Content for Africa: a multi-billion dollar market
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Fri, 16 Jan 2015 13:28
DIGITAL AFRICA: Charles Igwe and George Twumasi

The African continent needs more media channels and more homegrown content to satisfy increasing demand on the continent, speaker after speaker told delegates to the AfricaCast stream at AfricaCom 2014.

AfricaCom has become one of the most important events on the continent, focusing on delivering for a ‘digital Africa’ with a host of events, expo space, networking, surveys, business intelligence and conference streams covering the telecoms, media and ICT marketing in Africa.

As broadband, technological infrastructure and mobile penetration are constantly improving, speakers at AfricaCast, were positive about the opportunities on offer in a potential media market of more than $300 billion currently. The AfricaCast stream brings together African broadcasters, content owners, pay TV and cable companies on the broadcast challenges and opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa.

There is a lot going on in Africa and we hear often that it is ‘Africa’s time’. Here are the facts: Africa is the second largest continent in the world with 1.1 billion people; seven African countries fall into the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world; it has a strongly-aspirant emerging middle class; it is a baby-booming continent with the fastest growing youth population in the world; and 16% of people are using the internet (about 160 million people) and this number is rising. That equates to a 27% growth in household internet penetration annually between 2009 and 2013.

(Sources: AfricaCast; Forrester Research; The Deloitte Report, 2013.)

One of Africa’s leading filmmakers and media moguls, Nollywood Global CEO, Charles Igwe’s central message was, “Africa is in the picture”. His company produces over 2 000 Nollywood movies a year – up to 60 in their busiest weeks.

The Nollywood film industry is now worth $5 billion and is a three percent contributor to the Nigerian GDP, with a massive cultural impact that spans borders.

Igwe believes the future is convergence. “All content is going digital, there is therefore an explosion of film content, in all forms. Big telecoms companies will have to improve delivery and they will become broadcasters. Smartphones will get smarter, and fibre optic penetration will lead to higher bandwidth. Whose content will be inside those pipes?

“Creating the capacity to make content is imperative if we are going to exist in this space,” Igwe emphasised.

Pierre van der Hoven, CEO of Tuluntulu, a newly launched mobile content multi- channel broadcaster, said the challenge was to provide personalised content on mobile devices for African consumers and a targeted advertising solution for advertisers. The problem currently is that a free African advertising delivery platform with reach and analytics does not exist. Plus, most mobile streaming services only operate on 3G or Wifi. Solutions have to include low bandwidth steaming.

Van der Hoven told broadcasters and service providers that this is what the consumer in Africa wants:
• TV on their smartphone or tablet (Android, iOS).
• They want it to work anywhere (no buffering, 3G).
• Content they can relate to (emotional connection, local).
• Ease-of-use (single app, relevant content, simple UI).
• Free (free app download, no subs).
• Cheap to use ( low data costs, accessible via Wi-Fi).
• Wi-Fi everywhere (free at work, home, in public areas).
• Share and interact (IM system on same screen).
• Not to be excluded because they do not have a credit card or are not a part of mobile money.

George Twumasi, deputy chairman and CEO of ABN, stressed that the media landscape in Africa was still underdeveloped, but that improvements in technology infrastructure had put Africa on the radar in a major way.

Twumasi said there was a need for ‘design thinking’ to create new ways of collaboration to create profits. “We need to unleash creativity. Rebranding can only happen if creativity is unleashed, Nollywood is one structure. A lot more wealth is there to be tapped through media coming up to speed… over $300 billion.”

Van der Hoven said advertisers also needed to understand how to be on message for African consumers, providing targeted messaging that met a need, such as educational Ebola health videos. “People like brands and they like local content,” he reiterated.

Igwe is driving an Africa-focussed global initiative to develop more Nollywood- styled content to meet consumer demands and is looking for multiplayer collaboration: “Create your own stories. What we need is your stories, your content. What we are looking at is providing the material to connect people, to the material technology needs.”

Twumasi agreed that the market was nowhere near saturation point and the race was on for broadcasters and their telecom and tech partners to come up with new business models to meet demand.

The 18th annual AfricaCom 2015 will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre once again, from 17 to 19 November 2015:

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