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.

18 Dec 2014

AfricaCom 2014 speaker Dov Bar Gera, CEO of YooMee on the advantages of LTE

Dov Bar Gera, CEO, YooMee discusses the advantages of LTE and how YooMee are reaching their goal of bringing broadband wireless high speed internet into sub-Saharan Africa.

AfricaCom is the  biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision-makers from the entire digital ecosystem… For more information, visit our website: http://africa.comworldseries.com/

Interview by Telecoms.com

15 Dec 2014

Brett Loubser, Wechat Africa, on the relationship between OTTs and Telco Industry

AfricaCom 2014 speaker Brett Loubser, Head of Wechat Africa discusses one of the hot topics at AfricaCom this year - the relationship between OTTs and Telco industry.

AfricaCom is the  biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision-makers from the entire digital ecosystem… For more information, visit our website: http://africa.comworldseries.com/

Interview by Telecoms.com

11 Dec 2014

Arto Tiitinen, CEO, Tramigo on their vehicle tracking products

AfricaCom 2014 exhibitor Arto Tiitinen, CEO at Tramigo discusses their vehicle tracking products and the company's success in Sub-Saharan Africa.

AfricaCom is the  biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision-makers from the entire digital ecosystem… For more information, visit our website: http://africa.comworldseries.com/

Interview by Telecoms.com

5 Dec 2014

Arthur Bastings, Millicom, on Telco and OTT partnerships

AfricaCom 2014 speaker, Arthur Bastings, Executive Vice President Africa at Millicom, gives an insight into his panel discussion on Telco and OTT partnerships at this years event.

AfricaCom is the  biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision-makers from the entire digital ecosystem… For more information, visit our website: http://africa.comworldseries.com/

Interview by Telecoms.com

3 Dec 2014

AfricaCom 2014 Video

Re-live the excitement of AfricaCom 2014!

Held on 11-13 November 2014 - AfricaCom is the biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision-makers from the entire digital ecosystem…

For more information visit: http://comworldseries.com/africa

27 Nov 2014

Announcing key themes at Connecting West Africa 2015 (Dakar, Senegal, 9-10 June): Get involved now!



The 2015 Connecting West Africa conference will take place in Dakar, Senegal on 9-10 June and we are now planning the programme. 

The conference will cover the following major trends affecting West Africa’s telecoms & ICT market:

  • Developing broadband across the region: regulation, technologies (4G/LTE, satellite, fibre), investment
  • Digital migration: how is the 17th June deadline being met and how will the digital landscape change?
  • Monetising data services: building a new ecosystem & partnerships
  • Enterprise services: strategies for CIOs
  • Cost-efficiency strategies to improve affordability
  • Rural telecoms: technologies and strategies to reach under-served areas
  • Device strategies to increase access to services

In order to make the event as relevant and insightful as possible, we need your feedback! Please get in touch to send us your thoughts on the topics to include and the speakers/companies you want to hear from. If you're interested in sharing your thoughts or if you would like to speak at Connecting West Africa, please post comments in the Linkedin group or contact us.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards
Julie & the Connecting West Africa team

26 Nov 2014

Winner of Ampion Venture Bus announced at AfricaCom



After an exciting journey, this year’s Southern Africa AMPION Venture Bus winner was chosen at the final event at AfricaCom in Cape Town on 13th November.

Clean water for Africa: E-Maji tackles one of Africa's most pressing issues

In Cape Town, nine teams pitched their newly formed startup ideas at the AfricaCom masterclass stage in front of a judging panel of industry experts and an audience of ICT enthusiasts and executives from around the world. The 20 person Jury included leading business representatives such as Emilian Popa, CEO at Groupon South Africa.

Winning on the day was team E-Maji which pitched their smart water quality testing unit. It measures water quality at a drinking water source in real time. If a contamination is detected, the system then uses a built-in GPRS transmitter to send GPS coordinates of the contaminated water source to authorities to facilitate a speedy reaction, but not before the unit shuts down water supply using an electronic water valve. The team designed the unit to be used with Africa’s 700 000 boreholes which have proven very complicated and difficult for authorities to maintain and monitor.
Speaking on the sidelines of the AfricaCom event, co-founder Taf Makura narrated how the team came up with their innovation: "When we got on the bus we had a very clear and simple objective, we were going to use technology to solve a problem without focusing on the technology itself. We were aware of how technological requirements of any kind can quickly get in the way of mass adoption in Africa. Our technology had to work in the background without placing any technical requirements on the people it was meant to help.”
His partner Seida Gharsallah, co-founder of E-Maji and a banker of the year with ING Netherlands, added: “We have every intention of exploring the feasibility of this project!”

This year's AMPION Southern Africa startups are:
  • M.E.M. (Mens et Manus): online platform allowing entrepreneurs in rural areas to obtain or develop knowledge on product design and development of hardware and software consumer products via a feature phone
  • Keetla: provides a platform for schools, parents, teachers and students to be efficiently involved in the education process
  • Road Rules: mobile app to study for ones driver's license on mobile devices
  • Shining Homes: a service allowing clients to book cleaners for their homes in a simple and convenient way
  • Mlimi: platform connecting the agriculture ecosystem allowing for access to inputs, technical information, markets, funding, and a community of like minded stakeholders
  • Da-mark.com: bridges the gap between the informal and the formal sector in Africa
  • My Time for Change: easy to use, transparent web platform improving citizen engagement by connecting organisations in need and potential volunteers
  • SchoolitUp: Working on making education material ( books, uniforms etc.) accessible to everyone by providing an online platform linking both parties
  • E-Maji: see above

AMPIONeer Netia A. McCray, Founder and Executive Director of Mbadika, wrote a daily recap during the 3500km trip from Harare to Cape Town on the AMPION blog. Her impressions on the journey can be read on ampionblog.tumblr.com. The unique experience, she concludes, had everyone on the edge of their seat:"I feel not one AMPIONeer would disagree with the statement that our journey was literally a life-changing experience." Julie Rey, Conference Director of AfricaCom, said of the partnership with Ampion: "There is a great amount of creativity and entrepreneurship in Africa but ideas are not enough without financial backing and business acumen. That is why we started the Entrepreneurs Incubator Hub at AfricaCom and we partner with organisations such as Ampion, who support entrepreneurs and enable the exchange of information and contacts. We look forward to hearing of future successes of Ampion hackathon participants."

About the AMPION Venture Bus
AMPION is the leading pan-African entrepreneurship initiative to enable young Africans to start ICT companies, often creating considerable social impact. AMPION organizes 5 day Venture Bus programs accompanied by international mentors and followed by an extensive incubation program. The Venture Bus journeys are regularly covered by media such as CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera & Bloomberg TV and brought some of Africa’s most innovative companies to life.

25 Nov 2014

Challenges and Solutions for African operators – AfricaCom 2014

Written by: Anthony Vimal, VP, Sales - EMEA - Procera Networks
Source: Procera Networks Blog

AfricaCom 2014 is over and as I sit here by the sea watching the sunset over Cape Town Bay, memories of AfricaCom 2002 comes to my mind. In 2002, when I first attended the AfricaCom show, there were three key challenges faced by African operators:

  • How can we make voice telephony affordable to more people?
  • How can we increase mobile coverage to attract more subscribers?
  • How can we provide better voice quality to our existing customers?

Twelve years later, with high mobile penetration, good mobile coverage and reasonably good voice quality, these challenges have been resolved.

Now with all African operators having launched 3G, the utmost question in their mind is not about whether they should launch 4G. It’s about how can they maximize the limited 3G bandwidth they have to provide a better customer experience and better data services. Today in Sub Saharan Africa, the very first experience of Internet for most of the population will be via a wireless device. However, the high cost of international access bandwidth and limited 3G spectrums is forcing operators to look at how they can maximize the use of their existing bandwidth. In the West, the OTT services such as Netflix and YouTube have seen a rapid growth, but in Africa these types of high data consumption services have been low due to high cost of data transmission and bandwidth.

This has led to many wholesale data service providers offering managed wholesale data services to African operators using satellite and sea/land cable networks. Operators are also starting to deploy data optimization, traffic/bandwidth management and customer experience management solutions to maximize their limited bandwidth. As an example of bandwidth cost, some of the Procera customers in West Africa are paying €300 per month per Mbps for international Internet access, compared to a cost of €4 per month per Mbps in European countries. Some of the Procera customers are using the PacketLogic solution to shape their traffic in their international access links saving bandwidth by 20% to 25%, achieving pay back within 4 months on Procera solutions.

More and more undersea cables are also being laid along the East and West cost of Africa increasing bandwidth to Africa. Satellite operators are launching more geo stationary satellites to increase connectivity to land locked African countries. This combined with operators using traffic management solutions such as Procera PacketLogic and data optimization tools, is enabling end users to get better customer experience and better access to mobile data services.

The key message for any telecom vendor operating in the African market is that world solutions are not always applicable to third world challenges. The key focus for African operators for the next two years will remain reducing the cost of bandwidth and increasing better use of the available bandwidth to provide better customer experience to their subscribers. Procera’s solution RAN perspectives, which was short listed for the GSM Best Customer Experience Management award, in combination with the Procera PacketLogic solution, provides an ideal way for African operators to maximize the use of their existing bandwidth and improve customer experience.

AfricaCom this year was larger than ever with a lot of vendors and many more attendees. I have personally seen this show grow over ten fold in size over the last twelve years. The universal availability of mobile telephony in Africa has brought more benefits to the people of this continent. Long may it continue and grow!

For more information on AfricaCom, visit our website: http://africa.comworldseries.com/

21 Nov 2014

AfricaCom 2014 – Smart Phones, Cheap Phones and even Smarter Cheaper Phones

The mobile ‘phone’ in all its guises, dominated the chatter throughout AfricaCom this year.  The main exhibition hall, keynotes and many of the events were awash with new devices, new operating systems and new services that can be used on mobiles.

Smartphones, cheaper smartphones and even cheaper smarterphones – how to get more phones to more people and offer them something they need and want, and ultimately convert them from feature based devices, to the ever expanding digitally connected world around them. 

But once they have these devices then what?  Content.  Cracking the code on content will determine how successful a product, service or even operator is.  Understanding who people are and, what they want was another common theme dominating many of the sessions and corridor conversations. VAS giants such as Mahindra Comviva to garage developers like I’m Bored and those in between, agree that their business success depends on really getting to know their target audience as an ‘individual,’ and not as part of a mass segment, even as much as collating and tracking 43 personal attributes about a customer to better serve him or her.  Raul Martinez, Commercial Director Africa, Millicom was quoted as saying: “it’s important to know what makes customers tick.”

Paying for these services is also made easier with the many mobile payment methods – traditional and exotic – available to people all across the continent.  Advances in inter-operability payment systems and international remittance via mobile also made an appearance.  These developments will free up trade and add to economic and social progress as they are also tailored to each customer’s payment preference.

This more customer-centric approach is being considered from operators to brands such as BMW’s Connected Drive, which has a captive audience, supplying them with information as and when they need - in the moment.   Technological interfaces are making life easier all round, indicating that the entire digital ecosystem is shifting.  This was also summed up by Dave Coles, Executive Business Development, Platco “We’re going to see a lot of change in the industry, it’s an exciting time.”

However, AfricaCom’s Conference Director, Julie Rey’s comment perhaps best encapsulates what went down here this year: “There has been a palpable buzz across the whole event – all the very different industry players are talking collaboration and next year we look forward to seeing industry embarking on the next phase of its digital transformation.”

18 Nov 2014

AfricaCom Awards 2014 – Winners Announced!

2014 Winners

“The overall quality of the entries this year surpassed expectation,” commented Adam Thompson, Research Manager, Informa Telecoms & Media.  “The innovation taking place in the digital ecosystem across the entire continent is heartening and also world class.  Many are leaders in their fields and pioneers of new technology and services answering the needs of emerging markets that more traditional markets can and should take note of"

Congratulations to all shortlisted entries – the winners for each category in 2014 are:

Best App for Africa

Bharti Airtel- Internet.org App

Best Connectivity Solutions for Africa

WIOCC – Connecting Somalia – closing the final link

Best Cost Efficiency Solutions For Africa

Huawei – Africa’s 1st SDN Innovation

Best Device for Africa

Solarway - Solar Powered Mobile Phone Charging Station

Best Marketing Campaign

Huawei – MTN’s Mandela Birthday‘ 67 Minutes

Best Mobile Money Solution

Bharti Airtel – Airtel Money

Best Network Improvement

WIOCC – Extending WIOCC’s Pan-African Network into Somalia

Best Pan African Initiative
Liquid Telecom – East Africa Fibre Ring

Breakthrough LTE Development

Ericsson – Breakthrough LTE Development – Unitel

Changing Lives Awards

Afrigis - Gender-Based Violence Command Centre (GBVCC)

Excellence in Customer Experience Management

Orange – ’100% Successful Calls’ Suites of services

Most Innovative Service

Millicom Tanzania TIGO – Tigo Pesa – International Mobile Money Transfer

VSAT Innovation for Africa

Liquid Telecom – Shared MPLS Satellite service

Etisalat Winner Idea

MEMMCOL (Interactive Media Interface Design i.e. IMID)

INTERACTIVE MEDIA INTERFACE DESIGN is a design for Energy Meters, it is specifically tailored towards helping Consumers remotely monitor their energy consumption using their Mobile devices (windows, IOS and the Android Platforms). The user interface is unique, interactive and modeled to look like an energy meter with its keypad and display.

IMID will encourage and drive internet usage, promote civilization and be of immense advantage to the energy industry.

Etisalat Winner Product

Exam Mate

Exam Mate is an exam preparatory software, specifically for Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board exams (JAMB). The app was developed as an offline product for mobile PC’s to aid usage amongst exam candidates who do not have access to mobile broadband. Presently, the product is available for download at an online market hub for usage on mobile PC’s.

 From an economic point of view, with an average of 1.5 million candidates seating for JAMB examination annually, getting the product at a very affordable rate across to a projected target of 1 million candidates will generate high revenue.

With detailed voiced explanations in various subjects, applied knowledge will be imparted into the candidates which will remain relevant in whichever field they find themselves later in life.

Orange Social Venture Prize 2014

Out of the 452 submitted projects through Starafrica Orange website , the Orange African Social Venture Prize team has selected 10 projects as finalists and 1 favorite internet project.

The three prize-winners for this year have been selected by the Jury after careful analysis of each of the 11 shortlisted projects.  The API prize has also been selected by the Jury.

The short list is below:

    KamerStartup (Cameroon)
    Station Energy (Ivory Coast)
    Mewanko Farm (Cameroon)
    Agzakhana (Egypt)
    Baobab (Senegal)
    Modisar (Botswana)
    Senemar+ (Cameroon)
    Twinklebox (Kenya)
    Abyster (Cameroon)
    Bouquet Pass Santé (Senegal)
    Pubcell (Ivory Coast) – Favourite internet project

The first prize  has been awarded to Modisar, Botswana.

The project is a livestock farm management application (desktop, web & mobile)  that makes it easy for a farmer to manage his\her farm. The mission of Modisar is of resuscitating the livestock industry and cultivating livestock farming interest among the youth by marrying today’s technologies and the nation’s passion for farming, Modisar aims to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the livestock sector, a major contributor to the national Gross Domestic Product in Botswana.

The second prize  has been awarded to Station Energy, Côte d’Ivoire.

Station Energy has developed an innovative retail concept of energy services. Inspired by both the model service stations gasoline and African grocery shop Station Energy is a solution to enable energy access and affordability for all. In Côte d’Ivoire, it is a shop equipped with photovoltaic panels to provide various shared services (rental batteries allowing access to lighting, renting cold spaces, Internet access, sales of low consumption equipment, etc.) in rural or urban areas.

The third prize  has been awarded to Bouquet Pass Santé, Senegal.

This project is a platform that allows the diaspora or persons residing in Senegal, to pay medical consultation for yourself or for a loved one directly online.

The Mewanko Farm project – Cameroon received the Orange Partner API Prize.

This Cameroon project’s concept is to create a digital community platform for small producers who want to sell their products online. The aim is to increase the income of small farmers by helping them develop their markets through ICT, thus improving their living conditions.

This project will improve food safety and human health by educating farmers about the quality of their production on one hand, and by informing and educating the end consumer on the quality of the food they buy on the other hand.

Congratulations to all 2014 AfricaCom Awards winners!