, and cheap or free. “Short codes don’t work because they’re considered unnecessarily difficult, students don’t trust short-code services with their details, they don’t like the cost involved, and they are worried they’ll be subscribed to a paid service if they respond to a short code.”

    According to Student Village’s research, Facebook is the second most popular method for receiving marketing information, with instant messaging MXit coming in third. 

More

  • - Arthur Kouassi Aloco has been appointed at the head the telecoms regulator, the Agence des télécommunications de Côte d’Ivoire (ATCI). He used to be head of regulation at Côte d’Ivoire Telecom, the national incumbent.

  • Digital Migration and Spectrum Policy Summit
    30 July- 1 August 2011, Nairobi, Kenya

    Conference convened by the ATU
    Summary: Convener:ATU/Sponsor
    For more information visit here:

    Connecting Rural Communities Africa Forum
    Date: 24-26 August 2011, Kilimanjaro Hotel Kempinski, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, in conjunction with the Tanzanian Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology and the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority will be holding the sixth annual Connecting Rural Communities Africa Forum. With a milieu of ICT organisations such as Ericsson and Helios Towers Nigeria, the event promises to be an engaging forum in identifying regulatory, technical, financial and social challenges in providing connectivity in Africa.
    For more information visit here:

    Nigeria Com
    September 20 - September 21, 2011, Lagos, Nigeria

    For more information visit here:

    North Africa Com
    October 11 - October 12, 2011, Tunis, Tunisia

    For more information visit here:

    CDN World Summit
    2011 and Connected Home World Summit 2011
    26 - 28 October 2011, Hilton Hotel Paddington, London

    The 3rd annual CDN World Summit promises to be the largest and most comprehensive CDN event ever. We are pleased to announce our partnership with BT Wholesale as the host operator and those already confirmed to the stellar line up which willinclude over 80 speakers.
    For more information visit here:

    Africa Com
    November 9 - November 10, 2011, Cape Town, SA

    For more information visit here:

    World Telecom Summit 2011
    9–11 November, 2011, Singapore Marriott Hotel

    World Telecom Summit 2011 is the must-attend event of the year. Bringing together top level executives and key decision makers of preeminent telecommunications companies from around the world, this is the perfect opportunity to meet the who’s who of the telecommunications and mobile industry.  It is the summit that addresses the evolving needs of telecommunications and mobile community. Get up to date with the latest innovations and technological advancements in the industry and gain access to the minds of the movers and shakers of the industry.
    Take advantage of the Limited Early Bird Rates for Operator Pass!
    For more information please visit here:
    or contact Vivian at vivian.ho@olygen.com

  • BE A PARTNER IN WORLD 2011’s “IDEAS CONNECT THE WORLD”
     
    The opportunity: An open innovation competition

    Technology can do amazing things: It can change the way we live, how we do business, how we interact with the world and with each other.

    Technological innovation could transform the way your organization is perceived and how it communicates. This is your chance to learn how social media and new technologies can help your organisation to achieve its aims more efficiently, and engage its stakeholders more effectively.

    World 2011’s open innovation competition will connect you to digital talent. Together, through a guided process of collaboration, you will develop new connected products to help your organization achieve its aims more effectively, raise the brand visibility and engage wider audiences.

    ITU Telecom World 2011

    ITU Telecom World is 40 years old this year and to celebrate, there are some changes in the style and the format of the event.

    Connecting more global citizens will offer considerable commercial and social opportunities. From 24-27 October, thousands of influential private and public sector players will congregate in Geneva to make sure the right frameworks are in place to connect the world.

    World 2011 will provide a neutral platform for a global dynamic debate that will encompass a diverse range of global stakeholders.

    This debate would not be complete without digital innovators. World 2011 will deliver competitions designed to help organizations like yours to use connected technologies in innovative ways to make the world a better place.

     How does it work?
    Are you working for a NFP that is attempted to alleviate issues relevant to the UN's Millennium Development Goals:
    • alleviating poverty and hunger (including smart agriculture)
    • improving education for all
    • addressing gender inequality
    • access to health care
    • environmental sustainability
    ....or  addressing universal accessibility challenges?

    If so, you could benefit from this opportunity.
    The competition will run on the new World 2011 web platform, please click here to view:

    We will help you identify a core challenge and write your brief. The brief will be posted online and digital talent will be invited to submit seed responses. We will filter talent and engage you in the selection process. You and your selected developer will attend a training workshop where you will meet and learn from other NFPs and their partner developers. Through a process of pitching and peer feedback, ideas will become prototypes for products that answer your identified need.

  • Glo 1 and Julius Berger Construction - Nigeria
    Construction giant, Julius Berger has signed on to Glo 1 International submarine cable. By the terms of the contract, Glo 1 will provide Julius Berger communication infrastructure and services to meet the construction company's growing domestic and international connectivity needs. Giving details of the deal, Globacom's Group Chief Operating Officer (GCOO), Mohamed Jameel, said Glo 1 would provide the client international private leased circuit to connect their Abuja Headquarters to Julius Berger Wiesbaden, Germany, to ensure seamless data and voice communication between the Nigerian office and Julius Berger office in Germany.

    4G African and Volubill - Cameroon

    Volubill has announced that 4G Africa, a Swiss company operating in sub Saharan Africa has completed the first phase of a WiMAX network deployment in Cameroon which includes the implementation of Volubill's products. The 4G Africa project operates an integrated subscriber management system containing AAA, service policy management and real-time convergent billing capability, based on Volubill's commercial solution, and self-developed front-end applications for CRM, customer self-care and point-of-sales. The team has already implemented several WiMAX networks and has operational experience from running a WiMAX operator in Europe before.

Issue no 562 8th July 2011

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Top story

  • Beyond donor-funded web services and apps, new online commercial services are beginning to set up and attract traffic. Some like Eat Out in Kenya are generating actual revenues and have ambitious expansion plans, both geographically and with new online services. Unable to afford large marketing budgets, it has forged alliances with old print media. Russell Southwood talked to Mikul Shah, Managing Director, Eat Out.

    Q: Where did you get the idea for Eat Out?

    A: I was familiar with Top Table and London Eating from living in the UK. Eating out is primarily based on word of mouth. Restaurants don’t get much Return On Investment on print advertising. You don’t know how your money’s worked for you.

    Q: How did you get started and how does it work?

    A: We did a pilot with young restaurant owners who we knew would get the idea. It quickly worked without any SEO or search engine marketing and quickly captured the market.

    It works like Top Table but there is no integration with restaurant booking systems. We make the booking confirmation to the user by either SMS or e-mail but the booking with the restaurant is a manual process. There are no automated booking systems. We want to become start integrating with the Point of Sale systems but most are not online and those that are have too many different systems.

    The system is very simple because a lot of people are scared off from filling in a form and we’re not taking credit card information. But we get a tremendous response to our 10% off offers where you have to ring a special number.

    Q: How did you start collaborating with print partners?

    A: Our focus was web-based because we didn’t have the money to market the product so we thought let’s focus on keeping users booking through us. After a while, because we had all this information on restaurants, we thought we should turn our attention to print.

    We identified suitable print partners and offered them chef and restaurant reviews and shared ad revenues generated by these sections. It did a lot for the magazines and raised our profile. The print partners are free publications include Kenya Concierge (which goes into hotel rooms) and Buzz.

    Q: What’s the business model?

    A: We offer a two-tier service to restaurants. For US$1,000 a year, they get our booking service and banner advertising. There are 200 of these premium restaurants. Then for US$200 a year you get listed and have your telephone number: there just over 200 restaurants in this category.

    Q: Are you on mobile phones?

    A: We have recently launched a mobile site which is available on the following platforms: Blackberry, iPhone, Android and Samsung’s Bada. It’s not expensive and each website is launched by the app.

    We’re going to do an East Africa-wide app and we’re targeting iPhone and Android for that. We’re also talking about a “white label” version of the application for the mobile operators. There’s a huge war between operators on data use. We’re in negotiation with Safaricom and they’ve just put Eat Out on their portal.

    Q: Do you have other services?

    A: We also do Flicks Cinema Guide and have other products in line. One of our new products is Eat In where you can order restaurant food to be delivered. We will take payment and pay after a week or a month depending on the volume of orders, taking a 10% commission. We’re putting up the three largest shopping centres that have food courts. Lots of clients asked for this service. After that we want to add hospitality including hotels, lodges and accommodation. There is US$1 billion in tourism and we believe it would be easy to tap into a small amount.

    Q: You’ve attracted investment?

    A: Eat Out attracted a lot of attention from venture capital companies. After some discussion with two of them, we sold a 20% interest in the company to a Dutch company called Africa Media Ventures. This sale valued the company at US$1 million and our turnover in the last 12 months has been US$150,000.

    Q: What’s the traffic like on the site?

    A: We get 100,000 page views and 50,000 visits a month. In 2010 we actually booked 12,000 seats excluding parties above 20 seats. The mobile site has only just been launched so use is still in the hundreds but at the end of July we will start marketing it.

    Q: Who are your competitors?

    A: We don’t have competitors online really but I guess Yellow Pages and Mocality are our biggest competitors online.

    Q: Is there more potential for expansion?

    A: There is additional restaurant list potential because we believe so far we only have 75% penetration. We want to go to Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda and we’re talking to print partners there.

    Q: What other sites are there in Kenya?

    Dealfish is now one of the most popular online sites in Kenya and there a lot of other classified players. There are a few property sites and South Africa’s Bid or Buy (the equivalent of eBay) has opened in Kenya. There used to be lots of Groupon-style sites but only two have survived, Rupu and Zetu. I don’t think the market is big enough for this kind of product. There is some hype but it’s inflating real potential.

     


    This week on Balancing Act’s Web TV Channel:

    Remy Nweke, blogger, ICT Realms Online
    on the three big issues facing Nigeria, one which is the digital transition.

    Francis Ebuehi, Country Manager, Dealfish West Africa on the its online classifieds site

    David Afugani, Chief Marketing Officer, RLG on its Made in Ghana mobile handsets

    Nigel Waller, CEO and founder of Movirtu on the Cloud Phone and low-income and rural users

    Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on:
    @BalancingActAfr

     

telecoms

  • Mobile Number Portability (MNP) comes into effect in Ghana, bringing another revolution into the country’s already dynamic telecoms industry.

    On Thursday June 30, 2011, Parliament adopted the report of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation on the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) Regulations 2011, Legislative Instrument (LI) 1994, and by that action, MNP received the legal backing to begin.

    MNP is a process that allows a mobile subscriber who for any reason chooses to change from the existing provider to a competitor to do so and still keep his or her favourite mobile number including the code.

    Porting is a process that allows subscribers on network ‘A’ to move to network ‘B’ without having to be assigned a new number. This development is likely to make Ghana’s telecoms sector which industry players have described as ‘extremely competitive’ even more competitive. And this competition has been cited to have led to innovation in the sector.

    Initially, MNP was scheduled to have started on July 1, 2011, but was postponed to July 7, because July 1 was a public holiday.

    The system to be implemented in Ghana, according to Mr. Joshua K. Peprah, Director, Regulatory Administration at the NCA is “recipient network driven”. What this means, he says, is that the network that the subscriber is switching to is the one to initiate the move. “The subscriber only has to go to the recipient network, or the network he or she wants to switch to and the switch is initiated at that point.”

    He said the donor network or the network provider the subscriber is switching from would only have to accept or reject with reasons.

    According to the NCA there are only few reasons for rejecting porting. These are: number not being active on the donor network – that is the network that a subscriber is moving away from. Fraud having been reported; phone reported stolen; not enough of the ID items matching with the request.

    The request to port to a different operator may not be rejected in the case of debt still owed to the donor network, according to the NCA.

    It also says the donor network is obliged to refund any unused portion of deposit that the customer paid to it, after subtracting unpaid bills and usage that has not yet been billed, especially in the case of post-paid customers. Prepaid subscribers however, would lose their credit if they switch to another provider before they have exhausted their calling credit, the NCA says.

    The porting or switching to a new provider, according to the NCA, can be done within 24 hours of the request. It is however, not clear who the biggest gainers would be among the country’s five mobile operators. Six companies are licensed to operate in Ghana – these are MTN, Vodafone, Tigo, Airtel, Expresso and Globacom. But Globacom is yet to start operations.

    Even though, some subscribers are excited about the prospects, and have indicated their desire to port, service quality, price and what other value added services the providers offer are likely to determine which network the largest number of subscribers would move to.

    Some mobile subscribers on Facebook have written on their pages that they would port. One person however, wrote on the Facebook page: “A friend’s description of MNP is moving from one crappy network to anoter”.

    The steps to porting are simple. A subscriber who wants to port would have to go to the recipient operator or provider that he or she wants to switch to with the phone. Subscriber must have a valid ID card to be able to initiate the process, because ownership of the phone would be verified, it is important that one uses the same ID card that one used to register the phone.

    The recipient network would initiate all the necessary processes and a new SIM card would be provided to the subscriber, provided there are no valid reasons as outlined by the NCA for the donor network to reject the porting request.

    Porting should have cost the subscriber $2.5 but some of the providers, have offered to absorb cost.

  • Egypt's revolution has not dimmed Telecom Egypt's ambition to push further into mobile phone services and the company aims to secure a mobile virtual network licence towards the end of the year, its chairman said.

    The mostly state-owned landline monopoly is relying, for now, on data services to offset lower fixed-line income and has also been trying to establish a mobile operation to boost longer-term growth prospects.

    Telecom Egypt owns a 45 percent stake in Vodafone's Egyptian mobile venture but does not have management control and only consolidates part of the profits from that business.

    Analysts have played down the prospect the army-backed government overseeing the country since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in February will take major decisions affecting the telecom sector without a stronger popular mandate.

    But Telecom Egypt chairman Akil Beshir said it was in talks with the national telecoms regulator over an MVNO licence.

    "Many people do not expect this government to take a major decision like introducing an MVNO, but we keep working on it," he told Reuters in an interview, adding a decision to grant the licence could come towards the end of the year.

    Beshir said his goal was to transform the 80-percent state-owned company into a "total telecom service provider" and that meant pushing into mobile services as a priority.

    Vodafone Egypt and Mobinil dominate the mobile market, followed by Etisalat Misr.

    Telecom Egypt offered, a year ago, to buy out Vodafone's 55 percent stake in Vodafone Egypt but the two sides could not agree on a price and Beshir said there were no talks over a buyout for the time being.

    "So, MVNO would be a good way of leveraging the partnership," he said, indicating Vodafone could collaborate on the MVNO if it felt the service was not competing directly with its own.

  • Microfone Telecom Nigeria, an initiative of the Nigerian Capital Development Fund, is looking to take over the operations of fixed line incumbent Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL), after the latest attempt to sell the ailing telco was cancelled last month. Local newspaper The Punch reports that Microfone has submitted a letter of intent to the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to assume the operations of NITEL, stating that it wishes ‘to provide services to the very poor but hardworking Nigerians in the remotest parts of the country.’ The letter continues: ‘We hereby request that you [the BPE] consider transferring NITEL to Nigerians via Microfone Telecom Nigeria Limited for the benefit of the grass roots, the poor and underserved majority of Nigerians. We have a solution-driven approach and ability to resolve the current NITEL ailments within a short time that will benefit the company and further prepare it for sale to any future prospective and serious buyer.’ Microfone added that it is prepared to offer the BPE a management and transformation contract that includes financing the development of NITEL and the sale of the company at the end of the contract period.

    The latest attempt to privatise NITEL was cancelled last month when the reserve bidder, British Virgin Islands-based Omen International, failed to meet the deadline to pay a bid security. Omen was invited to re-register its interest in buying NITEL in March 2011, after preferred buyer New Generation Telecommunications repeatedly missed the payment deadlines for its bid of USD2.5 billion. Omen offered USD956.9 million during the latest attempt to privatise the company, held in February 2010. The government began seeking a buyer for a minimum 75% of NITEL and 100% of M-Tel in July 2009 after previous majority shareholder Transcorp divested its stake earlier in the year. The BPE is now reportedly considering other options for NITEL, including setting a minimum price and offering it to the remaining bidders, as well as liquidating the struggling company, or restarting the whole bidding process again.

  • Essar Telecoms yuMobile has welcomed a proposals for a common system facilitating mobile money transfers across networks. The proposal is part of the recommendation by a task force set up by the PMs office to look into mobile telephony improvement in Kenya.

    A common transfer system will mean that a subscriber of any mobile network will be able to send and receive money via their mobiles to and from any other network.

    "It is our desire to give our subscribers the very best in services and one way of doing that is to ensure that we eliminate any blockages that hinder consumers from making choices that suit their needs" says Madhur Taneja, yuMobile Country Manager. A shared money transfer system will offer convenience and flexibility to users.

internet

  • The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank has approved three projects totaling US$92 million to boost ICT infrastructure and access to better services in three African countries. Burkina Faso, Guinea and The Gambia received grants of US$23 million, US$ 34 million and US$35 million respectively, as part of a US$300 million West Africa Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (WARCIP) as endorsed by the Board on January 20, 2011.

    According to Boutheina Guermazi, one of the two Task Team Leaders with Mavis Ampah, "the three nations currently have some of the highest connectivity costs in the world, and are among the few countries in West Africa which are not connected to the global network of broadband optical fiber infrastructure".

    The Gambia and Guinea, as smaller coastal states are often seen as unattractive investment opportunities and consequently by-passed by private submarine cable consortia, he added. Burkina Faso, as a landlocked country, has always depended on the cooperation of its neighbors for international access, often at high and uncompetitive prices. The projects will help usher in major infrastructural revolution in these countries.

    "Addressing connectivity gaps and deployment of broadband networks in The Gambia, Guinea and Burkina Faso will stimulate investment and economic growth in the three countries and will accelerate the realization of an integrated regional ICT market", said Mavis Ampah.

    The projects' development objectives are to contribute to increasing the geographical reach of broadband networks and to reducing the costs of communications services in each of the territories of The Gambia, Guinea and Burkina Faso.

    The projects are designed to encourage and support private sector investment using catalytic financing and PPP arrangements to minimize public investment.

    The projects recognize that the creation of pro-competitive enabling environments is a prerequisite for affordable connectivity. The projects therefore focus on fostering an enabling environment in the sector by facilitating liberalization, open and non-discriminatory access to capacity, as well as building capacity of regulators to ensure that fair rules of competition apply in the sector, emphasized the Task Team Leaders.

    "This is truly a unique opportunity to transform the lives of average citizens by providing better and affordable basic services through the use of ICT", said Boutheina Guermazi.

  • Government needs to make it easier for telecommunications operators to build infrastructure, especially fibre-optic networks, as red tape and conflicting requirements are slowing the ability of companies to build broadband networks.

    Howard Earley, chief operating officer at Dimension Data subsidiary Plessey, says receiving the necessary environmental approvals and permits from municipalities and the department of water affairs to build fibre networks is becoming a big issue.

    “There’s not a uniform environmental standard from one metro to the next and no uniform mechanism from the department of water affairs,” Earley says.

    Earley says that although it’s important for regulations to protect the environment, new and uniform rules are needed to guide fibre projects. Plessey is responsible in large part for the Vodacom, MTN and Neotel fibre build between Johannesburg and Durban and Earley says the project has been delayed because of outstanding licences from water affairs. “The consortium can’t get them and until they do that link can’t be used for the purpose it was intended.”

    Different rules from municipalities have also slowed progress. “If you get to a bridge, one guy will say hang it under the bridge, while the next will say they want in-road trenching, and so it carries on, so there is no universal approach.”

    Earley says the country would be “much better served” if there was one standard which operators were expected to adhere to.

    Even within big metros, there are sometimes conflicting requirements, he says. “It would be very good if there was one overall body that decided on the standards and what was required and who the issuing party would be in terms of giving you the licence to operate.”

    One way this could happen is if one central government department took ownership of the issue, though Earley admits this could take time. He feels it’s an issue the department of communications should deal with in its forthcoming broadband strategy document. “If we could just get the bigger metros to agree [on standards], that would be first prize.”

    Elsewhere in Africa, environmental impact approvals are not nearly as stringent as they are in SA, but Earley thinks that in many of these markets the rules are too lax. “There should be some minimum requirements.”

  • Access to high-speed internet in Zimbabwe continues to be prohibitive partly due to charges levied by operators but the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) says the recent surge in competition should see costs dramatically going down.

    Responding to inquiries from Standard Business, Potraz deputy director general Alfred Marisa said the reduction of costs is also a function of competition, as there is need for a number of companies to sell bandwidth.

    "In our case, one other consideration is that we are a landlocked country, hence in order to access the undersea cable we have to incur extra costs of leasing capacity from operators in countries with a coast line to connect to the undersea cable," he said.

    PowerTel was the first company to provide access to the undersea cable through Botswana and has recently established another link to the Seacom through Mozambique.

    Marisa said due to competition brought about by Ecoweb, a subsidiary of Econet Wireless and sourcing of cheaper bandwidth from Seacom, Powertel had already on two occasions reduced its bandwidth charges.

    "With TelOne recently connecting to the undersea cable, we expect an increase in competition which should drive bandwidth costs further down," he said.

    Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, Sam Kundishora said although Zimbabwe has a high-speed link through undersea cable connecting via Mutare-Beira, the challenge lies with lack of feeders.

    "The major challenge we are facing is that there are no feeders into the high-speed link in terms of last mile connectivity, and this is consequently restricting the link to certain areas," said Kundishora, adding that the country had high-speed internet access in excess of one gigabyte per second.

computing

  • Tech Mahindra, a global systems integrator and business transformation consulting company, plans to establish its Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) operations in Nigeria.

    The company hopes that by establishing their headquarters in Nigeria, the West African country will serve as a gateway to other African markets.

    Tech Mahindra’s President of Corporate Affairs and Business Services Group Sujit Baksi says the company plans to increase its African footprint after two years of Nigerian operations.

    Baksi adds that over the last two years, the firm has partnered with a number of leading telecom operators in Nigeria, including MTN and Multi-Links and also recently won a lucrative Bharti Airtel Africa deal to set up Airtel’s BPO operations in seven countries.

    “We are extremely excited to be a part of the growing market in Africa. We have already helped our customers in Africa reduce their operating costs and generate new revenue streams. Tech Mahindra has recruited over a thousand local employees in Nigeria and it is our strategy to nurture local talent for effectively executing our BPO operations,” says Baksi.

  • South Africa's Dimension Data (DiData) has acquired US enterprise cloud company OpSource for an undisclosed sum, as part of its efforts to accelerate and expand its cloud computing service offerings.

    The move will see DiData creating a centralised cloud solutions business unit, of which OpSource will form part. The unit will report directly to Dimension Data CEO Brett Dawson.

    OpSource provides expertise and automation technology to operate high-availability, business-critical cloud computing and hosting environments to over 600 enterprises, service providers and software-as-a-service independent software vendors.

    It employs 150 people and is headquartered in Santa Clara, California with operations in Virginia, the United Kingdom, Ireland and India.

    "Market readiness for cloud services is being enabled by technology maturation, along with clients' needs for more flexible services-centric, IT sourcing options," Dawson said in a statement this week. "Our decision to accelerate our focus on cloud services aligns to our long-standing strategy to become a services-led business."

    Over the past few years, Dimension Data has been building cloud-related skills and capabilities in the areas of virtualisation, data centre and storage, managed services and hosting, and IT outsourcing - all critical to enabling cloud architectures for clients.

    "OpSource brings a rich set of services, a sound cloud architecture, and extensive experience in cloud services that will meet immediate client needs - in addition to a cloud infrastructure which supports development and growth in this space," said Dawson. "We believe OpSource provides us with an accelerated time-to-market as their infrastructure and services are well-established and tested."

    According to OpSource co-founder and CEO Treb Ryan, mapping a migration path and architectural design for cloud is complex and requires in-depth understanding of an organisation's entire IT infrastructure, architecture, and relative interdependencies and risks.

    "An understanding of IT integration across disparate multi-technology, multi-geography, IT environments is critical to evolving toward cloud-based architectures," he said. "We believe that as part of Dimension Data, OpSource will be better able to capitalise on the global cloud computing market opportunity.

    "We're thrilled to be a part of the Dimension Data family."

    In July 2010, Japan's Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT), a leading global telecoms provider, acquired Dimension Data for approximately £2.1-billion, leading to its delisting from the JSE.

  • Knowledge of computers is to become compulsory for students aspiring to join the government's tertiary training institutions.

    A baseline survey conducted by the Ministry of Higher Education in the 47 mid-level colleges in the country shows that 80 per cent of students, lecturers and administrators in the institutions are not computer proficient.

    The survey further notes that studies in computers will be offered during the first year of learning, regardless of the course that one will be pursuing in colleges.

    "A curriculum is to be developed for all entry level students to ensure they acquire good foundation computer skills," the government report says, adding that where already offered, the curriculum is to be revised.

    This means that more than 18,000 students currently enrolled in the institutions that include polytechnics, university colleges, technical training institutes and institutes of technology may undergo refresher courses in computers.

    Findings from the baseline indicate that the institutions do not have a formal computers policy. Of the few institutions, only a fifth have developed computers work plans and have made budget allocations.

    Although a high level of confidence has been registered in the relevance of existing computers policies, respondents cast doubt on institutional capacity for policy implementation.

    "The ministry will explore globally recognised options or other internationally certifiable computer courses that are aligned to the job market and for which students will earn additional certifications," the report says.

    The findings that are yet to be made official to the colleges say the curriculum is not in-step with job market requirements.

    Lecturers are aware of the potential of computers to enrich teaching practices, but have neither the skills nor the access to computers to integrate the new tools and methodologies in curriculum.

    The survey was conducted starting last year and the aim was to assess computer proficiency in the colleges at a time that Kenya is working towards becoming a middle income economy and eventually a knowledge society by implementing its developmental blueprint -- Vision 2030.

    In the new order, course schedules will be reviewed to allow for the acquisition of computer skills. "Additional attention needs to be given to ensure that adequate time is built into class schedules to accommodate this," says the report.

    The registered frequency of use of computers in teaching practice was rated poorly. "This is partly due to low computer (knowledge) among lecturers since the art of teaching and learning through and with computers is largely driven by individuals rather than institutional policy."

    The report therefore recommends a review in the curriculum at the teacher training institutions.

    Access to tools and resources at the institutions should also be planned. "The complexity of integrating computers in education demands careful planning and execution," says the report.

    Specialised computer skills are required in the work place for production and communication, and are seen as an essential complement to traditional content knowledge, in courses such as engineering, science, and accounting.

    This, according to the report calls for systemic collection and analysis of data on the level of computers use in the institutions.

    Most of the students expressed concerns that both the curriculum and assessment systems were outmoded.

    Secondary school leavers who do not proceed to university directly join the colleges for two year craft courses or three year diploma (technician) courses.

    And primary school leavers who do not join secondary school may join the many youth polytechnics which are also considered tertiary institutions.

    National polytechnics, technical teachers colleges, institutes of technology, technical training institutes, industrial training centres, youth polytechnics, vocational training centres and other private commercial colleges shall be affected by this new plan.

    There has been an upgrading of the institutions to universities of technology but there is also the upgrading of youth polytechnics to technical institutions.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • South Africa's MTN has said that it will support plans by the Rwandan government to float its 10 percent stake in MTN Rwanda onto the local stock market, ending speculation that MTN might try to buy the stake instead.

    The government previously said that it wanted to sell the stake, and that it is also seeking to boost its newly opened stock exchange by floating state-owned companies on it.

    "We have not made a final decision on how to structure our shares. But we would wish the public to own what they have done in Rwanda," Shauket Fakie, MTN Group Executive in charge of business risk management told Business Times last week.

    The government would have needed approval from MTN, as the (55%) majority shareholder, to float its stake on the stock market.

    The country currently has three mobile networks, and the Mobile World analysts estimate their market shares at: MTN (53%); Rwandatel (33%) and Tigo (14%)

  • Mobile telephony in Kenya has lost the shine to attract investments owing to major cut in tariffs, Telkom Kenya CEO Mickael Ghossein has said. The company which has announced plans to inject Sh8 billion this year to build infrastructure for improving its network in addition to Sh7 billion invested in 2010, says it does not expect immediate returns on the investment.

    With uncertainties in the market and increasing global cost of doing business it is pushing hopes of return on their investments to between five to eight years. "We keep on investing but the returns are not assured, expectations for 2011 are worse," said Ghossein in an interview.

    Telkom has been in the forefront of lobbying for a stop to further reduction in mobile interconnection rates. "Voice has become more or less free. globally, there are big hopes in data," he said adding the roll out of its 3G next month will boost its share in the data market. Telkom has also postponed plans to launch its triple play technology which would have seen it add cable TV to its voice and data offering.

    Ghossein says this would call for money to be put in IPTV (Internet Protocol television) a system through which Internet television services are delivered but they are short of money to do it "This country has big potential, but with low revenues there is no enough money to invest back," adding lack of content was also an issue.

    According to CCK figures, Orange managed to increase its GSM service subscriber numbers by almost a million between October and December to get 8.5 market share. It is targeting to 2.8 million subscribers by the end of this year and hoping to take the second position -currently held by Airtel - in the next two years.

  • Zambia’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has issued an unconditional final authorisation for the creation of a joint venture between Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) and Liquid Telecommunications Holdings Limited of Mauritius. According to the Zambia Times, under the terms of the approval, a new company – CEC Liquid Telecommunications – will be created, with the joint venture expected to be a 50/50 split between the two partner companies. Both CEC and Liquid are expected to invest a combined USD30 million in the venture.

    Despite CEC already being operational in the fibre-optic sector, and holding a market share of around 40%, the CCPC said that it did not envisage the deal raising any competition concerns, with the watchdog’s director of consumer and public relations Brian Lingela noting: ‘The board held that no market player was likely to be removed from the market as a result of the joint venture, as Liquid Telecoms had no known presence in Zambia.’

  • iBurst Africa is a wireless data provider established by its current founder and CEO, Thami Mtshali, to offer superior connectivity solutions to consumers and businesses on the African continent.

    iBurst Africa has established operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Ghana and intends to launch its services in newly independent, South Sudan.

    iBurst, which was established in April 2005, has invested heavily in the South African market but is seeing a higher return on investment in the DRC. To date the central African country is its most lucrative market on the continent.

    “The DRC has a population of about 80 million people. It’s a very good market for iBurst Africa,” says Mtshali.

    “The DRC remains one of our company’s most profitable markets.”

    When asked if iBurst Africa will ever be Africa’s leading data provider – Mtshali confidently points to his company’s success in the DRC as an indication of things to come.

    Mtshali recalls a time in 2006 when he had to drive from Kinshasa in the DRC to Congo Brazzaville in order to send a 2MG file.

    “Today the same place has a lot of broadband services. There’s been a substantial growth in Africa within the entire broadband space,” says Mtshali.

    Mtshali did however state that starting an ISP business on the continent could be daunting due to regulatory and language barriers.

    “To conduct a business in Mozambique I have to know how to speak Portuguese, and then as soon as I enter the DRC I have to speak Belgian French. It can get confusing,” says Mtshali.

    Apart from language barriers, African businesses also grapple with outdated and unwritten laws.

    “Some of the licenses are written in the country’s native language and require shareholders agreements be written in a similar language,” says Mtshali.

    In some countries, company laws are less stringent. “For example in the DRC, iBurst Africa did not have to issue a shareholders certificate, however we were charged for other business activities including billboard advertising, transfer of money, importing and exporting duties”.

    While in Nigeria Mtshali says he struggled to get reliable Internet connectivity. He even had to resort to using a competitor’s connection in order to watch a YouTube video.

    Inspite of the numerous challenges faced by African business people, Mtshali is adamant that the best strategy for a successful entry into Africa is to understand the risks and “Just do it!”

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Mobile operator, MTC Namibia, has announced that it is in the process of extending its coverage to areas that are not covered countrywide. Currently, MTC network performance coverage is 90 percent in terms of geographical location while the actual population covered is 64 percent. MTC recently finalized strategic plans with all 13 Regional Governors to identify areas that are not covered in their regions.

    - In Kenya, mobile operator, yu, has launched the lowest cross-network SMS rate in the market. Its subscribers can now send text messages to other local networks for 50 cents. Its competitors, Airtel charge Sh1 while Safaricom and Telkom charge Sh2 for messages across networks.

    - MTN and airtime remittance services provider, TransferTo, have teamed up to offer international mobile top-up services to customers across borders via TransferTo’s global network. The service is available through various channels, please click here, or via sending partners in countries such as the UK, the US, Canada, France, Spain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Digital Content

  • Tech4Africa, one of the continent’s most prominent web and emerging technology conferences, has launched an initiative called Ignite, which will provide leading African startups with the opportunity to pitch their products to a carefully curated panel of Angel investors, mentors and business leaders.

    Startups selected to partake in the Tech4africa Ignite pitches will be given five minutes to showcase their products, with the opportunity to gain not only potential investors but also invaluable exposure to the wider Tech4Africa audience of thought leaders, decision makers, journalists, influential people and potential recruits.

    From the initial applications, a select group of the most innovative startups will be chosen. This group will each be asked to present a working prototype of their product in front of the judging panel at Tech4Africa. The presentations will take place in the main auditorium at the conference, which runs from 27 to 28 October 2011.

    Gareth Knight, the Managing Director of Tech4Africa, motivated the case for a competition like Ignite by using a number of high profile examples of startups who had gone onto greater success because of presentations they had made at tech conferences:

    “Twitter, FourSquare and Gowalla ‘broke’ in the US market, through their pitch stand demonstrations at SXSW,” he said, referring to the interactive component of the film, interactive and music festival, South by South West, held annually in Austin, Texas.

    Knight went on to speak about the motives behind Tech4Africa’s decision to launch the Ignite initiative saying, “Our DNA is: engage, inspire, enable and innovate and it is for this reason that we decided to launch Ignite to highlight amazing ideas and allow African startups to use Tech4Africa as a platform to enable them to gain valuable press exposure and early stage investment.”

    From the top eight presentations, a winner will be chosen. Although there is no formal prize, the winner will be given the chance to present their product to the entire Tech4Africa audience. They will also receive valuable exposure and profiling through the Tech4Africa website and Tech4Africa.tv.

    The names which will appear on the judging panel have yet to be released, although Tech4Africa are stressing the high calibre of the speakers who will be appearing at this year’s conference.

    The keynote addressees include Josh Spear, one of the youngest and most respected digital marketing strategists in the world, and Herman Chinery-Hesse, sometimes referred to as ‘The Bill Gates of Africa’. Spear and Chinery-Hesse join African and international thought leaders from organisations like Amazon, Hewlett Packard, Johns Hopkins University and Mozilla, amongst others.

    The deadline for Ignite submissions is 31 August and the finalists will be announced in the first week of September.

  • BlackBerry is the most desirable handset among teenagers and tertiary-level students in SA, but they aren’t using the devices to make voice calls.

    A new study from London-based research firm MobileYouth shows that one in two students in SA wants a BlackBerry.

    SA’s online student community business, Student Village, was one of the local companies to conduct research for the final report. Managing partner Marc Kornberger says that although Android is growing in popularity in the youth market, the most desired phone remains the BlackBerry.

    The report suggests that handset manufacturers that will enjoy the most success with younger consumers will be the ones that can offer compelling alternatives to BlackBerry’s messenger service, BBM. The report says use of SMS will fall 20% in the next three years as more and more young people move to data-based messaging applications.

    Kornberger says part of the reason for BlackBerry’s popularity can be attributed to a shift in the way youngsters communicate. “Gone are the days of making voice calls,” he says. “Students now communicate with friends via social networks and chat services.”

    Student Village’s research shows students use their phones mainly for accessing Facebook and other social media. “Facebook sees the most prevalent use,” says Kornberger. “Students are also using their handsets to surf the Internet and SMS. The third most common handset use is listening to music and radio. Voice ranks very low down on the list.”

    Not only did MobileYouth find that seven out of ten students are already using a smartphone, but that by next year a staggering 15m young South Africans will be using smartphones of some description.

    The report also provides insights into how youngsters would like to receive marketing messages on their mobile phones. “We asked students what their preferred medium is for marketing messages. Some agencies would tell you that short codes and 2D codes are the best approaches. They’d be wrong,” says Kornberger.

    “Almost 63% of students said they favoured SMS over any other method,” says Kornberger. “Across the board, the least-preferred method was short codes where you have to SMS a number to get something back.”

    He says the youth expects three things from marketing: it needs to be easy, trusted, and cheap or free. “Short codes don’t work because they’re considered unnecessarily difficult, students don’t trust short-code services with their details, they don’t like the cost involved, and they are worried they’ll be subscribed to a paid service if they respond to a short code.”

    According to Student Village’s research, Facebook is the second most popular method for receiving marketing information, with instant messaging MXit coming in third. 

More

  • - Arthur Kouassi Aloco has been appointed at the head the telecoms regulator, the Agence des télécommunications de Côte d’Ivoire (ATCI). He used to be head of regulation at Côte d’Ivoire Telecom, the national incumbent.

  • Digital Migration and Spectrum Policy Summit
    30 July- 1 August 2011, Nairobi, Kenya

    Conference convened by the ATU
    Summary: Convener:ATU/Sponsor
    For more information visit here:

    Connecting Rural Communities Africa Forum
    Date: 24-26 August 2011, Kilimanjaro Hotel Kempinski, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, in conjunction with the Tanzanian Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology and the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority will be holding the sixth annual Connecting Rural Communities Africa Forum. With a milieu of ICT organisations such as Ericsson and Helios Towers Nigeria, the event promises to be an engaging forum in identifying regulatory, technical, financial and social challenges in providing connectivity in Africa.
    For more information visit here:

    Nigeria Com
    September 20 - September 21, 2011, Lagos, Nigeria

    For more information visit here:

    North Africa Com
    October 11 - October 12, 2011, Tunis, Tunisia

    For more information visit here:

    CDN World Summit
    2011 and Connected Home World Summit 2011
    26 - 28 October 2011, Hilton Hotel Paddington, London

    The 3rd annual CDN World Summit promises to be the largest and most comprehensive CDN event ever. We are pleased to announce our partnership with BT Wholesale as the host operator and those already confirmed to the stellar line up which willinclude over 80 speakers.
    For more information visit here:

    Africa Com
    November 9 - November 10, 2011, Cape Town, SA

    For more information visit here:

    World Telecom Summit 2011
    9–11 November, 2011, Singapore Marriott Hotel

    World Telecom Summit 2011 is the must-attend event of the year. Bringing together top level executives and key decision makers of preeminent telecommunications companies from around the world, this is the perfect opportunity to meet the who’s who of the telecommunications and mobile industry.  It is the summit that addresses the evolving needs of telecommunications and mobile community. Get up to date with the latest innovations and technological advancements in the industry and gain access to the minds of the movers and shakers of the industry.
    Take advantage of the Limited Early Bird Rates for Operator Pass!
    For more information please visit here:
    or contact Vivian at vivian.ho@olygen.com

  • BE A PARTNER IN WORLD 2011’s “IDEAS CONNECT THE WORLD”
     
    The opportunity: An open innovation competition

    Technology can do amazing things: It can change the way we live, how we do business, how we interact with the world and with each other.

    Technological innovation could transform the way your organization is perceived and how it communicates. This is your chance to learn how social media and new technologies can help your organisation to achieve its aims more efficiently, and engage its stakeholders more effectively.

    World 2011’s open innovation competition will connect you to digital talent. Together, through a guided process of collaboration, you will develop new connected products to help your organization achieve its aims more effectively, raise the brand visibility and engage wider audiences.

    ITU Telecom World 2011

    ITU Telecom World is 40 years old this year and to celebrate, there are some changes in the style and the format of the event.

    Connecting more global citizens will offer considerable commercial and social opportunities. From 24-27 October, thousands of influential private and public sector players will congregate in Geneva to make sure the right frameworks are in place to connect the world.

    World 2011 will provide a neutral platform for a global dynamic debate that will encompass a diverse range of global stakeholders.

    This debate would not be complete without digital innovators. World 2011 will deliver competitions designed to help organizations like yours to use connected technologies in innovative ways to make the world a better place.

     How does it work?
    Are you working for a NFP that is attempted to alleviate issues relevant to the UN's Millennium Development Goals:
    • alleviating poverty and hunger (including smart agriculture)
    • improving education for all
    • addressing gender inequality
    • access to health care
    • environmental sustainability
    ....or  addressing universal accessibility challenges?

    If so, you could benefit from this opportunity.
    The competition will run on the new World 2011 web platform, please click here to view:

    We will help you identify a core challenge and write your brief. The brief will be posted online and digital talent will be invited to submit seed responses. We will filter talent and engage you in the selection process. You and your selected developer will attend a training workshop where you will meet and learn from other NFPs and their partner developers. Through a process of pitching and peer feedback, ideas will become prototypes for products that answer your identified need.

  • Glo 1 and Julius Berger Construction - Nigeria
    Construction giant, Julius Berger has signed on to Glo 1 International submarine cable. By the terms of the contract, Glo 1 will provide Julius Berger communication infrastructure and services to meet the construction company's growing domestic and international connectivity needs. Giving details of the deal, Globacom's Group Chief Operating Officer (GCOO), Mohamed Jameel, said Glo 1 would provide the client international private leased circuit to connect their Abuja Headquarters to Julius Berger Wiesbaden, Germany, to ensure seamless data and voice communication between the Nigerian office and Julius Berger office in Germany.

    4G African and Volubill - Cameroon

    Volubill has announced that 4G Africa, a Swiss company operating in sub Saharan Africa has completed the first phase of a WiMAX network deployment in Cameroon which includes the implementation of Volubill's products. The 4G Africa project operates an integrated subscriber management system containing AAA, service policy management and real-time convergent billing capability, based on Volubill's commercial solution, and self-developed front-end applications for CRM, customer self-care and point-of-sales. The team has already implemented several WiMAX networks and has operational experience from running a WiMAX operator in Europe before.

Issue no. 108 - 7 July 2011

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  • The front-runners in the race to make the transition to digital broadcasting are now facing a range of issues including: who runs the signal carrier?; how those who can’t afford a decoder will pay for it; unrealistic deadlines and the absence of any public campaign to explain the process. The politicians seem scared by a process that could affect their citizen’s ability to watch television and are seeking to control the discussion about what’s going to happen. Russell Southwood looks at the early news from the front-runners.

    Making the transition to digital broadcasting was never going to be easy for any African country. In effect, the Government has to ask those of its citizens who own a television to pay US$50-100 for a decoder/set-top-box and ostensibly all they will they will then get is the television they are watching. Of course, there are potential benefits and you’d think that African governments and regulators might make a better fist of explaining them. Although the agreement to go digital was signed at an ITU meeting in 2006, most countries seem to be determined to avoid doing anything until the last minute.

    The following issues have begun to emerge in some countries and worth knowing about so that others can avoid them:

    Who runs the digital signal carrier?: In Kenya, the Government was originally determined to have all the broadcasters use a single signal carrier. Its original choice was Signet, a subsidiary of KBC: it was to have raised investment from external parties to handle the transmission signal roll-out. KBC had already set up a test signal with one of these external parties. The private sector broadcasters preferred not to be in the hands of the Government broadcaster and would have liked to set up their own signal carrier.

    However, the Government eventually lost patience with the slow pace of Signet’s progress and decided to let two licences for signal carriage. The Media Owners Association (MOA) had been wanting to bid as a consortium and Chinese-owned Star Times were the other bidder.

    But relatively late in the run-up to bidding, the Nation Group and Royal Media (which has the most extensive private analogue transmission network) decided to bid and the MOA said it would stand aside. Only one of the two licences was awarded to Star Times. The Nation Group and Royal Media are now suing in the courts and if the case is not thrown out, it could take several years to reach a decision.

    In Ghana, the Government has decided to go the path of a single signal carrier for Free-To-Air (FTA) television which because it does not have the money to fund the transition will involve an external investor. So the parties to the signal carrier will be the Government, the state broadcaster GBC, a consortium of all the FTA broadcasters (through the Ghana Independent Broadcasters’ Association) and the external investor who will operate the company on a “Build, Operate and Transfer” basis. The Government is simply saying to the bidders: come up with your best offer in terms of coverage area, rate of return and time period. There is to be a second signal carrier for Pay-TV operators.

    Because the Government was slow to address the digital transition, Swedish-owned NGB had set up a joint venture with the state broadcaster GBC to run a digital signal company (prior to any policy decision) which it hoped all broadcasters would use. The regulator took the right decision in saying that there was no policy so this arrangement had to be ended. Since NGB had already done the survey work for the transmission network, the Government is now having to insist the winning bidder will do this all over again so as not to appear to favour NGB.

    Both NGB and Start Times have a clear strategy of trying to get in with the state broadcaster ahead of the policy decisions. In NGB’s case, it has not been remarkably successful bit Star Times has seemed to make some big wins as we will see later.

    What will have to be resolved in Ghana with the winning bidder is what assets from each broadcaster (masts, transmission equipment) are worth to the external bidder and therefore what financial contribution each broadcaster is making. What is not clear is what will happen to those broadcasters who have relatively few assets to put into the pot or whose assets will not be redeployed.

    In Senegal, the Government has made the decision to set up a single signal carrier separate from the national broadcast company. The licensing process for this entity has not yet been announced but there is some talk that it might be one of the telcos, either Expresso or Sonatel. Again the existing assets of the broadcasters will be poured into it with all the ensuing arguments about the value of these assets.

    In Nigeria, the Presidential Committee set up to create the policy for the transition delivered its work to a demanding timetable and sent it off to the President. It has been with the President now for two years: the death of one President and elections have delayed it but insiders say that the President will sign off on the document “within the month”. We shall see….Government does not wear the same watch as the rest of us.

    In the meantime, Star Times has set up a joint venture with the state-owned broadcaster NTA and is selling Set-Top-Boxes for its single, low-cost bouquet. So far it has sold 400,000 Set-Top-Boxes and says it is selling 30,000 a month. However, this is small potatoes alongside the many million TV households in the country. It is also steadily adding transmission coverage areas with Port Harcourt being the latest added. It will be interesting to see whether the Government blesses this arrangement or (as it should do) rolls it back as was done in Ghana for a proper, transparent bidding process.

    What about those who can’t afford a Set-Top-Box?: Those who have written their digital transition policies and are beginning to implement them are rightly proud of their work but there is an empty hole where they should have addressed how they will get Set-Top-Boxes (STB) on low-income. Only South Africa really has a clearly stated policy with resources committed. The digital transition committees know the issue exists but have not really dealt with it.

    In most places the STB will cost US$50 and the policy-makers acknowledge that a South African scheme with subsidy direct to the user is likely to be abused: indeed, they say, what happens if we lower it to US$20 and people start exporting illegally to neighbouring countries? One of the Tanzanian signal carriers will rent the user a box for just under US$6 a month. The state broadcaster in Namibia, NBC, will give licence-payers a box for just over US$24.

    But in the main, there is much vague talk about prices coming down as volume sales kick in and remove taxes but the rest is silence: there is no coherent, written policy. The truth is that between 20-40% of the TV-owning population in each country will find it hard to buy the STB. Some may have relatives who will pay for it but the rest will be left without a signal once the switch-off happens. The ideal price point is probably somewhere around US$20.

    Unrealistic deadlines: Countries seem to be setting deadlines to “ginger things up” (as they say in Nigeria rather than these deadlines representing a realistic hope of completion. National pride seems to dictate a bidding war between the front-runners to set ever more stringent deadlines. For example, the Nigerian Government has a deadline of 2012, which it has not got a hope in hell of meeting. Elsewhere in the world the process has taken 3-14 years to complete.

    In Ghana the deadline for switch-off is 2014 but informed sources admitted that this deadline is likely to be the point at which a switch occurs in one area alone. Playing propaganda with these deadlines will undermine the credibility of the process in the long-run. Deadlines in the original timetable have already been missed and the kick-off the prepared public campaign now waits the resolution of the signal carrier bidding.

    At an APC workshop on the digital transition in Ghana last week, the new Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Communications made the mistake of comparing the process to the registration of SIM cards, where the deadline has already been postponed several times. The difference is there is no cost to the user and other than a bureaucratic few minutes registration time, no other pain involved.

    No-one seems to have understood that with a process this complicated, it is important to have answers to the issues outlined above and that the transition will become a political “hot potato” unless there are clear answers, particularly on what will happen for those who cannot afford to pay.

    For more information and case studies of Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, go to:

     


     

    This on Balancing Act’s Web TV Channel:

    Shuaib Nda Adama, Executive Director, Engineering, NTA on the digital broadcast transition in Nigeria.

    Remy Nweke, blogger, ICT Realms Online on the three big issues facing Nigeria, one which is the digital transition.

    Seyram Mankra, Media Insights Manager, Synovate, the main market research company for media, on the changes in the media landscape in Ghana and respective merits of radio and television for advertisers.

    In a new series, Seyram Mankra, Media Insights Manager, Synovate looks at What Ghanaians Watch on TV, drawing contrasts between male and female viewing. He also talks about his own viewing patterns as someone who is a professional in the industry.

    Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on:
    @BalancingActAfr

  • Akolawole Olootu has been an independent presenter on radio for thirty years but has also doubled as a Nollywood producer. He speaks to Segun Adebayo on why he stopped producing movies, his growing up and other issues. Rather bizarrely he claims that women producing Nollywood movies have unfair advantages.

    Q: How would you describe your sojourn into independent broadcasting?

    A: The journey started thirty years ago with my friend, Kolade Alabi, who introduced me to the profession. I actually started as a poet; I went to a lot of occasions then to entertain with songs and dances. I went presenting during one of Kolade Alabi’s programmes, he was the one who taught me all I needed to know concerning radio presentation. He knew everything about presentation before me; we started with one programme called Ejire with Radio Oyo during the time of Bisi Adesola, who was the General Manager of BCOS then. After sometime, we had different programmes, so, when Osun State was created, Kolade Alabi had to go to Osun State. After about five years, we parted ways without any problem. I started my programme, Oselenkejo about twenty six years ago. In fact, mine was the first independent radio presentation on Oyo Radio, there was nothing like paying for air time then, it was only the Christian and Muslim programmes that they do pay for these days. I am the first independent radio presenter that bought airtime in BCOS.

    Q: You did not start as a presenter; you started as a poet, why the change of focus?

    A: The kind of presentation we do then was purely grassroots and majorly Yoruba programmes. Any professional poet should be able to fit into radio presentation without any problem, so it became very easy for me to switch over to radio programming because of the experience I had garnered over the years when I was under the tutelage of Kolade Alabi. I was trained by him, because he had been with Radio Nigeria for a long time before I met him, he gave me the idea and it became a success.

    Q: At what point of your life did you discover your talent for presentation or did it just happen overnight?

    A: It has always been part of me when I was very young and I can say that I noticed the gift when I was in primary school, I was one of the most outspoken boys during our days. During our end of the year activities, I was always the one speaking on behalf of other pupils. I read so many Yoruba books, listened to Olarawaju Adepoju, Tubosun Oladapo and others. I love listening to their music a lot when I was growing up, so I was able to pick one or two things from them that helped my growing up and shaped my intellectual ability. I was from a very poor family, because we couldn’t afford quite a number of things. The passion and interest of what I do is what I am enjoying today; I did not start because I wanted to make money, the interest was always in my mind every time and because I knew I was good at what I am doing, I was very sure that one day there will be a break through.

    Q: Which was your first episode?

    My first programme on air was Bodewasinmi, I was very happy because it was my first time on air, I went to everybody and told them that my programme will be coming live on air, I mean the excitement and the fun was so overwhelming. Another funny thing then was that it was not a money spinning business like what we have today, the highest you get then was 100 naira.

    Q: You have not been producing movies for sometime now, did you relinquish movie for radio presentation?

    A: I left movie production because the economy was very bad and it was not encouraging for somebody who wants to produce quality movie to survive, the buyers are also not supportive. People love watching Nigerian movies but they don’t want to pay for it. How can you buy fifteen films in one CD for 100 naira? Piracy, poor state of economy, bad market, and distribution are the major problems that have reduced the development of good movie production. If you watch most movies today; you will discover that they are produced by women, and the funny thing is that when you ask them where they get the money from, they will say my boyfriend gave me or somebody very special dashed me, I mean all sorts of stories that you can’t imagine. You cannot invest ten million naira and make that kind of money back, and the truth is that I am not an actor neither am I looking for fame, all I want is to invest money and make cool cash at the end.

    Q: Are you saying bad economy forced you out of Nollywood?

    A: Not really, but we are actually planning to come back very soon with something bigger and better. The movie industry is presently in a sick state and I pray it gets out of the mess for the betterment of everybody. Let the government flush out piracy from the movie industry and it will become boom.

    Full article here

    Related

    New market report: VoD and Africa - A review of existing VoD services, drivers, challenges and opportunities (Dec. 2013) - VoD, a way to reduce content piracy.

  • Opening up the world to South Africans each year, Encounters is widely acclaimed as Africa’s most prestigious documentary festival. This year’s selection featured 37 films from 14 countries and five continents, including 11 world premieres, 19 South African films and 17 international films.

    Khalid Shamis’ ‘Imam & I’ was the most popular local film and the overall audience favourite at Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, which ended on Sunday, 26 June 2011.

    Imam & I is a tribute to Shamis’ grandfather, the influential 1960s Imam Abdullah Haron, and an exploration of the Muslim community’s participation (and lack thereof) in the anti-Apartheid struggle. It sold out its three screenings, as well as an additional screening put on due to audience demand. 81% of audience respondents rated the documentary as “excellent.”

    Charles Ferguson’s Oscar-winning Inside Job was the favourite international film, and the second most popular film overall. This scathing dissection of the global financial crisis sold out one of its Cape Town screening and was the second most watched film during the festival, after Simon Bright’s Robert Mugabe: What Happened?

    Disney’s wildlife blockbuster African Cats was the second most popular international film, followed by Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, an astonishingly honest portrait of the groundbreaking comedian at 75. These were also the third and fourth most popular films overall respectively.

    Mama Goema: The Cape Town Beat in Five Movements was the second most popular local film, and the fifth favourite overall. This multinational documentary – co-directed by Columbia’s Angela Ramirez, Portugal’s Sara Gouveia and South Africa’s Calum MacNaughton - is a love letter to Cape Town and its unique soundtrack. Mama Goema, which screened with Once Upon a Day: Brenda Fassie, sold out three of its five screenings at Encounters.  

    The third most popular local film, and the sixth favourite overall, was Lauren Beukes’ Glitterboys and Ganglands, the colourful story of three contestants at Miss Gay Western Cape. It sold out three of its four screenings during the festival.

    This year’s Encounters had a record 22 sell-outs over the 18 days; these included Robert Mugabe: What Happened?; From B-Boys to Being Men and Zip Zap: A Social Circus; Porselynnkas Dokiementer; The Creators;  Forerunners – South Africa’s New Black Middleclass; and Mining for Change: A Story of South African Mining.

    “We’ve seen an increased interest and a marked improvement in the local content this year,” says Festival Director Mandisa Zitha. “Between the sell-outs, the lively Q&As after the films, and the extensive press coverage, we’re very happy with how this year’s festival went.”

    The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) is the primary sponsor of Encounters, which is made possible by the further support of The National Film and Video Foundation, The Cape Film Commission, The Provincial Government of The Western Cape, The City of Cape Town, The Times, Nu Metro, Tempest Car Hire, The French Embassy, The Embassy of Sweden, Goethe Institut, HCI Foundation, Rutland Lodge, BASA, Exclusive Books and CTV. Please visit here:

    Trailers of major films

    Imam and I

    Inside Job

    African Cats

    Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

    Mama Goema

    Glitterboys and Ganglands

  • In June 2011, Producer Anant Singh announced the World Premiere of the film “2010 - Once In A Lifetime: The Movie” which focuses on the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the excitement and jubilation that this global event brought to South Africa and the African continent, took place in Johannesburg on Wednesday, 8 June 2011 with Minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalula as Guest of Honour. The film had its television premiere on Friday, 10 June at 8.00pm on DSTV's SuperSport 3 to mark the anniversary of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The film which is co-produced with SuperSport, has Singh and MultiChoice Group CEO, Imtiaz Patel as producers and award-winning director, Junaid Ahmed at the helm.

    2010 - Once In A Lifetime: The Movie, explores South Africa's successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, integrating inspiring visuals, exhilarating music and compelling interviews with a range of people - from FIFA and LOC officials, government representatives, high profile personalities, celebrities and most importantly, the man in the street and is narrated by renowned international football commentator and Guinness World Record holder, John Helm. The film captures the passionate commitment and vision of South Africa and its people and the continent of Africa to the beautiful game. This film celebrates the spirit and the magic of a very unique FIFA World Cup - the first ever African World Cup.

    Commenting on the film, Anant Singh said, "We are delighted to have partnered with SuperSport to produce 2010 - Once In A Lifetime: The Movie. The film is important as it gives a South African perspective of the most successful football World Cup in history and the spirit of euphoric emotion that engulfed our nation and the African continent. It is already a year and ‘Once In A Lifetime’ will give audiences the opportunity to re-live the magic of the World Cup."

    "SuperSport celebrated excellence and this remarkable film is a splendid opportunity to prolong the joy and spirit experienced in our country during the FIFA World Cup. It is a permanent reminder of the greatest sport event ever held in Africa," said Graham Abrahams of SuperSport.

  • Former Director-General of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) has said that the mass media, if effectively utilized, has the potential to improve on the socio-economic and political development of Sierra Leone, thus urging media practitioners to use their respective media outlets to effect positive changes in society.

    Dr. Ivan Ajabola Thomas was speaking at a media training workshop organized by the UNFPA in collaboration with Media Alliance for Population and Development (MAPD) at the Bo Club in Bo town. He said the development of all spheres of life was as a result of change which needed new ideas in order to produce high per capita income through modern and improved ways of life for the people.

    He said the media could serve as a vehicle to advocate for development and change, adding that Sierra Leone has always been listed among the least developed countries in the world as a result of several factors, including governance, low living standard of the people, and poor infrastructural development.

    Dr. Thomas noted that Sierra Leone should not continue to rely on donor support but rather on an improved economic transformation significant towards the overall improvement of the country's economy.

    "The role of the mass media is to ensure specific kinds of change in society. The media must be able to bring the people together, contribute to national development and help people to adjust to changes. Economic growth should be between 5 to 7% but that is not the case. Development can be considered from various angles: political, social and economical. Sierra Leone has largely unskilled population and therefore we cannot produce more as expected; we need to improve on the illiteracy rate," he said, adding that the new media was a digitalized system which makes it possible to pass on relevant information across the world.

    Issac Massaquoi and Joshua Nicol - both from the Mass Communication Department of FBC - emphasized the need for good reporting by both electronic and print media journalists for effective communication. Mr. Massaquoi said one of the main issues lacking in news reporting in the country is "feature writing", which he said journalists could use to comment on issues and happenings within and out of the country.

    He said most editors believed that beginners of the journalism profession should use few adjectives in writing their stories for better understanding, noting that coherent presentation of materials will add value to their stories and therefore urged participants to develop the habit of writing feature articles in their respective newspapers.

    UNFPA communications officer, Marian Samu, maintained that journalists should be able to go beyond press releases for in-depth investigation on issues dealing with maternal and child mortality and other related issues in order to know especially how the UNFPA was addressing such issues.

    She said it was unfortunate that children at school-going age are giving birth as adults; a development she said needed serious media attention to reduce maternal and child mortality rates in the country.

    "There are a lot of information out there for journalists; evidence based reporting is how best you can present a clear picture of happenings. The demographic and health survey which was launched by the government has a lot of information for journalists," she concluded.

  • Reporters Without Borders deplores the failure of Tunisia's new authorities to issue any broadcast licences in the six months since President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali's ouster. They are supposed to be building a new, free and democratic Tunisia, but no democracy will be possible without truly independent media.

    The Tunisian broadcast media landscape has not been renewed. No licences have been awarded, either to media that already operated clandestinely under President Ben Ali, such as Radio Kalima or Radio 6, or to proposed new media for which an application was filed after the old regime fell on 14 January.

    "We know that a transition of this scale cannot happen overnight," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. "But the absence of media freedom was one the leading characteristics of the old regime and there is an urgent need for a complete break with this sad heritage.

    "The content of the media changed after Ben Ali's departure and this is an encouraging evolution. But the creation of new media and the legalization of those that are still broadcasting without a licence are now really urgent. Administrative and procedural issues must not prevent full realization of one of the revolution's most important demands - freedom of expression."

    Tunisia's new authorities must lose no more time in accepting their responsibilities to the media, including those that are already broadcasting. The future of Tunisian democracy is at stake. The Information and Communication Reform Authority that was set up three months ago cannot wait until after the constituent assembly election on 23 October to issue these licences. The election campaign must be covered by media that reflect the diversity of views in Tunisia.

    The head of Radio Kalima, Omar Mestiri, began a hunger strike on 21 June in protest against the current impasse and the prime minister's failure to keep promises he made publicly. Mestiri intends to continue his hunger strike until Radio Kalima gets a licence.

  • Equipment at all Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) studios for both radio and television is too "old, obsolete and incompatible" with new technologies in the broadcasting sector, a recent parliamentary committee report said.

    The sorry state of the equipment has greatly compromised the quality of production in all studios countrywide. The revelations contained in the first report of the portfolio committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology on the State of Public Media in Zimbabwe confirms a story carried by The Standard newspaper in November last year. ZBC sued The Standard for US$10 million claiming that the story was a lie.

    "It is now very difficult to have outside broadcasts and the broadcaster admitted that productions are now of poor quality," reads part of the report. "They do not have electronic news gathering cameras, microwave link, and satellite link to cover outside broadcasts."

    The detailed report said the corporation has one functional editing machine which had to be shared between programming and news departments. "As a result, they have to edit programmes up to midnight or early morning hours."

    The committee found that the equipment, commissioned in the 1990s, now needed to be replaced by digital equipment by 2015 in compliance with the deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union.

    MPs noted that it was now difficult to get spares for "old and obsolete equipment". The state of affairs is equally bad at Montrose Studios in Bulawayo. There are no portable recorders.

    Apart from that, the OB (outside broadcasting) van is now grounded and ZBC has to bring the one in Harare for events taking place in Bulawayo, about 440 km away.
    Workers are sometimes ferried in "open" trucks to work.

    The report also confirms that viewers are no longer listening or watching ZBC programmes because they are lowly regarded. ZBC, said the report, was therefore facing resistance in collecting licence fees, particularly form individuals.

    Revenue generation by the corporation remains very low. The report said with transmission coverage of 30% for television and less than 45% for radio, it is difficult for ZBC to realise considerable amount of revenue from licences.

    "Regarding salaries workers at Pockets Hill were concerned about failure by the company to meet pay dates, sometimes they were paid two weeks into another month," the report said.

    A separate article from SW Radio Africa reported that  a Parliamentary grouping investigating the state of the media in Zimbabwe has called for an end to the monopoly of the state's Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), calling it 'incompatible' with freedom of expression. The report singled out the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which continues to restrict the work of journalists.

     

     

  • The Nation Media Group (NMG) is diversifying its business across East Africa as part of the strategy to tap into the expected rise in demand for media services as the region's economy gains momentum.

    East Africa's largest media house, which recently launched a Rwanda edition of its regional newspaper the East African, said it will be exploring avenues for growth in broadcasting and digital media to strengthen its position in the regional market of more than 120 million people. The firm, however, warned that rising cost of production driven by high energy costs and a weak shilling could slow down profits in the near term.

    "Rising cost of energy is driving transport costs up since we rely on road transport to deliver newspapers to the market," said Wilfred Kiboro, the Chairman of Nation Media Group board. "A weakening shilling is also impacting on the cost of news print," he said.

    NMG, which cross-listed in Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, reported a 37.8 per cent growth in profits after tax to Sh1.5 billion in 2010 compared to Sh1.1 billion in the previous year. Linus Gitahi, the company's chief executive, said the group has prepared a raft of measures to confront the emerging business environment.

    "We have re-evaluated group wide risks and recommended suitable counter measures," he said. "Going forward, we will continue to optimise stable operations as a top priority," he said. Gitahi told shareholders at a meeting last Thursday that a large proportion of the group's capital expenditure was in 2010 used to refurbish the printing press infrastructure, support distribution and to invest in broadcasting and digital media.

    NMG has hired a research firm, Consumer Insight, to collect consumer trends data across Africa for use in content improvement and is also counting on its investments in new printing presses to improve print quality and increase circulation, Gitahi said.

    "We put in place advanced measures to take advantage of emerging opportunities with the installation and commissioning of a new printing presses in Tanzania and Uganda," he said.

    Shareholders approved a special dividend of Sh2.5 as part of the company's Golden Jubilee celebrations, pushing the total dividend for the year to Sh8. The board had earlier declared an interim dividend of Sh1.5 and a final dividend of Sh4.

    Nation Media Group has been aggressively diversifying its product range in the recent past, aiming to meet the needs of different market segments. In Kenya, NMG publishes the Daily Nation, The East African, Taifa Leo, and the Business Daily newspapers and runs two radio stations, Easy FM and QFM and two TV stations, NTV and e-Africa.

    NMG trades in Tanzania through a subsidiary Mwananchi Communications Ltd, which publishes Mwananchi, Mwanaspoti and The Citizen newspapers.

    In Uganda, the group operates a television station, NTV Uganda, while the company's subsidiary Monitor Publications publishes The Monitor, My Wedding Magazine and the Monitor Telephone Directory as well as KFM - a radio station.

    NMG, which is East Africa's largest media house, has been listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) since 1973 and has been posting profits year-on-year

  • Reporters Without Borders is appalled to learn that Moroccan information minister Khalid Naciri obtained the dismissal of Dubai TV chief editor Omar Makhfi and his brother, Jalal, the station's Morocco correspondent, on 21 June because Jalal referred on the air to opposition calls for protests against tomorrow's referendum in Morocco on a proposed constitutional reform.

    The journalists were fired two days after the minister gave a televised address about King Mohammed's 17 June speech announcing the referendum.

    "We condemn the Moroccan information minister's personal intervention in order to obtain the heads of these two journalists," Reporters Without Borders said. "It is unacceptable that a government representative should behave in this manner. This is a long way from the democratic reforms that King Mohammed announced on 17 June."

    The press freedom organization added: "It is time that Morocco turned the page on the archaic practice of political interference in the media and judicial spheres if it wants its proclaimed democratic principles to become a reality."

    Reached in Dubai, Omar Makhfi told Reporters Without Borders: "The 20 February opposition movement issued a call on 19 June for demonstrations against the holding of the referendum. Jalal Makhfi, the station's correspondent in Morocco, referred to these demonstrations during a broadcast in the most neutral and professional manner possible. He then contacted the minister for the government's viewpoint. But instead of answering the questions, Khalic Naciri attacked our correspondent, accusing him of being pro-20 February.

    "After the interview, the minister called the station's interview coordinator and told her he was going to demand a political accounting for the journalist. We took another look at the interview and found no violation of professional ethics. But we called the minister to allow him to express his views on the constitution, without the dispute with our correspondent getting in the way. As a result, he was able speak on the air a second time.

    "The minister then called the United Arab Emirates embassy in Rabat to complain about Dubai TV's Morocco correspondent. Two days later, on 21 June, the station's news director told me that my brother and I had been fired. The station had no role in this. The news director was flabbergasted when he read me the note from the department of human resources. It took effect immediately. The next day, I was unemployed. But the station was honest with me.

    "It is now 29 June and I still have not been told why I was fired, although I worked for Dubai TV for eight years and my contract had just been renewed, on 11 June. All they did was telling me verbally: 'We have no criticism to make against you.' What's serious is that this matter did not remain at the media level. It is the first time that a minister has used his status as a government representative to settle a personal score and obtain the dismissal of a journalist he did not like."

  • African TV stations broadcast to the pace of the ‘Make Music celebration’ on 21 June 2011. CFI worked to support them as they programme a special musical schedule. Throughout May, CFI offered musical programmes to enhance the schedules of its TV partners in Africa. Key programmes disseminated included:

     “ Les Années Francofolles ”: An original documentary in honour of the 25th edition of the Francofolies rock festival at La Rochelle in France. The film looks back at highlights of this major festival, and explores the socio-political background and times.

     “ Lokua Kanza ”
    : A broadcast of a concert which took place on 7 May 2010 in Paris for the release of his new album Nkolo produced in Brazil.

     “ Afrique en scène ”: This musical event brought together African stars on the music scene and especially young African artists on 9 May. On the stages were Tiken Jah Fakoly, Didier Awadi, William Baldé, Lokua Kanza, Imany, Smod, Fafa Ruffino, Régis Kole, Kady Diarra, Mariana Ramos, Baloji, Amen Viana, Djazia Satour, Frest and 36 States.

     “ Maurice Kyria, winner of the 2010 RFI Discovery award ”
    : Organised since 1981, the RFI discovery award is a decisive springboard helping artists in Africa, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean further their career. Maurice Kirya was chosen from among the ten finalists at the 2010 edition. This young Ugandan artist follows in the footsteps of several big names such as: Amadou and Mariam (Mali-1982), Tiken Jah Fakoly (Côte d’Ivoire - 2000), Didier Awadi (Senegal - 2003).

    “ Gainsbourg, The Man Who Loved Women ”: To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Serge Gainsbourg’s death, this documentary takes a look at the man and the myth, with accounts from several women who interpreted his work.

  • The First Grader the first co-production between South Africa, the United Kingdom and Kenya which was released in the United States by National Geographic Entertainment on 13 May 2011 has been embraced by both critics and general audiences. It is a BBC Films and UK Film Council production in association with Videovision Entertainment, Lipsync and ARTE France. The film was released on an additional twenty five screens in the United States 27 May 2011 bringing it to a total of 50 screens. The film also saw brisk sales at the Cannes Film Festival where it was snapped up by a number of territories.

    Critics in the United States have lauded the film with excellent reviews. The Los Angeles Times called the film "empowering", The Atlanta Chronicle said the film was "earnest and well intentioned", The Hollywood Report called it "an inspirational story" while the Washington Post said it was "a heart-warming film" and The Huffington Post declared the film to be "heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time" while Entertainment Weekly said it was "a dynamic drama", The New York Daily News raved that the film was "tough-minded...soft-hearted with unexpected depth" and New York Press said it was "a spectacle as beautiful as it is scarce".

    The critical success of The First Grader affirms the recognition received by the film at top international film festivals since it debuted at the Telluride Film Festival last September and then at the Toronto Film Festival where it was the runner up for the Audience Prize, the Doha and the Pan African Film Festivals where it won the coveted Audience Prizes and the Palm Beach Film Festival where it was bestowed with the Best Film Award.

    "We are delighted with the accolades received by The First Grader as well as the critical and box office success it has achieved in the United States," said executive producer, Anant Singh. "The film tells a universal story of the triumph of the human spirit and underscores the importance of education. We are also thrilled that the discerning American audiences have embraced this South African/Kenyan/UK co-production," added Singh.

    The First Grader, based on a true story, is set in a remote primary school in the Kenyan bush where hundreds of children are jostling for a chance for the free education promised by the new Kenyan government. One new applicant causes astonishment when he knocks on the door of the school. He is Maruge, an old Mau Mau veteran in his eighties, who is desperate to learn to read at this late stage of his life. He fought for the liberation of his country and now feels he must have the chance of an education so long denied - even if it means sitting in a classroom alongside six-year-olds. Moved by his passionate plea, head teacher Jane Obinchu, supports his struggle to gain admission and together they face fierce opposition from parents and officials who don't want to waste a precious school place on such an old man.

    Full story here:

  • In the wake of the Tunisian revolution and with a view to assessing and prioritising needs properly, CFI dispatched Philippe Chauvet to conduct an assessment jointly undertaken with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). As part of its remit to serve state-funded French media operators acting to support southern operators, CFI conducted this assignment under the aegis of the French Embassy and submitted its findings to all interested operators.

    These guidelines were also confirmed with one-off assignments conducted by representatives of the AEF or France Télévisions who, on their return, reported on the developments setting the pace each week for the reorganisation of the country as well as opportunities and fresh requests.

    The French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs affaires confirmed the forthcoming appointment of a Media Officer to monitor this programme on a long-term basis, working from the Embassy in Tunis. In order to respond to emergencies, CFI offered to dispatch a correspondent to Tunis who, up to the elections set at the end of July 2011, will be able to coordinate contacts and the logistical setup of the main initiatives in this sector.

    The Tunisian state channel asked the French news channel France24 to come and share its savoir-faire on election coverage in a country that already has over 50 declared candidates.

    Antoine Cormery will be supervising the editorial staff at ERTT, accompanied by two colleagues from the Arabic language newsroom, Taoufik Mjaied, Chief Editor and Adel Gastel, star reporter. The objective will be to meet the most pressing needs: writing political news subjects, interviewing politicians, preparing questions, following up on interviews, etc. This assignment has been organised by RFI with joint funding from France 24.

    As for television, RFI staffs are moving in to support over 80 journalists at the Tunisian radio newsroom. The course will provide support for these professionals as they forge independent work practices to give state media its new-found legitimacy in the eyes of the public. This assignment was organised by RFI with joint funding from CFI.

    TV activities also include organising pre-election debates with the ERTT (Tunisian broadcasting corporation) in Tunis. Further to the initial training courses conducted by journalists from France 24, several workshops are to help the ERTT newsroom to organise contradictory debates and lead discussions among candidates on their programmes. These workshops led by experts from France Télévisions are to address both technical and editorial issues. An initial session on framing was held from 9 to 13 May with Sophie Claudet and Frédéric Gaillard from France Télévisions.

    Tunisian TV wished to broadcast a French newscast every day at 1.00 pm as from 9 May. Yves Bruneau, Chief Editor, will be providing the editorial staff with support during the remaining days of preparation. He will be supervising the staff during the first two days of broadcasting.

    Graphics Designer Gilles Poplin will be going to Tunis with the Self Promotion Manager for France Télévisions, Cécile Chavepayre, in response to ERTT channel’s expectations with respect to revamping its general appearance at the same time as editorial content of its programmes and improving its identity and brand image.

    At the initiative of ‘France Télévisions’ and the EBU and with CFI collaboration, the main international sponsors working towards the reconstruction of the Tunisian TV scene met in Paris to assess the emergency response and commit to a long-term support programme. UNESCO will be calling on the main European and international institutions to open up as many leads as possible to Tunisian operators.

    After Montpellier and Casablanca, Tunis was the next venue for a session of Ulysse 2.0, a training course for young journalists on the theme 'Journalism and Internet' organised by CFI in partnership with the higher school of journalism ESJ Lille and the Permanent Conference of Mediterranean Audiovisual Operators (COPEAM). This workshop, scheduled from 30 May to 5 June, was an opportunity to review multimedia journalist techniques on Internet with new media players.
    The EBU is bringing together experts from the main European partners to put forward to the Tunisian authorities a legislative foundation on which to base the coverage of the first free elections. Depending on requirements, the regulatory bodies and state-run operators will be attending this meeting. In light of requirements, CFI will suggest stepping up French presence according to opportunities.

    Further to its initial emergency response, CFI will be offering the managers of state media corporations a medium-term plan of action. These proposals come in response to sustainable restructuring needs. CFI will take care to develop training courses on good journalist practices, provide the resources for television to fulfil its public service remit and foster professionalism among the new media players from civil society.

    All the projects and initiatives organised or backed by CFI in Tunisia are coordinated by the CFI Department for the Mediterranean region and Asia. For further information and details please contact: Eric Soulier, Christophe Dehlinger,
    Christophe Provins and Laurent Allary lay@cfi.fr

  • The Walt Disney Company has announced the launch of Disney Junior on Wednesday, an all-new multiplatform preschool channel for children aged 2–7.

    Disney Junior will air daily and become the home of Disney favourites such as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jungle Junction, Handy Manny and Special Agent Oso, as well as new shows like Jake and the Never Land Pirates which premiered on Disney Junior on June 1, 2011.

    Maciej Bral, Vice President and General Manager Disney Channels Emerging Markets says that "Disney Junior will combine The Walt Disney Company's unparalleled heritage of classic storytelling, together with loveable characters, engaging music and learning through play to deliver the perfect co-viewing experience for children and families, particularly mothers of young children."

    Aletta Alberts, General Manager Content, MultiChoice said: "The addition of Disney Junior to the DStv Premium and DStv Compact bouquets completes the Disney portfolio on the DStv platform".  Disney Junior premieres in South Africa on DStv, Channel 309, on June 1 2011.

  • The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (Baz) has turned down five applications from aspiring broadcasters in the last decade for what the authority called failure to meet its licensing requirements.

    According to a report tabled in the House of Assembly by Media, Information and Communication Technology portfolio committee chairman Seiso Moyo, the stringent requirements Baz has attached to the granting of new broadcasting licences means that liberalisation of the airwaves remains a pipe dream.

    The report comes at a time when the limping coalition government claims to be in the process of democraticising the electronic media, presently monopolised by the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings.

    "The (Baz) chief executive officer indicated that the authority had invited applications in 2002 and those that responded could not meet the stipulated requirements," reads the report.

    The authority received five applications for commercial broadcasting licences out of the 15 that it advertised in 2004. However, all the applications, four for radio and one for television, were rejected.

    The 15 licences were for provincial commercial radio stations and one national free to air television station. Potential new players told the committee they suspected that Baz was deliberately blocking new entrants into the field. "The licensing criteria have been regarded by the media fraternity as highly prohibitive and they suspect it is deliberate to maintain the status quo," says the report.

    The Broadcasting Services Act of 2007 prohibits any individual or corporate to hold more than 10% of shares in any company seeking a broadcasting licence. In other words, an applicant for a broadcasting licence should have a minimum of 10 shareholders.

    The Act further prohibits a holder of a broadcasting licence from applying for a signal carrier licence. This means all broadcasters would have to rely on the state-owned Transmedia for their signal.

    This would force all new entrants to purchase broadcasting equipment which conforms to Transmedia's analogue transmitters. ZBH uses analogue technology after a failed attempt to migrate to digital transmission through Iranian funding and technology.

    Baz indicated that all licences are renewable and valid for two years. No foreigners are allowed to work or assist in the operations of any new licensed broadcaster.

    Recently, the authority flighted two adverts for commercial radio licences, although in reality only one is available since the ZBH has already secured the other.

    "For commercial radio, the frequency has a capacity for six radio licences and five were allocated to ZBC for Radio Zimbabwe, Power FM, Spot FM, National FM and Voice of Zimbabwe, leaving one for new players," the parliamentary report said.

    The report indicated that most Zimbabweans shunned the local broadcaster's "biased" programming in favour of the free-to-air digital satellite stations. "The public lamented lack of consultation on programmes aired by the public broadcaster and as a result many viewers have opted for satellite dishes and shun ZTV."

    The committee recommended that the "ZBC editorial policy should be reviewed to remove the perceived propaganda bias" and indicated that licensing of community radio stations was long overdue and had to be expedited.

  • hree Rwandan citizens living in France have brought an action before a tribunal in Paris to request the right to watch a documentary on the 1994 genocide before its broadcast on a French TV channel. Named "Genocide in Rwanda: killers among us?" the film is expected to be broadcast by France 2 on June 28, 2011.

    During a long hearing before the lower court (Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris - TGI) presided by Judge Emmanuel Binoche, lawyer Philippe Meilhac for Agathe Habyarimana claimed that "there had been no serious investigation."

    Marcel Bivugabagabo's lawyer Ludovic Rivière added: "My client was given a copy of the interview he gave to the film director Manolo d'Arthuys; I was shocked by the way it was done. When my client said he could not defend himself because he has not been accused of anything yet, the interviewer answered, so if this is the problem let me be your accuser!"

    "It's a show and it's going to be broadcast on the French public service", he concluded.

    According to Richard Malka, the lawyer representing the movie producing company Tony Comiti, the plaintiffs try to use the principle of their "presumption of innocence" to prevent an investigation. "They are not asking us to respect presumption of innocence, they are asking for impunity", he claimed.

    He explained that the rule was that the producer could be convicted of defamation after the broadcast of the documentary but that no control was to be done before. He also said that a 15 seconds announcement would be made at the beginning of the film to remind the audience that the three suspects were presumably not guilty.

    One of the plaintiffs' lawyers, Florence Bourg, told Hirondelle News agency after the hearing that the chance for the three Rwandans to watch the movie before its broadcast was very low, considering the French legal precedents on the matter: "At least, we obtained that an announcement would be made at the beginning of the movie".

  • MultiChoice is set to launch its own commercially extended video-on-demand (VOD) service, called DStv BoxOffice, as early as during July, according to a source familiar with the matter.

    DStv BoxOffice will be an extension of the DStv on Demand (DOD) service introduced in 2010 and will (according to a source not authorised to speak about it officially) take place before the new competitor SouthTel launches a similar VOD service in September.  MultiChoice declined to talk about DStv BoxOffice to Channel24.

    SouthTel stunned the South African television industry in May with its announcement that it plans to roll out a fully commercial VOD system on a satellite network in September in South Africa and Southern Africa that will enable people to watch movies and TV shows in demand on a "pay per play" basis that will be cheaper than all current pay TV options in South Africa.

    MultiChoice dabbled with a pay per view movies on demand system in the past but the limited service was stunted and then discontinued. However, the new DStv on Demand functionality, coupled with advances in digital personal video recorders (PVRs) and a renewed sense of urgency around the growth in the ways that consumers and pay TV subscribers have access to digital content, have put new impetus behind MultiChoice's decision to relaunch a VOD system of its own.

    With margins under pressure and rising costs in MultiChoice's pay TV business related to buying additional satellite capacity, increasing decoder subsidies, the rising cost of acquiring sports rights internationally and increased competitive pressures from new pay TV competition like On Digital Media's (ODM) TopTV, launching DStv BoxOffice will make for a welcome additional revenue stream.

    MultiChoice launched DStv on Demand a year ago and started field testing DStv BoxOffice towards the end of last year under staff. MultiChoice's DStv BoxOffice works in a similar way to the design and functionality to the VOD systems of Britain's Sky Movies Box Office and Australia's FOXTEL Box Office where subscribers get earlier, immediate access to DVDs on the day of their release as well as blockbuster movies before they become available on the normal pay TV window. 

    Similar to SouthTel that will use satellites and decoders because of prohibitively expensive, slow and limited broadband availability in southern Africa, MultiChoice reportedly plans to use its available satellite network to download pay per view content to PVR hard drives.

    With the additional functionality, DStv BoxOffice will then allow subscribers – who will have to register – to choose from a rolling, constantly updated selection of movie titles which can be watched immediately for an additional fee. Registered DStv BoxOffice users will be able to watch a movie for a window period of 48 hours after it's been chosen, as many times over as they want.

     

    Related

    New market report: VoD and Africa - A review of existing VoD services, drivers, challenges and opportunities (Dec. 2013)

  • Over seventy percent of Nigerians will not be able to pay for digital broadcast in the country from 2015 when migration from analogue is completed, a lawyer and IT activist, Chukwuemeka Okereafor, has said.

    Speaking at a workshop on digital broadcast migration in Abuja, Okereafor said because at least 50 dollars was required to be paid by each Nigerian to be able to enjoy digital broadcast, most Nigerians who live below one dollar per day would be cut off from the new technology.

    According to him, digital broadcast may also run into hitches in the country as TV stations lack local content. He said the government seemed not prepared for the digital broadcast as nothing or little was being done by its agency responsible for the new technology.

    " 70 per cent of Nigerians who live below one dollar per day and those ones in the rural areas will not be able to pay for the digital broadcast migration because we are told the migration will cost each Nigerian at least 50 dollar", he said.

    Also speaking at the event, editor of IT Edge News, Segun Oruame, said the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) was not carrying Nigerians along on what they should know about digital broadcast. He called on NBC to embark on public enlightenment on the new technology if the country must meet the 2015 target.

  • 20 - 22 July 2011
    Mediatech Africa 2011 Exhibition
    Venue: The Coca-Cola Dome -
    Northgate - Johannesburg (South Africa)
    Mediatech Africa SA's only all-inclusive broadcast, media, entertainment and AV trade. It showcases cutting edge technologies and services from industry leaders in television and broadcast, sound and audio, lighting and staging, animation, communication and related fields. The Mediatech Africa experience is not only limited to exhibitors inside the Coca-Cola dome in Northriding. Indeed when the continent’s largest technology trade expo kicks off, you don’t want to miss out on visiting the Live Outdoor Sound Demo’s  where several exhibitors have chosen to demonstrate their state of the art sound systems and sophisticated staging rigs. For more information please visit here:

    21 - 24 July 2011
    Festival du Monde Arabe du Court-métrage Azrou-13 edition
    Venue: Ifrane

    Arab short film festival. Subscription closes on 15 March 2011. Call for short films closes on 15 May 2011. Two training workshops will take place on the side. Results will be announced on 1 June 2011. For more information please visit here:

    21 - 31 July 2011
    DIFF - 32nd Durban International Film Festival
    Venue: Durban
    (South Africa)
    Contact: Durban Film Office –
    For more information please visit here:

    22 - 25 July 2011
    The 2nd Durban FilmMart
    Venue: Durban
    (South Africa)
    Contact: Durban Film Office –
    For more information please visit here:

    31 July 2011
    The African Audio-Visual Awards (TAVA)
    Venue: Lagos, Nigeria

    TAVA Awards is a platform created to celebrate the finest Africans behind great films, television productions, advertisements and music videos. All those who employ sound a picture to tell their stories in order to create entertainment. Entries to the awards closes on June 15th.
    For more information please visit here:

    July - Sept. 2011 (final dates tba)
    African film festival (AFF) in NYC
    Venue: NYC, USA

    Outdoor Summer Screenings in NYC Parks. Featuring dance, music, food and of course films. AFF programs year-round; therefore, AFF organisers accept submissions on an ongoing basis.
    For more information please visit here:

    21 – 24 August 2011
    The 13th PAMRO meeting and All Africa Media Research Conference
    Venue: Dakar, Senegal
    at the Le Méridien President Hotel.
    For more information please visit here:

    27 August - 4 September 2011 (final date tba)
    Zimbabwe International Film Festival

    Competitive for features, shorts, documentary with 12 ‘Mweya Awards’ in different categories.
    Please contact zimfilmfest@zol.co.zw for further information.

    9 - 14 August 2011 (tbc)
    Lola Kenya Screen
    Venue: Nairobi, Kenya

    Tel:[+254] 20 315 258, 221 3 318
    For more information please visit here:
    director@lolakenyascreen.org

    31 August - 10 September 2011
    Mostra de Venise

    Tel: [+39] 041 5218706
    Fax: [+39] 041 5218879
    For more information please visit here:
    indoffice@labiennale.org

    11 - 14 Septembre 2011
    HighwayAfrica 2011
    Venue: Rhodes Uni., Grahamstown, SA.

    A show focused on journalism and new multimedia. For fourteen years the Highway Africa conference has been at the centre of Africa’s debates on journalism and new media. The conference has over the years become the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world. For more information please visit here:

    3 - 8 Octobre 2011
    « Festival du Court Métrage Méditerranéen de Tanger »
    Venue: Tangier, Morocco

    A festival focused on short films.
    For more information please E-mail : ccm@menara.ma

    5 - 9 October 2011
    Africa in the Picture
    Venue: Bioscoop het Ketelhuis in Amsterdam, NL

    Tel:[+31] 20 622 7 151
    Fax:[+31] 20 627 15 44
    For more information please visit here:
    info@aitp.nl

    20 - 22 October 2011
    ZAFAA 2011 - The Zulu African Film Academy Awards
    Venue: London, UK

    Closing Date for Entries is Friday May 20th 2011.
    African Film Festival & Academy Awards
    For more information please visit here:

    21 - 29 October 2011
    Cinemed (« le Festival du cinéma méditerranéen »)
    Venue:  Montpellier - France

    Tel. +33 (0) 499 13 73 73
    Fax +33 (0) 499 13 73 74
    info@cinemed.tm.fr
    Deadline: 8 July 2011
    For more information please visit here:

    21 - 30 October 2011 (tbc)
    Kenya International Film Festival (KIFF)

    Venue: Nairobi, Kenya
    Tel:[+254] 2 201 05 26
    Fax:[+254] 722 897 216
    For more information please visit here:

    25-28 October 2011
    CDN WORLD SUMMIT 2011
    Venue, Hilton Paddington Hotel, London

    The 3rd annual CDN World Summit promises to be the largest and most comprehensive CDN event ever. We are pleased to announce our partnership with BT Wholesale as the host operator and those already confirmed to the stellar line up which will include over 80 speakers.The full value chain is represented including content providers, broadcast operators, traditional and telco CDNs, represented by industry leaders such as; FilmFlex Movies, BT Wholesale and AT&T.
    For more information please visit here:

    26 - 31 October 2011
    Annual Tricontinental Human Rights Film Festival
    Venue: Cape Town – South Africa

    Tel: [+27] 21 788 5462 - Fax: [+27] 21 788 5469
    For more information please visit here:

    27 October – 6 November 2011
    Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival
    Venue: Edinburgh's Filmhouse cinema

    The UK's largest African Film Festival

    29 October - 6 November 2011
    Festival Amakula Kampala
    Venue: Uganda, Kampala

    Tel: [+256] 41 427 35 32
    For more information please visit here:
    info@amakula.com

    31 October - 7 November 2011
    Out In Africa
    South African Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
    Venue: various, see website

    For more information please visit here:

    25 November - 4- December of 2011
    International Film Schools Festival  - 34es « Rencontres Henri Langlois »
    Venue: TAP - Poitiers, France.

    The Festival organiser invites African film students to join is. The Festival gathers about 15000 participants and about 100 professionals. A trade market is held on the side (includes CineSud).
    For more information please visit here:

    30 November - 3 December 2011
    MYCONTENT,
    Venue: Dubai

    MYCONTENT - (exhibition & conference) is dedicated to the Middle East & North Africa. It is MENA region’s 2nd entertainment content marketplace which will be held in conjunction with 4th Dubai International Character & Licensing Fair and 4th Dubai World Game Expo.
    For more information please visit here:

  • Kenyans shined at the 2011 CNN MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year Awards with Daily Nation's Kamau Mutunga winning the Sport Award at the event held on Saturday Night. Fatuma Noor (The Star) emerged as the overall winner in the event held in Johannesburg, South Africa on Saturday night June 25.

    - UTV Broadcasting CEO MK Anand has launched its Movies International business in African markets including; Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Zambia and Malawi, according to India's Business Standard newspaper. United Television (UTV), India's global media and entertainment company, has launched its movie channel in East Africa setting the pace for its strategic entry into Africa. UTV Movies is a Hindi movie channel produced by UTV Motion Pictures, the largest motion picture studio in India.

  • Call for entries: SA’s Next Top Filmmaker 2011

    Following the Success of SA’s Next Top Editor 2010, General Post in partnership with Curious Pictures have announced that entries are now open for SA’s Next Top Filmmaker 2011. Winners will receive a 1-year internship at Curious Pictures in Auckland Park as well as exposure to the industry at large. Entrants may enter individually or in teams of two and will be required to submit a script, treatment, storyboard and/or shot list for a 3 minute film.  Please visit the General Post Website for more information on how to enter and what the entry requirements are. A Workshop will be held on 4 June to help entrants with scriptwriting and tips on how to prepare an effective treatment and storyboard. The top 5 entries will get the opportunity to produce their film under the mentorship of the Curious Pictures team. Camera, lighting and sound equipment will be sponsored by Digitalfilm. The offline edits will be done at General Post and Aces Up and the online at The Bladeworks in Bryanston.  Final mix for the 5 finalists will be sponsored by Warren Birley of Fine Tune Audio in Bryanston. For more information, please click here or go to facebook.

    For more information please visit the website here:
    Deadline: 17 July 2011 

    Delegate registration for Durban FilmMart (22 - 25 July)

    Delegate registration is open for the second edition of the Durban FilmMart (22 - 25 July) and the line-up of speakers and topics on the programme promises a focussed look at the world of filmmaking in Africa from varied perspectives. DFM takes place during the Durban International Film Festival (21-31 July) to which accredited DFM delegates also have access.

    For more information please visit the website here:
    Email: durbanfilmmart@durban.gov.za 
    Deadline: 22 July 2011 

Issue no. 108 - 7 July 2011

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  • The front-runners in the race to make the transition to digital broadcasting are now facing a range of issues including: who runs the signal carrier?; how those who can’t afford a decoder will pay for it; unrealistic deadlines and the absence of any public campaign to explain the process. The politicians seem scared by a process that could affect their citizen’s ability to watch television and are seeking to control the discussion about what’s going to happen. Russell Southwood looks at the early news from the front-runners.

    Making the transition to digital broadcasting was never going to be easy for any African country. In effect, the Government has to ask those of its citizens who own a television to pay US$50-100 for a decoder/set-top-box and ostensibly all they will they will then get is the television they are watching. Of course, there are potential benefits and you’d think that African governments and regulators might make a better fist of explaining them. Although the agreement to go digital was signed at an ITU meeting in 2006, most countries seem to be determined to avoid doing anything until the last minute.

    The following issues have begun to emerge in some countries and worth knowing about so that others can avoid them:

    Who runs the digital signal carrier?: In Kenya, the Government was originally determined to have all the broadcasters use a single signal carrier. Its original choice was Signet, a subsidiary of KBC: it was to have raised investment from external parties to handle the transmission signal roll-out. KBC had already set up a test signal with one of these external parties. The private sector broadcasters preferred not to be in the hands of the Government broadcaster and would have liked to set up their own signal carrier.

    However, the Government eventually lost patience with the slow pace of Signet’s progress and decided to let two licences for signal carriage. The Media Owners Association (MOA) had been wanting to bid as a consortium and Chinese-owned Star Times were the other bidder.

    But relatively late in the run-up to bidding, the Nation Group and Royal Media (which has the most extensive private analogue transmission network) decided to bid and the MOA said it would stand aside. Only one of the two licences was awarded to Star Times. The Nation Group and Royal Media are now suing in the courts and if the case is not thrown out, it could take several years to reach a decision.

    In Ghana, the Government has decided to go the path of a single signal carrier for Free-To-Air (FTA) television which because it does not have the money to fund the transition will involve an external investor. So the parties to the signal carrier will be the Government, the state broadcaster GBC, a consortium of all the FTA broadcasters (through the Ghana Independent Broadcasters’ Association) and the external investor who will operate the company on a “Build, Operate and Transfer” basis. The Government is simply saying to the bidders: come up with your best offer in terms of coverage area, rate of return and time period. There is to be a second signal carrier for Pay-TV operators.

    Because the Government was slow to address the digital transition, Swedish-owned NGB had set up a joint venture with the state broadcaster GBC to run a digital signal company (prior to any policy decision) which it hoped all broadcasters would use. The regulator took the right decision in saying that there was no policy so this arrangement had to be ended. Since NGB had already done the survey work for the transmission network, the Government is now having to insist the winning bidder will do this all over again so as not to appear to favour NGB.

    Both NGB and Start Times have a clear strategy of trying to get in with the state broadcaster ahead of the policy decisions. In NGB’s case, it has not been remarkably successful bit Star Times has seemed to make some big wins as we will see later.

    What will have to be resolved in Ghana with the winning bidder is what assets from each broadcaster (masts, transmission equipment) are worth to the external bidder and therefore what financial contribution each broadcaster is making. What is not clear is what will happen to those broadcasters who have relatively few assets to put into the pot or whose assets will not be redeployed.

    In Senegal, the Government has made the decision to set up a single signal carrier separate from the national broadcast company. The licensing process for this entity has not yet been announced but there is some talk that it might be one of the telcos, either Expresso or Sonatel. Again the existing assets of the broadcasters will be poured into it with all the ensuing arguments about the value of these assets.

    In Nigeria, the Presidential Committee set up to create the policy for the transition delivered its work to a demanding timetable and sent it off to the President. It has been with the President now for two years: the death of one President and elections have delayed it but insiders say that the President will sign off on the document “within the month”. We shall see….Government does not wear the same watch as the rest of us.

    In the meantime, Star Times has set up a joint venture with the state-owned broadcaster NTA and is selling Set-Top-Boxes for its single, low-cost bouquet. So far it has sold 400,000 Set-Top-Boxes and says it is selling 30,000 a month. However, this is small potatoes alongside the many million TV households in the country. It is also steadily adding transmission coverage areas with Port Harcourt being the latest added. It will be interesting to see whether the Government blesses this arrangement or (as it should do) rolls it back as was done in Ghana for a proper, transparent bidding process.

    What about those who can’t afford a Set-Top-Box?: Those who have written their digital transition policies and are beginning to implement them are rightly proud of their work but there is an empty hole where they should have addressed how they will get Set-Top-Boxes (STB) on low-income. Only South Africa really has a clearly stated policy with resources committed. The digital transition committees know the issue exists but have not really dealt with it.

    In most places the STB will cost US$50 and the policy-makers acknowledge that a South African scheme with subsidy direct to the user is likely to be abused: indeed, they say, what happens if we lower it to US$20 and people start exporting illegally to neighbouring countries? One of the Tanzanian signal carriers will rent the user a box for just under US$6 a month. The state broadcaster in Namibia, NBC, will give licence-payers a box for just over US$24.

    But in the main, there is much vague talk about prices coming down as volume sales kick in and remove taxes but the rest is silence: there is no coherent, written policy. The truth is that between 20-40% of the TV-owning population in each country will find it hard to buy the STB. Some may have relatives who will pay for it but the rest will be left without a signal once the switch-off happens. The ideal price point is probably somewhere around US$20.

    Unrealistic deadlines: Countries seem to be setting deadlines to “ginger things up” (as they say in Nigeria rather than these deadlines representing a realistic hope of completion. National pride seems to dictate a bidding war between the front-runners to set ever more stringent deadlines. For example, the Nigerian Government has a deadline of 2012, which it has not got a hope in hell of meeting. Elsewhere in the world the process has taken 3-14 years to complete.

    In Ghana the deadline for switch-off is 2014 but informed sources admitted that this deadline is likely to be the point at which a switch occurs in one area alone. Playing propaganda with these deadlines will undermine the credibility of the process in the long-run. Deadlines in the original timetable have already been missed and the kick-off the prepared public campaign now waits the resolution of the signal carrier bidding.

    At an APC workshop on the digital transition in Ghana last week, the new Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Communications made the mistake of comparing the process to the registration of SIM cards, where the deadline has already been postponed several times. The difference is there is no cost to the user and other than a bureaucratic few minutes registration time, no other pain involved.

    No-one seems to have understood that with a process this complicated, it is important to have answers to the issues outlined above and that the transition will become a political “hot potato” unless there are clear answers, particularly on what will happen for those who cannot afford to pay.

    For more information and case studies of Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, go to:

     


     

    This on Balancing Act’s Web TV Channel:

    Shuaib Nda Adama, Executive Director, Engineering, NTA on the digital broadcast transition in Nigeria.

    Remy Nweke, blogger, ICT Realms Online on the three big issues facing Nigeria, one which is the digital transition.

    Seyram Mankra, Media Insights Manager, Synovate, the main market research company for media, on the changes in the media landscape in Ghana and respective merits of radio and television for advertisers.

    In a new series, Seyram Mankra, Media Insights Manager, Synovate looks at What Ghanaians Watch on TV, drawing contrasts between male and female viewing. He also talks about his own viewing patterns as someone who is a professional in the industry.

    Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on:
    @BalancingActAfr

  • Akolawole Olootu has been an independent presenter on radio for thirty years but has also doubled as a Nollywood producer. He speaks to Segun Adebayo on why he stopped producing movies, his growing up and other issues. Rather bizarrely he claims that women producing Nollywood movies have unfair advantages.

    Q: How would you describe your sojourn into independent broadcasting?

    A: The journey started thirty years ago with my friend, Kolade Alabi, who introduced me to the profession. I actually started as a poet; I went to a lot of occasions then to entertain with songs and dances. I went presenting during one of Kolade Alabi’s programmes, he was the one who taught me all I needed to know concerning radio presentation. He knew everything about presentation before me; we started with one programme called Ejire with Radio Oyo during the time of Bisi Adesola, who was the General Manager of BCOS then. After sometime, we had different programmes, so, when Osun State was created, Kolade Alabi had to go to Osun State. After about five years, we parted ways without any problem. I started my programme, Oselenkejo about twenty six years ago. In fact, mine was the first independent radio presentation on Oyo Radio, there was nothing like paying for air time then, it was only the Christian and Muslim programmes that they do pay for these days. I am the first independent radio presenter that bought airtime in BCOS.

    Q: You did not start as a presenter; you started as a poet, why the change of focus?

    A: The kind of presentation we do then was purely grassroots and majorly Yoruba programmes. Any professional poet should be able to fit into radio presentation without any problem, so it became very easy for me to switch over to radio programming because of the experience I had garnered over the years when I was under the tutelage of Kolade Alabi. I was trained by him, because he had been with Radio Nigeria for a long time before I met him, he gave me the idea and it became a success.

    Q: At what point of your life did you discover your talent for presentation or did it just happen overnight?

    A: It has always been part of me when I was very young and I can say that I noticed the gift when I was in primary school, I was one of the most outspoken boys during our days. During our end of the year activities, I was always the one speaking on behalf of other pupils. I read so many Yoruba books, listened to Olarawaju Adepoju, Tubosun Oladapo and others. I love listening to their music a lot when I was growing up, so I was able to pick one or two things from them that helped my growing up and shaped my intellectual ability. I was from a very poor family, because we couldn’t afford quite a number of things. The passion and interest of what I do is what I am enjoying today; I did not start because I wanted to make money, the interest was always in my mind every time and because I knew I was good at what I am doing, I was very sure that one day there will be a break through.

    Q: Which was your first episode?

    My first programme on air was Bodewasinmi, I was very happy because it was my first time on air, I went to everybody and told them that my programme will be coming live on air, I mean the excitement and the fun was so overwhelming. Another funny thing then was that it was not a money spinning business like what we have today, the highest you get then was 100 naira.

    Q: You have not been producing movies for sometime now, did you relinquish movie for radio presentation?

    A: I left movie production because the economy was very bad and it was not encouraging for somebody who wants to produce quality movie to survive, the buyers are also not supportive. People love watching Nigerian movies but they don’t want to pay for it. How can you buy fifteen films in one CD for 100 naira? Piracy, poor state of economy, bad market, and distribution are the major problems that have reduced the development of good movie production. If you watch most movies today; you will discover that they are produced by women, and the funny thing is that when you ask them where they get the money from, they will say my boyfriend gave me or somebody very special dashed me, I mean all sorts of stories that you can’t imagine. You cannot invest ten million naira and make that kind of money back, and the truth is that I am not an actor neither am I looking for fame, all I want is to invest money and make cool cash at the end.

    Q: Are you saying bad economy forced you out of Nollywood?

    A: Not really, but we are actually planning to come back very soon with something bigger and better. The movie industry is presently in a sick state and I pray it gets out of the mess for the betterment of everybody. Let the government flush out piracy from the movie industry and it will become boom.

    Full article here

    Related

    New market report: VoD and Africa - A review of existing VoD services, drivers, challenges and opportunities (Dec. 2013) - VoD, a way to reduce content piracy.

  • Opening up the world to South Africans each year, Encounters is widely acclaimed as Africa’s most prestigious documentary festival. This year’s selection featured 37 films from 14 countries and five continents, including 11 world premieres, 19 South African films and 17 international films.

    Khalid Shamis’ ‘Imam & I’ was the most popular local film and the overall audience favourite at Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, which ended on Sunday, 26 June 2011.

    Imam & I is a tribute to Shamis’ grandfather, the influential 1960s Imam Abdullah Haron, and an exploration of the Muslim community’s participation (and lack thereof) in the anti-Apartheid struggle. It sold out its three screenings, as well as an additional screening put on due to audience demand. 81% of audience respondents rated the documentary as “excellent.”

    Charles Ferguson’s Oscar-winning Inside Job was the favourite international film, and the second most popular film overall. This scathing dissection of the global financial crisis sold out one of its Cape Town screening and was the second most watched film during the festival, after Simon Bright’s Robert Mugabe: What Happened?

    Disney’s wildlife blockbuster African Cats was the second most popular international film, followed by Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, an astonishingly honest portrait of the groundbreaking comedian at 75. These were also the third and fourth most popular films overall respectively.

    Mama Goema: The Cape Town Beat in Five Movements was the second most popular local film, and the fifth favourite overall. This multinational documentary – co-directed by Columbia’s Angela Ramirez, Portugal’s Sara Gouveia and South Africa’s Calum MacNaughton - is a love letter to Cape Town and its unique soundtrack. Mama Goema, which screened with Once Upon a Day: Brenda Fassie, sold out three of its five screenings at Encounters.  

    The third most popular local film, and the sixth favourite overall, was Lauren Beukes’ Glitterboys and Ganglands, the colourful story of three contestants at Miss Gay Western Cape. It sold out three of its four screenings during the festival.

    This year’s Encounters had a record 22 sell-outs over the 18 days; these included Robert Mugabe: What Happened?; From B-Boys to Being Men and Zip Zap: A Social Circus; Porselynnkas Dokiementer; The Creators;  Forerunners – South Africa’s New Black Middleclass; and Mining for Change: A Story of South African Mining.

    “We’ve seen an increased interest and a marked improvement in the local content this year,” says Festival Director Mandisa Zitha. “Between the sell-outs, the lively Q&As after the films, and the extensive press coverage, we’re very happy with how this year’s festival went.”

    The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) is the primary sponsor of Encounters, which is made possible by the further support of The National Film and Video Foundation, The Cape Film Commission, The Provincial Government of The Western Cape, The City of Cape Town, The Times, Nu Metro, Tempest Car Hire, The French Embassy, The Embassy of Sweden, Goethe Institut, HCI Foundation, Rutland Lodge, BASA, Exclusive Books and CTV. Please visit here:

    Trailers of major films

    Imam and I

    Inside Job

    African Cats

    Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

    Mama Goema

    Glitterboys and Ganglands

  • In June 2011, Producer Anant Singh announced the World Premiere of the film “2010 - Once In A Lifetime: The Movie” which focuses on the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the excitement and jubilation that this global event brought to South Africa and the African continent, took place in Johannesburg on Wednesday, 8 June 2011 with Minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalula as Guest of Honour. The film had its television premiere on Friday, 10 June at 8.00pm on DSTV's SuperSport 3 to mark the anniversary of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The film which is co-produced with SuperSport, has Singh and MultiChoice Group CEO, Imtiaz Patel as producers and award-winning director, Junaid Ahmed at the helm.

    2010 - Once In A Lifetime: The Movie, explores South Africa's successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, integrating inspiring visuals, exhilarating music and compelling interviews with a range of people - from FIFA and LOC officials, government representatives, high profile personalities, celebrities and most importantly, the man in the street and is narrated by renowned international football commentator and Guinness World Record holder, John Helm. The film captures the passionate commitment and vision of South Africa and its people and the continent of Africa to the beautiful game. This film celebrates the spirit and the magic of a very unique FIFA World Cup - the first ever African World Cup.

    Commenting on the film, Anant Singh said, "We are delighted to have partnered with SuperSport to produce 2010 - Once In A Lifetime: The Movie. The film is important as it gives a South African perspective of the most successful football World Cup in history and the spirit of euphoric emotion that engulfed our nation and the African continent. It is already a year and ‘Once In A Lifetime’ will give audiences the opportunity to re-live the magic of the World Cup."

    "SuperSport celebrated excellence and this remarkable film is a splendid opportunity to prolong the joy and spirit experienced in our country during the FIFA World Cup. It is a permanent reminder of the greatest sport event ever held in Africa," said Graham Abrahams of SuperSport.

  • Former Director-General of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) has said that the mass media, if effectively utilized, has the potential to improve on the socio-economic and political development of Sierra Leone, thus urging media practitioners to use their respective media outlets to effect positive changes in society.

    Dr. Ivan Ajabola Thomas was speaking at a media training workshop organized by the UNFPA in collaboration with Media Alliance for Population and Development (MAPD) at the Bo Club in Bo town. He said the development of all spheres of life was as a result of change which needed new ideas in order to produce high per capita income through modern and improved ways of life for the people.

    He said the media could serve as a vehicle to advocate for development and change, adding that Sierra Leone has always been listed among the least developed countries in the world as a result of several factors, including governance, low living standard of the people, and poor infrastructural development.

    Dr. Thomas noted that Sierra Leone should not continue to rely on donor support but rather on an improved economic transformation significant towards the overall improvement of the country's economy.

    "The role of the mass media is to ensure specific kinds of change in society. The media must be able to bring the people together, contribute to national development and help people to adjust to changes. Economic growth should be between 5 to 7% but that is not the case. Development can be considered from various angles: political, social and economical. Sierra Leone has largely unskilled population and therefore we cannot produce more as expected; we need to improve on the illiteracy rate," he said, adding that the new media was a digitalized system which makes it possible to pass on relevant information across the world.

    Issac Massaquoi and Joshua Nicol - both from the Mass Communication Department of FBC - emphasized the need for good reporting by both electronic and print media journalists for effective communication. Mr. Massaquoi said one of the main issues lacking in news reporting in the country is "feature writing", which he said journalists could use to comment on issues and happenings within and out of the country.

    He said most editors believed that beginners of the journalism profession should use few adjectives in writing their stories for better understanding, noting that coherent presentation of materials will add value to their stories and therefore urged participants to develop the habit of writing feature articles in their respective newspapers.

    UNFPA communications officer, Marian Samu, maintained that journalists should be able to go beyond press releases for in-depth investigation on issues dealing with maternal and child mortality and other related issues in order to know especially how the UNFPA was addressing such issues.

    She said it was unfortunate that children at school-going age are giving birth as adults; a development she said needed serious media attention to reduce maternal and child mortality rates in the country.

    "There are a lot of information out there for journalists; evidence based reporting is how best you can present a clear picture of happenings. The demographic and health survey which was launched by the government has a lot of information for journalists," she concluded.

  • Reporters Without Borders deplores the failure of Tunisia's new authorities to issue any broadcast licences in the six months since President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali's ouster. They are supposed to be building a new, free and democratic Tunisia, but no democracy will be possible without truly independent media.

    The Tunisian broadcast media landscape has not been renewed. No licences have been awarded, either to media that already operated clandestinely under President Ben Ali, such as Radio Kalima or Radio 6, or to proposed new media for which an application was filed after the old regime fell on 14 January.

    "We know that a transition of this scale cannot happen overnight," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. "But the absence of media freedom was one the leading characteristics of the old regime and there is an urgent need for a complete break with this sad heritage.

    "The content of the media changed after Ben Ali's departure and this is an encouraging evolution. But the creation of new media and the legalization of those that are still broadcasting without a licence are now really urgent. Administrative and procedural issues must not prevent full realization of one of the revolution's most important demands - freedom of expression."

    Tunisia's new authorities must lose no more time in accepting their responsibilities to the media, including those that are already broadcasting. The future of Tunisian democracy is at stake. The Information and Communication Reform Authority that was set up three months ago cannot wait until after the constituent assembly election on 23 October to issue these licences. The election campaign must be covered by media that reflect the diversity of views in Tunisia.

    The head of Radio Kalima, Omar Mestiri, began a hunger strike on 21 June in protest against the current impasse and the prime minister's failure to keep promises he made publicly. Mestiri intends to continue his hunger strike until Radio Kalima gets a licence.

  • Equipment at all Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) studios for both radio and television is too "old, obsolete and incompatible" with new technologies in the broadcasting sector, a recent parliamentary committee report said.

    The sorry state of the equipment has greatly compromised the quality of production in all studios countrywide. The revelations contained in the first report of the portfolio committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology on the State of Public Media in Zimbabwe confirms a story carried by The Standard newspaper in November last year. ZBC sued The Standard for US$10 million claiming that the story was a lie.

    "It is now very difficult to have outside broadcasts and the broadcaster admitted that productions are now of poor quality," reads part of the report. "They do not have electronic news gathering cameras, microwave link, and satellite link to cover outside broadcasts."

    The detailed report said the corporation has one functional editing machine which had to be shared between programming and news departments. "As a result, they have to edit programmes up to midnight or early morning hours."

    The committee found that the equipment, commissioned in the 1990s, now needed to be replaced by digital equipment by 2015 in compliance with the deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union.

    MPs noted that it was now difficult to get spares for "old and obsolete equipment". The state of affairs is equally bad at Montrose Studios in Bulawayo. There are no portable recorders.

    Apart from that, the OB (outside broadcasting) van is now grounded and ZBC has to bring the one in Harare for events taking place in Bulawayo, about 440 km away.
    Workers are sometimes ferried in "open" trucks to work.

    The report also confirms that viewers are no longer listening or watching ZBC programmes because they are lowly regarded. ZBC, said the report, was therefore facing resistance in collecting licence fees, particularly form individuals.

    Revenue generation by the corporation remains very low. The report said with transmission coverage of 30% for television and less than 45% for radio, it is difficult for ZBC to realise considerable amount of revenue from licences.

    "Regarding salaries workers at Pockets Hill were concerned about failure by the company to meet pay dates, sometimes they were paid two weeks into another month," the report said.

    A separate article from SW Radio Africa reported that  a Parliamentary grouping investigating the state of the media in Zimbabwe has called for an end to the monopoly of the state's Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), calling it 'incompatible' with freedom of expression. The report singled out the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which continues to restrict the work of journalists.

     

     

  • The Nation Media Group (NMG) is diversifying its business across East Africa as part of the strategy to tap into the expected rise in demand for media services as the region's economy gains momentum.

    East Africa's largest media house, which recently launched a Rwanda edition of its regional newspaper the East African, said it will be exploring avenues for growth in broadcasting and digital media to strengthen its position in the regional market of more than 120 million people. The firm, however, warned that rising cost of production driven by high energy costs and a weak shilling could slow down profits in the near term.

    "Rising cost of energy is driving transport costs up since we rely on road transport to deliver newspapers to the market," said Wilfred Kiboro, the Chairman of Nation Media Group board. "A weakening shilling is also impacting on the cost of news print," he said.

    NMG, which cross-listed in Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, reported a 37.8 per cent growth in profits after tax to Sh1.5 billion in 2010 compared to Sh1.1 billion in the previous year. Linus Gitahi, the company's chief executive, said the group has prepared a raft of measures to confront the emerging business environment.

    "We have re-evaluated group wide risks and recommended suitable counter measures," he said. "Going forward, we will continue to optimise stable operations as a top priority," he said. Gitahi told shareholders at a meeting last Thursday that a large proportion of the group's capital expenditure was in 2010 used to refurbish the printing press infrastructure, support distribution and to invest in broadcasting and digital media.

    NMG has hired a research firm, Consumer Insight, to collect consumer trends data across Africa for use in content improvement and is also counting on its investments in new printing presses to improve print quality and increase circulation, Gitahi said.

    "We put in place advanced measures to take advantage of emerging opportunities with the installation and commissioning of a new printing presses in Tanzania and Uganda," he said.

    Shareholders approved a special dividend of Sh2.5 as part of the company's Golden Jubilee celebrations, pushing the total dividend for the year to Sh8. The board had earlier declared an interim dividend of Sh1.5 and a final dividend of Sh4.

    Nation Media Group has been aggressively diversifying its product range in the recent past, aiming to meet the needs of different market segments. In Kenya, NMG publishes the Daily Nation, The East African, Taifa Leo, and the Business Daily newspapers and runs two radio stations, Easy FM and QFM and two TV stations, NTV and e-Africa.

    NMG trades in Tanzania through a subsidiary Mwananchi Communications Ltd, which publishes Mwananchi, Mwanaspoti and The Citizen newspapers.

    In Uganda, the group operates a television station, NTV Uganda, while the company's subsidiary Monitor Publications publishes The Monitor, My Wedding Magazine and the Monitor Telephone Directory as well as KFM - a radio station.

    NMG, which is East Africa's largest media house, has been listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) since 1973 and has been posting profits year-on-year

  • Reporters Without Borders is appalled to learn that Moroccan information minister Khalid Naciri obtained the dismissal of Dubai TV chief editor Omar Makhfi and his brother, Jalal, the station's Morocco correspondent, on 21 June because Jalal referred on the air to opposition calls for protests against tomorrow's referendum in Morocco on a proposed constitutional reform.

    The journalists were fired two days after the minister gave a televised address about King Mohammed's 17 June speech announcing the referendum.

    "We condemn the Moroccan information minister's personal intervention in order to obtain the heads of these two journalists," Reporters Without Borders said. "It is unacceptable that a government representative should behave in this manner. This is a long way from the democratic reforms that King Mohammed announced on 17 June."

    The press freedom organization added: "It is time that Morocco turned the page on the archaic practice of political interference in the media and judicial spheres if it wants its proclaimed democratic principles to become a reality."

    Reached in Dubai, Omar Makhfi told Reporters Without Borders: "The 20 February opposition movement issued a call on 19 June for demonstrations against the holding of the referendum. Jalal Makhfi, the station's correspondent in Morocco, referred to these demonstrations during a broadcast in the most neutral and professional manner possible. He then contacted the minister for the government's viewpoint. But instead of answering the questions, Khalic Naciri attacked our correspondent, accusing him of being pro-20 February.

    "After the interview, the minister called the station's interview coordinator and told her he was going to demand a political accounting for the journalist. We took another look at the interview and found no violation of professional ethics. But we called the minister to allow him to express his views on the constitution, without the dispute with our correspondent getting in the way. As a result, he was able speak on the air a second time.

    "The minister then called the United Arab Emirates embassy in Rabat to complain about Dubai TV's Morocco correspondent. Two days later, on 21 June, the station's news director told me that my brother and I had been fired. The station had no role in this. The news director was flabbergasted when he read me the note from the department of human resources. It took effect immediately. The next day, I was unemployed. But the station was honest with me.

    "It is now 29 June and I still have not been told why I was fired, although I worked for Dubai TV for eight years and my contract had just been renewed, on 11 June. All they did was telling me verbally: 'We have no criticism to make against you.' What's serious is that this matter did not remain at the media level. It is the first time that a minister has used his status as a government representative to settle a personal score and obtain the dismissal of a journalist he did not like."

  • African TV stations broadcast to the pace of the ‘Make Music celebration’ on 21 June 2011. CFI worked to support them as they programme a special musical schedule. Throughout May, CFI offered musical programmes to enhance the schedules of its TV partners in Africa. Key programmes disseminated included:

     “ Les Années Francofolles ”: An original documentary in honour of the 25th edition of the Francofolies rock festival at La Rochelle in France. The film looks back at highlights of this major festival, and explores the socio-political background and times.

     “ Lokua Kanza ”
    : A broadcast of a concert which took place on 7 May 2010 in Paris for the release of his new album Nkolo produced in Brazil.

     “ Afrique en scène ”: This musical event brought together African stars on the music scene and especially young African artists on 9 May. On the stages were Tiken Jah Fakoly, Didier Awadi, William Baldé, Lokua Kanza, Imany, Smod, Fafa Ruffino, Régis Kole, Kady Diarra, Mariana Ramos, Baloji, Amen Viana, Djazia Satour, Frest and 36 States.

     “ Maurice Kyria, winner of the 2010 RFI Discovery award ”
    : Organised since 1981, the RFI discovery award is a decisive springboard helping artists in Africa, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean further their career. Maurice Kirya was chosen from among the ten finalists at the 2010 edition. This young Ugandan artist follows in the footsteps of several big names such as: Amadou and Mariam (Mali-1982), Tiken Jah Fakoly (Côte d’Ivoire - 2000), Didier Awadi (Senegal - 2003).

    “ Gainsbourg, The Man Who Loved Women ”: To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Serge Gainsbourg’s death, this documentary takes a look at the man and the myth, with accounts from several women who interpreted his work.

  • The First Grader the first co-production between South Africa, the United Kingdom and Kenya which was released in the United States by National Geographic Entertainment on 13 May 2011 has been embraced by both critics and general audiences. It is a BBC Films and UK Film Council production in association with Videovision Entertainment, Lipsync and ARTE France. The film was released on an additional twenty five screens in the United States 27 May 2011 bringing it to a total of 50 screens. The film also saw brisk sales at the Cannes Film Festival where it was snapped up by a number of territories.

    Critics in the United States have lauded the film with excellent reviews. The Los Angeles Times called the film "empowering", The Atlanta Chronicle said the film was "earnest and well intentioned", The Hollywood Report called it "an inspirational story" while the Washington Post said it was "a heart-warming film" and The Huffington Post declared the film to be "heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time" while Entertainment Weekly said it was "a dynamic drama", The New York Daily News raved that the film was "tough-minded...soft-hearted with unexpected depth" and New York Press said it was "a spectacle as beautiful as it is scarce".

    The critical success of The First Grader affirms the recognition received by the film at top international film festivals since it debuted at the Telluride Film Festival last September and then at the Toronto Film Festival where it was the runner up for the Audience Prize, the Doha and the Pan African Film Festivals where it won the coveted Audience Prizes and the Palm Beach Film Festival where it was bestowed with the Best Film Award.

    "We are delighted with the accolades received by The First Grader as well as the critical and box office success it has achieved in the United States," said executive producer, Anant Singh. "The film tells a universal story of the triumph of the human spirit and underscores the importance of education. We are also thrilled that the discerning American audiences have embraced this South African/Kenyan/UK co-production," added Singh.

    The First Grader, based on a true story, is set in a remote primary school in the Kenyan bush where hundreds of children are jostling for a chance for the free education promised by the new Kenyan government. One new applicant causes astonishment when he knocks on the door of the school. He is Maruge, an old Mau Mau veteran in his eighties, who is desperate to learn to read at this late stage of his life. He fought for the liberation of his country and now feels he must have the chance of an education so long denied - even if it means sitting in a classroom alongside six-year-olds. Moved by his passionate plea, head teacher Jane Obinchu, supports his struggle to gain admission and together they face fierce opposition from parents and officials who don't want to waste a precious school place on such an old man.

    Full story here:

  • In the wake of the Tunisian revolution and with a view to assessing and prioritising needs properly, CFI dispatched Philippe Chauvet to conduct an assessment jointly undertaken with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). As part of its remit to serve state-funded French media operators acting to support southern operators, CFI conducted this assignment under the aegis of the French Embassy and submitted its findings to all interested operators.

    These guidelines were also confirmed with one-off assignments conducted by representatives of the AEF or France Télévisions who, on their return, reported on the developments setting the pace each week for the reorganisation of the country as well as opportunities and fresh requests.

    The French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs affaires confirmed the forthcoming appointment of a Media Officer to monitor this programme on a long-term basis, working from the Embassy in Tunis. In order to respond to emergencies, CFI offered to dispatch a correspondent to Tunis who, up to the elections set at the end of July 2011, will be able to coordinate contacts and the logistical setup of the main initiatives in this sector.

    The Tunisian state channel asked the French news channel France24 to come and share its savoir-faire on election coverage in a country that already has over 50 declared candidates.

    Antoine Cormery will be supervising the editorial staff at ERTT, accompanied by two colleagues from the Arabic language newsroom, Taoufik Mjaied, Chief Editor and Adel Gastel, star reporter. The objective will be to meet the most pressing needs: writing political news subjects, interviewing politicians, preparing questions, following up on interviews, etc. This assignment has been organised by RFI with joint funding from France 24.

    As for television, RFI staffs are moving in to support over 80 journalists at the Tunisian radio newsroom. The course will provide support for these professionals as they forge independent work practices to give state media its new-found legitimacy in the eyes of the public. This assignment was organised by RFI with joint funding from CFI.

    TV activities also include organising pre-election debates with the ERTT (Tunisian broadcasting corporation) in Tunis. Further to the initial training courses conducted by journalists from France 24, several workshops are to help the ERTT newsroom to organise contradictory debates and lead discussions among candidates on their programmes. These workshops led by experts from France Télévisions are to address both technical and editorial issues. An initial session on framing was held from 9 to 13 May with Sophie Claudet and Frédéric Gaillard from France Télévisions.

    Tunisian TV wished to broadcast a French newscast every day at 1.00 pm as from 9 May. Yves Bruneau, Chief Editor, will be providing the editorial staff with support during the remaining days of preparation. He will be supervising the staff during the first two days of broadcasting.

    Graphics Designer Gilles Poplin will be going to Tunis with the Self Promotion Manager for France Télévisions, Cécile Chavepayre, in response to ERTT channel’s expectations with respect to revamping its general appearance at the same time as editorial content of its programmes and improving its identity and brand image.

    At the initiative of ‘France Télévisions’ and the EBU and with CFI collaboration, the main international sponsors working towards the reconstruction of the Tunisian TV scene met in Paris to assess the emergency response and commit to a long-term support programme. UNESCO will be calling on the main European and international institutions to open up as many leads as possible to Tunisian operators.

    After Montpellier and Casablanca, Tunis was the next venue for a session of Ulysse 2.0, a training course for young journalists on the theme 'Journalism and Internet' organised by CFI in partnership with the higher school of journalism ESJ Lille and the Permanent Conference of Mediterranean Audiovisual Operators (COPEAM). This workshop, scheduled from 30 May to 5 June, was an opportunity to review multimedia journalist techniques on Internet with new media players.
    The EBU is bringing together experts from the main European partners to put forward to the Tunisian authorities a legislative foundation on which to base the coverage of the first free elections. Depending on requirements, the regulatory bodies and state-run operators will be attending this meeting. In light of requirements, CFI will suggest stepping up French presence according to opportunities.

    Further to its initial emergency response, CFI will be offering the managers of state media corporations a medium-term plan of action. These proposals come in response to sustainable restructuring needs. CFI will take care to develop training courses on good journalist practices, provide the resources for television to fulfil its public service remit and foster professionalism among the new media players from civil society.

    All the projects and initiatives organised or backed by CFI in Tunisia are coordinated by the CFI Department for the Mediterranean region and Asia. For further information and details please contact: Eric Soulier, Christophe Dehlinger,
    Christophe Provins and Laurent Allary lay@cfi.fr

  • The Walt Disney Company has announced the launch of Disney Junior on Wednesday, an all-new multiplatform preschool channel for children aged 2–7.

    Disney Junior will air daily and become the home of Disney favourites such as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jungle Junction, Handy Manny and Special Agent Oso, as well as new shows like Jake and the Never Land Pirates which premiered on Disney Junior on June 1, 2011.

    Maciej Bral, Vice President and General Manager Disney Channels Emerging Markets says that "Disney Junior will combine The Walt Disney Company's unparalleled heritage of classic storytelling, together with loveable characters, engaging music and learning through play to deliver the perfect co-viewing experience for children and families, particularly mothers of young children."

    Aletta Alberts, General Manager Content, MultiChoice said: "The addition of Disney Junior to the DStv Premium and DStv Compact bouquets completes the Disney portfolio on the DStv platform".  Disney Junior premieres in South Africa on DStv, Channel 309, on June 1 2011.

  • The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (Baz) has turned down five applications from aspiring broadcasters in the last decade for what the authority called failure to meet its licensing requirements.

    According to a report tabled in the House of Assembly by Media, Information and Communication Technology portfolio committee chairman Seiso Moyo, the stringent requirements Baz has attached to the granting of new broadcasting licences means that liberalisation of the airwaves remains a pipe dream.

    The report comes at a time when the limping coalition government claims to be in the process of democraticising the electronic media, presently monopolised by the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings.

    "The (Baz) chief executive officer indicated that the authority had invited applications in 2002 and those that responded could not meet the stipulated requirements," reads the report.

    The authority received five applications for commercial broadcasting licences out of the 15 that it advertised in 2004. However, all the applications, four for radio and one for television, were rejected.

    The 15 licences were for provincial commercial radio stations and one national free to air television station. Potential new players told the committee they suspected that Baz was deliberately blocking new entrants into the field. "The licensing criteria have been regarded by the media fraternity as highly prohibitive and they suspect it is deliberate to maintain the status quo," says the report.

    The Broadcasting Services Act of 2007 prohibits any individual or corporate to hold more than 10% of shares in any company seeking a broadcasting licence. In other words, an applicant for a broadcasting licence should have a minimum of 10 shareholders.

    The Act further prohibits a holder of a broadcasting licence from applying for a signal carrier licence. This means all broadcasters would have to rely on the state-owned Transmedia for their signal.

    This would force all new entrants to purchase broadcasting equipment which conforms to Transmedia's analogue transmitters. ZBH uses analogue technology after a failed attempt to migrate to digital transmission through Iranian funding and technology.

    Baz indicated that all licences are renewable and valid for two years. No foreigners are allowed to work or assist in the operations of any new licensed broadcaster.

    Recently, the authority flighted two adverts for commercial radio licences, although in reality only one is available since the ZBH has already secured the other.

    "For commercial radio, the frequency has a capacity for six radio licences and five were allocated to ZBC for Radio Zimbabwe, Power FM, Spot FM, National FM and Voice of Zimbabwe, leaving one for new players," the parliamentary report said.

    The report indicated that most Zimbabweans shunned the local broadcaster's "biased" programming in favour of the free-to-air digital satellite stations. "The public lamented lack of consultation on programmes aired by the public broadcaster and as a result many viewers have opted for satellite dishes and shun ZTV."

    The committee recommended that the "ZBC editorial policy should be reviewed to remove the perceived propaganda bias" and indicated that licensing of community radio stations was long overdue and had to be expedited.

  • hree Rwandan citizens living in France have brought an action before a tribunal in Paris to request the right to watch a documentary on the 1994 genocide before its broadcast on a French TV channel. Named "Genocide in Rwanda: killers among us?" the film is expected to be broadcast by France 2 on June 28, 2011.

    During a long hearing before the lower court (Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris - TGI) presided by Judge Emmanuel Binoche, lawyer Philippe Meilhac for Agathe Habyarimana claimed that "there had been no serious investigation."

    Marcel Bivugabagabo's lawyer Ludovic Rivière added: "My client was given a copy of the interview he gave to the film director Manolo d'Arthuys; I was shocked by the way it was done. When my client said he could not defend himself because he has not been accused of anything yet, the interviewer answered, so if this is the problem let me be your accuser!"

    "It's a show and it's going to be broadcast on the French public service", he concluded.

    According to Richard Malka, the lawyer representing the movie producing company Tony Comiti, the plaintiffs try to use the principle of their "presumption of innocence" to prevent an investigation. "They are not asking us to respect presumption of innocence, they are asking for impunity", he claimed.

    He explained that the rule was that the producer could be convicted of defamation after the broadcast of the documentary but that no control was to be done before. He also said that a 15 seconds announcement would be made at the beginning of the film to remind the audience that the three suspects were presumably not guilty.

    One of the plaintiffs' lawyers, Florence Bourg, told Hirondelle News agency after the hearing that the chance for the three Rwandans to watch the movie before its broadcast was very low, considering the French legal precedents on the matter: "At least, we obtained that an announcement would be made at the beginning of the movie".

  • MultiChoice is set to launch its own commercially extended video-on-demand (VOD) service, called DStv BoxOffice, as early as during July, according to a source familiar with the matter.

    DStv BoxOffice will be an extension of the DStv on Demand (DOD) service introduced in 2010 and will (according to a source not authorised to speak about it officially) take place before the new competitor SouthTel launches a similar VOD service in September.  MultiChoice declined to talk about DStv BoxOffice to Channel24.

    SouthTel stunned the South African television industry in May with its announcement that it plans to roll out a fully commercial VOD system on a satellite network in September in South Africa and Southern Africa that will enable people to watch movies and TV shows in demand on a "pay per play" basis that will be cheaper than all current pay TV options in South Africa.

    MultiChoice dabbled with a pay per view movies on demand system in the past but the limited service was stunted and then discontinued. However, the new DStv on Demand functionality, coupled with advances in digital personal video recorders (PVRs) and a renewed sense of urgency around the growth in the ways that consumers and pay TV subscribers have access to digital content, have put new impetus behind MultiChoice's decision to relaunch a VOD system of its own.

    With margins under pressure and rising costs in MultiChoice's pay TV business related to buying additional satellite capacity, increasing decoder subsidies, the rising cost of acquiring sports rights internationally and increased competitive pressures from new pay TV competition like On Digital Media's (ODM) TopTV, launching DStv BoxOffice will make for a welcome additional revenue stream.

    MultiChoice launched DStv on Demand a year ago and started field testing DStv BoxOffice towards the end of last year under staff. MultiChoice's DStv BoxOffice works in a similar way to the design and functionality to the VOD systems of Britain's Sky Movies Box Office and Australia's FOXTEL Box Office where subscribers get earlier, immediate access to DVDs on the day of their release as well as blockbuster movies before they become available on the normal pay TV window. 

    Similar to SouthTel that will use satellites and decoders because of prohibitively expensive, slow and limited broadband availability in southern Africa, MultiChoice reportedly plans to use its available satellite network to download pay per view content to PVR hard drives.

    With the additional functionality, DStv BoxOffice will then allow subscribers – who will have to register – to choose from a rolling, constantly updated selection of movie titles which can be watched immediately for an additional fee. Registered DStv BoxOffice users will be able to watch a movie for a window period of 48 hours after it's been chosen, as many times over as they want.

     

    Related

    New market report: VoD and Africa - A review of existing VoD services, drivers, challenges and opportunities (Dec. 2013)

  • Over seventy percent of Nigerians will not be able to pay for digital broadcast in the country from 2015 when migration from analogue is completed, a lawyer and IT activist, Chukwuemeka Okereafor, has said.

    Speaking at a workshop on digital broadcast migration in Abuja, Okereafor said because at least 50 dollars was required to be paid by each Nigerian to be able to enjoy digital broadcast, most Nigerians who live below one dollar per day would be cut off from the new technology.

    According to him, digital broadcast may also run into hitches in the country as TV stations lack local content. He said the government seemed not prepared for the digital broadcast as nothing or little was being done by its agency responsible for the new technology.

    " 70 per cent of Nigerians who live below one dollar per day and those ones in the rural areas will not be able to pay for the digital broadcast migration because we are told the migration will cost each Nigerian at least 50 dollar", he said.

    Also speaking at the event, editor of IT Edge News, Segun Oruame, said the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) was not carrying Nigerians along on what they should know about digital broadcast. He called on NBC to embark on public enlightenment on the new technology if the country must meet the 2015 target.

  • 20 - 22 July 2011
    Mediatech Africa 2011 Exhibition
    Venue: The Coca-Cola Dome -
    Northgate - Johannesburg (South Africa)
    Mediatech Africa SA's only all-inclusive broadcast, media, entertainment and AV trade. It showcases cutting edge technologies and services from industry leaders in television and broadcast, sound and audio, lighting and staging, animation, communication and related fields. The Mediatech Africa experience is not only limited to exhibitors inside the Coca-Cola dome in Northriding. Indeed when the continent’s largest technology trade expo kicks off, you don’t want to miss out on visiting the Live Outdoor Sound Demo’s  where several exhibitors have chosen to demonstrate their state of the art sound systems and sophisticated staging rigs. For more information please visit here:

    21 - 24 July 2011
    Festival du Monde Arabe du Court-métrage Azrou-13 edition
    Venue: Ifrane

    Arab short film festival. Subscription closes on 15 March 2011. Call for short films closes on 15 May 2011. Two training workshops will take place on the side. Results will be announced on 1 June 2011. For more information please visit here:

    21 - 31 July 2011
    DIFF - 32nd Durban International Film Festival
    Venue: Durban
    (South Africa)
    Contact: Durban Film Office –
    For more information please visit here:

    22 - 25 July 2011
    The 2nd Durban FilmMart
    Venue: Durban
    (South Africa)
    Contact: Durban Film Office –
    For more information please visit here:

    31 July 2011
    The African Audio-Visual Awards (TAVA)
    Venue: Lagos, Nigeria

    TAVA Awards is a platform created to celebrate the finest Africans behind great films, television productions, advertisements and music videos. All those who employ sound a picture to tell their stories in order to create entertainment. Entries to the awards closes on June 15th.
    For more information please visit here:

    July - Sept. 2011 (final dates tba)
    African film festival (AFF) in NYC
    Venue: NYC, USA

    Outdoor Summer Screenings in NYC Parks. Featuring dance, music, food and of course films. AFF programs year-round; therefore, AFF organisers accept submissions on an ongoing basis.
    For more information please visit here:

    21 – 24 August 2011
    The 13th PAMRO meeting and All Africa Media Research Conference
    Venue: Dakar, Senegal
    at the Le Méridien President Hotel.
    For more information please visit here:

    27 August - 4 September 2011 (final date tba)
    Zimbabwe International Film Festival

    Competitive for features, shorts, documentary with 12 ‘Mweya Awards’ in different categories.
    Please contact zimfilmfest@zol.co.zw for further information.

    9 - 14 August 2011 (tbc)
    Lola Kenya Screen
    Venue: Nairobi, Kenya

    Tel:[+254] 20 315 258, 221 3 318
    For more information please visit here:
    director@lolakenyascreen.org

    31 August - 10 September 2011
    Mostra de Venise

    Tel: [+39] 041 5218706
    Fax: [+39] 041 5218879
    For more information please visit here:
    indoffice@labiennale.org

    11 - 14 Septembre 2011
    HighwayAfrica 2011
    Venue: Rhodes Uni., Grahamstown, SA.

    A show focused on journalism and new multimedia. For fourteen years the Highway Africa conference has been at the centre of Africa’s debates on journalism and new media. The conference has over the years become the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world. For more information please visit here:

    3 - 8 Octobre 2011
    « Festival du Court Métrage Méditerranéen de Tanger »
    Venue: Tangier, Morocco

    A festival focused on short films.
    For more information please E-mail : ccm@menara.ma

    5 - 9 October 2011
    Africa in the Picture
    Venue: Bioscoop het Ketelhuis in Amsterdam, NL

    Tel:[+31] 20 622 7 151
    Fax:[+31] 20 627 15 44
    For more information please visit here:
    info@aitp.nl

    20 - 22 October 2011
    ZAFAA 2011 - The Zulu African Film Academy Awards
    Venue: London, UK

    Closing Date for Entries is Friday May 20th 2011.
    African Film Festival & Academy Awards
    For more information please visit here:

    21 - 29 October 2011
    Cinemed (« le Festival du cinéma méditerranéen »)
    Venue:  Montpellier - France

    Tel. +33 (0) 499 13 73 73
    Fax +33 (0) 499 13 73 74
    info@cinemed.tm.fr
    Deadline: 8 July 2011
    For more information please visit here:

    21 - 30 October 2011 (tbc)
    Kenya International Film Festival (KIFF)

    Venue: Nairobi, Kenya
    Tel:[+254] 2 201 05 26
    Fax:[+254] 722 897 216
    For more information please visit here:

    25-28 October 2011
    CDN WORLD SUMMIT 2011
    Venue, Hilton Paddington Hotel, London

    The 3rd annual CDN World Summit promises to be the largest and most comprehensive CDN event ever. We are pleased to announce our partnership with BT Wholesale as the host operator and those already confirmed to the stellar line up which will include over 80 speakers.The full value chain is represented including content providers, broadcast operators, traditional and telco CDNs, represented by industry leaders such as; FilmFlex Movies, BT Wholesale and AT&T.
    For more information please visit here:

    26 - 31 October 2011
    Annual Tricontinental Human Rights Film Festival
    Venue: Cape Town – South Africa

    Tel: [+27] 21 788 5462 - Fax: [+27] 21 788 5469
    For more information please visit here:

    27 October – 6 November 2011
    Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival
    Venue: Edinburgh's Filmhouse cinema

    The UK's largest African Film Festival

    29 October - 6 November 2011
    Festival Amakula Kampala
    Venue: Uganda, Kampala

    Tel: [+256] 41 427 35 32
    For more information please visit here:
    info@amakula.com

    31 October - 7 November 2011
    Out In Africa
    South African Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
    Venue: various, see website

    For more information please visit here:

    25 November - 4- December of 2011
    International Film Schools Festival  - 34es « Rencontres Henri Langlois »
    Venue: TAP - Poitiers, France.

    The Festival organiser invites African film students to join is. The Festival gathers about 15000 participants and about 100 professionals. A trade market is held on the side (includes CineSud).
    For more information please visit here:

    30 November - 3 December 2011
    MYCONTENT,
    Venue: Dubai

    MYCONTENT - (exhibition & conference) is dedicated to the Middle East & North Africa. It is MENA region’s 2nd entertainment content marketplace which will be held in conjunction with 4th Dubai International Character & Licensing Fair and 4th Dubai World Game Expo.
    For more information please visit here:

  • Kenyans shined at the 2011 CNN MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year Awards with Daily Nation's Kamau Mutunga winning the Sport Award at the event held on Saturday Night. Fatuma Noor (The Star) emerged as the overall winner in the event held in Johannesburg, South Africa on Saturday night June 25.

    - UTV Broadcasting CEO MK Anand has launched its Movies International business in African markets including; Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Zambia and Malawi, according to India's Business Standard newspaper. United Television (UTV), India's global media and entertainment company, has launched its movie channel in East Africa setting the pace for its strategic entry into Africa. UTV Movies is a Hindi movie channel produced by UTV Motion Pictures, the largest motion picture studio in India.

  • Call for entries: SA’s Next Top Filmmaker 2011

    Following the Success of SA’s Next Top Editor 2010, General Post in partnership with Curious Pictures have announced that entries are now open for SA’s Next Top Filmmaker 2011. Winners will receive a 1-year internship at Curious Pictures in Auckland Park as well as exposure to the industry at large. Entrants may enter individually or in teams of two and will be required to submit a script, treatment, storyboard and/or shot list for a 3 minute film.  Please visit the General Post Website for more information on how to enter and what the entry requirements are. A Workshop will be held on 4 June to help entrants with scriptwriting and tips on how to prepare an effective treatment and storyboard. The top 5 entries will get the opportunity to produce their film under the mentorship of the Curious Pictures team. Camera, lighting and sound equipment will be sponsored by Digitalfilm. The offline edits will be done at General Post and Aces Up and the online at The Bladeworks in Bryanston.  Final mix for the 5 finalists will be sponsored by Warren Birley of Fine Tune Audio in Bryanston. For more information, please click here or go to facebook.

    For more information please visit the website here:
    Deadline: 17 July 2011 

    Delegate registration for Durban FilmMart (22 - 25 July)

    Delegate registration is open for the second edition of the Durban FilmMart (22 - 25 July) and the line-up of speakers and topics on the programme promises a focussed look at the world of filmmaking in Africa from varied perspectives. DFM takes place during the Durban International Film Festival (21-31 July) to which accredited DFM delegates also have access.

    For more information please visit the website here:
    Email: durbanfilmmart@durban.gov.za 
    Deadline: 22 July 2011 

Issue no. 108 - 7 July 2011

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  • The front-runners in the race to make the transition to digital broadcasting are now facing a range of issues including: who runs the signal carrier?; how those who can’t afford a decoder will pay for it; unrealistic deadlines and the absence of any public campaign to explain the process. The politicians seem scared by a process that could affect their citizen’s ability to watch television and are seeking to control the discussion about what’s going to happen. Russell Southwood looks at the early news from the front-runners.

    Making the transition to digital broadcasting was never going to be easy for any African country. In effect, the Government has to ask those of its citizens who own a television to pay US$50-100 for a decoder/set-top-box and ostensibly all they will they will then get is the television they are watching. Of course, there are potential benefits and you’d think that African governments and regulators might make a better fist of explaining them. Although the agreement to go digital was signed at an ITU meeting in 2006, most countries seem to be determined to avoid doing anything until the last minute.

    The following issues have begun to emerge in some countries and worth knowing about so that others can avoid them:

    Who runs the digital signal carrier?: In Kenya, the Government was originally determined to have all the broadcasters use a single signal carrier. Its original choice was Signet, a subsidiary of KBC: it was to have raised investment from external parties to handle the transmission signal roll-out. KBC had already set up a test signal with one of these external parties. The private sector broadcasters preferred not to be in the hands of the Government broadcaster and would have liked to set up their own signal carrier.

    However, the Government eventually lost patience with the slow pace of Signet’s progress and decided to let two licences for signal carriage. The Media Owners Association (MOA) had been wanting to bid as a consortium and Chinese-owned Star Times were the other bidder.

    But relatively late in the run-up to bidding, the Nation Group and Royal Media (which has the most extensive private analogue transmission network) decided to bid and the MOA said it would stand aside. Only one of the two licences was awarded to Star Times. The Nation Group and Royal Media are now suing in the courts and if the case is not thrown out, it could take several years to reach a decision.

    In Ghana, the Government has decided to go the path of a single signal carrier for Free-To-Air (FTA) television which because it does not have the money to fund the transition will involve an external investor. So the parties to the signal carrier will be the Government, the state broadcaster GBC, a consortium of all the FTA broadcasters (through the Ghana Independent Broadcasters’ Association) and the external investor who will operate the company on a “Build, Operate and Transfer” basis. The Government is simply saying to the bidders: come up with your best offer in terms of coverage area, rate of return and time period. There is to be a second signal carrier for Pay-TV operators.

    Because the Government was slow to address the digital transition, Swedish-owned NGB had set up a joint venture with the state broadcaster GBC to run a digital signal company (prior to any policy decision) which it hoped all broadcasters would use. The regulator took the right decision in saying that there was no policy so this arrangement had to be ended. Since NGB had already done the survey work for the transmission network, the Government is now having to insist the winning bidder will do this all over again so as not to appear to favour NGB.

    Both NGB and Start Times have a clear strategy of trying to get in with the state broadcaster ahead of the policy decisions. In NGB’s case, it has not been remarkably successful bit Star Times has seemed to make some big wins as we will see later.

    What will have to be resolved in Ghana with the winning bidder is what assets from each broadcaster (masts, transmission equipment) are worth to the external bidder and therefore what financial contribution each broadcaster is making. What is not clear is what will happen to those broadcasters who have relatively few assets to put into the pot or whose assets will not be redeployed.

    In Senegal, the Government has made the decision to set up a single signal carrier separate from the national broadcast company. The licensing process for this entity has not yet been announced but there is some talk that it might be one of the telcos, either Expresso or Sonatel. Again the existing assets of the broadcasters will be poured into it with all the ensuing arguments about the value of these assets.

    In Nigeria, the Presidential Committee set up to create the policy for the transition delivered its work to a demanding timetable and sent it off to the President. It has been with the President now for two years: the death of one President and elections have delayed it but insiders say that the President will sign off on the document “within the month”. We shall see….Government does not wear the same watch as the rest of us.

    In the meantime, Star Times has set up a joint venture with the state-owned broadcaster NTA and is selling Set-Top-Boxes for its single, low-cost bouquet. So far it has sold 400,000 Set-Top-Boxes and says it is selling 30,000 a month. However, this is small potatoes alongside the many million TV households in the country. It is also steadily adding transmission coverage areas with Port Harcourt being the latest added. It will be interesting to see whether the Government blesses this arrangement or (as it should do) rolls it back as was done in Ghana for a proper, transparent bidding process.

    What about those who can’t afford a Set-Top-Box?: Those who have written their digital transition policies and are beginning to implement them are rightly proud of their work but there is an empty hole where they should have addressed how they will get Set-Top-Boxes (STB) on low-income. Only South Africa really has a clearly stated policy with resources committed. The digital transition committees know the issue exists but have not really dealt with it.

    In most places the STB will cost US$50 and the policy-makers acknowledge that a South African scheme with subsidy direct to the user is likely to be abused: indeed, they say, what happens if we lower it to US$20 and people start exporting illegally to neighbouring countries? One of the Tanzanian signal carriers will rent the user a box for just under US$6 a month. The state broadcaster in Namibia, NBC, will give licence-payers a box for just over US$24.

    But in the main, there is much vague talk about prices coming down as volume sales kick in and remove taxes but the rest is silence: there is no coherent, written policy. The truth is that between 20-40% of the TV-owning population in each country will find it hard to buy the STB. Some may have relatives who will pay for it but the rest will be left without a signal once the switch-off happens. The ideal price point is probably somewhere around US$20.

    Unrealistic deadlines: Countries seem to be setting deadlines to “ginger things up” (as they say in Nigeria rather than these deadlines representing a realistic hope of completion. National pride seems to dictate a bidding war between the front-runners to set ever more stringent deadlines. For example, the Nigerian Government has a deadline of 2012, which it has not got a hope in hell of meeting. Elsewhere in the world the process has taken 3-14 years to complete.

    In Ghana the deadline for switch-off is 2014 but informed sources admitted that this deadline is likely to be the point at which a switch occurs in one area alone. Playing propaganda with these deadlines will undermine the credibility of the process in the long-run. Deadlines in the original timetable have already been missed and the kick-off the prepared public campaign now waits the resolution of the signal carrier bidding.

    At an APC workshop on the digital transition in Ghana last week, the new Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Communications made the mistake of comparing the process to the registration of SIM cards, where the deadline has already been postponed several times. The difference is there is no cost to the user and other than a bureaucratic few minutes registration time, no other pain involved.

    No-one seems to have understood that with a process this complicated, it is important to have answers to the issues outlined above and that the transition will become a political “hot potato” unless there are clear answers, particularly on what will happen for those who cannot afford to pay.

    For more information and case studies of Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, go to:

     


     

    This on Balancing Act’s Web TV Channel:

    Shuaib Nda Adama, Executive Director, Engineering, NTA on the digital broadcast transition in Nigeria.

    Remy Nweke, blogger, ICT Realms Online on the three big issues facing Nigeria, one which is the digital transition.

    Seyram Mankra, Media Insights Manager, Synovate, the main market research company for media, on the changes in the media landscape in Ghana and respective merits of radio and television for advertisers.

    In a new series, Seyram Mankra, Media Insights Manager, Synovate looks at What Ghanaians Watch on TV, drawing contrasts between male and female viewing. He also talks about his own viewing patterns as someone who is a professional in the industry.

    Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on:
    @BalancingActAfr

  • Akolawole Olootu has been an independent presenter on radio for thirty years but has also doubled as a Nollywood producer. He speaks to Segun Adebayo on why he stopped producing movies, his growing up and other issues. Rather bizarrely he claims that women producing Nollywood movies have unfair advantages.

    Q: How would you describe your sojourn into independent broadcasting?

    A: The journey started thirty years ago with my friend, Kolade Alabi, who introduced me to the profession. I actually started as a poet; I went to a lot of occasions then to entertain with songs and dances. I went presenting during one of Kolade Alabi’s programmes, he was the one who taught me all I needed to know concerning radio presentation. He knew everything about presentation before me; we started with one programme called Ejire with Radio Oyo during the time of Bisi Adesola, who was the General Manager of BCOS then. After sometime, we had different programmes, so, when Osun State was created, Kolade Alabi had to go to Osun State. After about five years, we parted ways without any problem. I started my programme, Oselenkejo about twenty six years ago. In fact, mine was the first independent radio presentation on Oyo Radio, there was nothing like paying for air time then, it was only the Christian and Muslim programmes that they do pay for these days. I am the first independent radio presenter that bought airtime in BCOS.

    Q: You did not start as a presenter; you started as a poet, why the change of focus?

    A: The kind of presentation we do then was purely grassroots and majorly Yoruba programmes. Any professional poet should be able to fit into radio presentation without any problem, so it became very easy for me to switch over to radio programming because of the experience I had garnered over the years when I was under the tutelage of Kolade Alabi. I was trained by him, because he had been with Radio Nigeria for a long time before I met him, he gave me the idea and it became a success.

    Q: At what point of your life did you discover your talent for presentation or did it just happen overnight?

    A: It has always been part of me when I was very young and I can say that I noticed the gift when I was in primary school, I was one of the most outspoken boys during our days. During our end of the year activities, I was always the one speaking on behalf of other pupils. I read so many Yoruba books, listened to Olarawaju Adepoju, Tubosun Oladapo and others. I love listening to their music a lot when I was growing up, so I was able to pick one or two things from them that helped my growing up and shaped my intellectual ability. I was from a very poor family, because we couldn’t afford quite a number of things. The passion and interest of what I do is what I am enjoying today; I did not start because I wanted to make money, the interest was always in my mind every time and because I knew I was good at what I am doing, I was very sure that one day there will be a break through.

    Q: Which was your first episode?

    My first programme on air was Bodewasinmi, I was very happy because it was my first time on air, I went to everybody and told them that my programme will be coming live on air, I mean the excitement and the fun was so overwhelming. Another funny thing then was that it was not a money spinning business like what we have today, the highest you get then was 100 naira.

    Q: You have not been producing movies for sometime now, did you relinquish movie for radio presentation?

    A: I left movie production because the economy was very bad and it was not encouraging for somebody who wants to produce quality movie to survive, the buyers are also not supportive. People love watching Nigerian movies but they don’t want to pay for it. How can you buy fifteen films in one CD for 100 naira? Piracy, poor state of economy, bad market, and distribution are the major problems that have reduced the development of good movie production. If you watch most movies today; you will discover that they are produced by women, and the funny thing is that when you ask them where they get the money from, they will say my boyfriend gave me or somebody very special dashed me, I mean all sorts of stories that you can’t imagine. You cannot invest ten million naira and make that kind of money back, and the truth is that I am not an actor neither am I looking for fame, all I want is to invest money and make cool cash at the end.

    Q: Are you saying bad economy forced you out of Nollywood?

    A: Not really, but we are actually planning to come back very soon with something bigger and better. The movie industry is presently in a sick state and I pray it gets out of the mess for the betterment of everybody. Let the government flush out piracy from the movie industry and it will become boom.

    Full article here

    Related

    New market report: VoD and Africa - A review of existing VoD services, drivers, challenges and opportunities (Dec. 2013) - VoD, a way to reduce content piracy.

  • Opening up the world to South Africans each year, Encounters is widely acclaimed as Africa’s most prestigious documentary festival. This year’s selection featured 37 films from 14 countries and five continents, including 11 world premieres, 19 South African films and 17 international films.

    Khalid Shamis’ ‘Imam & I’ was the most popular local film and the overall audience favourite at Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, which ended on Sunday, 26 June 2011.

    Imam & I is a tribute to Shamis’ grandfather, the influential 1960s Imam Abdullah Haron, and an exploration of the Muslim community’s participation (and lack thereof) in the anti-Apartheid struggle. It sold out its three screenings, as well as an additional screening put on due to audience demand. 81% of audience respondents rated the documentary as “excellent.”

    Charles Ferguson’s Oscar-winning Inside Job was the favourite international film, and the second most popular film overall. This scathing dissection of the global financial crisis sold out one of its Cape Town screening and was the second most watched film during the festival, after Simon Bright’s Robert Mugabe: What Happened?

    Disney’s wildlife blockbuster African Cats was the second most popular international film, followed by Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, an astonishingly honest portrait of the groundbreaking comedian at 75. These were also the third and fourth most popular films overall respectively.

    Mama Goema: The Cape Town Beat in Five Movements was the second most popular local film, and the fifth favourite overall. This multinational documentary – co-directed by Columbia’s Angela Ramirez, Portugal’s Sara Gouveia and South Africa’s Calum MacNaughton - is a love letter to Cape Town and its unique soundtrack. Mama Goema, which screened with Once Upon a Day: Brenda Fassie, sold out three of its five screenings at Encounters.  

    The third most popular local film, and the sixth favourite overall, was Lauren Beukes’ Glitterboys and Ganglands, the colourful story of three contestants at Miss Gay Western Cape. It sold out three of its four screenings during the festival.

    This year’s Encounters had a record 22 sell-outs over the 18 days; these included Robert Mugabe: What Happened?; From B-Boys to Being Men and Zip Zap: A Social Circus; Porselynnkas Dokiementer; The Creators;  Forerunners – South Africa’s New Black Middleclass; and Mining for Change: A Story of South African Mining.

    “We’ve seen an increased interest and a marked improvement in the local content this year,” says Festival Director Mandisa Zitha. “Between the sell-outs, the lively Q&As after the films, and the extensive press coverage, we’re very happy with how this year’s festival went.”

    The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) is the primary sponsor of Encounters, which is made possible by the further support of The National Film and Video Foundation, The Cape Film Commission, The Provincial Government of The Western Cape, The City of Cape Town, The Times, Nu Metro, Tempest Car Hire, The French Embassy, The Embassy of Sweden, Goethe Institut, HCI Foundation, Rutland Lodge, BASA, Exclusive Books and CTV. Please visit here:

    Trailers of major films

    Imam and I

    Inside Job

    African Cats

    Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

    Mama Goema

    Glitterboys and Ganglands

  • In June 2011, Producer Anant Singh announced the World Premiere of the film “2010 - Once In A Lifetime: The Movie” which focuses on the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the excitement and jubilation that this global event brought to South Africa and the African continent, took place in Johannesburg on Wednesday, 8 June 2011 with Minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalula as Guest of Honour. The film had its television premiere on Friday, 10 June at 8.00pm on DSTV's SuperSport 3 to mark the anniversary of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The film which is co-produced with SuperSport, has Singh and MultiChoice Group CEO, Imtiaz Patel as producers and award-winning director, Junaid Ahmed at the helm.

    2010 - Once In A Lifetime: The Movie, explores South Africa's successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, integrating inspiring visuals, exhilarating music and compelling interviews with a range of people - from FIFA and LOC officials, government representatives, high profile personalities, celebrities and most importantly, the man in the street and is narrated by renowned international football commentator and Guinness World Record holder, John Helm. The film captures the passionate commitment and vision of South Africa and its people and the continent of Africa to the beautiful game. This film celebrates the spirit and the magic of a very unique FIFA World Cup - the first ever African World Cup.

    Commenting on the film, Anant Singh said, "We are delighted to have partnered with SuperSport to produce 2010 - Once In A Lifetime: The Movie. The film is important as it gives a South African perspective of the most successful football World Cup in history and the spirit of euphoric emotion that engulfed our nation and the African continent. It is already a year and ‘Once In A Lifetime’ will give audiences the opportunity to re-live the magic of the World Cup."

    "SuperSport celebrated excellence and this remarkable film is a splendid opportunity to prolong the joy and spirit experienced in our country during the FIFA World Cup. It is a permanent reminder of the greatest sport event ever held in Africa," said Graham Abrahams of SuperSport.

  • Former Director-General of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) has said that the mass media, if effectively utilized, has the potential to improve on the socio-economic and political development of Sierra Leone, thus urging media practitioners to use their respective media outlets to effect positive changes in society.

    Dr. Ivan Ajabola Thomas was speaking at a media training workshop organized by the UNFPA in collaboration with Media Alliance for Population and Development (MAPD) at the Bo Club in Bo town. He said the development of all spheres of life was as a result of change which needed new ideas in order to produce high per capita income through modern and improved ways of life for the people.

    He said the media could serve as a vehicle to advocate for development and change, adding that Sierra Leone has always been listed among the least developed countries in the world as a result of several factors, including governance, low living standard of the people, and poor infrastructural development.

    Dr. Thomas noted that Sierra Leone should not continue to rely on donor support but rather on an improved economic transformation significant towards the overall improvement of the country's economy.

    "The role of the mass media is to ensure specific kinds of change in society. The media must be able to bring the people together, contribute to national development and help people to adjust to changes. Economic growth should be between 5 to 7% but that is not the case. Development can be considered from various angles: political, social and economical. Sierra Leone has largely unskilled population and therefore we cannot produce more as expected; we need to improve on the illiteracy rate," he said, adding that the new media was a digitalized system which makes it possible to pass on relevant information across the world.

    Issac Massaquoi and Joshua Nicol - both from the Mass Communication Department of FBC - emphasized the need for good reporting by both electronic and print media journalists for effective communication. Mr. Massaquoi said one of the main issues lacking in news reporting in the country is "feature writing", which he said journalists could use to comment on issues and happenings within and out of the country.

    He said most editors believed that beginners of the journalism profession should use few adjectives in writing their stories for better understanding, noting that coherent presentation of materials will add value to their stories and therefore urged participants to develop the habit of writing feature articles in their respective newspapers.

    UNFPA communications officer, Marian Samu, maintained that journalists should be able to go beyond press releases for in-depth investigation on issues dealing with maternal and child mortality and other related issues in order to know especially how the UNFPA was addressing such issues.

    She said it was unfortunate that children at school-going age are giving birth as adults; a development she said needed serious media attention to reduce maternal and child mortality rates in the country.

    "There are a lot of information out there for journalists; evidence based reporting is how best you can present a clear picture of happenings. The demographic and health survey which was launched by the government has a lot of information for journalists," she concluded.

  • Reporters Without Borders deplores the failure of Tunisia's new authorities to issue any broadcast licences in the six months since President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali's ouster. They are supposed to be building a new, free and democratic Tunisia, but no democracy will be possible without truly independent media.

    The Tunisian broadcast media landscape has not been renewed. No licences have been awarded, either to media that already operated clandestinely under President Ben Ali, such as Radio Kalima or Radio 6, or to proposed new media for which an application was filed after the old regime fell on 14 January.

    "We know that a transition of this scale cannot happen overnight," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. "But the absence of media freedom was one the leading characteristics of the old regime and there is an urgent need for a complete break with this sad heritage.

    "The content of the media changed after Ben Ali's departure and this is an encouraging evolution. But the creation of new media and the legalization of those that are still broadcasting without a licence are now really urgent. Administrative and procedural issues must not prevent full realization of one of the revolution's most important demands - freedom of expression."

    Tunisia's new authorities must lose no more time in accepting their responsibilities to the media, including those that are already broadcasting. The future of Tunisian democracy is at stake. The Information and Communication Reform Authority that was set up three months ago cannot wait until after the constituent assembly election on 23 October to issue these licences. The election campaign must be covered by media that reflect the diversity of views in Tunisia.

    The head of Radio Kalima, Omar Mestiri, began a hunger strike on 21 June in protest against the current impasse and the prime minister's failure to keep promises he made publicly. Mestiri intends to continue his hunger strike until Radio Kalima gets a licence.

  • Equipment at all Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) studios for both radio and television is too "old, obsolete and incompatible" with new technologies in the broadcasting sector, a recent parliamentary committee report said.

    The sorry state of the equipment has greatly compromised the quality of production in all studios countrywide. The revelations contained in the first report of the portfolio committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology on the State of Public Media in Zimbabwe confirms a story carried by The Standard newspaper in November last year. ZBC sued The Standard for US$10 million claiming that the story was a lie.

    "It is now very difficult to have outside broadcasts and the broadcaster admitted that productions are now of poor quality," reads part of the report. "They do not have electronic news gathering cameras, microwave link, and satellite link to cover outside broadcasts."

    The detailed report said the corporation has one functional editing machine which had to be shared between programming and news departments. "As a result, they have to edit programmes up to midnight or early morning hours."

    The committee found that the equipment, commissioned in the 1990s, now needed to be replaced by digital equipment by 2015 in compliance with the deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union.

    MPs noted that it was now difficult to get spares for "old and obsolete equipment". The state of affairs is equally bad at Montrose Studios in Bulawayo. There are no portable recorders.

    Apart from that, the OB (outside broadcasting) van is now grounded and ZBC has to bring the one in Harare for events taking place in Bulawayo, about 440 km away.
    Workers are sometimes ferried in "open" trucks to work.

    The report also confirms that viewers are no longer listening or watching ZBC programmes because they are lowly regarded. ZBC, said the report, was therefore facing resistance in collecting licence fees, particularly form individuals.

    Revenue generation by the corporation remains very low. The report said with transmission coverage of 30% for television and less than 45% for radio, it is difficult for ZBC to realise considerable amount of revenue from licences.

    "Regarding salaries workers at Pockets Hill were concerned about failure by the company to meet pay dates, sometimes they were paid two weeks into another month," the report said.

    A separate article from SW Radio Africa reported that  a Parliamentary grouping investigating the state of the media in Zimbabwe has called for an end to the monopoly of the state's Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), calling it 'incompatible' with freedom of expression. The report singled out the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which continues to restrict the work of journalists.

     

     

  • The Nation Media Group (NMG) is diversifying its business across East Africa as part of the strategy to tap into the expected rise in demand for media services as the region's economy gains momentum.

    East Africa's largest media house, which recently launched a Rwanda edition of its regional newspaper the East African, said it will be exploring avenues for growth in broadcasting and digital media to strengthen its position in the regional market of more than 120 million people. The firm, however, warned that rising cost of production driven by high energy costs and a weak shilling could slow down profits in the near term.

    "Rising cost of energy is driving transport costs up since we rely on road transport to deliver newspapers to the market," said Wilfred Kiboro, the Chairman of Nation Media Group board. "A weakening shilling is also impacting on the cost of news print," he said.

    NMG, which cross-listed in Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, reported a 37.8 per cent growth in profits after tax to Sh1.5 billion in 2010 compared to Sh1.1 billion in the previous year. Linus Gitahi, the company's chief executive, said the group has prepared a raft of measures to confront the emerging business environment.

    "We have re-evaluated group wide risks and recommended suitable counter measures," he said. "Going forward, we will continue to optimise stable operations as a top priority," he said. Gitahi told shareholders at a meeting last Thursday that a large proportion of the group's capital expenditure was in 2010 used to refurbish the printing press infrastructure, support distribution and to invest in broadcasting and digital media.

    NMG has hired a research firm, Consumer Insight, to collect consumer trends data across Africa for use in content improvement and is also counting on its investments in new printing presses to improve print quality and increase circulation, Gitahi said.

    "We put in place advanced measures to take advantage of emerging opportunities with the installation and commissioning of a new printing presses in Tanzania and Uganda," he said.

    Shareholders approved a special dividend of Sh2.5 as part of the company's Golden Jubilee celebrations, pushing the total dividend for the year to Sh8. The board had earlier declared an interim dividend of Sh1.5 and a final dividend of Sh4.

    Nation Media Group has been aggressively diversifying its product range in the recent past, aiming to meet the needs of different market segments. In Kenya, NMG publishes the Daily Nation, The East African, Taifa Leo, and the Business Daily newspapers and runs two radio stations, Easy FM and QFM and two TV stations, NTV and e-Africa.

    NMG trades in Tanzania through a subsidiary Mwananchi Communications Ltd, which publishes Mwananchi, Mwanaspoti and The Citizen newspapers.

    In Uganda, the group operates a television station, NTV Uganda, while the company's subsidiary Monitor Publications publishes The Monitor, My Wedding Magazine and the Monitor Telephone Directory as well as KFM - a radio station.

    NMG, which is East Africa's largest media house, has been listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) since 1973 and has been posting profits year-on-year

  • Reporters Without Borders is appalled to learn that Moroccan information minister Khalid Naciri obtained the dismissal of Dubai TV chief editor Omar Makhfi and his brother, Jalal, the station's Morocco correspondent, on 21 June because Jalal referred on the air to opposition calls for protests against tomorrow's referendum in Morocco on a proposed constitutional reform.

    The journalists were fired two days after the minister gave a televised address about King Mohammed's 17 June speech announcing the referendum.

    "We condemn the Moroccan information minister's personal intervention in order to obtain the heads of these two journalists," Reporters Without Borders said. "It is unacceptable that a government representative should behave in this manner. This is a long way from the democratic reforms that King Mohammed announced on 17 June."

    The press freedom organization added: "It is time that Morocco turned the page on the archaic practice of political interference in the media and judicial spheres if it wants its proclaimed democratic principles to become a reality."

    Reached in Dubai, Omar Makhfi told Reporters Without Borders: "The 20 February opposition movement issued a call on 19 June for demonstrations against the holding of the referendum. Jalal Makhfi, the station's correspondent in Morocco, referred to these demonstrations during a broadcast in the most neutral and professional manner possible. He then contacted the minister for the government's viewpoint. But instead of answering the questions, Khalic Naciri attacked our correspondent, accusing him of being pro-20 February.

    "After the interview, the minister called the station's interview coordinator and told her he was going to demand a political accounting for the journalist. We took another look at the interview and found no violation of professional ethics. But we called the minister to allow him to express his views on the constitution, without the dispute with our correspondent getting in the way. As a result, he was able speak on the air a second time.

    "The minister then called the United Arab Emirates embassy in Rabat to complain about Dubai TV's Morocco correspondent. Two days later, on 21 June, the station's news director told me that my brother and I had been fired. The station had no role in this. The news director was flabbergasted when he read me the note from the department of human resources. It took effect immediately. The next day, I was unemployed. But the station was honest with me.

    "It is now 29 June and I still have not been told why I was fired, although I worked for Dubai TV for eight years and my contract had just been renewed, on 11 June. All they did was telling me verbally: 'We have no criticism to make against you.' What's serious is that this matter did not remain at the media level. It is the first time that a minister has used his status as a government representative to settle a personal score and obtain the dismissal of a journalist he did not like."

  • African TV stations broadcast to the pace of the ‘Make Music celebration’ on 21 June 2011. CFI worked to support them as they programme a special musical schedule. Throughout May, CFI offered musical programmes to enhance the schedules of its TV partners in Africa. Key programmes disseminated included:

     “ Les Années Francofolles ”: An original documentary in honour of the 25th edition of the Francofolies rock festival at La Rochelle in France. The film looks back at highlights of this major festival, and explores the socio-political background and times.

     “ Lokua Kanza ”
    : A broadcast of a concert which took place on 7 May 2010 in Paris for the release of his new album Nkolo produced in Brazil.

     “ Afrique en scène ”: This musical event brought together African stars on the music scene and especially young African artists on 9 May. On the stages were Tiken Jah Fakoly, Didier Awadi, William Baldé, Lokua Kanza, Imany, Smod, Fafa Ruffino, Régis Kole, Kady Diarra, Mariana Ramos, Baloji, Amen Viana, Djazia Satour, Frest and 36 States.

     “ Maurice Kyria, winner of the 2010 RFI Discovery award ”
    : Organised since 1981, the RFI discovery award is a decisive springboard helping artists in Africa, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean further their career. Maurice Kirya was chosen from among the ten finalists at the 2010 edition. This young Ugandan artist follows in the footsteps of several big names such as: Amadou and Mariam (Mali-1982), Tiken Jah Fakoly (Côte d’Ivoire - 2000), Didier Awadi (Senegal - 2003).

    “ Gainsbourg, The Man Who Loved Women ”: To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Serge Gainsbourg’s death, this documentary takes a look at the man and the myth, with accounts from several women who interpreted his work.

  • The First Grader the first co-production between South Africa, the United Kingdom and Kenya which was released in the United States by National Geographic Entertainment on 13 May 2011 has been embraced by both critics and general audiences. It is a BBC Films and UK Film Council production in association with Videovision Entertainment, Lipsync and ARTE France. The film was released on an additional twenty five screens in the United States 27 May 2011 bringing it to a total of 50 screens. The film also saw brisk sales at the Cannes Film Festival where it was snapped up by a number of territories.

    Critics in the United States have lauded the film with excellent reviews. The Los Angeles Times called the film "empowering", The Atlanta Chronicle said the film was "earnest and well intentioned", The Hollywood Report called it "an inspirational story" while the Washington Post said it was "a heart-warming film" and The Huffington Post declared the film to be "heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time" while Entertainment Weekly said it was "a dynamic drama", The New York Daily News raved that the film was "tough-minded...soft-hearted with unexpected depth" and New York Press said it was "a spectacle as beautiful as it is scarce".

    The critical success of The First Grader affirms the recognition received by the film at top international film festivals since it debuted at the Telluride Film Festival last September and then at the Toronto Film Festival where it was the runner up for the Audience Prize, the Doha and the Pan African Film Festivals where it won the coveted Audience Prizes and the Palm Beach Film Festival where it was bestowed with the Best Film Award.

    "We are delighted with the accolades received by The First Grader as well as the critical and box office success it has achieved in the United States," said executive producer, Anant Singh. "The film tells a universal story of the triumph of the human spirit and underscores the importance of education. We are also thrilled that the discerning American audiences have embraced this South African/Kenyan/UK co-production," added Singh.

    The First Grader, based on a true story, is set in a remote primary school in the Kenyan bush where hundreds of children are jostling for a chance for the free education promised by the new Kenyan government. One new applicant causes astonishment when he knocks on the door of the school. He is Maruge, an old Mau Mau veteran in his eighties, who is desperate to learn to read at this late stage of his life. He fought for the liberation of his country and now feels he must have the chance of an education so long denied - even if it means sitting in a classroom alongside six-year-olds. Moved by his passionate plea, head teacher Jane Obinchu, supports his struggle to gain admission and together they face fierce opposition from parents and officials who don't want to waste a precious school place on such an old man.

    Full story here:

  • In the wake of the Tunisian revolution and with a view to assessing and prioritising needs properly, CFI dispatched Philippe Chauvet to conduct an assessment jointly undertaken with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). As part of its remit to serve state-funded French media operators acting to support southern operators, CFI conducted this assignment under the aegis of the French Embassy and submitted its findings to all interested operators.

    These guidelines were also confirmed with one-off assignments conducted by representatives of the AEF or France Télévisions who, on their return, reported on the developments setting the pace each week for the reorganisation of the country as well as opportunities and fresh requests.

    The French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs affaires confirmed the forthcoming appointment of a Media Officer to monitor this programme on a long-term basis, working from the Embassy in Tunis. In order to respond to emergencies, CFI offered to dispatch a correspondent to Tunis who, up to the elections set at the end of July 2011, will be able to coordinate contacts and the logistical setup of the main initiatives in this sector.

    The Tunisian state channel asked the French news channel France24 to come and share its savoir-faire on election coverage in a country that already has over 50 declared candidates.

    Antoine Cormery will be supervising the editorial staff at ERTT, accompanied by two colleagues from the Arabic language newsroom, Taoufik Mjaied, Chief Editor and Adel Gastel, star reporter. The objective will be to meet the most pressing needs: writing political news subjects, interviewing politicians, preparing questions, following up on interviews, etc. This assignment has been organised by RFI with joint funding from France 24.

    As for television, RFI staffs are moving in to support over 80 journalists at the Tunisian radio newsroom. The course will provide support for these professionals as they forge independent work practices to give state media its new-found legitimacy in the eyes of the public. This assignment was organised by RFI with joint funding from CFI.

    TV activities also include organising pre-election debates with the ERTT (Tunisian broadcasting corporation) in Tunis. Further to the initial training courses conducted by journalists from France 24, several workshops are to help the ERTT newsroom to organise contradictory debates and lead discussions among candidates on their programmes. These workshops led by experts from France Télévisions are to address both technical and editorial issues. An initial session on framing was held from 9 to 13 May with Sophie Claudet and Frédéric Gaillard from France Télévisions.

    Tunisian TV wished to broadcast a French newscast every day at 1.00 pm as from 9 May. Yves Bruneau, Chief Editor, will be providing the editorial staff with support during the remaining days of preparation. He will be supervising the staff during the first two days of broadcasting.

    Graphics Designer Gilles Poplin will be going to Tunis with the Self Promotion Manager for France Télévisions, Cécile Chavepayre, in response to ERTT channel’s expectations with respect to revamping its general appearance at the same time as editorial content of its programmes and improving its identity and brand image.

    At the initiative of ‘France Télévisions’ and the EBU and with CFI collaboration, the main international sponsors working towards the reconstruction of the Tunisian TV scene met in Paris to assess the emergency response and commit to a long-term support programme. UNESCO will be calling on the main European and international institutions to open up as many leads as possible to Tunisian operators.

    After Montpellier and Casablanca, Tunis was the next venue for a session of Ulysse 2.0, a training course for young journalists on the theme 'Journalism and Internet' organised by CFI in partnership with the higher school of journalism ESJ Lille and the Permanent Conference of Mediterranean Audiovisual Operators (COPEAM). This workshop, scheduled from 30 May to 5 June, was an opportunity to review multimedia journalist techniques on Internet with new media players.
    The EBU is bringing together experts from the main European partners to put forward to the Tunisian authorities a legislative foundation on which to base the coverage of the first free elections. Depending on requirements, the regulatory bodies and state-run operators will be attending this meeting. In light of requirements, CFI will suggest stepping up French presence according to opportunities.

    Further to its initial emergency response, CFI will be offering the managers of state media corporations a medium-term plan of action. These proposals come in response to sustainable restructuring needs. CFI will take care to develop training courses on good journalist practices, provide the resources for television to fulfil its public service remit and foster professionalism among the new media players from civil society.

    All the projects and initiatives organised or backed by CFI in Tunisia are coordinated by the CFI Department for the Mediterranean region and Asia. For further information and details please contact: Eric Soulier, Christophe Dehlinger,
    Christophe Provins and Laurent Allary lay@cfi.fr

  • The Walt Disney Company has announced the launch of Disney Junior on Wednesday, an all-new multiplatform preschool channel for children aged 2–7.

    Disney Junior will air daily and become the home of Disney favourites such as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jungle Junction, Handy Manny and Special Agent Oso, as well as new shows like Jake and the Never Land Pirates which premiered on Disney Junior on June 1, 2011.

    Maciej Bral, Vice President and General Manager Disney Channels Emerging Markets says that "Disney Junior will combine The Walt Disney Company's unparalleled heritage of classic storytelling, together with loveable characters, engaging music and learning through play to deliver the perfect co-viewing experience for children and families, particularly mothers of young children."

    Aletta Alberts, General Manager Content, MultiChoice said: "The addition of Disney Junior to the DStv Premium and DStv Compact bouquets completes the Disney portfolio on the DStv platform".  Disney Junior premieres in South Africa on DStv, Channel 309, on June 1 2011.

  • The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (Baz) has turned down five applications from aspiring broadcasters in the last decade for what the authority called failure to meet its licensing requirements.

    According to a report tabled in the House of Assembly by Media, Information and Communication Technology portfolio committee chairman Seiso Moyo, the stringent requirements Baz has attached to the granting of new broadcasting licences means that liberalisation of the airwaves remains a pipe dream.

    The report comes at a time when the limping coalition government claims to be in the process of democraticising the electronic media, presently monopolised by the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings.

    "The (Baz) chief executive officer indicated that the authority had invited applications in 2002 and those that responded could not meet the stipulated requirements," reads the report.

    The authority received five applications for commercial broadcasting licences out of the 15 that it advertised in 2004. However, all the applications, four for radio and one for television, were rejected.

    The 15 licences were for provincial commercial radio stations and one national free to air television station. Potential new players told the committee they suspected that Baz was deliberately blocking new entrants into the field. "The licensing criteria have been regarded by the media fraternity as highly prohibitive and they suspect it is deliberate to maintain the status quo," says the report.

    The Broadcasting Services Act of 2007 prohibits any individual or corporate to hold more than 10% of shares in any company seeking a broadcasting licence. In other words, an applicant for a broadcasting licence should have a minimum of 10 shareholders.

    The Act further prohibits a holder of a broadcasting licence from applying for a signal carrier licence. This means all broadcasters would have to rely on the state-owned Transmedia for their signal.

    This would force all new entrants to purchase broadcasting equipment which conforms to Transmedia's analogue transmitters. ZBH uses analogue technology after a failed attempt to migrate to digital transmission through Iranian funding and technology.

    Baz indicated that all licences are renewable and valid for two years. No foreigners are allowed to work or assist in the operations of any new licensed broadcaster.

    Recently, the authority flighted two adverts for commercial radio licences, although in reality only one is available since the ZBH has already secured the other.

    "For commercial radio, the frequency has a capacity for six radio licences and five were allocated to ZBC for Radio Zimbabwe, Power FM, Spot FM, National FM and Voice of Zimbabwe, leaving one for new players," the parliamentary report said.

    The report indicated that most Zimbabweans shunned the local broadcaster's "biased" programming in favour of the free-to-air digital satellite stations. "The public lamented lack of consultation on programmes aired by the public broadcaster and as a result many viewers have opted for satellite dishes and shun ZTV."

    The committee recommended that the "ZBC editorial policy should be reviewed to remove the perceived propaganda bias" and indicated that licensing of community radio stations was long overdue and had to be expedited.

  • hree Rwandan citizens living in France have brought an action before a tribunal in Paris to request the right to watch a documentary on the 1994 genocide before its broadcast on a French TV channel. Named "Genocide in Rwanda: killers among us?" the film is expected to be broadcast by France 2 on June 28, 2011.

    During a long hearing before the lower court (Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris - TGI) presided by Judge Emmanuel Binoche, lawyer Philippe Meilhac for Agathe Habyarimana claimed that "there had been no serious investigation."

    Marcel Bivugabagabo's lawyer Ludovic Rivière added: "My client was given a copy of the interview he gave to the film director Manolo d'Arthuys; I was shocked by the way it was done. When my client said he could not defend himself because he has not been accused of anything yet, the interviewer answered, so if this is the problem let me be your accuser!"

    "It's a show and it's going to be broadcast on the French public service", he concluded.

    According to Richard Malka, the lawyer representing the movie producing company Tony Comiti, the plaintiffs try to use the principle of their "presumption of innocence" to prevent an investigation. "They are not asking us to respect presumption of innocence, they are asking for impunity", he claimed.

    He explained that the rule was that the producer could be convicted of defamation after the broadcast of the documentary but that no control was to be done before. He also said that a 15 seconds announcement would be made at the beginning of the film to remind the audience that the three suspects were presumably not guilty.

    One of the plaintiffs' lawyers, Florence Bourg, told Hirondelle News agency after the hearing that the chance for the three Rwandans to watch the movie before its broadcast was very low, considering the French legal precedents on the matter: "At least, we obtained that an announcement would be made at the beginning of the movie".

  • MultiChoice is set to launch its own commercially extended video-on-demand (VOD) service, called DStv BoxOffice, as early as during July, according to a source familiar with the matter.

    DStv BoxOffice will be an extension of the DStv on Demand (DOD) service introduced in 2010 and will (according to a source not authorised to speak about it officially) take place before the new competitor SouthTel launches a similar VOD service in September.  MultiChoice declined to talk about DStv BoxOffice to Channel24.

    SouthTel stunned the South African television industry in May with its announcement that it plans to roll out a fully commercial VOD system on a satellite network in September in South Africa and Southern Africa that will enable people to watch movies and TV shows in demand on a "pay per play" basis that will be cheaper than all current pay TV options in South Africa.

    MultiChoice dabbled with a pay per view movies on demand system in the past but the limited service was stunted and then discontinued. However, the new DStv on Demand functionality, coupled with advances in digital personal video recorders (PVRs) and a renewed sense of urgency around the growth in the ways that consumers and pay TV subscribers have access to digital content, have put new impetus behind MultiChoice's decision to relaunch a VOD system of its own.

    With margins under pressure and rising costs in MultiChoice's pay TV business related to buying additional satellite capacity, increasing decoder subsidies, the rising cost of acquiring sports rights internationally and increased competitive pressures from new pay TV competition like On Digital Media's (ODM) TopTV, launching DStv BoxOffice will make for a welcome additional revenue stream.

    MultiChoice launched DStv on Demand a year ago and started field testing DStv BoxOffice towards the end of last year under staff. MultiChoice's DStv BoxOffice works in a similar way to the design and functionality to the VOD systems of Britain's Sky Movies Box Office and Australia's FOXTEL Box Office where subscribers get earlier, immediate access to DVDs on the day of their release as well as blockbuster movies before they become available on the normal pay TV window. 

    Similar to SouthTel that will use satellites and decoders because of prohibitively expensive, slow and limited broadband availability in southern Africa, MultiChoice reportedly plans to use its available satellite network to download pay per view content to PVR hard drives.

    With the additional functionality, DStv BoxOffice will then allow subscribers – who will have to register – to choose from a rolling, constantly updated selection of movie titles which can be watched immediately for an additional fee. Registered DStv BoxOffice users will be able to watch a movie for a window period of 48 hours after it's been chosen, as many times over as they want.

     

    Related

    New market report: VoD and Africa - A review of existing VoD services, drivers, challenges and opportunities (Dec. 2013)

  • Over seventy percent of Nigerians will not be able to pay for digital broadcast in the country from 2015 when migration from analogue is completed, a lawyer and IT activist, Chukwuemeka Okereafor, has said.

    Speaking at a workshop on digital broadcast migration in Abuja, Okereafor said because at least 50 dollars was required to be paid by each Nigerian to be able to enjoy digital broadcast, most Nigerians who live below one dollar per day would be cut off from the new technology.

    According to him, digital broadcast may also run into hitches in the country as TV stations lack local content. He said the government seemed not prepared for the digital broadcast as nothing or little was being done by its agency responsible for the new technology.

    " 70 per cent of Nigerians who live below one dollar per day and those ones in the rural areas will not be able to pay for the digital broadcast migration because we are told the migration will cost each Nigerian at least 50 dollar", he said.

    Also speaking at the event, editor of IT Edge News, Segun Oruame, said the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) was not carrying Nigerians along on what they should know about digital broadcast. He called on NBC to embark on public enlightenment on the new technology if the country must meet the 2015 target.

  • 20 - 22 July 2011
    Mediatech Africa 2011 Exhibition
    Venue: The Coca-Cola Dome -
    Northgate - Johannesburg (South Africa)
    Mediatech Africa SA's only all-inclusive broadcast, media, entertainment and AV trade. It showcases cutting edge technologies and services from industry leaders in television and broadcast, sound and audio, lighting and staging, animation, communication and related fields. The Mediatech Africa experience is not only limited to exhibitors inside the Coca-Cola dome in Northriding. Indeed when the continent’s largest technology trade expo kicks off, you don’t want to miss out on visiting the Live Outdoor Sound Demo’s  where several exhibitors have chosen to demonstrate their state of the art sound systems and sophisticated staging rigs. For more information please visit here:

    21 - 24 July 2011
    Festival du Monde Arabe du Court-métrage Azrou-13 edition
    Venue: Ifrane

    Arab short film festival. Subscription closes on 15 March 2011. Call for short films closes on 15 May 2011. Two training workshops will take place on the side. Results will be announced on 1 June 2011. For more information please visit here:

    21 - 31 July 2011
    DIFF - 32nd Durban International Film Festival
    Venue: Durban
    (South Africa)
    Contact: Durban Film Office –
    For more information please visit here:

    22 - 25 July 2011
    The 2nd Durban FilmMart
    Venue: Durban
    (South Africa)
    Contact: Durban Film Office –
    For more information please visit here:

    31 July 2011
    The African Audio-Visual Awards (TAVA)
    Venue: Lagos, Nigeria

    TAVA Awards is a platform created to celebrate the finest Africans behind great films, television productions, advertisements and music videos. All those who employ sound a picture to tell their stories in order to create entertainment. Entries to the awards closes on June 15th.
    For more information please visit here:

    July - Sept. 2011 (final dates tba)
    African film festival (AFF) in NYC
    Venue: NYC, USA

    Outdoor Summer Screenings in NYC Parks. Featuring dance, music, food and of course films. AFF programs year-round; therefore, AFF organisers accept submissions on an ongoing basis.
    For more information please visit here:

    21 – 24 August 2011
    The 13th PAMRO meeting and All Africa Media Research Conference
    Venue: Dakar, Senegal
    at the Le Méridien President Hotel.
    For more information please visit here:

    27 August - 4 September 2011 (final date tba)
    Zimbabwe International Film Festival

    Competitive for features, shorts, documentary with 12 ‘Mweya Awards’ in different categories.
    Please contact zimfilmfest@zol.co.zw for further information.

    9 - 14 August 2011 (tbc)
    Lola Kenya Screen
    Venue: Nairobi, Kenya

    Tel:[+254] 20 315 258, 221 3 318
    For more information please visit here:
    director@lolakenyascreen.org

    31 August - 10 September 2011
    Mostra de Venise

    Tel: [+39] 041 5218706
    Fax: [+39] 041 5218879
    For more information please visit here:
    indoffice@labiennale.org

    11 - 14 Septembre 2011
    HighwayAfrica 2011
    Venue: Rhodes Uni., Grahamstown, SA.

    A show focused on journalism and new multimedia. For fourteen years the Highway Africa conference has been at the centre of Africa’s debates on journalism and new media. The conference has over the years become the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world. For more information please visit here:

    3 - 8 Octobre 2011
    « Festival du Court Métrage Méditerranéen de Tanger »
    Venue: Tangier, Morocco

    A festival focused on short films.
    For more information please E-mail : ccm@menara.ma

    5 - 9 October 2011
    Africa in the Picture
    Venue: Bioscoop het Ketelhuis in Amsterdam, NL

    Tel:[+31] 20 622 7 151
    Fax:[+31] 20 627 15 44
    For more information please visit here:
    info@aitp.nl

    20 - 22 October 2011
    ZAFAA 2011 - The Zulu African Film Academy Awards
    Venue: London, UK

    Closing Date for Entries is Friday May 20th 2011.
    African Film Festival & Academy Awards
    For more information please visit here:

    21 - 29 October 2011
    Cinemed (« le Festival du cinéma méditerranéen »)
    Venue:  Montpellier - France

    Tel. +33 (0) 499 13 73 73
    Fax +33 (0) 499 13 73 74
    info@cinemed.tm.fr
    Deadline: 8 July 2011
    For more information please visit here:

    21 - 30 October 2011 (tbc)
    Kenya International Film Festival (KIFF)

    Venue: Nairobi, Kenya
    Tel:[+254] 2 201 05 26
    Fax:[+254] 722 897 216
    For more information please visit here:

    25-28 October 2011
    CDN WORLD SUMMIT 2011
    Venue, Hilton Paddington Hotel, London

    The 3rd annual CDN World Summit promises to be the largest and most comprehensive CDN event ever. We are pleased to announce our partnership with BT Wholesale as the host operator and those already confirmed to the stellar line up which will include over 80 speakers.The full value chain is represented including content providers, broadcast operators, traditional and telco CDNs, represented by industry leaders such as; FilmFlex Movies, BT Wholesale and AT&T.
    For more information please visit here:

    26 - 31 October 2011
    Annual Tricontinental Human Rights Film Festival
    Venue: Cape Town – South Africa

    Tel: [+27] 21 788 5462 - Fax: [+27] 21 788 5469
    For more information please visit here:

    27 October – 6 November 2011
    Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival
    Venue: Edinburgh's Filmhouse cinema

    The UK's largest African Film Festival

    29 October - 6 November 2011
    Festival Amakula Kampala
    Venue: Uganda, Kampala

    Tel: [+256] 41 427 35 32
    For more information please visit here:
    info@amakula.com

    31 October - 7 November 2011
    Out In Africa
    South African Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
    Venue: various, see website

    For more information please visit here:

    25 November - 4- December of 2011
    International Film Schools Festival  - 34es « Rencontres Henri Langlois »
    Venue: TAP - Poitiers, France.

    The Festival organiser invites African film students to join is. The Festival gathers about 15000 participants and about 100 professionals. A trade market is held on the side (includes CineSud).
    For more information please visit here:

    30 November - 3 December 2011
    MYCONTENT,
    Venue: Dubai

    MYCONTENT - (exhibition & conference) is dedicated to the Middle East & North Africa. It is MENA region’s 2nd entertainment content marketplace which will be held in conjunction with 4th Dubai International Character & Licensing Fair and 4th Dubai World Game Expo.
    For more information please visit here:

  • Kenyans shined at the 2011 CNN MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year Awards with Daily Nation's Kamau Mutunga winning the Sport Award at the event held on Saturday Night. Fatuma Noor (The Star) emerged as the overall winner in the event held in Johannesburg, South Africa on Saturday night June 25.

    - UTV Broadcasting CEO MK Anand has launched its Movies International business in African markets including; Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Zambia and Malawi, according to India's Business Standard newspaper. United Television (UTV), India's global media and entertainment company, has launched its movie channel in East Africa setting the pace for its strategic entry into Africa. UTV Movies is a Hindi movie channel produced by UTV Motion Pictures, the largest motion picture studio in India.

  • Call for entries: SA’s Next Top Filmmaker 2011

    Following the Success of SA’s Next Top Editor 2010, General Post in partnership with Curious Pictures have announced that entries are now open for SA’s Next Top Filmmaker 2011. Winners will receive a 1-year internship at Curious Pictures in Auckland Park as well as exposure to the industry at large. Entrants may enter individually or in teams of two and will be required to submit a script, treatment, storyboard and/or shot list for a 3 minute film.  Please visit the General Post Website for more information on how to enter and what the entry requirements are. A Workshop will be held on 4 June to help entrants with scriptwriting and tips on how to prepare an effective treatment and storyboard. The top 5 entries will get the opportunity to produce their film under the mentorship of the Curious Pictures team. Camera, lighting and sound equipment will be sponsored by Digitalfilm. The offline edits will be done at General Post and Aces Up and the online at The Bladeworks in Bryanston.  Final mix for the 5 finalists will be sponsored by Warren Birley of Fine Tune Audio in Bryanston. For more information, please click here or go to facebook.

    For more information please visit the website here:
    Deadline: 17 July 2011 

    Delegate registration for Durban FilmMart (22 - 25 July)

    Delegate registration is open for the second edition of the Durban FilmMart (22 - 25 July) and the line-up of speakers and topics on the programme promises a focussed look at the world of filmmaking in Africa from varied perspectives. DFM takes place during the Durban International Film Festival (21-31 July) to which accredited DFM delegates also have access.

    For more information please visit the website here:
    Email: durbanfilmmart@durban.gov.za 
    Deadline: 22 July 2011 

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