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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.

31 Jul 2015

Interview with Bill Hearmon

We interview Bill Hearmon, Chairman of the 4G African Broadband Forum on the popularity surge in the use of wholesale SMS in business. A topic that will be covered by him at AfricaCom  

 Bill, What are the benefits of Wholesale SMS for Businesses?


With the growing number of mobile users, businesses are changing the way they’re engaging with customers. Wholesale SMS has become a necessity for businesses focused on improving customer service and driving revenue. End-users can receive mobile notifications on such things as package delivery status or a promotional sale announcement.

Bill, How does wholesale SMS  help  businesses to connect to customers:


Through an SMS gateway API, businesses could send out a large volume of texts to reach and communicate with their audience at a moment’s notice. Quicker to put together than an email newsletter, these short and sweet messages are inexpensive and efficient. SMS is a great way to build a relationship with your customers and keep them up-to-date with the latest news announcements. For example, if your business wanted to promote a new service/item, you could send a mass SMS notification informing your users that there’s a special offer going on. Not only does that help with customer engagement but with growing brand recognition as well. 

Since more people are likely to be carrying their mobile device rather than a laptop, a text message has a higher visibility than an email. Sending an email or checking your inbox requires access to a WiFI network, whereas SMS reaches you instantaneously by connecting through cell phone towers. This greatly increases the chances of your SMS message being opened versus that of an email. In fact, the open rate of an sms message is 98% as opposed to an email, which is only 22%. Your business can communicate with customers whenever and wherever they are.


Wholesale SMS also has a higher ROI than other methods of communication. Since SMS notifications are only sent to the customers who subscribed to receive messages and updates, this means they are already interested in your product or service. Since a customer relationship has already been established, you won’t be wasting resources and time on cold leads. Bulk SMS is highly targeted and is the best way to focus and cater to existing customers.

The benefits of bulk text messaging are more and more prevalent in today's culture of instant gratification. . The speed, reliability, and cost effectiveness that make SMS an effective communication tool also make it an essential business strategy for modernizing and personalizing customer interactions in the 21st century.

Want to here more from Bill? Register for AfricaCom today: 

http://bit.ly/1stwqks

Dont miss out!





29 Jul 2015

The AfricaCom 2015 brochure is now available to download!

AfricaCom, Africa's premier communications congress and exhibition returns to Cape Town on 17-19th November for its biggest and best year yet.

Download your copy of the brochure now and be the first to find out what's on offer:
  • View the full conference agenda with 90+ hours of content
  • See our exciting speaker line-up with 63% new speakers
  • Experience 25+ dedicated networking hours
  • The Ericsson AHUB - New for 2015!
  • The prestigious AfricaCom Awards, celebrating digital Africa
  • 375+ industry leading exhibitors
  • SDN Proof of Concept Zone - New for 2015!
  • The CIO Forum - New for 2015!
  • The Village - a luxury networking space

Registration is now open!
We have a number of different passes available to you, including delegate passes, free passes for regional operators and regulators, free passes to the CIO Forum or free exhibition passes - available to all.

To find out more about AfricaCom, download the brochure!

13 Jul 2015

Interview with AfricaCom Keynote speaker Moussa Thiemoko Dao, Director Orange Money, Orange Cameroun


We interview AfricaCom speaker Moussa Thiemoko Dao, Director Orange Money, Orange Cameroun ahead of the event to get his insights on the future of mobile money in Africa and the challenges being faced by the market.

Moussa will be speaking on Tuesday 17th November at 15:00 on the Central African experience with   special focus on Cameroon - how do banks benefit from Mobile Money integration? and on Wednesday 18th November at 14:20 in a panel discussion on the future of International remittance. 

To find out more and to download the draft agenda, visit our website.



What is the future looking like for mobile money in Central Africa and Cameroon?

The future for mobile money is bright in all aspects in Central Africa and in Cameroon in particular: The market is increasingly getting exposed to the service (including in the very remote areas), government is enforcing the use of mobile money in a growing number of operations, partnerships between the major stakeholders are increasing, overarching financial institutions (World Bank; IMF;…) are giving more attention to the current challenges,…In short, the development of mobile money in the region is key for the all the major stakeholders, including the users who constantly make suggestions on how to expand the knowledge and usage of the services within their communities.

In a recent publication, reference was made to Sub Saharan Africa as the laboratory for mobile money development. The term laboratory says it all and Central Africa is not an exception to it . Indeed, it took some vision and a definite boldness (from the Central Bank of Kenya; from the operators; from the partners;…) to establish mobile money in the usages in Kenya and make it a success story. Tanzania is developing the service in the same fashion. In Cameroon and in the Central Africa region, we are coming to terms with certain factors which have been slowing down the development of the service. This will get boosted under the impulsion of the operators, the Central bank, the partners and of course the users.

What would you say are the main challenges that mobile financial services in Africa need to overcome in the short to mid-term?

In my view, the 1st challenge is to secure a wide and optimal accessibility to the service through various supports and levers. The more accessible the service is, the more exposed populations are to its features. The combination of these two fosters confidence.

The 2nd challenge in the continent is a regulatory one. At times, we may have the impression that the rules are not levelled by the Central Banks for the participants in the same geography. In some instances, banks are favoured, in some others, launching new services get very constraining,…

The 3rd one is on the involvement of the government. We have seen across the continent some very interesting initiatives (Tax payment in Cameroon; School fees in Cote d’Ivoire; prepaid electricity in Botswana)...In all financial services, the involvement of government is a key success factor.

Overall, it is also key to note that informal financial transactions have always existed as an answer to unreliable or insufficient financial systems. Mobile money is actually an opportunity for all stakeholders to safely channel money; protect the users; develop the SME’s,… simply put, mobile money is key to unlock the benefits of financial inclusion.

How effective have Orange been towards solving real issues around rural unbanked populations in Africa?

We have been launching interesting initiatives to secure the accessibility of this service across our footprints. A certain number of them have been very effective into boosting the adoption of the service. Such trend have given us the confidence of public authorities (Cameroun, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali,…) to handle the transactions towards the rural unbanked populations (social welfare; school fees; tax payment;…)
It is a constant exercise into our ambition to keep leading the mobile money business in our footprint.

How are interoperability and international remittance assisting Orange on it’s journey?

International remittance has proven to be a very good enabler. The corridor Mali-Senegal-Cote d’Ivoire has shown very interesting results. International remittance is an important lever which we keep exploring to better serve our customers.

How do you feel regulators should foster innovation in the mobile payment space? Is there too much flexibility or too much regulation at present?

Regulation is key to the success of mobile money. It is interesting to note that we have been observing along the years how regulators have position mobile money (surely according to the local configurations and financial system set up) to enable the activity and trigger the relevant innovations: In some geographies mobile money has been set up as a clear enabler of financial inclusion through flexible configurations and direct interactions with the regulators (East Africa). In some others, it has either been set up as a strict extension of the commercial banks (Central Africa) or, on the contrary, as a complete and independent business unit in charge of developing the service with a direct relationship with the Central Bank (West Africa). It is therefore challenging to draw a global conclusion at the continent level.

However, we have noticed that places where mobile money is more developed are where regulation does not precede innovation and where there is an open ecosystem which allows interactions all the way to the regulator (Central Bank in most cases). In parallel, a code of conduct has been signed by the mobile money providers in the telecommunication industry. It is the commitment we all take to ensure that we define and abide by a standard of mobile money business. This shows that we acknowledge the level of professionalism which we, providers, must put in the execution of the initiatives. In the light of this, it will be helpful that regulators constantly aim at favouring conducive environments through flexible set ups which will enable direct interactions with the banks and the Central Banks. Such set up will help include mobile money as a complete suite of primary financial services in their respective geographies. It will also help to reduce the challenges of industry related interpretation of the regulation in such an innovative space. We like to think that this evolution is worth the effort in regards with the objective to provide primary means of payment to people with no (or limited) access to basic means of financial payments, a population estimated at 80% of the Sub Saharan Africa.


To find out more about AfricaCom, or to register your interest, visit our website: www.comworldseries.com/africa

1 Jul 2015

Using PR is an investment in your technology brand

By Dominique Pienaar, Gauteng Regional manager, DUO Marketing + Communications

The proof of the value of public relations is in the experience - and one of our clients, Brian Timperley, MD and co-founder of Turrito Networks has been quoted as saying: “The lesson I have learnt is that small businesses and even startups should not underestimate the value of PR.

“Entrepreneurs are often advised of things you should and shouldn’t spend money on. PR is rarely included here. I would unequivocally disagree with this approach – as long as you have the right partner, with the right skills and experience, PR can be one of the best weapons at your disposal in any business.” 

Business-to-business technology companies should view public relations as an investment that enables them to demystify their products and services, build credibility, and emphasise the business value of their offerings.

Strong, authentic, and transparent PR messaging also becomes increasingly valuable as digital media grows, and more businesses will need to build communication resiliency.

Partnering with the right agency also ensures that your PR strategy is agile - achieving omni-channel integration, staying on top of trending topics and responding quickly and being able to test and refine your messaging for maximum exposure. Digital channels provide the agency and client with direct analysis on outputs, allowing both parties the agility to test, modify and evolve the strategy to ensure commercial return on investment.

While there is undoubtedly a place for generalist PR agencies, if the objective is to translate complex or hard to explain technologies to end users, non-technical business decision makers and entrepreneurs, then tech companies would be well placed to consider a specialist B2B tech agency.

The skills requirements for any PR agency are quite similar, but for a B2B tech company, the need to have a grasp of the business, technology, and crossover media is critical.

A key function of a specialist agency is to look beyond the costs or specifications and to rather demonstrate how it can help businesses reduce costs, improve profitability, or gain a competitive advantage.

Purchasing decisions are not always made by technology decision makers, but rather by business decision makers, and an important part of the PR objective is to show how a product or service can help a business become more efficient.

Coverage in mainstream media as well as relevant industry trade publications help establish business executives as thought leaders in the field, while also raising awareness about their company’s products and services - which may otherwise need expensive advertising support.

Clients have told us that some of their new referrals have been made on the back of an interview or editorial placement in on-target media.

But, investing in PR is about more than just having press releases placed - it helps B2B technology companies build trust and create a lasting relationship with both the media and a highly-targeted business audience in an industry characterised by long sales cycles, normally with high sales values.


www.duomarketing.co.za

23 Jun 2015

The NigeriaCom 2015 brochure is now available to download!

We are pleased to announce that the NigeriaCom 2015 brochure is now available to download!

The 6th edition of the event will place at the Oriental Hotel, Lagos, this 22 - 23rd September, attracting 750+ senior decision making attendees; 43% C-Level and 54% operator attendance.

NigeriaCom 2015 will provide you with two days of unrivalled networking opportunities, 11+ hours of insightful case studies, round tables and expert tips from our leading line up of speakers, plus the chance to discover the latest solutions and technologies in the market.



The conference will support and foster development of stronger networks and affordable access to allow the digital economy to flourish. Key features and topics include:

  • IOT and what it really means for digital Nigeria
  • National broadband strategy for growth and social development
  • Implementing next-generation broadband networks
  • Deepening financial  inclusion through mobile
  • Hosted round table lunches
  • The rise and future of e-commerce
  • Business implications from apps and smart-phones
  • Entrepreneurs Hub for start-ups
  • Data revenues and the content gold rush
  • The CIO Forum: transforming your digital enterprise
  • Unified communications convergence
  • Optimising operational efficiency through cloud
  • Smart e-governance and public sector ICT

To view the full agenda - download the brochure now! 

If you're interested in joining this years exclusive speaker line up, please do get in touch with your topic outline, company and profile - Adam Thompson E: Adam.Thompson@informa.com / T: +44(0)207 017 5610

We also have a number of bespoke sponsorship and exhibition packages available - if you would like to discuss these, please do contact us: Joao Oliva E: Joao.Oliva@informa.com / T: +44(0)207 017 5249

22 Jun 2015

What's new for VAS Africa 2015?

 

VAS Africa 2015 will see a host of new speakers, topics and features this coming 30th June - 1st July. Registration closes this Friday 26th Junemake sure you're part of the debate and purchase your delegate pass today to experience this exciting event, with two days of insightful presentations and inspiring workshops. Don't forget, it's FREE to attend for regional operators, content creators and regulators - find out more
 
Brand new speakers from companies including:
Huawei Digital Services Product Line, MTN, BT, Airtel Nigeria, Telkom Business Mobile, Vodacom, Ewallet solutions FNB, (Snapscan), Zazoo, Konga online shopping, wigroup South Africa, QPlay Music, Content Connect Africa, Wabona, Afrikan Dust Media group, M4JAM, Silicon Cape Initiative, Qurio, & Innovation, Afroterminal,  nFrnds, I’m Bored, weChat, mymobworld, International Omni Retailing Markets Association, Mezzanineware, Funda Technology, Vodafone Egypt, Rekindle Learning and Kytabu.
 

All new agenda topics:
Expanded M-Commerce and Mobile Money section: FNB Ewallet Solutions, Zazoo, Konga online shopping and wigroup South Africa contribute to our expanded sessions this year - focussing on the convergence of mobile money and merchant payments with traditional payment and creating sustainable and viable mobile financial services. Day One, Tuesday 30th June at 11:45.
Innovation for Africa: discussion, panels, showcasing start-ups: Silicon Cape Initiative, Qurio and Latest Sightings will discuss fostering growth in the VAS start-up community, showcasing a number of exciting developments and addressing how regulators, telcos and ICT leaders can support this growing community. Day Two, Wednesday 1st July at 11.15.
Video on demand and new music players join the Digital Entertainment: We’re pleased to welcome new speakers - Qplay Music, Content Connect Africa, BOZZA and Simfy to the stage - be the first to hear how smart phones and low cost tablets  FNB changing consumption and distribution of digital entertainment services. Day One, Tuesday 30th at 14.50.

 
New features for 2015:
Hosted Roundtable Lunches: On day one, meet and network with senior level decision makers over lunch in our hosted roundtables – table topics include the future of Mobile Money, launching a new VAS product and overcoming technology barriers. 
AfricaCom 100 at VAS Africa: Launched in 2014, the AfricaCom 100 is a group of top leaders and influencers in Africa’s telecoms, media and ICT sector. VAS Africa comes at a perfect time for the group as the results of 2015’s first AfricaCom 100 survey on key market trends will be revealed. The AfricaCom 100 members and VAS Africa speakers will meet for an exclusive networking gathering on the eve of the conference to discuss the results in an informal setting.


Make sure you don't miss out - purchase your delegate pass today, or if you're a regional operator or regulator, register here!

We still have some exciting sponsorship and exhibition opportunities available - to find out more, please contact Alexander Zenonos - E: Alexander.Zenonos@informa.com / T: +44 (0) 207 017 6583

17 Jun 2015

VAS Africa speaker interview with Hanlie Smuts, General Manager, Product and Digital at MTN

We talk to VAS Africa speaker Hanlie Smuts, General Manager, Product and Digital at MTN ahead of the event to hear her thoughts on the future of digital services in Africa.


Hanlie will be speaking at VAS Africa this coming 30 June – 1 July 2015 at the Sandton Maslow, Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information, view the agenda.

VAS Africa: What is the future of digital services in Africa and what do you think are the top 3 major trends affecting your business in the region?

Hanlie Smuts: You know that some research show that digital revenue is forecast to grow by 80%. It is key that as we business we need to understand the changing dynamics of how digital media content including video, games, music, etc. is created, sold, distributed, and consumed across different platforms, and how it can be monetised through advertising. From a customer perspective you need to match most watched content, for example music videos with most needed content (e.g. education) with most used platform (in our case, mobile).

VAS: Are we just at the tip of the iceberg with VAS in Africa and its potential for ROI?

HS: The market is evolving rapidly and there is a lot of convergence where non-telco players such as banks and retailers are entering the telco space and are providing services that have traditionally been offered by mobile network operators. In addition, platform owners are becoming independent service providers and we are seeing that with media houses launching VOD dongles. The world is increasingly moving into the digital space and we are seeing an uptake of e-commerce which is expected to become a significant revenue contributor.
We expect to see a lot of development in the VAS space, and I believe that what we are seeing now is just the tip of the iceberg – I would dare to venture that, as with an iceberg, 80% is “still under water.”

VAS: How central to operators’ business models should VAS be going forward?

HS: As you are aware, traditional revenue streams such as voice are declining and therefore alternative revenue streams have to be considered. In order to gain first mover advantage, telcos need to move up the value chain by leveraging on the ubiquity of smartphones,  and explore areas of monetisation.

VAS: Can you update us a little on the progress and uptake of MTN Frontrow?

HS: This week MTN showcased the benefits of FrontRow to the media when it streamed high bandwidth video content onto multiple mobile devices using its video on demand (VOD) offering. We are encouraged by the initial uptake of FrontRow and we believe that this service will gain traction as customers discover the product’s key differentiators.

For more information on VAS Africa, or to register, visit: www.comworldseries.com/vasafrica

 

10 Jun 2015

Connecting West Africa opens in Dakar Senegal: broadband, regulation, investment, efficiency, partnerships


ConnectingWest Africa opened on Tuesday 9th June in Dakar, Senegal, for two days of engaging debates on opportunities in the region’s broadband market and of networking among leading operators, service providers, investors, regulators, suppliers and telecoms & ICT experts.

Diego Camberos, MD of Senegal’s second operator Tigo, set the tone of the debate by focusing on the need for digital inclusion in a market where broadband services are growing. According to him, “digital inclusion isn’t the effort of one operator, it’s an effort of the whole society through partnerships”.

Ovum’s Thecla Mbongue concurred on the importance of digital communications in the West African market: “West African telecoms have now become data-focused with access to broadband and smartphone usage key factors to drive the future growth. According to Ovum, the West African mobile market grew by 12% year-on-year to 296 million users in Q1 2015; annual mobile revenues were $17 billion in 2014 including $3 billion generated by data usage”.

Clearly, from all speakers’ comments, the benefits of broadband to the region’s economies are well known. However there are still major hindrances to broadband access, as described by James Kanja Cobba of Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Information & Communications, and Aboubakar Haman, of AtlantiqueTelecom.  According to them, the major issues still come from insufficient commitment from regulators, inconsistent market liberalisation, high taxes and lack of cooperation between operators. In a panel discussing on the potential of LTE, representatives of Tigo Chad, YooMee Africa and IFC also agreed on the need for government support as well as private investment to deliver the infrastructure needed.

Operators and other stakeholders also need to re-think their approach to innovation in this changing digital market. Sadibou Sow or AfriqueITnews said “one need to start with a clean slate and really understand the needs of customers and enterprises as they have changed completely”.

Outside the conference, participants enjoyed various opportunities to network, around coffee, a lunch sponsored by PCCW Global and a drinks reception sponsored by Sonatel. VIP participants also enjoyed a Speed Networking session. Amadou Makhtar Fall of ITMag and Sonatel, said of the event that it has been “a unique opportunity to meet in one place what Africa counts as the best in telecommunications”.

“The opening day of Connecting West Africa has shown that the West African market offers great opportunities for companies willing to adapt to new needs and new models” says Julie Rey-Gore, the event’s Research Director; “We are pleased to provide an environment for the region’s most dynamic companies to get together, share their experiences and build useful partnerships”.

The second day of Connecting West Africa will look at how to monetise data, managing the customer experience, meeting the need of enterprises, and promoting innovation in the digital economy. Speakers will include senior representatives of Sonatel, Millicom Group, Expresso Telecom Group, Mauritel, Alink Telecom, CTIC and more.



See what attendees thought of Day One...

“It is a good opportunity to connect with all the telecoms society and a good networking conference. I hope that It will continue every year. Congratulations for Connecting West Africa”
Ravelson Bruno Wilfrid, Green Com - Muni, Equatorial Guinea


“The Exhibition provides a very focused environment where all the relevant partners come in and really try to understand the value of their business. I appreciate the big support with one –on – one meeting arrangements, they have brought so much value to us as a company.”
Benny Tomer, Sales Director West Africa, PeerApp


“The event has been very good and I hope to participate in Connecting West Africa for many years to come. The organization was perfect and panel discussion very interactive and interesting”
Awa Diop, Country Representative, Senegal, ALINK TELECOM


“Excellent organization and great level of attendees this year”
Ababacar Fall, Manager, UAE, Etisalat

“Speed Networking is the most interesting activity I have had during the first day of the event. Meeting potential partners has been very good ”
SAMBA SENE, MD, SENEGAL, WISSAFRICA


28 May 2015

Benefits Of SDN & NFV For African Fixed And Mobile Operators


By George Debbo, GD Telecom, Chairman of the SDN & Network Virtualisation stream at AfricaCom 2015

In October 2012 a group of Tier 1 Operators from Europe, North America and Asia got together at a Conference in Darmstadt Germany to discuss and ultimately announce a new industry initiative on Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). The discussion was prompted by the fact that the group clearly felt that the current method of deploying networks, which involves installing physically made-for-purpose boxes, had to change because of the enormous pressures that were being applied to the industry. These pressures included the continual threat from Over the Top (OTT) service providers, as well as the pressure to reduce costs and significantly increase agility and speed by which services are created and deployed.


The concept of virtualization was drawn from what had already been used in the IT industry for a number of years, and included discussion on software defined networking (SDN) and OpenFlow. The discussions resulted in the creation and publication of a White Paper, as well as the formulation of an ETSI Industry Study Group (ISG) in November 2012.

NFV involves de-coupling the associated network function from its proprietary hardware, and running this function as software on a server. Thus network functions, which today are provided on made-for-purpose hardware, can now run as software over generic pieces of hardware, such as off-the-shelf layer 2 switches and routers.


SDN, which is a complimentary technology to NFV, separates the control plane from the physical forwarding plane, thus allowing network control to become directly programmable and the underlying infrastructure to be abstracted for applications and network services.

Since the formation of the ETSI ISG in November 2012 there has been a groundswell of activity within the industry around SDN &NFV, both within operators and vendors, but predominantly within North America and Europe. A number of North American and European operators and service providers have indicated their intentions and plans to virtualize large portions of their network. An example is AT&T who have developed their Domain 2.0 Program, which has the intention to virtualize and control more than 75% of their network by 2020 using a software driven architecture.

The activity within the ETSI ISG has resulted in the following deliverables:
  • The release of 17 specifications and standards
  • The formulation of a list of NFV Use Cases
  • A number of Proof of Concepts being run around the world, an example of which was Spain’s Telefonica who demonstrated an end-to-end advanced and multi-media implementation of the ETSI NFV architecture, with intelligent orchestration of resources, at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Infonetics Research has predicted that the SDN & NFV market will grow to $11 billion by 2018.

What are the benefits for African Operators? Generally the business and network operation within African Operators is characterized by the following:
  • Low coverage and penetration but with enormous capacity demands
  • A limited skills base with respect to technical personnel
  • Auxiliary infrastructure (such as grid power and environmental facilities) not supportive of deploying sophisticated and intelligent telecommunication systems, especially in the rural areas.
SDN & NFV can solve the above challenges as a result of the following:
  • As functionality is now performed in software, this can be deployed in areas were the auxiliary infrastructure is available and maintained, and more importantly in areas were skilled personnel are available such as cities or major towns.
  • Again, as functionality is now performed in software the process required to dynamically ramp up capacity is much simpler and quicker, thus allowing operators to easily respond to demand which is difficult to predict.
  • Ultimately the costs (both opex and capex) will come down due to the economies of scale associated with using off-the-shelf hardware (such as layer 2 routers and switches) as well as the use of open interfaces and standards associated with SDN &NFV.
NFV also supports the concept of multi-version and multi-tenancy which allows the use of a single platform for different applications, users and tenants. Such an ability allows operators to share resources across services and across different customers.

George will be speaking in the SDN & Network Virtualization Stream at AfricaCom this 17-19th November 2015. To find out more and to pre-register, visit: http://africa.comworldseries.com/

26 May 2015

African content - the VAS opportunity for startups




By Gabriella Mulligan, co-founder Disrupt Africa

The opportunity presented by the value added services (VAS) market for startups across Africa is phenomenal, as demand for quality African content grows in tandem with mobile and internet uptake.


To date only 19 per cent of Africa’s 1 billion-strong population is online according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). The flipside of this statistic is the sheer size of the untapped market - a market of consumers who are (not-so-)slowly, but surely, coming online and will demand quality content when they arrive.

Africa also has the fastest growing middle class in the world, with McKinsey estimating Africa’s consumer spending will hit US$1.4 trillion within the next five years.

What these figures say to me is that in Africa we’re at the dawn of an era with the potential to be characterised by a booming VAS market - and I think that market will be led by the continent’s outstanding startups, and the key will be localised African content.

Of course, as a news website we at Disrupt Africa believe in the future of online written content in Africa, and day-to-day we see the demand for a source of quality, engaging written content pertaining to Africa’s success stories.

Africa wants to hear about new ideas and new opportunities; the continent wants to engage with the business sector, read about successes, and glean advice. The call for online written content catering to an African audience is most definitely there.

But by all means leave the written market for us! Opportunity presents itself for African content across media channels.

The rise of video-on-demand in Africa - fuelled by startups and small businesses - is testament to the growing demand for video services.  Traditional television providers are already playing catch-up, trying to reinvent themselves to remain competitive within the new market.  

However, it’s the smaller home-grown companies, close to the ground and quick to respond, which can grab the opportunity of video-on-demand with both hands.  Africa’s own innovators are offering African video content services which speak directly to the market’s desires; and via the devices the market likes (ahem, mobile).  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go and check out Wabona.

Africa will forever be the home of music, a fact which screams only one question: where are all the innovative music services? Why don’t the continent’s music lovers have access to all the content they want, whenever they want it, in the format they want it, at a cost they like?

There are people out there trying, yes. But the market is still wide-open, and the opportunity for startups to jump in and create a VAS offering that will be indispensable for African consumers is very real. Just ask Mdundo.

My last mention goes to the social media opportunity.  Startups with a bit of social media savvy - the world is yours for the taking.  Africa has 1 billion people, 720 million of them have mobile devices. Both of those numbers are growing.  People like to chat, to engage, to share stuff.  That’s a potential critical mass for an awesome new African social media platform ripe for the taking.  

So startups, get to work! And come and talk to Disrupt Africa as soon as you get your idea off the ground.

Disrupt Africa are an official media partner for VAS Africa 2015. VAS Africa will be taking place this 30 June - 1 July in Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information or to register, visit: http://vasafrica.comworldseries.com/