Welcome to the Com World Series Blog. As producers of the leading telecoms, media and ICT events for developing markets, we focus on news & views that affect everyone operating in the telecoms ecosystem in Africa, the Middle East and Eurasia.

9 Oct 2015

Interview with Charles Niehaus, Consultant in Mobile Money at the International Finance Corporation

Charles Niehaus is Consultant Mobile Money at the InternationalFinance Corporation (IFC), part of World Bank Group. He will be a speaker in the Mobile Money programme at AfricaCom this year, with a case study on achieving interoperability through mobile financial services in Tanzania. Here’s a chance to hear from him before the event

AfricaCom: Tanzania has led the way with interoperability. What role have IFC played in facilitating this process ?  
Charles Niehaus: IFC has been the neutral broker for the industry on mobile money interoperability. This involved initial engagement with the operators to gauge interest, liaising with the Central Bank of Tanzania to facilitate an industry led process, initiating a market demand study to asses interest from consumers and agents, all leading up to facilitated workshops which unpacked the details around exactly what interoperability means and how it could work.

 A: Interoperability was once perceived as a technical challenge but in Tanzania it would appear that creating a set of regulations has been the main facilitator – who has been involved in the process?
CN: Technology enables interoperability to happen, but without a set of overarching rules operators have little legal certainty on how the business or interoperability will work. The process in Tanzania covered facilitated workshops which unpacked firstly which use cases to start with, and once these were agreed each use case was broken down into the traditional components that scheme rules or ACH rules cover. These included the participation criteria, business models, clearing and settlement arrangements, disputes, and risk and loss allocation. The outcome was a set of rules for each use case which all participants who decide to join the interoperability scheme adhere to. It is important to note that the operating rules and payment regulations are not the same thing and often get confused. Payment Regulations are set at a market level for all participants in the national payments environment, while operating rules for a particular payment scheme have to adhere to the national payment regulations but are only enforceable between the participants.

A: Have all of the operators in Tanzania bought in to these set of regulations ?  
CN: The rules (not regulation) for Person to Person transfers have been signed and implemented by Airtel, Tigo and Zantel. Vodacom is in the process of joining but has not signed to date (Sep 2015).

A: What role did the Bank of Tanzania play in facilitating the development of interoperability in Tanzania ?
CN: The regulations in Tanzania created an enabling environment for industry participants to create a set of practical and applicable rules. BoT endorsed the process. It is important to note that BoT did not mandate the process or implementation as other central banks have done.

A: How does interoperability facilitate financial inclusion ?
CN: Interoperability is a means to an end and not and end in itself. Whilst mobile money interoperability is still in its infancy, parallel industries have shown that interoperability increases uptake and transaction volume. From a financial inclusion perspective this would mean more access points and transactional availability for individuals as well as adding to the journey of cash digitisation.

A: Is Tanzania now enjoying the mobile money boom that Kenya had and which other African countries do you think might be able to embrace interoperability in the future ?
CN: Many African markets have tried to replicate the Kenyan example with varying levels of success. The recently published World Bank Group Findex 2014 data show a very positive development in Tanzania with regards to financial inclusion, with 40 percent of the population now with access to a formal bank account compared to 17 percent in 2011. In some regards, Tanzania’s journey has been even faster than that of Kenya and Tanzania was the first industry-led and decided interoperability implementation in Africa (the others were primarily regulatory mandated or vendor driven). It may still be premature to agree what the exact correct approach to interoperability will be, but to date Tanzania is showing promising signs and is a step towards even greater progress.

 The Mobile Money programme will take place on Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th November at AfricaCom (CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa). 

Interview with Dave Woolnough, Nedbank Ltd

Dave Woolnough is Executive: Digital and Mobile Retail at NedbankLimited. He will be joining a Regulatory Panel on nurturing innovation whilst maintaining regulation, part of the Mobile Money programme at AfricaCom. He shares his views ahead of the event.

AfricaCom: How does your company fit in the mobile money eco-system and what are its future ambitions?
Dave Woolnough: As a large Banking Institution, Nedbank utilises its own and other third party solutions. Mobile money is a key enabler in Nedbank’s strategy. Future ambitions are to enhance existing capabilities and partner smartly with leading market players.

A: What would you say are the main challenges that mobile financial services in Africa need to overcome in the short to mid-term?
DW: Interoperability across solutions: we can’t have ‘thousands’ of different applications with different capabilities and fulfilment processes. Short term need to drive up adoption from the consumers and the merchants, adoption is still very low in Africa. Need to solve for the lower end of the market. Mobile money solutions in South Africa are largely for Middle Market clients.

A: Has the talk of cashless societies been overhyped and how do you view the role of cash in society in the short to mid-term?
DW: No, I do believe a form of cashless society will be a reality in time. The financial institutions who embrace this and get high adoption will have a competitive edge.

A: How do you feel regulators should foster innovation in the mobile payment space? Is there too much flexibility or too much regulation at present?
DW: There is a lot of regulation, which I believe could be more practically applied to the various channels. The bigger problem is that the regulation is not consistently applied across all service providers.

A: What are the biggest challenges and opportunities to banks with the evolution of the mobile money revolution ?
DW: The bank who really gets this right and can service all segments of the market will have a significant strategic advantage.

The Mobile Money programme will take place on Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th November at AfricaCom (CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa). 

8 Oct 2015

Telecoms Academy Executive Training at AfricaCom 2015 - 16-20 November 2015, Cape Town

We are pleased to announce that Telecoms Academy will be running the Telecoms Mini MBA executive training programme alongside this year's AfricaCom 2015.

16-20 November 2015, Cape Town at AfricaCom

The Telecoms Mini MBA is a 5-day university accredited telecoms management programme from the leaders in telecom training, analysis and research. The programme has been attended by over 5,000 professionals from 350 companies worldwide. Some of the leading operators, vendors, services, and regulators in the global telecoms industry have sent delegates to the programme.

It is highly participative, focusing on real business, technology and industry issues and designed to give you a critical understanding of the key competency areas required for success within the telecommunications industry – enabling you to make more informed and commercially viable strategic decisions. The business simulation is the vehicle through which we maximise the competency development and ensure ideas on strategic implementation can be tested and appraised.

The programme covers the five key competency areas of:
- Strategy & Business Environment
- Technology
- Finance
- Leadership & People Management
- Marketing & Customer Focus

Special Guest Speaker: Alan Knott-Craig Jr, Founder of Project Isizwe
We are also pleased to announce that Alan Knott-Craig Jr. will be guest speaker at the Telecoms Mini MBA. He will give a unique insight into what Project Isizwe does; how many people now have Internet access through it; who uses the Internet through its coverage and what they use it for; how the business model works; what the municipalities are charged; and his plans for rolling out outside of South Africa.

Information about the Telecoms Mini MBA and details of how to register can be found at:

“MFS in Africa need to keep welcoming innovation” Interview of Elizabeth Rossiello, Bitpesa

Elizabeth Rossiello is CEO and founder of Bitpesa, the first company in the world to link mobile money to Bitcoin. Based in Kenya since 2009, she knows financial services from the Mara to the Board room. 
Elisabeth will join a panel discussion on the future of international remittance services in the Mobile Money programme at AfricaComthis year. She share her thoughts on the subject ahead of the event.

AfricaCom: When and why did BitPesa start and how has your growth been since inception?
Elizabeth Rossiello: BitPesa was founded in Kenya in October 2013 just before Bitcoin gained global attention.  Since then we have expanded into 4 countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria) and had over $2M in transactions in the last few months.  We have connected into some of the best mobile money systems across the continent, as well as gained direct access to bank accounts.  Many international businesses use us to pay salaries to their staff in sub-Saharan Africa, making it easier and more efficient to do business in the region.  Some of them have expanded into new countries because our infrastructure was available.

A: What does bitPesa offer the man on the street in East Africa and how has it been received ?
ER: A way to grow their business.  Using BitPesa, they can order things internationally, pay suppliers abroad, or receive payments or salaries from global employers.  It brings East and West Africans into the global marketplace at a low-cost, with a low-barrier to entry. 

A: What would you say are the main challenges that mobile financial services in Africa need to overcome in the short to mid-term?
ER: MFS in Africa need to keep welcoming innovation.  While the African mobile money story was groundbreaking, innovation did not stop thereafter. There are new types of internet/cloud based payments systems, open source apps, and decentralized systems that are pushing the boundary on what we now know.  I think the incredible success of some mobile money systems has made some hesitant to change.   

A: Has the talk of cashless societies been over-hyped and how do you view the role of cash in society in the short to mid-term?
ER: In the last 7 years living in Kenya, I have used increasingly less cash every day.  In fact, I can go months without touching cash. This is the same as when I travel to NY. There are certainly some countries I travel to, like Nigeria, where cashless transactions are everywhere over a certain minimum amount, but there is still no omnipresent low-value cashless transfer system.  As data costs and smartphone penetration increase I think cashless societies are a sure bet in the next 5 years. 

A: How do you feel regulators should foster innovation in the mobile payment space? Is there too much flexibility or too much regulation at present?
ER: It certainly depends on the country and regulator. However, I would love to see more open dialogue between regulators and start-ups working on the latest innovation.  It can be quite difficult to receive clear guidance from some regulators, despite our best efforts to communicate and reach out.  While many regulators do not immediately outlaw innovation if there is no explicit guideline, companies can spend years without any clear statement from regulators.  This affects how investors and new entrants view the ecosystem and scares away potential vectors of growth. 

A: What are the biggest challenges and opportunities to BitPesa with the evolution of the mobile money revolution ?
ER: We are excited to see mobile money ecosystems continue to grow.  We work with and depend on several different mobile money ecosystems and find it very complimentary to our own business.  I would love to see MNOs be more open to start-ups and let them also have open avenues to work together and cooperate on new products. 

A: What will be the focus of your discussions at Mobile Money at Africa Com  ?

ER: I would like to share a bit about the development of global regulation on distributed ledger systems, like Bitcoin, and discuss the traction our company has made in terms of complementing local mobile money ecosystems.  

The Mobile Money programme will take place on Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th November at AfricaCom (CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa). For more information on topics covered and speakers click here

29 Sep 2015

"Telecoms in Africa can help make a significant difference to people’s lives” Interview of Tony Dolton, CEO Unitel Angola

Tony Dolton is CEO of Unitel in Angola.  He will be joining a keynote panel discussion on the second day of the event on how LTE is changing the digital landscape, alongside representatives of other operators such as Vodacom and MTC in Namibia.
He answers a few questions on the market ahead of the event.

AfricaCom: What is your Unitel's position in Africa’s market?
Tony Dolton: Unitel is the number one telecom operator in Angola, with over 11M  subscribers and a market share in excess of 80%. We aim to be among the largest independently owned operators in Africa, and to do so we believe in innovation and technological differentiation, combined with unrivalled quality of service. The 450 Mbps LTE downlink speed demonstration we carried out recently together with our investment in national and metropolitan fibre networks is evidence of our willingness and commitment to be at the forefront of technology in Africa.
Unitel’s goal is to enable the development of businesses and people based on high quality and high-speed connectivity.

A. What do you think will be this year’s most game-changing development in Africa’s telecom?
TD: Not so much game changing but the continued evolution of Big data together with more highly accessible broadband capacity at higher speeds will allow more innovation and greater opportunity for Africa.

A. What services will enable telecom operators to generate revenue from data?
TD: With higher speeds and bandwidth and more reliable services, the Mobile Telecoms operators in Africa have the opportunity to reach into the more traditional fixed line services in the Enterprise area and to develop new revenue streams such as VPN’s or Closed User Groups, as well as M2M, ICT and traditional data services. To offer affordable Enterprise services in areas of low fixed coverage should be the objective of all Mobile operators.
In the consumer segment, the Mobile operators still have some way to go to get customers using data and this can be achieved by providing the right pricing, affordable but good quality devices and the content that will drive usage. However to grow this area we must also provide the support to help educate potential customers of the value that data services can bring to their personal and business lives.  We strongly believe that there is much that can be learnt from the OTT suppliers in providing content as a service rather than content in terms of Mega Bytes or Giga Bytes.

A. What will be the impact of the digital transition on the telecoms and media sector?
TD: The big impact is of course the convergence of content and delivery and the need to be “connected always” which implies significant additional investments into the network infrastructure.  To make this affordable from a cost perspective the Mobile operators need to focus on greater efficiency and better delivery services.

A. What are the regulatory requirements for improving affordable access to broadband?
TD: Although in Angola there are no specific regulatory requirements for improving affordable access to broadband, similar to a significant number of countries, the Government has approved and published in 2011 the White Book for the sector. Herein it is clear that generalized access to broadband is an immediate challenge and necessary to reduce the asymmetry of Angola compared to other countries with a more consolidated stage of socioeconomic development.

A. How can telecom and digital brands create more value for African consumers?
TD: Mobile operators in Africa have a significant opportunity, through engagement with our customers to fully understand how we can enable them to connect, grow, learn and to develop their communities, businesses and relationships. 
Africa is a hugely culturally diverse, colorful and challenging continent that struggles in the provision of many of the basic services, such as good health and good education. The telecoms sector can help make a significant difference to people’s lives:
- through providing local and relevant information everywhere -  national music, sports and local content
- by providing services that can help in people daily lives, such as as mobile money, e-learning, m-health, school and university connectivity, virtual classrooms for remote areas and support for SME activity (agriculture, fishery, small technological businesses, etc.)

A. How can operators support innovation within their organizations and in the wider ecosystem?
TD: Innovation is at the heart of our organization and it is our aim to not only promote innovation in our own business but also promote innovation with our products and services to inspire our customers.  Whilst we all have a responsibility to create a culture of innovation we have set up a small dedicated team who are responsible for the promotion and encouragement of innovation across the organization and they also work with universities and small local start-up businesses in Angola to develop new ideas and concepts

A. How can the communications needs of enterprises be met in order to sustain economic growth in the region?
TD: There is an insatiable thirst for higher speeds and bigger bandwidths and the development and growth of the ICT sector is critical to the continued development of the continent.  This includes the continued expansion of the cable interconnection in and out of Africa, to drive down the cost of delivery.  To meet this increasing demand we must invest not just in our networks but also in the people of Africa.  We must insist that our product suppliers localize expertise in the continent, that we develop the ability to train locally and that the universities are doing the right courses for ICT.  The development of ICT skills and abilities is one of our greatest challenges at the moment.  

For more details on the AfricaCom programme download the brochure here.

18 Sep 2015

Getting the next billion connected - Interview of John Bernard, Mozilla

John Bernard has been leading the global marketing team at Mozilla since 2012.
This year he is joining AfricaCom to be part of a keynote panel discussion on targeting underserved communities.
He shares his views on the market ahead of the event.


AfricaCom: What is Firefox’s position in Africa’s market?
John Bernard: We have a strategy for Firefox OS targeting emerging markets and delivering a smartphone experience for consumers buying their first smartphone under $100. Africa, with the number of new connections every year and the huge appetite for accessing the Web represents a number of strategic markets for Mozilla.

A: What do you think will be this year’s most game-changing development in Africa’s telecoms?
JB: An Operator or company who can help solve the issue of providing a network to the most remote parts of Africa will be something for attendees to sit up and take notice of. This is a growing area of connecting communities within the region.

A: How can telecom and digital brands create more value for African consumers?
JB: Firefox OS offers a customised and easy to use experience appropriate to consumers at the entry-level smartphone segment, as has been seen with the demand of the KLIF device launched this year with Orange. Firefox OS leverages the power of the Web, to scale the user experience and, as an open source project, any individual or organisation can extend and adapt the platform. Orange put the mobile internet within reach of millions more people, otherwise not previously addressed, with the launch of the KLIF with a new breakthrough digital offer across its significant African footprint.

A: How can operators support innovation within their organisations and in the wider ecosystem?
JB: We announced this year partnering with Orange, to bring Firefox OS to Africa and the Middle East as part of a new digital offer. This was achieved in collaboration with ALCATEL ONETOUCH expanding mobile internet access with the 3.5-inch Orange KLIF Smartphone, launched in 13 African countries to date. Here, Orange are seen to support innovation by providing an affordable, easy-to-use first-time smartphone experience with the ability to surf the web, use email, and communicate within the continent.
The Orange Klif digital offer started from under US$40, inclusive of data, voice and text bundle and sets a new benchmark in price that acted as a major catalyst for smartphone and data adoption across the region.

A: In your opinion what are the most interesting debates to expect at AfricaCom this year?
JB: As mentioned, solving the issue of providing a network to the most remote parts of Africa will be an interesting topic, what role IoT plays and finally who will be the big content winner: local apps or the big-named global content providers.

Top sessions John recommends at AfricaCom 2015:

-       Innovation Leadership Panel: How to support a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in digital Africa? (day 1 keynote)
-       Transforming operators’ models to succeed in the digital economy (day 2 keynote)
-       Targeting underserved communities: strategies to deliver digital communications across Africa  (day 3 keynote)

For more information on the Vision for Africa keynotes check the AfricaCom programme here.

7 Sep 2015

AfricaCom Awards: Entry deadline extended to Friday 11th September

Owing to a number of requests from industry partners and AfricaCom supporters the entry deadline to the AfricaCom Awards has been extended to Friday 11 September, to allow ample time for the community and new interested parties to submit entries comfortably.

The Awards takes place on Wednesday 18th November in the event evening at Cape Town’s Waterfront Lookout – a truly amazing setting and for many the climax of the whole event. Those who attended in 2014will no doubt remember the stylish theme and comfortable setting for what was a great occasion paying homage to the leading innovations in African telecoms and ICT.  This year stands to be even more impressive with a unique theme and surprise entertainment to compliment the festivities.

Check the 14 awards categories available to showcase your company’s achievements in 2015:
·         Best Network Improvement 
·         Excellence in Customer Experience Management
·         Breakthrough LTE Development
·         Best Cost Efficiency Solution for Africa
·         Best Connectivity Solution for Africa
·         VSAT innovation for Africa
·         Best Marketing Campaign
·         Best Mobile Money Service
·         Best App for Africa
·         Best Device for Africa
·         Most Innovative Service
·         Best Pan African Service
·         Changing Lives Award
·         CEO of the year award

If you have any questions or want to explore some of the commercial opportunities at the AfricaCom Awards, contact the team:
Sponsorship or table options: becky.lyons@informa.com
Categories and submissions: adam.thompson@informa.comGemma.white@informa.com

1 Sep 2015

"Embracing rather than fighting OTT services will be a game changer" Interview of Evans Muhanga, CMO, Zamtel

Evans Muhanga is the Chief Marketing Officer for Zambia Telecommunications (Zamtel) a landline and mobile telephony company with 1.6million customers. He has over 10 years’ experience in the telecommunications industry having worked for Celtel Zambia (now Airtel) and Celtel/Zain Sierra Leone previously.
Evans will be joining a panel discussion on identifying new revenue opportunities for fixed and mobile operators beyond voice at AfricaCom on Wednesday 18th November, alongside representatives of Telkom South Africa, Lumata, Malawi Telecommunications, Rekindle Learning and Airtel Africa.
He answers a few questions on the market ahead of the event.

What is your company’s position in Zambia’s market? 
Zamtel is a private company, wholly owned by the Government of Zambia.  Zamtel plays in the mobile, fixed and internet market.  We are the sole provider of fixed line services in Zambia, and number 2 in the internet market.  From the mobile market point of view, we are the third player, with a market share of almost 15%.

What do you think will be this year’s most game-changing development in Africa’s telecoms? 

We believe embracing rather than fighting OTT services will be a game changer.  In addition, telecom operators adopting triple and quad play services will be in the fore-front of changing the African telecom space.  Mobile Money will continue to make an impact, with more operators providing this service across the continent, and also having more than one player in a specific market. 

What services will enable telecom operators to generate revenue from data? 
The challenge facing Africa today is a low internet penetration rate – 27.5% as at December 2014 compared to a world average of 42.4%.  As a first step, operators need to improve this penetration, by making access to internet easy and affordable.  This in itself will result in improved revenues for operators.  In addition, by adopting OTT players, triple and quad play services and the advent of “internet of everything” will help operators gain more revenue. 

What will be the impact of the digital transition on the telecoms and media sector? 
The digital transition is more of a positive impact on the consumer, as this will enable growth of the media sector in providing more high quality services and diverse content.  This however comes with  a cost, to both the consumer and provider. 

What are the regulatory requirements for improving affordable access to broadband? 

Whilst price is a key factor in the provision of broadband services, service availability also plays a key role.  For the regulator, it is not normally their brief to dictate prices of products and services.  The operator will play a bigger role in providing affordable access by ensuring that the continued trend of reducing wholesale bandwidth costs are passed on to the consumer.  Regulators also need to coordinate and control the “digging” of areas when it comes to laying cables.  The current trend, especially in Zambia, is that anyone digs anywhere, resulting in cables appearing everywhere.  Unlike first world countries, a duct is already in the ground, provided by the council or regulator, and is rented by operators to physically lay their cable.

How can telecom and digital brands create more value for African consumers?
By working closely together, for you to deliver any type of digital brands, you need the telecom infrastructure to ride on.  All that is needed is a business model that is a win/win for both the digital and telecom businesses.  For the consumer, its results in better experience and a variety of content.
How can operators support innovation within their organisations and in the wider ecosystem? 
If the operator has the resources to support the IT and Technical departments to specifically look at development and innovative ideas, or investing in R&D as well as liaising with customer services, then they can develop solutions in-house.  However, operators have to work with third party VAS and development players. 

How can the communications needs of enterprises be met in order to sustain economic growth in the region? 
Each customer’s requirements are unique and as such operators must be flexible when it comes to meeting customer demands.

For more information of the New Revenue Streams session at AfricaCom, check the brochure here.

21 Aug 2015

Digital music landscape will be unrecognisable in a year’s time, says Spinlet’s Nkiru Balonwu ahead of Africacom

Nkiru Balonwu is CEO of the Spinlet Group, a digital media distribution company, focusing on Africa-centric content. She will be joining the digital music panel at AfricaCom on 17th November, alongside representatives of Orange, Millicom, Deezer, Africori, Unitel and Baziks Entertainment.
Here she shares with us some thoughts on Africa’s digital music market.

What is your Spinlet's position in Africa’s digital market?
Spinlet is a leading music distribution service in Africa. With over 1.7m app registrations to date and 10,000 daily unique visits to our website, our company’s reputation as the continent’s premier streaming and downloads platform continues to grow. Our service has always been a streaming and downloads hybrid and we are glad to see the model being adopted by some of the larger companies in our space.

Where do you see your company in 5 years’ time?
At Spinlet, we have always put a premium on research and looking at the things we can do to improve our product. We have also focused on developing relationships within the industry and expanding our rich and diverse music catalogue. In 5 years’ time, I fully expect our footprint to span the entire continent, hosting content from almost every country, being the go-to service for all things African.

What do you think will be this year’s most game-changing development in Africa’s digital market? The coming of Apple Music will certainly have an interesting ripple effect, especially after the Android version of the service goes live. Everyone else will be compelled to look at their product differentiation and value creation strategies. That level of competition typically results in high-level innovation and I expect the digital music landscape to be unrecognisable in a year’s time.
What are the best strategies to monetise content services in African markets?
I think the key to succesful monetisation is providing the easiest access and easiest payment method possible for the users in the target demographic. There is a slight balancing act to be done, however, because of the number of potential customers increases as you go towards the lower end of Africa’s social demographics. The content most likely to do well is content that can be consumed easily on lower end mobile devices and paid for without necessarily having a bank account. This is the reason that RBTs/CBTs have done so well. The challenge is to apply this to content that requires smartphones and bandwidth, like videos. Apart from infrastructure, I think the payments will be the lynchpin. Once we resolve that issue across the continent, monetisation will become more of a marketing function than a prodcut innovation one.

How can digital brands create more value for African consumers? For me, the best way to create value is by focusing on any one of more of the following three things - solving problems; affordability and usability, and improving outcomes.
  • Solving problems: What is the problem that a digital brand is trying to remedy? Digital intervention has to fill a gap or improve on the existing means of doing so. So taxi apps, for example, are increasingly popular because of the extra convenience they provide. Music apps are popular because they provide a ready distribution network and incentives not to support piracy.
  • Affordability and Usability: The product being sold by the brand must be easy to use and affordable by a large enough section of society. This means that apart from the average incomes in the regions being targeted by the brands, devices on which the product will be used are also an important consideration.
  • Outcomes: When consumers purchase a good or service, it’s not the actual commodity they are seeking, but an outcome that they believe will be derived from use of the commodity. The question to ask is “What is the consumer trying to achieve?” Taking Spinlet’s customers, for instance, they aren’t just interested in music. They aren’t just ‘music lovers.’ If that was all they were, or all they wanted was more music, they might as well use any download site. However, we believe that Spinlet users are looking for more than music. There’s a lifestyle they aspire to. They want to discover new artists, and connect and interact with the names they already know. The Spinlet website gives consumers access to artists all over the continent. For the artists that license their content on the Spinlet platform, the outcomes they are seeking are [1] guaranteed and documented revenue when their music is streamed or downloaded, [2] greater publicity, and [3] a further reach for their music and a bigger stage to perform on. Spinlet delivers all of the above.
What types of partnerships should telecom operators and content brands develop?
The answer to this question becomes a little more complex as more telecom operators are now also in the music distribution business. I suspect that this would ordinarily raise competition/antitrust issues outside Africa but that’s probably a different conversation. I think telcos have created value by providing alternative revenue streams for the artists. I think, however, that they erode most of this value with the revenue splits they offer. The ideal partnerships between telcos and content brands (which would include labels, artists and distributors like Spinlet) would be those that promote all parties concerned, support the local industry and leave the content owners with a much healthier share of the earnings than are currently obtainable.

In your opinion what are the most interesting debates to expect at AfricaCom this year?
I probably have a bias towards media distribution, so I’m particularly looking forward to the debate on business models for operators in digital entertainment, as well as the session on pricing and revenue strategies. Given the level of development of the infrastructure across the continent and the raging issue of taking payments conveniently, I expect these sessions to generate very robust engagement. I’m also keen to hear opinions on developing local content and the various conversations on the evolution of mobile money.

For more information of the digital music panel, part of the Digital Entertainment stream at AfricaCom, chech the brochure here.

19 Aug 2015

NigeriaCom: The Largest Telco Event in West Africa is Embracing the Developer Community

If you are an app developer or founder of a tech startup, chances are high NigeriaCom is not on your list of tech events to attend yet. Being the largest annual meeting for the telco & ICT industry in West Africa, it should though.

Having a profound understanding of the underlying physical infrastructure, the regulatory framework, the industry’s dynamics and technology trends is essential for every internet based company’s success.

In essence, the challenges and opportunities of the telecom & ICT industry can be summarized with four questions:

  • Penetration: How quickly is internet usage in Nigeria going to move from a current internet penetration of 30% to 80% and beyond? 
  • Pricing: At which pace will the costs of running a mobile phone decrease from the present 5% to about 2-3% of monthly income, known as a tipping point for massive mobile internet usage growth?
  • Investments: How rapidly has the Nigerian telecom & ICT industry evolved into an attractive, transparent space for domestic and foreign investors?
  • Collaboration: How fast will industry leaders join forces across the entire stack, bottom up from the physical infrastructure to API centric tech ventures?

NigeriaCom will be hosted between 14th -15th September 2015 in Lagos at the Orienal Hotel, for the seventh consecutive time, and during the next weeks we will discuss those topics highlighted above in a series of blog posts counting down to the event.

While a series of panels will deepen your understanding of the telco & ICT industry, the Entrepreneur’s Hub will expose you to potential mentors, partners, customers and investors. With an average of 43% C-level attendees (54% total operator attendance), the Entrepreneur’s Hub is an ideal meeting place for start-ups to showcase in front of recognised ICT leaders.

To find out more about NigeriaCom and the Entrepreneur's Hub, visit the website: www.comworldseries.com/nigeria