By Tami Sussman, Chief Marketing Officer, the Integr8 Group
It is widely acknowledged in the ICT industry that Africa has the second fastest growing mobile market globally. Industry analysts have predicted that the number of mobile phone users across the continent will soon reach nearly 800 million. In addition, the developer community continues to roll out apps for mobile device manufacturers that engage directly with consumers and are designed to keep them connected and on the move.
Quite understandably there has been an increase in interest in mobile advertising and the ability to leverage off this high growth and expected demand.
The statistics provide a compelling case for companies and service providers to seriously consider the investment. Locally, there has been a surge of general activity and interest in Rich Media Mobile advertising – which combines multimedia as part of advert presentation.
This is where Internet companies will begin to differentiate themselves from competition – by offering free, practical and easy-to-use apps. Many of these free apps are used as a mechanism to advertise a brand or company, or at least ‘communicate’ with the user on some level.
The model allows apps to be made available to users cost free (linked to advertising) or at a cost (with no advertising connected).
One of the key driving forces behind mobile advertising is the growth in the smartphone market. Although infiltration into Africa is reported to be around the 10% level, service providers in the market are upbeat about efforts to increase this figure as the continent leverages off advances in broadband connectivity infrastructure.
Mobility is undoubtedly a high-growth market and key business driver going forward. Global social network Facebook recently announced that more people are accessing the website via their mobile phones than from computers.
However, the success of these mobile devices in the market is largely dependent on user experience.
Features and functionality goes hand-in-hand with user experience. As an example, and one that has a direct bearing on the success of mobile advertising, is screen size.
Obviously the screen size of a mobile phone is far smaller than that of a laptop or PC.
Advertisers are aware of the fact that the physical dimensions of the phone are such that space is truly limited! And that there is scope to do a lot more on a larger screen – the alternative of using mobile phones to advertise on the scale one would on notebooks/ laptops will only serve to annoy consumers.
It is also generally understood that more people have access to mobile phones than they do to laptops or PCs. This means that advertising firms and website designers will have to adapt accordingly and make provision for this trend going forward.
Having a flexible model that ensures the website can be implemented successfully on the mobile phone. The user should not have to struggle to access the site and it should come across as powerful over the mobile phone as it would on a monitor.
If advertisers and service providers do get it right, there is no question of the potential that lies in the convergence of rich, multimedia advertising with cutting-edge mobile applications and devices. This is certainly one space we have to keep watching!
In a bid to curb fraudsters in Uganda’s mobile industry, the country’s telcos regulator, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has announced plans to introduce a new law to regulate advertising using short text messaging services and mobile money business.
The move by UCC is set to ‘restore sanity’ andimprove the quality of services that mobile telephone companies have added onto their mobile platforms and have turned into a safe haven for fraudsters to fleece the unsuspecting public.
Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC Executive Director saysthat the most common form of theft by the mobile telephone operators has been loss of mobile money, dropped telephone calls, free airtime promotions, SMS promotions where the public is asked to vote through certain codes, unsolicited messaging services where the public loses money by replying text messages to certain numbers as well as unexplained airtime deductions. He singled out Orange Telecom as the only mobile operator which has tried to stick to prudent business by protecting its customers.
To protect the mobile users, UCC is partnering with Bank of Uganda to set up laws on mobile commerce as well as make amendments to the 1997 Uganda Mobile Communications Act which is lacking in the prosecution of fraudsters.
Though the prices of internet have considerably dropped in the last two years, its quality has been compromised by such unprofessional activities by the telephone operators and users are discouraged from free airtime promotions because it congests the network.
Mobile Web East Africa 2013, the third East African edition of the most progressive and interactive mobile industry events in Sub-Saharan Africa, returns to the Southern Sun Mayfair Nairobi, Kenya on February 19th through 21st. The highly business-focused event’s primary goal is to facilitate the growth of the mobile ecosystem in the region through interaction and relationship building.
The conference features a bevy of top-notch speakers from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, Qatar, Canada, the UK and the US. Industry leaders from organisations including Safaricom, iHub Research, DHL, iROKO Partners, Buni TV, FrontlineSMS, BuzzCity, BlackBerry and Airtelhave already confirmed their attendance at this senior-level and progressive conference.
All Amber Founder, Matthew Dawes, commented: “This is the third edition of Mobile Web East Africa and the ninth conference in the Mobile Web Africa series. Coming back to Nairobi is always a pleasure and you can see from the make-up of both the speaker line-up and the delegation that this year’s event will have a much more international feel. Interest from within the region, across the continent and further afield is higher than ever. We’re again set to create a fantastic setting to conduct business so that once more Mobile Web East Africa 2013 will act as a catalyst for growth and expansion.”
Mobile Web East Africa will be held at the 5* Southern Sun Mayfair hotel in Nairobi, Kenya on February 19th, 20thand 21st. Due to the interactive roundtable seating format, attendance is limited to 140 people so early booking is highly recommended. Registrations can be made at www.mobileeastafrica.com and start-up companies, application developers, NGOs and academics are eligible for a 50% discount on attendance.
The full event structure:
Tuesday 19th February – Mobile Marketing East Africa Focus Day
Wednesday 20th February – First Day of Mobile Web East Africa 2013 Main Conference
Thursday 21th February – Second Day of Mobile Web East Africa 2012 Main Conference
iROKOtv, the world’s largest online distributor of Nigerian movies, announces the launch of a brand new mobile app for the platform, in an exclusive partnership with global phone manufacturer, Nokia. The app has been designed to give Nollywood fans and iROKOtv PLUS subscribers access to Nollywood movies on the go, and will be accessible on the Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8.
The iROKOtv mobile app is designed to give Nokia customers, Nollywood fans and iROKOtv PLUS subscribers access to their favourite movies and will be available for free on the Nokia Windows Phone 8 devices for the first three months, when users sign-up. The mobile app is available to Nokia customers who already have a subscription on iROKOtv PLUS.
According to iROKO Partners, the app is built with the same functionality as www.irokotv.com, allowing users to have total control over their viewing experience and the ability to search the catalogue of thousands of movies by genre and actor, as well as select movies to ‘watch later’.
In addition to the menu on the app, the Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 provides customers with a some additional features to give them a host of extras that include behind-the-scenes films from movie sets, interviews with Nollywood stars and additional news and gossip from the world of entertainment.
Head of Business Development for iROKO Partners, Africa, Adibeli Nduka-Agwu says: “The iROKOtv app is a fantastic addition to the ‘Nokia Collections within the Widows Phone Store’. Content is king, access is key and this app encapsulates this perfectly; awesome content, available on-demand, accessible on a mobile phone. Nollywood at your fingertips, wherever you are.
“The partnership with Nokia is an extremely exciting development for us. They are global leaders in the tech and mobile device sectors for emerging markets, with a dominant presence in Nigeria and West Africa. This combined with their considerable expertise and enthusiasm in promoting African content, is why we are delighted with this collaboration,” she added.
Speaking on the development, Head, Ecosystem Developer Experience (EDX), Nokia West Africa, Teemu Kiijärvi said the iROKOtv app is one of the more interesting additions to the Nokia Lumia device, which lovers of Nollywood will very much appreciate.
“We are happy that this is coming first on the Lumia device using the Windows8 OS. This is one of the ways through which Nokia is championing and encouraging the development of local apps in the region and Nigeria as well. Aside from the serious work, users of the Lumia windows phone 8 who have a subscription on iROKOtv PLUS can access the website to get the latest news in Nollywood and the latest movies and have some form of entertainment even while on the go”, he said.
The partnership extends to iROKO Partners’ music site, iROKING, the leading platform for African music. Nokia Asha users will also have access to over 35,000 tracks from 400+ recording artistes anytime, anywhere via Nokia Browser.
Sunday January 27 Nokia announced Nokia Music+, a new and richer music streaming service for its Windows based Lumia at just $3.99 a month. The firm will however not take away the free Mix Radio service on its smartphones.
According to Jyrki Rosenberg, VP Entertainment at Nokia people love Nokia Mix Radio and are amazed that its offered without charge.
Rosenberg added that Nokia Music Mix Radio is the only smartphone music service with millions of songs out of the box without need for sign up, sign in, or adverts. Users can also skip songs and save them on their playlists to play them later.
Nokia Music+ is better than that.
Rosenberg says Nokia Music+ introduces features like infinite skips and unlimited downloads and Nokia is opening the doors for unlimited music discovery at only €3.99 per month.
Rosenberg says,“This is for people who care enough about music to pay something for more quality and choice, but don’t want to pay €9.99 monthly.”
Nokia Music+ has unlimited skips, unlimited downloads, higher quality, lyrics, on your desktop. Rolling out in a few weeks Nokia Music+ price is €3.99/$3.99 per month but may vary from territory.
Nokia will face it off with Samsung’s cloud based Music Hub originally for Samsung SIII’s and Note II but now expanding to major handsets. Music Hub allow users to upload as much music as they want to the hub with over 19 million songs.
February 5 the Technology Salon will discuss the next big application after M-PESA. The one hour event held at Nairobi’s Population council, Kenya mobile apps that will take education, healthcare, or agriculture by storm both among rural and urban folks in East Africa.
The team consisting of Wayan Vota, Technology Salon founder, Nicola D’Elia of Facebook, Angela Crandall of iHub Research and Toni Maraviglia of mPrep will share opinions and thoughts on what could be the next big application in reach and impact like M-PESA.
They will also discuss social needs and user adoption of mobile apps in the region and look at the right balance between user adoption and development goals and free and paid models.
Founded in April of 2008, Technology Salon is a forum where technology and development professionals discuss emerging trends in ICT and international development in an intimate and informal discussion way. Technology Salon’s are around technology’s impact on donor-sponsored technical assistance delivery and how technology by private enterprises drive economic development.
In 2009, 10 and 2011, the Technology Salon was sponsored by the UN Foundation’s Technology Partnership with the Vodafone Foundation while in 2012 it was sponsored by Inveneo and a consortium of partners.
Yesterday, mobile service and communications provider Safaricom Limited and Intel launched the Yolo, Africa’s first smartphone with Intel Inside retailing at just Kshs. 10,999 with free 500 MB data in a move aimed at attracting cost-conscious first time smartphone buyers.
Speaking during the launch Peter Arina, general manager, Safaricom’ s Consumer Business Unit said Yolo redefines what cost-conscious Kenyans expect from a smartphone.
He said Yolo is good on price and performance, therefore a real breakthrough and that it is ” great news that Kenya will be the launch country in Africa for smartphones with Intel Inside”
The 3.5-inch Yolo is based on Lexington platform which is powered by the Intel® Atom™ processor Z2420 with Intel Hyper-Threading Tech with 1.2 GHz speed, 5-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture, advanced imaging capabilities, and has burst mode to allow users capture seven pictures in a second.
The 1500 mAh battery life Yolo has an FM radio, 4GB internal memory with an expandable microSD card slot to 32GB and supports HSPA+ of 21 Mbps on Intel’s XMM 6265 modem.
With McAfee mobile security software, buyers can track their lost Yolo’s, lock it, or just backup and restoration data.
American multinational semiconductor chip maker, Intel Corporation is launching Intel Inside smartphones in Kenya Thursday, its first launch in Africa. A move that will increase competition in the country’s smartphone market, increase ownership and spread of smartphones and increase market for Android developers too.
Founded on July 18, 1968, Intel Corp is the inventor of the x86 series of microprocessors, the processors found in most personal computers. Intel also makes motherboard chipsets, network interface controllers and integrated circuits, flash memory, graphic chips, embedded processors and other devices related to communications and computing.
Intel has been on the forefront on innovation churning out servers,PC’s,laptops and handheld devices but it somehow of a latecomer in the smartphone business but its strategy might give it an upper-hand like it happened to Huawei’s Ideos that entered into partnership with Safaricom and sold over 300,000 pieces a few months after its launch.
The big news however is Kenya will be witnessing Intel’s prowess first hand.
Intel is working in partnership with mobile telecommunications firm Safaricom to unveil the first smartphone with Intel Inside this Thursday at Tribe Hotel.
Smartphones with Intel Inside® include Motorola RAZR* I, Motorola MT788*, Orange, MegaFon, Lenovo, Lava and ZTE.
What The Hell Does Intel Inside Mean
According to Intel, the advanced Intel® processor inside these smartphones enables fast web browsing, super-responsive apps, and effortless multi-tasking thereby making stuff a user does even easier.
Intel as adds that a user can snap as many pictures as they want, as fast as they want upto 10 pictures a second to be exact. It adds that the advanced HD camera also delivers stunning 1080p image and video quality in all kinds of conditions while the advanced imaging software gives users a more accurate facial recognition, zero shutter lag, low-light enhancement, and high dynamic resolution capabilities.
Intel Inside smartphones are also for fun and entertainment . Intel says its brilliant 1080p camera makes it easy to create and share superb HD-quality videos, it also has a super smooth playback to make the user turn their phone into a personal mobile theater to take it with them anywhere.
Smartphones with Intel Inside also have a 3D video for a rich, immersive online experience and run on the Android* OS, giving users access to hundreds of thousands of apps available to download in the Android Market.
According to ZDnet, Intel announced plans to launch a new Atom processor code-named Lexington for emerging markets. The site reported that Mike Bell, Intel’s VP for Mobile and Communications Group, said Africa, China, India, Latin America and Southeast Asia were to be the firm’s initial target markets and Acer, Kenya’s Safaricom and India’s Lava were to be its product partners to launch the Lexington line of products.
According to the site Bell said Lexington will deliver without compromising on technology and added that the Atom will deliver HD video encoding, quality pics, up to 1.2GHz with hyperthreading technology, running on Android and a fast internet experience.
Growing steadily in Nigeria, social media platform Eskimi has partnered with the Mobile Money Expo organisers in a move to promote uptake of mobile financial services to millions of its young mobile subscribers in Nigeria.
Eskimi will invite its members to test mobile money innovations at the Mobile Money Expo held at the Lagos Orientals Hotel on 6-7th of February of 2013.
According to Vytas Paukstys Eskimi CEO, mobile money is an important market for Eskimi as it launched a mobile money customer acquisition platform last year.
Paukstys said, “Mobile money is an important market for us, since Eskimi launched mobile money customer acquisition platform in 2012. The platform has all tools to promote, register customers to mobile money operators data bases.
Adding Paukstys emphasised that, “media tools in Eskimi help educate, research the customer segments mobile money companies are looking at. We also designed special tools to increase usage, as this has been the main challenge of the industry”.
This years edition of the Mobile Money Expo, mobile money operators will share experiences on mobile money regulation, technology, application, marketing, customer relationships, agency network and several innovative practices that may help increase the uptake of mobile financial services for shopping, remittances, micro finance, social payments and others.
Licensed mobile money providers will also showcase their platforms, applications and services.
The XYZ Viewers can catch new episodes of popular political satire, the XYZ every Sunday online and on mobile at www.buni.tv/xyzshow.
The popular political satire’s 7th season, will premiere this Sunday January 20th at 7:30pm on NTV and will run every Sunday till April 14.
Launched in 2009, The XYZ Show now reaches more than 8 million people every month on television, radio, the internet and in buses.
According to XYZ’s producers Gado and Marie Lora-Mungai, the show’s 7th season was specifically scheduled to coincide with Kenya’s general elections, and viewers should expect to see new characters such as Peter Kenneth, Rachael Shebesh, Ole Kiyapi, Raphael Tuju and Ferdinand Waititu.
“XYZ has also managed to convince all the presidential candidates to participate in a special and unprecedented XYZ presidential debate”, they say. “So watch out! It should be explosive…”
The XYZ Show is produced by Buni Media (www.bunimedia.com), a multimedia company based in Nairobi, Kenya and Los Angeles, California.
Habari News Reader is getting back online in a week or two according to Edwin Bosire, the developer behind the app set to help Kenyans in the diaspora easily find and read Kenyan news on the go.
Speaking to TechMoran today, Bosire said, “Habari News Reader is now revamped and will be online in a week or two.”
Bosire added, “This time we have the android, BlackBerry, iPhone and iPad apps working.”
The London-based iOS developer is working with Nairobi based Bernard Banta, a Ruby On Rails, Java and Android developer at KopoKopo. Bosire says they have together revamped the User Interface and got a new server up and running and adds that Habari News Reader is now fast, reliable and just what everyone wants with their news.
Build to help Kenyans in the diaspora follow news from home, the Habari News Reader went live earlier this year. The app aggregates news from top mainstream Kenyan news publications and as well takes up East African news feeds and websites all in one place.
Earlier Bosire told me, that Kenyans in the Diaspora hunger so much to follow East African news but there was nothing in the Apple Store for them, according to him, users of mobile devices found crawling the web “frustrating, time-consuming and cumbersome”.
During our interview April 2012, Habari News Reader had about 520 downloads, mostly by users from US and UK.
His main challenge was getting quality news publishers like the Nation Media Group, Standard Media,the Star , New Vision and others to allow him aggregate their news to the app. The available in English and German, he said a Swahili version was underway.
Set to end corruption at universities in Uganda, which stands at over 23 percent according to the portal’s survey, NotInMyCountry.org has collected a database of over 3800 lectures in 38 institutions in Uganda in a move that will see those corrupt exposed while the best praised.
The online platform expects to help end the vice anonymously instead of risking the lives of activists. The founders say they were inspired by Hillary Rodham Clinton on her Nairobi visit in 2009.
Clinton said:“There’s an opportunity for young people and for civil society to use modern technology to run corruption watches and reporting. … I think there ought to be a way to use interactive media … to report real time allegations of corruption. … What if we had groups of young people anonymously reporting all of this [with] consequences aimed at individuals?”
Kenya’s John Githongo also inspired them on his fight against the menace.
The founders say they are an international group of students, lawyers, journalists, businesspeople, human rights activists, security specialists, and technology and communications experts working to free the world of corruption in a anonymously.
NotInMyCountry.org is not affiliated to any political association in Uganda and all users are protected from the public. Users can add the individuals they find engaging in corruption or who are not performing their duties as supposed.
The can a dept or user or profile of their liking easily. The site currently has volunteers from across the world and also takes in anonymous donations to run their operations.
Now students at universities in Uganda are anonymously rating their lecturers and administrative staff performance which then is aggregated and made public.
The portal highlights strong and weak performers not to shame them but to motivate them to perform better at their jobs and will also make them accountable to the government, university authorities, students, parents, media, and the entire population. It also gives students power to govern their studies and avoid poor performance.
Notinmycountry.org tracks the staff’s attendance to duty, communication skills, accessibility, timeliness and fairness to students.
The comment part also gives them space to explain why they rate the staff so as long as they are not personal or in vulgar language and defamatory. However students ought to know the site as not as anonymous as they think because if one posts a defamatory comment or lie against the staff, they may face the law on their own. The site also requires students to sign up and provide an email address to cut fraud.
Musicians in Uganda have also joined students and recorded a song to end this menace. You can listen to the song here.
Pesa-gram.com is a mobile money transfer service, through which Kenyans in the diaspora can send money back home, and have it delivered directly to the recipient’s phone in less than 24hrs. We utilize the already existing mobile money transfer system in Kenya known as M-Pesa. Typically, a client makes an order on our website and provides the recipients mobile phone number in Kenya. We then deliver the money straight to the individual’s phone. This money can then be accessed via M-Pesa.
Here is what the founders told us. When was it launched and where?
We started operations in early October 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. We also have an office in Nairobi, Kenya. Who are its founders?
The pesa-gram.com team consists of 4 individuals: Josephat Koima, Susan Yebei, Lawrence Barchok and Lorna Koima. What inspired them to start it?
We were inspired by the need to offer a cheap, fast and reliable alternative money transfer service. Additionally, we wanted to take advantage of M-Pesa to offer a more affordable option to established transfer services such as Western Union. With Western Union, the transactions fees are high and the recipients have to travel to major towns to withdraw money. This is inconvenient for those living far from the cities. M-Pesa agents, however, are now easily accessible and offer a faster way of receiving money – but locally. Pesa-gram.com now extends the service internationally. How does it work?
A client visits pesa-gram.com and selects the amount they wish to send. They then either log in or register on the website before proceeding to a check out. As part of the process, the client provides the name and the mobile phone number of the person receiving the money in Kenya. Upon receiving the order, our agents in Kenya immediately send money to the phone number provided by the client. We then notify the user once the order is delivered.
How many users so far?
We are continuing to see a rapidly growing client base. We do not want to disclose the details for confidentiality purposes but the numbers are encouraging. We have also received hundreds of ‘likes’ on our facebook page (www.facebook.com/PesaGram) within our first 2 months.
We have competition from the established industry giants such as Moneygram and Western Union. How unique are you from the competition?
Besides our competitive rates, we offer the convenience of money being delivered to the recipient’s phone. We also deliver orders 7 days a week including holidays, and we will be working full-time throughout the festive season. In the coming weeks, we will be introducing a new feature by which users can send money from their phones in Kenya to people in the diaspora. Any funding yet?
We are using our own savings at this point, but we are actively positioning ourselves to take advantage of the existing opportunities. Partnership?
We do not have any partnerships at the moment. The pesa-gram.com team, however, is having ongoing talks with interested parties/investors regarding the possibility of having such collaborations in the future. Challenges?
We are all recent college graduates and do not yet have significant expertise in business. We are, however, open to ideas and input that will help us grow and improve, and this approach has enabled us to learn tremendously in the few months we have operated. We are thankful for the overwhelming support from our clients. Future plans or expansion?
As a start up in its very early stages, we are definitely looking into broadening not only our customer base, but also diversifying our products and services. For now, our immediate plan is to launch a new feature whereby users in Kenya will be able to send money abroad, via their phones. We have a number of projects lined up, and we will be rolling them out in the months to come.
Mobile dating service, Eskimi has hit 10 million users globally, half of them in Nigeria according to its recent stats.
Launched in 2010 by Vytas Paukstys and Povilas Skrebutena, the mobile social network has been growing massively with a majority of its African users from Nigeria over 5 million. The site is spreading across East Africa with an aim of covering Africa, the world’s second biggest mobile market.
The Lithuania based site had 9 million users by October, with over half of them in Nigeria and some 2 million across Africa. Eskimi beats Google and Yahoo as the second most visited site in Nigeria after Facebook.
During DEMO Africa, Eskimi was looking for funds to tackle the African market and was working on partnerships across the continent.
Hours are wasted daily as residents of Nairobi head to work early mornings or back home after work.
But recently, Mediamax Network Ltd owned by Kenyan politician, presidential aspirant and son of the country’s founding father Uhuru Kenyatta, partnered with Rapid Communications, a telecommunication solution provider based in Nairobi to launch an app dubbed K24 Rush Hour in a move to take traffic jam in the city by its throat.
The media firm said, “You don’t have to worry about getting late for your date, school or the office. K24 Rush hour is a new fun and interactive mobile application which gives you real-time traffic updates on your phone wherever you are.”
Unveiled on Saturday November 17 ‘K24 Rush Hour’, is a mobile phone traffic update application to be used by traffic police in Kenya.
Rush Hour enables traffic police and other users get real-time road updates to their mobile handsets indicating where traffic is heavy where the roads are clear.
The app is found on GooglePlay and has a USSD code 2075 which can be sent by mobile phone users to Mediamax Network of stations K24’, ‘Kameme’ or ‘People’. Those with phones not on Android, they can call *695# and register to get updates.
The app was launched at the Traffic Police Headquarters in Nairobi and had a two-day training for police officers and was attended by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communication Dr. Bitange Ndemo who callled for more innovation to solve such problems.
The app features city roads, where users choose a road they want to watch; a sharing button to enable users share with friends on what’s happening on their roads via SMS, photos.
Waabeh is the slang word for great or awesome in sheng – (hybrid language of English and Swahili). The name captures what Waabeh aspires to be; a great platform, providing great and locally relevant audio content.
Apart from Music, Waabeh also has Podcasts, Audio Books, Radio documentaries and Educational Material. Currently Waabeh is available as a Web-based and Android application, with tracks ready for listeners to discover.
TechMoran caught up with the awesome team and this is what they told us.
What is Waabeh?
Waabeh, Africa’s Audio Marketplace as is called has the latest music by musicians from Kenya and across the continent. Waabeh allows users to listen to music or download it from the Internet. Buyers though have to pay for the tracks through a mobile money system already integrated.
We currently have over 500 tracks and the numbers keep growing daily.
We have music from JustaBand, Eric Wainaina, as well as timeless tracks from , Mercy Myra, Five Alive, KSouth and “Jongo love” a 12 part fast paced drama set in grimy ghetto of “Jongo” in Nairobi, as well as excerpts from the Kenyan Constitution.
So far have partnered with various musicians and content producers to make their music and content available on Waabeh.
Just recently Kisima Awards used our platform to stream all the nominated music online for listeners across the world to listen, engage and vote for the various nominees online.
We further partnered with another Kenyan musician, Kevin Provoke to push his new single to over 200 people in one day and we just concluded working on an audio format of Kenya’s new constitution in partnership with the National Council of Kenya Law Reporting. The audio format is now online.
Who is your competition? We do not have much of competition in the African market. The closest is mdundo a Kenyan a music-only scratchcard service and Spintlet a similar music-only download service based in Nigeria, focused mainly on the West African Market.
There is also Itunes & Soundcloud that have very little African audio content and primarily serve users based in the Europe and the Americas.
What inspired you to launch Waabeh?
Focus. Africa is the only market that has seen steady overall growth over the last 5 years and the projections for the next 15 years are astronomical. We realised that surprisingly for a continent such great potential, a billion people and 1000s of different cultures, no one has created a product that allows us to tell, distribute, and archive our stories in culturally relevant manner: through an audio platform.
Our culture is still primarily transmitted verbally and the problem with this that it gets lost, diluted and we are unable ultimately to turn it into a beneficial resource. We saw the vast opportunity presented by this as well the growth of smartphones, and internet access across the continent.
Having also worked in Kenya as well as Pan African entertainment industry for the last 12 years, I saw the challenges faced by audio creators with amazing content but lack the ability to distribute it.
While there could be similar products Waabeh’s core platform is built on the ability to stream, download and it is an audio market, which makes it very different from the rest of our would be competitors that have only focused on a small segment, music, and their products are mainly targeted at the youth [ 13- 25] and are only download based.
Take us through your different features? Waabeh is an Audio content publisher that has two kinds of users, the audio consumer and the publishers. For the consumer, our biggest offering is to be able to stream content through the various channels, Apps, Mobile Web, and Web.
Our content is available in four main categories:
Music, Life, Education and Soul. Music provides the best of African music, Life provides material that is meant to make life richer and fuller, here we have amongst other information the constitution of Kenya, Education provides Audio books, we are currently working at making available all current 8-4-4 set-books in drammatised audio format here.
In Soul, we cater for the inner man, and here we provide church sermons and motivational talks.
In addition they can be able to download the content, depending on the publishing rights some of the content is available free for download e.g. the constitution, and the church sermons, while content like Music and books need to be paid for download.
Based on our algorithms we are able to determine some of the most popular listened-to content, and we offer “mix-tape of the week” to our users.
On the other hand we have the content publishers, for them, each has a way for creating their profile, where they can upload,manage their content and interact with their funs, and track how their work is doing through our unique and customised reputation management system that combines the power “gota”, listenership and pageviews.
In addition, we have studied the market and acknowledge that there is very little of locally relevant content easily available for distribution, therefore, for content publishers who do not have their work or would want to have their work in audio format, we offer recording services that guarantees high quality audio for downloading and streaming, which they can make available in all other mediums.
We offer a feature that allows listeners to access content either directly from the Waabeh platform, but also within the publishers own website through an embedded audio player streaming within the confines of their websites, as well as a badge.
Have you raised any seed funding or are bootstrapping?
Waabeh is a labor of love, fully bootstrapped by the founders and funded by them. We opted to
make sure we have a product that works well before sourcing for any outside source of funding.
This allows us some level of independence on the growth of our product.
How do you want to make money out of Waabeh?
Waabeh has three revenue streams: Advertising, Streaming and Downloads.
Advertising; our projected biggest source of revenue is from advertising. Unlike traditional advertising, we will have advertising 3-15sec unobtrusive ads embedded in all the audio content. Streaming; we will have premier content that users will be charged an affordable monthly access fee. Downloads; this is a traditional model, whereby, users pay to download content.
Payment is through mobile money, credit cards and our own proprietary credits system.
How will Musicians or the public benefit? Waabeh is not only a music platform, but it also is place to listen to all kinds of audio content.
It empowers the audio content creators by providing a platform that allows the distribution and monetization their content.
Built in tools on the platform for musicians and audio creators the benefits are threefold: First we solve the problem of obscurity and invisibility by having an easy way to get discovered
over multiple platforms[ online, native applications for Android, Nokia, BB and IOS].
Secondly,our multiple income streams ie, subscription, advertising, downloads and streaming ensure
more income avenues are now available to them. Thirdly, by dealing with audio creators directly
Waabeh eliminates middlemen, pariahs and the headache of monetization of their content. Other benefits include detailed statistics about their content usage and their audiences.
For the users, Waabeh solves the problem of discovering great African audio content as well as painless and legal way of obtaining it. We believe that the users of non music audio content [Education and Soul] will eventually be our largest user base as they will be coming to us to solve their immediate problems e.g. ability to access to education curriculum on the phone as an audio book. In two years, what do you want to achieve? This year we have just only set up in Nairobi, Kenya, in the next two quarters we plan to firmly expand our network across the country to audio content creators [publishers, podcasters, independent radio producers] as well as expanding to the rest of Eastern Africa.
We also want to be the first service that is synonymous with distribution music and audio, on the African continent.
Who is on your management team?
The 4 person Waabeh team [ Tim, King, Jeff and Ciku] bring on board their solid reputations, stellar resumés and a combined 25 years in Development , UI and system design, Music business and branding. The team is passionate about solving problems Africa’s problems using technology.
Waabeh’s Chief Excitement Officer, Tim is a musician who loves tech and whose main responsibility is to get the world excited about Waabeh. Tim has worked in the Music business for 12 years gaining such notable clients such as Warner Bros Gaming LA,Tiger Aspect, Universal Music Group, Endemol, BBC, ActionAid, Safaricom and Reuters. Kingori – [ ki NG ō ri ] Our Binary Masseur [CTO] is in charge of making sure the 1s and 0s make sense. With vast experience in engineering and development, Kingori is our international man of coding mystery.
Waabeh’s Pixel Architect whose sole responsibility is to ensure everything looks and feels great . His work has been seen offline as well as online for a wide array of clients such as, Capital Colors, Ihub, Pivot East, Azma Clothing, Apprentice Hub, Rock Resorts. Ciku [ sh ē K ō ] Waabeh’s official Gangnam Styler is a recent addition that completed our team, has a background in system design and has worked in different capacities across Africa.
Afrikan Dust Media, a media company based in Cape Town, South Africa recently launched Wabona, a pay per view video streaming service in South Africa with a focus on local content tightening competition in a market already served by iROKO Partners, DStv’s Box Office, MeTVAfrica, Buni TV and Africafilms.tv.
The founders, Simukayi Mukuna and Simbarashe Mabasha say Wabona gives an affordable, easy-to-access Video-On-Demand service. They add that viewers can access Wabona on personal computers, tablets and smart phones with other platforms under development.
Simbarashe Mabasha says; “The evolution and growth of the African media industry in part is due to the democracy of access provided by the internet. Wabona is positioned to open new doors for people all over the world to get a glimpse of Africa and its rich, beautiful and diverse stories and cultures”.
Though no one can deny the role democracies play to enhance business growth particularly by opening information access online, one player in the industry is worth noting. iROKO Partners, world’s largest distributor of African entertainment launched in December 2010, and began a trade no one else was doing. iROKO Partners buys online licences of movies and music directly from producers and recording artists and streams them online to a global Diaspora audience. To date , iROKO Partners has assembled the world’s largest online library of awesome African content with a global audience of over 6 million unique users from 178 different countries. Are they afraid of competition? No, they don’t see Wabona as that.
According to Jessica Hope, Head of Global Communications at iROKO Partners this is good for them.
Hope told TechMoran, “We welcome new players into the world of online entertainment – they’re helping to popularise the Internet, in emerging nations, as a key platform to access awesome content.”
And their figures speak the truth. iROKO Partners growth has propelled the African film industry by taking Nollywood to such a large audience and putting the industry at the top on the charts. According to WTM Global Trends Report 2012, ‘Nollywood’, is the world’s second largest film industry in volume terms, second only to India’s Bollywood and bigger than US’s Hollywood with over 2,000 films produced annually.
Though the launch of Wabona might be seen as a move to close iROKO Partners out of the region, the South Africa film industry is set o benefit and take it to an international scale just like iROKO Partners has been to Nollywood. The founders add too that Wabona is alternative content distribution platform for African filmmakers allowing for more avenues to monetise their content. Wabona aims to securely connect filmmakers with their ideal audiences. This means more money for artists and the entire film industry.
The launch of Wabona demonstrates the role internet is playing on the continent particularly to the and entertainment and film industry.
Wednesday November 21, K-NET Limited, a Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa network solutions provider operating throughout launched mobile voice and data connectivity for the first-time, a move that will benefit rural communities.
Haruna Iddrisu, the minister of communications in Ghana said he expected the facilities to attract investors to the rural areas and them up for more business opportunities and improve education in schools.
According to K-NET a single mobile tower can serve up to 300km2, or neraly several townships. The country’s stats show that 143 000km2 (60%) of the land area and 5 million of the population (20%) have no mobile coverage.The last of the mobile towers was set up by K-NET in July and launched Wednesday but have received high traffic and have been growing by more than 25 percent. K-NET says some of the towers carry over 250 000 minutes of voice traffic a month, and over 15,000 SMS messages.
K-NET Limited partnered with Altobridge, Ameresco Solar, iDirect and Tigo. The firms have together developed a highly innovative solution which is optimised for rural applications and reduces the total costs of ownership by up to 65 percent compared to a conventional solution, meaning that rural communities with relatively low population densities of less than 1 500 people may now be served profitably by the mobile network operators.
Speaking at the inauguration in Botoku, Ghana CEO of K-NET,Michael Darcy said, “K-NET is proud to be working with GIFEC, Tigoand its other partners to bring mobile services to rural communities such as Botoku, to enrich the quality of life for individuals and to enable small businesses to operate more efficiently.”The partnership has seen the development of solutions such as 3G Base Station Subsystem by Altobridge, a Solar Power Solution by Ameresco Solar, a satellite communication equipment by iDirect and Tigo.K-NET also using its Teleport at McCarthy Hill in Accra provides Tigo’s communication links between its remote sites and the central switching network and also does operations, service and network management for Tigo.
Seedstars World is coming to Africa in a move to find the best startup in emerging and fast growing startup scenes.
Seedstars World is an initiative launched by Seedstars SA, a Swiss-based company which launches ideas, grows startups and builds companies.
According to Seedstars SA, “Seedstars World is the most exclusive startup competition around the world. Only high quality startups can receive an invitation and are chosen following a strict selection process by professionals. The winner is crowned with the prestigious denomination Seedstars World Best Startup“.
Startups join by invitation only and have to less than two years since launch with a minimum viable product and can be across any field. The applications are open till January 30 2013 and late registration carries a fine of of US$ 5.
The pitch events begin in March 2013 till December across cities in the world. Founders are given a maximum 6 minutes to pitch the problem, their solution, how it works, business model, short financials and are represented by only one presenter. The pitch has to be in PowerPoint, video or live demo.
There will be regional judges who will access the pitches to get regional winners. These will be announced two months after regional event. Viewers can also vote for the best startups.
The top 5 startups (excluding regional winners) with the most votes will be elected as public winners and can take part to the final.Voters will vote only for the selected startups on seedstarsworld.com after watching a filmed pitch, presentation, websites provided by Seedstars World.
Winners will grab equity investment from Seedstars and Centralway Seed, with acceleration programs sponsored by Business Booster worth US$ 15K, Startup Pirates a week worth US$ 15K and Le Camping Silicon Sentier for two weeks worth $30K and six month advertising on Africa’s fastest growing social network, LAGbook worth US$ 23K.
The jury will selects among regional winners and top 5 public winners to be part of the final event. The Accra pitch event will be on April 5, Nairobi on April 12, Lagos on April 26, Kigali on May 2 and Cape Town on May 10.
The competition is supported by Sandbox network, a 2008 formed global community of extraordinary young achievers below 30 in whichever field or industry.
Kelvin Doe surprised the world when he demonstrated a radio station he build from parts collected from streets.
The crowd at MIT were astonished at the youngest person ever to be invited to MIT at the Visiting Practitioner’s Program” and his amazing radio station he build ground up.
According to THNKR, “Kelvin is experiencing the US for the first time, exploring incredible opportunities, contending with homesickness, and mapping out his future.”
We followed Kelvin Doe a few months ago for a story that we thought would help him. We talked to David and we had the meeting set up. It never happened!
But the 15 year old self trained inventor doesn’t need an interview again.
He amazed the world (and still is) when he demonstrated his innovation at MIT. Doe, a completely self taught engineering wizard born and living in Sierra Leone built a radio ground up from materials collected from trash bins.
He has also used the spare parts to build batteries, generators and transmitters without attending any engineering class.