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Building a digital video economy in Africa

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

This is a big year for video: online video is expected to overtake broadcast television. It is estimated that video will comprise 80% of all internet activity by the end of 2020. Over 500 hours of video is uploaded every minute – much of it via YouTube, according to the latest statistics from Cisco.

The above stats, as well as the video economy in Africa at large, were discussed over two days at Africa’s largest technology, media and telecommunications event, AfricaCom 2019. Now in its 22nd year, the event takes over the entire Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), both CTICC 1 and the newly-built CTICC 2, every November in Cape Town. Video Exchange Africa is one of over 20 streams and co-located conferences that also take place there each year.

Factors influencing the broadcast television and content market across the continent include the increase in connectivity, internet streaming and smartphone penetration due to costs coming down, creating new opportunities for both broadcasters, content producers and consumers themselves. The cost of data and infrastructure challenges are still huge barriers to the opportunity that the video economy presents, and – as a result – the telecommunications providers are becoming more important as partners in the content eco-system across Africa.

This year, Video Exchange Africa gathered influential speakers from Africa and across the globe to discuss and debate the opportunities that Africa’s transition to digital presents, exploring commercial models required to monetise content across an increasingly digital Africa;, as well as the progress and implications of online and digital terrestrial television (DTT).

The relevance of the video economy for Africa is that videos uploaded to the internet give everyone a voice, enabling even those in rural centres to broadcast themselves to the world; and it enables more content producers to reach more consumers as penetration grows and the cost of devices comes down.

In a panel on establishing a digital video economy in Africa, introduced by George Twumasi, CEO of ABN Holdings and moderated by Mansour Mansour, YouTube product partnerships – MEA at Google, interesting discussions took place with Dayo Olopade, content partnerships at YouTube; Martin Njoroge, Android platform partnership, Africa, Google; and Gideon Munene Karimi, senior product manager, Safaricom.

The panellists pointed out that it was not just about the scale of the opportunity or the growth of their platforms or others, but the fact that platforms like YouTube offer meaningful opportunities for users in Africa.

The South African series Supa Strikas was mentioned as an example by speakers. It started out as a comic in the Sunday papers, and now has its own YouTube channel and a million subscribers on the platform, employs 20 people and produces independent, educational media content to audiences all over the world. The series has also been picked up by Warner Media for its kids programming schedules.

YouTube is focussing on increasing local content in Africa. The most common use is in the ‘How To’ market, the most popular being educational information, including learning languages, learning digital skills, or learning to fix something. Users are also taking successful global formats and making them local.

Growth

Njoroge pointed out that, in Africa, less than 10% of internet users were consuming video, compared to the developed market, where 70% of internet consumption was on video. “The opportunity exists to grow this base in Africa and those front and centre of growing this opportunity are the telcos. It’s the telcos that need to get this economy up and running.”

Karimi said the opportunities were threefold:

  1. Penetration of smartphones: only 30% of African consumers have smartphones, although there is a high penetration of 2G devices. This is obviously linked to cost and a major discussion point at AfricaCom this year was the increasing affordability of smartphones in Africa, as well as the opportunity for Africa’s own home-grown smartphone models.
  2. Internet literacy is a concern for Karimi, who said skills need to be taught to enable access.
  3. Cost of access: the high cost of data, of course, came under the spotlight again at AfricaCom, as it does at every digital conference in Africa, as it remains a major stumbling block for those with low incomes.

Added Njoroge: “Our mission has been to bring the internet to everyone. We want to bring affordable smartphones to users. So how do we make sure the first-time smartphone user experience, as regards functionality, is high? How do we build partnerships that work? How do we target audiences and bring in an affordable device?”

He urged the telecos to take a leading role in all of these matters.

Opportunity

Olopade said she saw enormous opportunity to up-skill and grow the ecosystem in Africa for African content. “With our YouTube Creative Economy tutorials, we are teaching people how to optimise for YouTube. YouTube is helping to create employable skills and we already have real-life case studies from Africa.”

She said in the context of artisanship in Africa, there were certain skills that could not be taught in a book and finding ways to teach skills online was a big opportunity in Africa. “Our content partners include individual bloggers, who are already providing beauty tutorials in Zulu to huge content partners like Multichoice.”

Olopade said consumer behaviour had changed: “People are not always meeting in front of the TV at certain times. There is a huge opportunity for content online. With device affordability and greater connections, the greater the opportunity for content creators. It may be hard to get into your local media, but YouTube is free.

“To optimise content and be discovered and grow their audience, we help users think through monetisation strategies. We always try to deliver real value to our partners. We are trying to add value by showing ads on that content and from our sales infrastructure. We are strategising to meet the needs of individual partners and help these businesses future-proof themselves for what is coming,” she outlined, referring to the massive opportunity that exists in Africa when that 10% currently consuming video online grows to match the 70% in more developed nations.

Karimi pointed out that Safaricom has been running campaigns to encourage the uptake of video consumption online, with the most successful to date being the recent #Kipchoge campaign to encourage Eliud Kipchoge to keep running in his successful attempt to break the two-hour marathon record. Over 4.5 million people watched him run on a free data special comprising a YouTube bundle on the day of the race from 8am to 4pm, allowing customers to stream the entire race at no cost.

The fact is, in Africa, the smartphone is the point of entry to online content consumption and content needed to reflect that and partnerships in the future need to reflect that. The opportunity exists for the telco operators to start building the infrastructure and create the socio-economic benefit for people looking to build their businesses/personal brands and advertise their services online, said Njoroge.

A significant point to note, Olopade added, was that totally new content formats were being pioneered in online video. “The ‘unboxing’ videos, the ‘reaction’ videos, make-up tutorials did not exist a decade ago. Now we are seeing African content creators take that content and localise it. There are huge opportunities.”

Eco-system

WarnerMedia fielded a strong presence at AfricaCom, and, interviewed on the side lines, Julien Borde – WarnerMedia’s director of channels for France, French-speaking territories, Africa and Israel – indicated that Africa was very important, particularly in developing local content to resonate with local audiences across the continent for their channels.

WarnerMedia is well-known through its consumer brands such as HBO, Warner Bros., TNT, CNN, DC Entertainment, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Adult Swim and others. Turner, a WarnerMedia company, has been present in Africa for more than 20 years, operating six channels across the continent in 56 English, French and Portuguese-speaking countries, which include CNN International, Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Boing, as well as TNT and Adult Swim, WarnerMedia’s brand dedicated to millennials.

“We are focussed on finding good ideas from around the globe. We find new talents, incubate them, and take those stories to people from all around the globe. We broadcast a layer of local content in each territory. The key thing for kids and the audience, in general, is to find themselves on the screen. That helps us to create links with local audiences. There is a big opportunity to produce local content in Africa that is relatable.”

“The one-way relationship with our viewers is over. We need to change the way we market ourselves. The future of TV is mobile, and we must take advantage of the multi-screen experience, offering our content where and when our consumers want it,” concluded Guillaume Coffin, vice president and head of commercial and business development, WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks France, Africa and Israel.

AfricaCom Awards 2019 – entries now open

The AfricaCom Awards this year will see the return of old favourites and the addition of several new categories, all exemplifying Africa’s digital progression.

Entries are now open for organisations to submit their best work conducted or implemented over the past 12 months. The deadline for entries is 4 October 2019.

The annual event not only recognises the achievements of the best organisations, solutions, products and people in the telecommunications and technology sector, but is also an ideal opportunity for networking with established and emerging industry players. 

This year, under the theme of Enchanted Forest, over 450 guests to the awards ceremony will enjoy a three-course meal and live entertainment, with former Springbok rugby great Bryan Habana who will emcee the evening. 

PCCW Global, who supported the event in 2018, confirmed their involvement for 2019, saying: “PCCW Global is delighted to sponsor the AfricaCom Awards which recognise the sterling works performed by companies and personalities that are developing solutions and products to improve connectivity that will drive Africa into the fourth industrial revolution. Good luck to all who enter.”

Awards categories for 2019 are as follows:
• Connecting the Continent Award (new)
• Delivering Excellence in Customer Service
• “Everything as a Service” – Best Cloud or Application Solution (new)
• Changing Lives Award
• Best Digital Entertainment Innovation
• Security Product or Service of the Year (new)
• Best Network Management Software (new)
• Best Connected Consumer Device (new)
• Best Innovation for Enterprise (new)
• Most Innovative Service “The Business of Tomorrow”
• Government Leadership Award (new)

In addition to the above, accolades will also be bestowed on the CXO of the Year and Enterprise CXO of the Year, both of which are voted for by the industry.

The CXO of the Year will be an Africa-based telecoms, ICT and enterprise leader, who is prioritising telecoms innovation, embracing disruptive technology and elevating the continent’s digital economy. In 2018 the award was presented to Abdikarim Mohamed Eid, CEO of Telesom.

The Enterprise CXO of the Year Award celebrates an enterprise leader who excels at prioritising telecoms innovation, embracing disruptive tech and elevating the continent’s digital economy. In 2018 this prestigious accolade went to Priya Thakoor, Chief Digital Officer for Coca-Cola South Africa.

The 2019 edition of the AfricaCom Awards are sponsored by PCCW Global and Intelsat who also support the Changing Lives Award. The event will take place in Cape Town at The Lookout on Wednesday, 13 November 2019, followed by the after party.

AfricaCom launches new event in 2019 – AfricaTech

AfricaCom, one of Africa’s largest telecoms and technology events, has announced the launch of AfricaTech – a new event dedicated to propelling Africa towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Recent years have seen a surge in interest in enterprise digital transformation. Disruptive new technologies such as the Internet of Things, Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence, quite recently considered to be ‘on the horizon’, are now being implemented.

AfricaTech, which will be co-located with AfricaCom, has been designed to help AfricaCom’s enterprise audience successfully navigate their digital transformation journeys. It will bring together enterprise CIO, CTO, CDO and digital leads from all major industry sectors.

Commenting on the launch of AfricaTech, Tom Cuthell, event director at Informa, organisers of AfricaCom, said, “We’re excited to host all of Africa’s enterprise and technology leaders in the same place, at the same time, at a scale never seen before on the continent. IT is already having a hugely positive impact on lives and business across Africa and we hope AfricaTech will help to stimulate technology adoption and accelerate digital transformation, paving the way to Africa 4.0.”

AfricaTech is co-located with AfricaCom and takes place at Cape Town’s CTICC 2 from 12 tp 14 November 2019. For more information click here.

Quality content isn’t free

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

Content isn’t free. It costs money to produce quality content and producers have to be paid. Consumers may want a freemium model, but will be prepared to pay those who bring quality content to them.

This was the view of a panel on ‘Next Generation Pay-TV Services in Africa’ at the annual mega-conference and expo, AfricaCom, held in Cape Town at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) on 13 to 15 November, 2018.

AfricaCom focuses each year on the digital ecosystem in Africa, and this year attracted 14 000 people to its 16 conference tracks under the AfricaCom banner. The television broadcast stream was this year renamed the Africa Video Forum and hosted discussions on the content market in Africa, revenue models and the growth of the pay-TV market and free-to-air (FTA) channels on the continent.

Most discussions centred around revenue models and updates on digital migration – but, as always, content and the type of content featured heavily, with emphasis on the move to local content and creating opportunities for local content productions.

Most of the global broadcasters are beginning to invest in local content and create local content opportunities for producers, and the consensus was that this would continue, although a focus on mobile content would disrupt the market.

On another panel, ‘Ensuring that quality content is getting commissioned in Africa’, Elias Schulze – co-founder of Kana TV, the first free-to-air channel in Ethiopia – made the point that stories matter, and that stories are universal.

Before Kana TV started investing in local content, all content bought in was dubbed into local languages, and Kana was, in fact, the very first channel to do professional dubbing in Ethiopia.

“We thought the entry-point was clearly the stories everyone was watching, even where they didn’t understand the language, hence the dubbing.

“So right now, we are building in more original content and investing in the people we hired, and those people are now working on original shows.”

The problem, as always, is funding that local content in a market like Ethiopia, where the television advertising market is only $20 million. So while the demand is there for quality produced local content, the funding is not.

“In Ethiopia there is no funding from the state, so we have to be very clever and deliver content that works.”

Funding models

The advice given to independent producers by Duncan Irvine, founder and CEO of Rapid Blue, was to diversify as much as possible into revenue streams from multiple sources. “As a production company, the one thing that has helped solidify us as a business producing long-form television for local broadcasters and ride the rollercoaster of the state of our local broadcasters (in South Africa), was to diversify.

“We are best known for big television shows and we fund those in different ways. We actively pursue brands and media agencies in terms of getting the communication strategies of brands before they start implementing, so we bring them opportunities, and thereby get ahead of the spend.

“Even in South Africa, let alone other African markets, this advertising pot isn’t growing exponentially – we are all fighting for the same dollar.”

This is how Irvine has diversified his business into a “basket approach”, with investment and revenues coming in from multiple sources:

  • Producing long form: commissions, originals, ad funded, scripted or non-scripted.
  • Short film: digital first, design.
  • Building production hubs for international broadcasters to film in South Africa: all dollar-based revenue.

He also warned that no production was ever funded in only one way. “The financing models we run and use are varied to facilitate the productions we do. We source funding from brands; through DTI funding and tax rebates for scripted productions; presales funding from distributors internationally; from some broadcasters, though not many, which are open to a structured finance deal; and a shared component from a telco operator – we are now also creating content for telco providers.”

Irvine also urged production companies to work on several projects at once, as it always takes longer to fund a production and get it off the ground than you think. In his view, any production business should be running five to six productions at any given time.

Disruption

During a panel discussion on ‘Can content producers think differently in terms of how they produce content?’, Siraaj Cassiem, producer and director at Circle 7 Media, said writers and producers also needed to focus on non-scripted content. “In a room full of content creators, everyone wants to make a movie.”

He urged people in the industry to collaborate, to learn from each other. “Our industry consists of many genres, there is a place for everyone, collaborate with others producing different content.”

Cassiem was concerned about legacy issues. “Everything has always been focused on linear television. With video on demand (VOD) and the production of VOD, the linear television business model is being disrupted. Our world is also disrupted as content producers and we haven’t come to terms with that yet. How do we play a role in this new environment? This is the struggle we have to deal with. It is an exciting time.”

One of his biggest frustrations remains the fact that people don’t appreciate that VOD allows a more flexible structure and provides detailed analytics. “As content producers for linear TV, we are still getting to grips with the concept of analytics. It is so important.”

Dantagos Jimmy-Melani, the founder and managing director of Ndapunikwa Investments Management (Namibia), said that content needed to be tailor-made for funders, especially with teaching content or promotional content that focuses on financial literacy or the social responsibility sector.

“I’ve worked with corporates in the financial services sector and they want to fund specific types of content,” he said. “In a smaller market, where there isn’t that much funding available for smaller projects, our priorities are somewhat different.”

Irvine also encouraged producers to create the type of ecosystem that allows people to be independent and to work for broadcasters in a free-flowing system.

Cassiem also emphasised that mobile broadcasting would become more and more important, and that content producers all needed to get comfortable with both producing for mobile and producing with mobile.

“Go out and produce your content: get a team together, make a hit. Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom. Even those of us who have worked on big productions and some of the biggest TV reality shows are starting at the bottom again when it comes to producing mobile content. I’m starting at the bottom with VOD. Now, I don’t have that network. Everyone around me is uncomfortable with VOD.”

Announcing the 2018 AfricaCom Awards winners

The AfricaCom Awards show, supported by Founding Awards Sponsor, PCCW Global, was a colourful and festive Mardi Gras themed event. Held in Cape Town during AfricaCom, guests celebrated and acknowledged those trailblazers who are leading digital inclusion, connectivity and digital development on the African Continent.

“AfricaCom continues to grow and with it the Awards,” commented Tom Cuthell, event director of AfricaCom. “I would like to thank everyone involved, our judging panel who rigorously vetted the entries, sponsors and partners for their ongoing support and all the companies who continue to show how dedicated they are to ensuring that Africa advances into the digital ecosphere.”

Here are the AfricaCom Awards stars for 2018:

Best Network Improvement – Liquid Telecom – Completion of the Cape to Cairo fibre route

Delivering Excellence in Customer Experience – Huawei Technologies – Customer Experience Management (CEM) for Ghana

Fintech Innovation Award – Econet Wireless (Cassava Fintech) and Mahindra Comviva – EcoCash Merchant Payments powered by mobiquity Money

Most Innovative use of AI Technology – Huawei Technologies – Huawei PowerStar

Most Innovative Service – Orange – Rural Electrification

Changing Lives Award – Ericsson and  Wot-if? Trust – eHUB Diepsloot South Africa

Best Sustainable Power Solution – Huawei Technologies – Huawei PowerCube 1000

IoT Product / Service of the year – Yego Innovision Limited – Yegomoto

Digital Entertainment Solution – Kwesé iflix – Best Innovation in Digital Entertainment

Also, winners on the night of two very special peer-voted awards were: Abdikarim Mohamed Eid – CEO, Telesom, who was acknowledged as the AfricaCom CXO of the Year and,Priya Thakoor – chief digital officer, Coca-Cola South Africa, who was recognised for outstanding achievements in driving ‘Digital Africa’ forward and walked away with the award for the AfricaCom Enterprise CXO of the Year.

Cuthell concluded by saying: “Congratulations to all of the award winners. The bar has been set high and we all look forward to seeing what next year holds.”

AfricaCom Awards 2018 – shortlist

The annual AfricaCom Awards shortlist was released on 31 October. With an overwhelming number of excellent entries, the selection process has been even more challenging than previous years.

According to Tom Cuthell, portfolio director at KNect365, organiser of AfricaCom and the AfricaCom Awards: “The AfricaCom Awards grow in stature each year as a direct result of the quality of the works that are submitted for consideration. The ever-evolving digital ecosphere has led to some exceptional innovation in the sector, which in turn has advanced Africa’s own digital revolution. It gives us great pleasure as organisers of AfricaCom and the Awards, to acknowledge those who are truly connecting the continent.”

The nominees – in no particular order – are:

Best Network Improvement

  • Liquid Telecom – Completion of the Cape to Cairo fibre route
  • Parallel Wireless – Enabling cost-effective 2G/3G/4G to bridge the digital divide in Africa
  • Orange – MOSAÏC
  • Ericsson & MTN Rwanda – The Best Performing Networks with MTN Rwanda
  • Huawei Technologies – Africa 1st Lampsite Pro network
  • Mauritius Telecom – Single RAN Implementation

Delivering Excellence in Customer Experience

  • Huawei Technologies – Customer Experience Management (CEM) for Ghana
  • Keyrus & Dassault Systemes – OmniFlow
  • Nokia and MTN CEM – MTN Nigeria Deploys Nokia’s Software to Deliver a Superior Subscriber Experience
  • Orange – One Customer One Offer
  • Secure-D powered by Upstream – Secure-D
  • Mahindra Comviva – iPACS Unified CRM and Sales and Distribution products and the MobiLytix ™ Campaign Management and Digital Care

Fintech Innovation Award

  • Econet Wireless (Cassava Fintech) and Mahindra Comviva – EcoCash Merchant Payments powered by mobiquity Money
  • Famoco – Famoco QR Payment Gateway

Most Innovative use of AI Technology

  • Huawei Technologies – Huawei PowerStar
  • ETIYA – ETIYA Customer Service Management
  • Ericsson and Orange Botswana – MATE Automation rule for Topological Correlation for Orange Botswana
  • Simfony – Immediate IoT Infrastructure

Most Innovative Service

  • Orange – Rural Electrification
  • Ericsson – Ericsson Weather Data- Casting Rainfall
  • Huawei Technologies – Huawei’s WTTx Solution
  • Mauritius Telecom with Huawei – The Next Generation 4K IPTV Service
  • Orange – M-VACCIN
  • Orange – Orange School
  • BRCK – Moja WiFi

Changing Lives Award

  • Ericsson and  Wot-if? Trust – eHUB Diepsloot South Africa
  • MTN & HUAWEI – RuralStar – Connecting the Unconnected
  • Econet Wireless (Cassava Fintech) and Mahindra Comviva – EcoCash powered by mobiquity Money
  • Liquid Telecom –  Pan-African Innovation Partnership Programme
  • Famoco – Famoco digital wallets to transform Development Aid in Emerging Markets
  • Spreadtrum Communications (Shanghai) Co.,Ltd. – SC7731E
  • Orange – Orange School
  • MTN Uganda, Intelsat and ITSO – Mobile Reach Solar 3G

IoT Product Service of the Year

  • Yego Innovision Limited – Yegomoto
  • SqwidNet – IoT Product or Service of the Year
  • Orange – Smart Metering
  • Orange – X-Agri
  • UROS – UROS Smart Water Cycle
  • Tata Communications – Tata Communications MOVE

Best Innovation in Digital Entertainment Solution

  • Kwesé iflix – Best Innovation in Digital Entertainment
  • Kwesé Play Limited – Kwesé Play (Roku Powered)
  • Mauritius Telecom & Huawei – The Next Generation 4K IPTV Service
  • Telecoming – Zaplium

Other Awards that form part of the 2018 line-up include:

AfricaCom Enterprise CXO of the Year Awards – public vote that recognises the outstanding achievements of CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, CDOs and others in driving innovation within the African enterprise space.

The AfricaCom CXO of the Year Award – recognises the outstanding achievements of CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, CDOs and others in driving development across telecommunications and technology in ‘Digital Africa’.

Orange Social Venture Prize

The AfricaCom Awards will also see the Orange Social Venture Prize awarded to a winning innovative project based on ICT which improves the living conditions of people in Africa and the Middle East in fields such as education, healthcare, farming, mobile payments or sustainable development.

Supported by Founding Awards Sponsor, PCCW Global, the awards will be held on 14 November at The Lookout in Granger Bay, Cape Town. ‘Mardi Gras’ is the theme for this year’s celebrations (it is also AfricaCom’s 21st birthday), so guests are invited to dress accordingly to add to the festive occasion. Those registered delegates and visitors not participating in the Awards, can still take advantage of the festive spirit by attending the free after party.

AfricaCom 2018 will bring together 14 000 attendees, 450 speakers and 400 exhibitors showcasing technologies and solutions covering everything from 5G, AI, IoT, Fintech, Blockchain and beyond, with a host of new content and exciting developments.

AfricaCom 20/20 set to explore the future of tech and telecoms in Africa

Housed within the Technology Arena at AfricaCom (the world’s largest Africa-focused TMT event), AfricaCom 20/20 will launch at midday on Tuesday, 13 November 2018. This year’s line-up has an enlightening agenda which will set the scene for robust debate around some of the most pressing issues facing Africa’s entry into the 4th Industrial Revolution, as well as presentations showcasing the possible solutions to meet many of these needs.

Kicking off, Lanre Kolade, managing director of Vodacom Nigeria, will share some key insights with audiences eager to learn what the effects of this shift have been on Africa to date and what might be expected in years to come. This will be followed by a keynote panel entitled: The Digital Gold Mine – Overcoming Regional Obstacles, which will look at the effect of digitisation upon production, management and governance, as well as address technological expertise and economic difficulties.

Experts already agree that many of these socio-economic challenges will be met by Africa leapfrogging legacy systems. Yet, while this may be the case, the principle of laying solid foundations remains a per-requisite for long-term success. Patrick Kabre, managing director, Alink Telekom will give a keynote exploring this. The caveat to all this access to knowledge and technological advancement, is cybersecurity, reckoned to be the Achilles heel of digital transformation. This will be addressed by Dimitris Maniatis, head of Secure-D, Upstream, who will share his thoughts on the darker side of the web.

On the other side of the coin are organisations such as the MST Group, a social impact organisation that operates sophisticated mobile units which deliver comprehensive solutions in healthcare, education and the administrative sectors. All of which, are underpinned by a nifty digital solution – GUUD – that tracks, monitors and optimises effective service delivery. Grant Byron,chief technology officer at MST will present a keynote on:’How mobility is changing the way we deliver social impact services.

AfricaCom 20/20 will also be the centre for the IoT Challenge, a stimulating three-way pitch of 20-minute sessions each from entrepreneurs who have the edge on how operators can utilise IoT to generate and improve revenue, services and more.

Day Two – Financial inclusion is an imperative for Africa so there will be a number of presentations and panel discussions aimed at understanding: The Findustrial Revolution – How can blockchain optimise telecom operator’s products and services in the African Market?; How effective is network virtualisation in optimising African Telco’s with their ROI? and a keynote from Rakesh Kukreja, Group MD, IsatAfrica, that seeks to clarify  how virtualising network functions via Telco cloud infrastructure across all network and service platforms will enable digital democracy.

Day Three of AfricaCom 20/20 will certainly attract the fans, with important discussions around Future-Tech Africa with Siphesande Sonti, head of Network: Energy Department, Mycput, and where Agri-tech is headed from Lesley Colmer, director at Greencom. With more than 2.5 billion gamers in the world and growing, the opportunities are endless, especially as more and more are switching to playing games on their mobiles. * Therefore, organisers expect the presentation on the endless opportunities in the gaming and eSport revolution to be a dead cert to attract interested fans.

AfricaCom 20/20 is located within the Technology Arena at AfricaCom, which takes place from 13 to 15 November 2018 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The Technology Arena will also be the centre of innovation with a number of demonstration pods, the AHUB and the cheeriest place to be? The AfricaCom 20/20 bar each afternoon from 16h00 for a complimentary Happy Hour! (For registered visitors of course).

To attend this fascinating look into the future and to network with like-minded futurists (some 14 000 of them are set to attend AfricaCom in 2018), visitors and delegates should register on the AfricaCom site. Access to the full AfricaCom offering of more than 15 business critical conference tracks, two exhibition halls, 450 speakers and the AFEST official networking party are guaranteed.

Media accreditation is now open and media are invited to apply to cover the event and also to participate in the first AfricaCom Tech Media Roundtable.  Early registration will also guarantee advanced show information as well as a tour of the exhibition floor and a host of other benefits.

AfricaCom Awards 2018 celebrate success and innovation

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The annual AfricaCom Awards will once again celebrate success and innovation this year, by recognising the achievements of the best companies, solutions, products and personalities improving connectivity and driving Africa through the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Supported by Founding Awards Sponsor, PCCW Global, the awards will be held on 14 November 2018 at The Lookout in Granger Bay, Cape Town. With ‘Mardi Gras’ as the theme for this year’s celebrations (it is also AfricaCom’s 21st birthday), the event promises to be an unforgettable night of music, entertainment and celebration. PPCW Global  confirmed their involvement saying: “PPCW Global is delighted to sponsor the AfricaCom Awards which recognise the sterling works performed by companies and personalities that are developing solutions and products to improve connectivity that will drive Africa into the fourth industrial revolution. Good luck to all who enter.“

In line with all the new focus areas for AfricaCom 2018 – Artificial Intelligence (AI) and enterprise digital transformation among them – the organisers have created some exciting new categories to celebrate the best and brightest innovators across tech and telecoms in Africa. This year the AfricaCom Awards cover nine categories:

  • Best Network Improvement
  • Delivering Excellence in Customer Experience
  • Fintech Innovation Award
  • Most Innovative use of AI Technology (new for 2018)
  • Most Innovative Service
  • Changing Lives Award
  • Best Sustainable Power Solution (new for 2018)
  • IoT Product or Service of the Year
  • Best Innovation in Digital Entertainment

Would be winners can enter the awards here. Entries close on 5 October, so for your chance to be recognised – enter today!

AfricaCom Enterprise CXO of the Year Awards

Also new in 2018, is the AfricaCom Enterprise CXO of the Year Award which recognises the outstanding achievements of CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, CDOs and others in driving innovation within the African enterprise space.

Voted for by the public and presented at the AfricaCom Awards 2018, the AfricaCom Enterprise CXO of the Year accolade is awarded to an African-based enterprise leader who is at the forefront of navigating their company through Industry 4.0 by prioritising innovation, embracing disruptive tech and elevating the continent’s digital economy.

Nominate your choice for Enterprise CXO of the Year here.

The AfricaCom CXO of the Year Award, back for 2018, recognises the outstanding achievements of CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, CDOs and others in driving development across telecommunications and technology in ‘Digital Africa.’ It is open to CXO’s from licensed network operators, broadcasters and enterprise/SMEs within Africa and is free to enter.

Nominate your choice for CXO of the Year here.

Nominations for both the Enterprise CXO of the Year Award and CXO of the Year Award close on Friday, 21 September at 12h00 CAT.

Orange Social Venture Prize

The AfricaCom Awards will also see the Orange Social Venture Prize awarded to a winning innovative project based on ICT which improves the living conditions of people in Africa and the Middle East in fields such as education, healthcare, farming, mobile payments or sustainable development.

Enter your project for the Orange Social Venture Prize here. Winners chosen by the jury will be announced on 13 September.

 More about the AfricaCom Awards 2018 categories

Best Network Improvement – This award recognizes the most successful initiative from an operator or a vendor that has significantly improved the performance or coverage of a network in Africa since the end of November 2017.

Delivering Excellence in Customer Experience– Placing the customer in the spotlight, this award recognises a company or initiative that has provided a compelling customer experience. For example, this could be through developing an integrated CEM strategy, using data innovatively, or considerably improving mobile user experience.

Fintech Innovation Award – This recognises a FinTech business that has disrupted the financial services sector with new and innovative services, creating competition and transforming the way we experience financial services. This may include an innovative new product or service that disrupts the payments sector; services could be from all areas of the FinTech sector, including mobile or digital currency providers. This may also be a product or service which offers a new, or significantly improved, service and demonstrates the advanced use of technology to benefit customers and financial institutions to encourage financial inclusion throughout Africa.

Most Innovative use of AI Technology – This award recognises the most comprehensive and effective AI solutions to the market, across any industry in Africa. Judging will focus on how effectively the application has solved one, or several, business critical challenges.

Most Innovative Service – This prize recognises a popular new offering which, from conception to execution, has been an innovation. It could be for the consumer or the enterprise market. It must be in an African market and should have offered significant new prospects for revenue growth and customer satisfaction.

Changing Lives Award – This is where ICT meets socio-economic development and inclusion. This award will celebrate a product, initiative or social enterprise that is having a life-changing impact on individuals or communities in the region.

Best Sustainable Power Solution – As infrastructure reaches into some of the remotest parts of Africa to connect the unconnected, the electricity grid is increasingly inaccessible and unstable. This award recognises power solutions that can supply all the power required to provide a reliable service at a low cost, with a reduced reliance on fossil fuels.

IoT Product or Service of the Year – This award goes to the enterprise (either supplier or end user) that demonstrates excellence in IoT-related platform deployment or integration of an IoT-related solution into existing IT and business processes.

Best Innovation in Digital Entertainment – This award is for the most innovative product or service in which music, video or gaming content is being distributed across Africa. This could be a new streaming service, OTT platform, content model or a technology that provides an enhancement in the way content is being viewed on the continent.

Previous winners include

  • Delivering Excellence in Customer Experience: MTN & Huawei for their Customer Experience Management (CEM)
  • Changing Lives Award: UNHCR for the Smart WiFi Kiosk
  • Best Innovation in Broadcast: Telkom and Huawei for their Telkom LIT_ Service solution
  • Most Innovative Service “The Business of Tomorrow”: Orange for rural electrification
  • IoT Product / Service of the Year: SqwidNet for EcoCash Diaspora
  • CXO of the Year: Ben Cheick D. HAIDARA , the CEO of Orange Burkina Faso S.A

AfricaCom 2018 will bring together 14 000 attendees, 450 speakers and 400 exhibitors showcasing technologies and solutions covering everything from 5G, AI, IoT, Fintech, Blockchain and beyond, with a host of new content and exciting developments.

To register for your free visitor ticket, purchase a delegate pass or find out more about AfricaCom 2018 here.

AfricaCom 2018: Where the digitally connected converge

Whether your focus is connectivity infrastructure, disruptive technologies, digital services or ICT strategy, AfricaCom 2018 – 13 to 15 November at the CTICC in Cape Town, South Africa – will be the place to be to shape Africa’s digital future.

AfricaCom in 2018, turns 21 and will be bigger and better than ever, taking into account the ever increasing influence of technology on everyday lives. As a result, several new features will be launched this year. As always though, the world’s largest Africa-focused technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) event, will offer visitors and delegates the prospect to discover and conclude business opportunities, as well as network with some of the most progressive minds in the sector.

More than 30 of these thought-leaders, over three days, will advance the conversation around Africa’s digital transformation through a series of expert sessions – the AfricaCom Headlinerswhich are free of charge to all registered visitors this year. “We made a decision to open up a number of key conference areas, as we recognise the importance and significance of the conversations taking place around a multitude of topics all connected by the backbone of technology,” commented Tom Cuthell, portfolio director of KNect365, organisers of AfricaCom. “The more people involved in these discussions, the quicker Africa will advance towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

Where do Telcos fit in the digital ecosystem?

With greater connectivity comes greater responsibility and a requirement for new business models to address this latest era of communications. As the conduit for all this connectivity, telcos will need to explore how they can connect the next 1 billion and unlock the true value of Africa’s digital transformation – beyond the commercial.

Addressing these issues, the Headliners will present a number of keynote addresses and discussions, including the evolving role of the African telco in a new age of data and digital services by Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO, MTN, on Day One of AfricaCom 2018. While the Mobile Network Operator (MNO) may continue to own the billing relationship in the current communication equation, the ability for customers to connect, converse and consume content is no longer dependent on telcos, with a myriad of alternative methods available to them. In order then, to do more than reverse downward revenue trends and prosper, telcos need to re-engineer their businesses to grab a slice of the paradoxically, increasing volume pie. This will be one presentation guaranteed to hold attention and stimulate debate.

From LTE to 5G in Africa

Kicking off proceedings on day one though, and under the banner of ‘Digital connectivity to drive socio-economic development’, will be a discussion around Africa’s readiness for 5G.  This also sets the scene for 5G Africa (formerly LTE Africa), which will run over two-days.  5G Africa will focus on defining and developing preparations for the next evolution of mobile connectivity across the continent.

Supplementing the 5G discussions for premium delegates, are tracks covering 5G enabling technologies – MEC, NFV, SDN, Network Slicing – that will lead to a proliferation of next generation services such as AR/VR, AI and VOLTE.

The IoT

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution continues apace, bringing with it greater connectivity and subsequent products and services, the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes a tangible gamechanger for cities, enterprises (and end users). Consequently, AfricaCom 2018 will concentrate many Headliner discussions and a 3-day IoT World Africa conference track around how this can be achieved. Delegates can unlock the African IoT opportunity with sessions focused on making a business case for IoT; why – and how – IoT will bridge the “digital divide” in Africa and the transformative impact of IoT on Africa’s social and economic development.

As Africa urbanises with more devices connecting to the IoT, the African smart city arises but, what are the essential ingredients to success?  How are ambitions with socio-economic realities aligned and what makes a smart city, smart?  Day Two of the Headliners will look at realising the African smart city vision.

For enterprises, the key question is what technologies to use to ensure participation in the digital era; how to separate the hype from the practical – what will really lead to innovation and business success and how to stimulate a corporate culture that supports innovation and entrepreneurship. Day Two of the Headliners will end with a spirited panel discussion on how to develop a winning ICT strategy.

The critical role of policymakers and regulators in determining how Africa and Africans will connect to strengthen their economies, also forms part of this year’s Headliner agenda. Enabling an African Information-based society will be critical to the continent’s ability to advance and transact – a case study, presented by Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, will shed light on how this can be achieved. 

The Money

Underpinning all development and future trade, are financial services, so what’s next for African Fintech? Headliners will address the opportunities that exist in the midst of this financial services paradigm shift. For premium delegates, Fintech Africa will discuss, among other things, mobile money interoperability with leading MNOs and financial institutions, as well as blockchain deployment and cryptocurrency opportunities in Africa. Top quality fintech start-ups will also pitch their game-changing solutions.

Transmission

Rounding out the Headliner discussions at AfricaCom 2018, is a panel discussion that addresses the shift in how broadcasting models are developing in line with digital transformation across Africa.  This content complements the newly launched Africa Video Forum, the evolution of TV Connect Africa.

The speaker line-up in 2018 includes:

  • Rob Shuter, group president and CEO, MTN
  • Olabiyi Durojaiye, chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission
  • Hon. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communications, Republic of Ghana
  • Jean Philbert Nsengimana, special advisor, Smart Africa, former Mmnister, Ministry of Information Technology and Communication, Government of Rwanda
  • Mohamed Dabbour, CEO, Africa, ‎Millicom
  • Babak Fouladi, group chief Technology & Information Systems officer, MTN
  • Siyabonga Mahlangu, group executive: Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations, Telkom
  • Nicholas Naidu, managing executive: Technology Strategy, Architecture & Innovation, Vodacom
  • Francis Mumbi, Innovation lead, Stanbic Bank
  • Joseph Hundah, group president and CEO, Econet Media
  • Jason Lobel, group head of Video, MTN
  • Botlenyana Mokhele, councillor, ICASA
  • Catherine Wanjiku Njari, senior manager, TV & Media Content, Safaricom
  • John Momoh (OON), CEO, Channels Media Group and chairman, BON

AfricaCom 2018 will bring together 14 000 attendees, 450 speakers and 400 exhibitors showcasing technologies and solutions covering everything from 5G, AI, IoT, Fintech, Blockchain and beyond, with a host of new content and exciting developments.

AfricaCom 2018: Africa Video Forum launched

TV Connect Africa, an event previously co-located within AfricaCom, has grown in recent years around distribution models and technologies, to become the premier knowledge exchange and networking platform for broadcasters, telco operators and OTT players across the African continent. While a lot of the focus has been distribution led, growing conference audiences and exhibition visitors have expressed the need not to look at distribution in isolation.

The unprecedented demand for high quality African content across multiple platforms has meant that FTA broadcasters, pay-TV operators and new market entrants all need to build an all-encompassing strategy that meets the needs of evolving consumption behaviours.

As such, AfricaCom 2018 sees the growth and evolution of TV Connect Africa into Africa Video Forum; with content poised to feature as a major part of the show this year incorporating several new content stages and features that will include:

  • Africa Video Forum Content Showcase – a dedicated area of the exhibition dedicated to displaying the hottest content on the continent
  • Content Hub: Three days of show floor presentations and panels focused purely on monetising new content models for everyone across the media value chain
  • Film makers showcase – a chance for talented local film makers to get spotted in an increasingly crowded market
  • LeadersIn Video Summit – A one day invitation only, behind closed doors event for the most senior figures in video content and distribution to speak off the record and define the future of the industry in Africa
  • VIP industry introductions – matchmaking buyers and sellers to make sure time at the event is best spent

Africa Video Forum is co-located with AfricaCom, returning to Cape Town’s CTICC from 13 to 15 November.

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