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.

2 Mar 2015

VAS Africa speaker William Thubakgale, COO of QPlay on the future of digital services in Africa

We talk to VAS Africa speaker  William Thubakgale, COO of QPlay, ahead of the event to hear his thoughts on the future of digital services in Africa.

William 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?

William Thubakgale: Digitally the future of Africa is looking great seeing a lot of start-ups looking for issues within Africa and from those deriving solutions for Africans. We do have constraints though which include data costs, red tapes and digital piracy.

VAS: Are new online distribution channels  providing an opportunity to expand the reach of African artists to international audiences?

WT: Yes, these distribution channels allow international markets to be exposed to African products and services. With this digital phase we have seen how we are living in a global village making it easy and faster to transact with anyone, anywhere.

VAS: Do you feel that  mobile is definitely the future of content distribution, not just music but all forms of content ?

WT: Mobile is the future. From what we have seen – a customer first looks up what they are looking to purchase on mobile, researches on tablet and completes a purchase on desktop. If mobile is the first touch point for any conversion then it is definitely the future for content distribution.

VAS: Are there infrastructure concerns and issues surrounding internet speeds and data costs that are hampering the growth of online music in Africa ?  

WT: Actually that’s the main constrain we are facing as a continent. As much as we may want consumers to consume music we have to provide, the cost must be reduced to allow users to openly consume music.


VAS: Any particular current or recent projects/success stories that you want to share?   

WT: With the massive growth in ecommerce in Africa; I have also become involved in a venture that allows men to purchase Premium Mens Wear – Posh Patterns(www.poshpatterns.co.za)  The immense growth has allowed the brand to grow beyond expectation by exporting to 3 countries just after 5 month of release.

VAS: How are smartphones/tablets & cloud services impacting mobile/internet service providers in South Africa?

WT: Consumption is almost immediate; With smartphones always being at hand  consumers find it easy to retrieve and use data at any moment. Thus content is king in this space.

VAS: What will be your message at the event?

WT: Let’s celebrate African greatness.

19 Feb 2015

Download the Connecting West Africa 2015 brochure!


Connecting West Africa will return for its 12th year to Dakar, Senegal this 9th - 10th June, bringing you a new, refreshed programme addressing the key issues in West Africa's digital market. 

Connecting West Africa 2015 is the ONLY broadband and digital event in West Africa. Download the brochure now to see the full details of the agenda, speakers, brand new features and networking opportunities available to you. 

Join the debate to shape the future of West Africa’s digital economy:

Apply for a Free Operator/Regulator Pass here
Purchase a Conference Pass here
View the agenda here
Contact our team to become a sponsor or to book a stand here

16 Feb 2015

Regulation, spectrum allocation and digital transition : Amadou Makhtar Fall talks to Connecting West Africa 2015

Amadou Makhtar Fall is a Telecoms and Broadcast regulatory affairs specialist with more than ten years’ experience in a major telco in Africa: he is the founder of publication ITMag and is head of Legal and Regulatory Monitoring at Orange-owned Sonatel, Senegal’s leading mobile operator. He is a regular participant at Connecting West Africa and will moderate this year’s keynote session.

We ask Amadou his thoughts on the main trends in the development of broadband networks in West Africa: “The relatively low penetration of xDSL in this area of the continent has somehow called for the development of high speed mobile networks” he says. “The future of broadband in West Africa will inevitably be based on 3G and 4G/LTE networks by taking advantage of the democratization of fixed 3G-4G-LTE / WiFi Set-top Boxes”.

This year may see a gear change in the broadband market, particularly in Senegal : “The appointed date of June 2015 for the transition from analog to digital TV as well as the possible allocation of 4G/LTE licenses can actually make 2015 a special year for the development of digital Senegal.”

Digital transition will potentially have a strong impact on West Africa’s telecoms and media sector. Telecom operators can potentially be more involved in content distribution and perhaps more importantly have strong expectations regarding “the allocation of golden’ frequencies released through the transition, also called digital dividend”. On the media side, the digital transition will, according to Amadou, “completely mess up broadcasters’ business models. Some investments on satellite can be quickly outdated as they are incompatible with the distribution of DTT channels. That is why all broadcasters must be actively involved with the authorities in charge of the deployment of DTT.”

LTE will unquestionably play a major part of broadband development in the region. Several LTE launches have taken place and many operators are in testing phases, but licensing conditions and spectrum allocations are major questions:  "several grey areas persist on the conditions of allocation of these scarce resources: will auctions be organized or will they be beauty contests? Will 2G/3G frequency re-farming be allowed? All this remains to be determined by the regulatory authorities” says Amadou.It would be very deplorable if 4G/LTE license allocations were to be done in a dispersed’ way in some countries in the region, without any call for applications”.

The impact of regulation on access to affordable broadband cannot be underestimated and telecom operators need “improved regulatory visibility on the short/medium term” says Amadou; “As broadband is more and more about wireless infrastructure, which is very intensive in spectrum resources, an improvement on the cost of acquisition of these frequencies could allow operators to make access to broadband more affordable. The redistribution of spectrum resources from the digital dividend is also a big opportunity to boost mobile broadband”.

See the topics Amadou is most interested in at Connecting WestAfrica 2015 and where to find them in the programme:

Infrastructure sharing : hear from Wilgon Tsibo, Group CTO of Azure Telecom on the various models, and join the subsequent roundtable debate
Challenges and obstacles to the development of mobile broadband : follow the keynote sessions on broadband investment, regulation and LTE
Mobile banking: check out the debate on monetising data in broadband and join the ‘idea generator’ interactive session on service innovation
The transition to digital TV => digital dividend: check out the debate on Senegal’s market

For more information and to register for your Connecting West Africa ticket, visit: http://westafrica.comworldseries.com/ 

30 Jan 2015

East AfricaCom 2015 - Download the brochure!


East AfricaCom will return to Nairobi this 6th -7th May showcasing the innovators and business leaders that are creating the next phase of the digital ecosystem.

Download the 2015 brochure to take a look at the brand new topics, speakers, networking opportunities and exciting new features on offer, including the CIO Forum and the Entrepreneur Hub! 

A key segment of the digital and telecoms ecosystem are the innovators taking lead on their own projects and companies to address some of the markets biggest needs. The Entrepreneur’s Hub pays homage to the start-up community by fostering business skills support, mentorship and investment. 

The key to make this practical experience happen are:

  • The Angel Investor’s Panel featuring a live pitch process at the event from a shortlisted top 5 entrepreneurs and SMEs – the winners receive a cash prize for their projects or companies
  • Secondly, a mentorship scheme facilitated by Informa whereby entrepreneurs and SMEs with specific requirements for skills development and business guidance are paired with the industry’s leading telco and digital giants offering vital business knowhow back to the community


For more information on this year's Hub and to register, please contact:

Adam Thompson
Research Manager
T: +44 20 7017 5610
E: Adam.Thompson@informa.com