Unpacking AfricaCom 2014


Taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) from 11 to 3 November 2014, AfricaCom is now in its 17th year. AfricaCom is Africa’s largest communications conference and exhibition. The conference programme covers the
most strategic issues affecting companies in Africa’s digital market – services, efficiency, profitability, customer experience, partnerships, policy and more.

As more and more mobile phones are taken up across the continent and we increasingly engage and transact in a digital world, it stands to reason there is more and more data being generated. But, what to do with it? AfricaCom 2014 will address this subject through two key streams:”cloud’ and “big data.’

Knowing how to analyse the data retrieved through a myriad of transactions in order to serve users’ specific information, which results in a desired response, is both an art and a science. This is now a business in its own right and involves sophisticated software systems that can take the bytes of data, process then quickly and dispatch them with the objective of acquiring targets.

Whether we like it or not, we are all a part of the matrix. A swiped credit card, any form of payment (other than cash), is recorded. Personal details, likes and dislikes and even habits, are all on file, somewhere. For marketers and brands alike, big data is an incredible opportunity to increase sales. Big data can serve huge amounts of selected data to billions of people at exceptional speeds. It influences everyday purchase decisions, but its the ability to keep up to date with the fast evolving developments in this field that will classify the winners and the losers of the information age.

Storing this data presents another opportunity and the “cloud’ that is slowly covering Africa is an ideal place to begin.

But “cloud’ is much more than just a storage place. The provision of cloud-based computer services linked to “businesses on the go’ is helping to drive entrepreneurship in both established and emerging markets. Fuelled by necessity, the quickest uptake in cloud services is coming from the SME sector, however enterprise is beginning to sit up and take notice of the many benefits and cost savings of migrating to a more flexible and efficient infrastructure.

However, there are still questions around security of the information stored in the cloud and the need for the telcos and cloud service providers to work together in order to maximise the customer experience and help grow economies.

AfricaCom, as the African continent’s single largest digital ecosystem conference and exhibition, continues to provide a platform and environment where these issues, can be debated, challenged and resolved. Considering that both the “cloud’ and “big data’ affect just about each and every person on the planet, it’s probably best to discover why and how to get the most out of it.

Mobile money

Another hot topic at AfricaCom 2014 is mobile money. In the past 12 months, the African continent has seen an exponential increase in the number of “mobile money’ transacting and payment solutions. For the unbanked on the African continent – which remain the majority – “mobile money’ solutions have given access to mCommerce, which has in turn, opened up major economic opportunities. mTrade is alive, well and flourishing and is a key factor in the “Africa rising’ era.

mCommerce embraces the full gamut of mobile payments, mobile retail and mobile banking and is ideally suited to Africa with its vast geographical challenges, as discovered by the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) who were the first to lead the charge. Because they are not “banks’ carrying heavy infrastructure costs and  overheads, they have been able to keep transactions costs reasonable levels and can adapt quicker to market conditions. With Africa still the world’s fastest growing mobile phone market – one in 10 people have a mobile device of some description – it is no wonder that traditional banks across the continent are quickly developing their own mobile money solutions.

With innovative technology developers – like TrustPay – leading the way in settlement and remittance by integrating a multitude of traditional and non-traditional payment methods, both operators and banks are also now poised to take advantage of the growth in mobile marketing that is also spreading across the continent. Mobile marketing is not restricted to smartphone users and as a result, feature phone owners who are already used to mobile payment solutions for purchasing airtime and transferring money are now fully engaged in searching for information, and buying and selling goods through their mobiles.

However, because the industry is evolving so rapidly, there are a number of developments that need to be addressed, regulated and taken account of. Now that the mCommerce and eCommerce sectors are reaching critical mass, it is going to be vital for all stakeholders – consumers too – to engage with one another so that everyone in the food chain benefits and the sector continues to be sustainable.

AfricaCom 2014 is the prime event for these discussions and debates to take place. Topics at Mobile Money 2014 – the third stream within AfricaCom – will include:-

• Assessing the m-money market drivers and barriers in Africa.
• Examining the various business models for mobile payments and mobile banking.
• Understanding the mobile money ecosystem and the role of the various stakeholders.
• How mobile money services fit within mobile operators’ strategies.
• Regulating the m-money market: challenges and developments.
• Technology developments and standardisation to deliver mobile money services.
• New developments in the mobile money transfer and international remittance market.
• Opportunities in contactless payments and NFC.


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