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.

24 Oct 2014

Free Intel workshops at AfricaCom 2014


AfricaCom 2014 Senior Event Sponsor Intel are delighted to invite you to attend four free workshops dedicated to leveraging telcos’ assets to generate new revenues and developing successful apps. Join Intel’s leading specialists and apps specialists, a group of the region’s top operators, digital innovators and developers and hear insights on leveraging networks assets for new revenues streams, the IoT opportunities, monetising apps and Android coding sessions.

Take your pick from a range of workshops running on Monday 10th and Tuesday 11th. These will be focusing on topics including:

  • Leverage your network assets to accelerate digital innovation
  • Maximizing Telco opportunities via IoT
  • Apps Marketing and Monetization
  • Developing Android apps on Intel Architecture

For more information and to secure your place in these hands-on innovation sessions, visit our website: http://africa.comworldseries.com/intel-workshops/

If you haven't already registered to attend AfricaCom 2014, get your tickets here: http://africa.comworldseries.com/register/

23 Oct 2014

Winner of APO Invitation to AfricaCom 2014 Revealed


Aimable Twahirwa from Rwanda wins APO invitation to participate in the AfricaCom 2014

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, October 23, 2014

APO (African Press Organization) (http://www.apo-opa.com), the sole press release newswire in Africa and the global leader in media relations relating to Africa, today announced that science journalist Aimable Twahirwa (@atwahirwa) from Rwanda won APO invitation to participate in the AfricaCom 2014, Africa’s leading telecoms event (http://www.comworldseries.com/africa), held in Cape Town, South Africa, on 11–13 November 2014.

APO will offer transport, accommodation and perdiem for Twahirwa to travel to Cape Town and cover the entire event.

“It gives us great pleasure in offering this invitation to Aimable, a recognized and influential journalist. As a company, we need to support the journalists out there who fight every day to educate us on the matters of the world,” says Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, Founder and CEO of APO (African Press Organization).

Aimable Twahirwa is an award-winning and trained senior science journalist based in Kigali, Rwanda. During his 15 year- career, he has been covering science and technology writing for prestigious newspapers both Pan African and international newsrooms as well as Radio and online.

After he graduated in science Journalism, his first assignment was on the Climate Change  where he delved in Energy and Agriculture research. His early days at Rwanda News Agency (RNA) led him to become the Rwanda correspondent for the Pan African News Agency where he has been covering science and technology stories.

On a freelance basis, he has published revealing stories about genocide, in the African media and for press in UK and Europe and North America. Aimable is fluent in both languages French and English which made him an influential correspondent for specialized science magazines such like 'Scidev.Net' and NATURE publications Group, a London based publisher.

More information about AfricaCom 2014: http://africa.comworldseries.com

Aïssatou Diallo
+41 22 534 96 97

About APO

APO (African Press Organization) (http://www.apo-opa.com) is the sole press release newswire in Africa and is a global leader in media relations relating to Africa.

With offices in Senegal, Switzerland, Dubai, Hong Kong, India, and Seychelles, APO owns a media database of over 100,000 contacts and is the main online community for Africa-related news.

It offers a complete range of services, including press release distribution and monitoring, online press conferences, interactive webcasts, media interactions, strategic advice, public diplomacy, government relations and events promotion. To find out more, please visit http://www.apo-opa.com.

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apo_source

Follow us on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/african-press-organization

Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/africanpressorganization

SOURCE: APO (African Press Organization)

Start AfricaCom week in style with Mobile Monday's End of Year networking event

Mobile Monday South Africa’s End of Year Event

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Topic: Mobile the Magical Money-Making Machine


Attention: The 2014 End of Year Mobile Monday South Africa Event featuring the legendary international man of mobile, Tomi Ahonen

2014 has just flown back and in traditional MoMo style we are hosting an End of Year bash to kick off AfricaCOM 2014 in Cape Town. To celebrate this extraordinary year in Mobile, South Africa’s 20th anniversary of telecommunications in the country, we have an extraordinary speaker lined up. This year’s bash is brought to you by Intel and WeChat

Special Guest: Tomi Ahonen

Some say this International man of mobile provided Mark Zuckerberg with the inspiration for Facebook. Others say, he single headedly laid the undersea cables that provided mobile Internet connectivity globally (or maybe its just all the traveling he has done speaking the word of Mobile. We are proud to announce that 12 time published mobile evangelist, Tomi Ahonen will for the first time LIVE in Cape Town be our key note speaker at this year’s MoMo year end function.

MOMO Event Details:

Date: Monday, 10 November 2014

Time: 18h00

Venue: Pepenero Restaurant, Moullie Point, Cape Town

Drinks and snacks will be served

Cost: Free as always but this year space is limited to BOOK YOUR TICKET NOW!

Mobile Monday is a partner of AfricaCom, taking place at the CTICC in Cape Town in 11-13 November.


21 Oct 2014

AfricaCom 2014: Vision for Africa

Launches, acquisitions, growth, partnerships, broadband, new technologies & services and how to monetize digital platforms: Africa’s digital market is moving by leaps and bounds, and showing the world how innovation is done. This is the underlying premise of the AfricaCom 2014 Keynote sessions entitled:  Vision for Africa’ which will present a snapshot of the most current trends in the market, and discuss the benefits for customers and industry stakeholders alike.

Always insightful, the 2014 opening session to kick off the 17th annual AfricaCom conference on 11 November 2014 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), is once again set to deliver thought provoking debate.  Africa’s digital market is driven by broadband developments, which enable better services to consumers, new opportunities for all stakeholders and further growth for Africa’s economies. The key questions are how to deliver broadband access to consumers across the continent (what technologies, on what devices), how it can be in a way that is affordable to African users, and how stakeholders can generate revenues from the investment.

The opening keynote panel at AfricaCom will look at how strategic partnerships affect services to users and investments from stakeholders: the complicated relations between telecom operators and OTT (over the top) providers. The panel will be composed of some of Africa's leading operators (Millicom, Airtel , MTN, Orange), joined by two of the most world’s significant OTT players: Facebook and Twitter. The operator/OTT debate has raged for the past few years and took a new turn earlier this year with the growth of voice-based OTT brands and new partnership models developed by operators in Africa.

A panel on broadband developments will cover the investments and initiatives needed to improve broadband access across the continent, with contributions from pan-African players Orange, Intelsat, Convergence Partners, Liquid Telecom and China ComServices. Mobile broadband being the main way Africans access the Internet, LTE services will be covered with contributions from large operators Vodacom, Smile and Unitel Angola as well as smaller newcomers Surfline and YooMee. The role of handsets and devices will be debated by representatives of major operators (Millicom, Airtel) as well as a handset manufacturer (Tecno) and OS provider Mozilla.

Finally, new revenue streams will be discussed, with a major new topic introduced to the AfricaCom keynotes M2M & IoT, with a keynote presentation from BMW on their ConnectedCAr and a panel including Orange, Vodacom, Google and the Praekelt Foundation.

Content being a key revenue stream in Africa, a panel will look at how to monetise content services, with contributions from operators Vodacom and Airtel, content providers eTV and Ole! Media Group, one of the continent’s fastest growing digital powerhouses and OTT player Yahoo.

AfricaCom 2014 provides an information oasis with all major players under one roof.  It is also the place where innovation and business happens and is a not to be missed event for anyone looking to develop or grow existing revenue within the highly competitive and rapidly evolving digital ecosystem.  Don’t say we didn’t warn you...

About AfricaCom 2014

Taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) from 11 – 13 November 2014, AfricaCom is now in its 17th year. AfricaCom is Africa’s largest communications conference & exhibition. The conference programme covers the most strategic issues affecting companies in Africa’s digital market - services, efficiency, profitability, customer experience, partnerships, policy and more – and features 11 co-located events: VSAT Africa, TM Forum Live @ Africa Com, LTE Africa, Digital Music, Mobile Money & Commerce, AfricaCast, AfricApps, etc. To register: www.comworldseries.com/africa

20 Oct 2014

Orange in Africa: “Local content boosts usage growth.”


IP&TV News finds out more about Orange’s African strategy from Orange’s Sebastien Crozier…

IP&TV News: Could you give us an overview of Orange’s African content strategy, first of all in countries where it’s currently a mass market operator?

Sebastien Crozier: Orange is rolling out its 3G and 4G networks that allow internet access and data services to mass consumers.

Content such as music and video are naturally favoured axes of development. Orange hence launched 2 key services in this area:

1: Orange Radio offers an aggregation of more than 20,000 radios available in mobility with a large footprint. The service is interconnected with Deezer and will be integrated part of fixed and mobile packages proposed by many Orange affiliates.

2: Orange Video by Dailymotion offers a video streaming service that is largely available. A dedicated and localized service has been developed in collaboration with the affiliates in Ivory Coast, Senegal, Madagascar, Maurice, Reunion as well as in the Caribbean’s. Local content strongly contributes to boost usage growth.

And what about those in which it isn’t a mass market operator?

Orange is putting an important emphasis in a few priority countries such as South Africa and Algeria where these two same services will be strongly localized.

Orange content services are diffused by other telecom operators especially over aDSL.

What do you think the main challenges will be for African content diffusion over the next year?

We identify four main challenges for African content services development over the next years:

1. Providing high quality internet services requires significant bandwidth increase and hence an increase of the internet interconnection capacities provided by sub-marine cables. Orange is putting a strong emphasis on this development through its international wholesale divisions.

2. In order to provide the overall continent with sufficient network capabilities, a high-speed fibre terrestrial network needs as well to be further deployed.

3. Datacenter number and capacity increase is a third important stake. Orange strongly contributes to such development in countries where it is as a mass-market operator.

4. African countries must lastly continue increasing their content production. Countries such as Nigeria, Egypt or South Africa already create an important volume of local content.

You’ll be at this year’s AfricaCast – why do you think this event has become so important so quickly?

3G and 4G network deployments create new needs and new stakes. Content services have become one of the major stakes for the telecom industry and more globally for the ICT sector in Africa.

An event such as the AfricaCast has hence become one of the unavoidable meetings in the high-tech area.

Sebastien Crozier will be appearing at next month’s AfricaCast, Africa’s premier show on the future of broadcasting, which takes place on the 11th-13th November 2014 at the Cape Town Convention Centre, South Africa. AfricaCast will be co-located with AfricaCom - for more information and to book, click here.

Mobile money – time for a reality check?

The growth of mobile money in Africa over the last seven years has been phenomenal. Figures doing the rounds (and quoted by The Economist and Financial Times amongst others) include the calculation that 43% of Kenyan GDP is channelled through M-PESA each year, and that Kenyan mobile money is reported as having 26 million customers (Central Bank of Kenya website).

There’s a brilliant article by Susan Johnson, professor at the Centre for Development Studies at the University of Bath, in which she explores the big claims coming out about mobile money. I won’t go into the details here, but Susan found that the 43% of GDP figure is hugely misleading.  If you consider that only 9% of the value facilitated by the Central Bank’s real time gross settlement system are through M-PESA, its clear that this is a bogus statistic. Susan’s article, Kenyan mobile money and the hype of messy statistics, explains the premise and calculations in depth.

Subscriber numbers appear to have been overhyped too. The 26 million customer figure I referred to earlier (reported on the CBK website) is not a figure for unique customers. The data collected simply reports the total number of signups, without taking account of multiple registrations, hence it is not a figure for unique customers.

So, while M-PESA certainly has been a huge success, alternative figures provide more accurate, but less dramatic, comparisons.

My point here is that mobile money has not yet arrived, it has much further to go to meet its full potential. This rings true with what I have witnessed about the dominance of cash for the majority of consumers – not only in emerging markets, but also in first-world countries such as the US and UK where daily retail transactions are predominantly cash-based.

Back in emerging markets, the vast majority of prepaid airtime vouchers and scratch cards are still paid for in cash. This still the case for M-PESA’s parent mobile network, Safaricom. The same is true for other prepaid products like electricity vouchers, bus and train tickets and other micropayments. These kinds of transactions may be small in value but they are huge in volume.

Operators need to acknowledge the power and prevalence of cash even as they continue to build on the gains in digital money.

Vahid will be discussing solutions for the cash to digital convergence at AfricaCom. His presentation is at 12.40 pm on Day 2 of the conference (12 November) under the Mobile Money and M-commerce stream. You can view the full AfricaCom agenda here.

Meet Nomanini and investigate its rugged point of sale terminals and flexible cloud-based back-end at stand A21 in the exhibition hall, where you can pick up a free SIM and airtime - because we know that roaming is expensive! For more info: http://nomanini.com/africacom/

15 Oct 2014

Ahmad Farroukh, CEO MTN SA joins opening keynote panel at AfricaCom

Ahmad Farroukh, CEO of MTN SA
Ahmad Farroukh, Chief Executive Officer of MTN South Africa, confirmed this week he will join the opening keynote panel at AfricaCom, taking place in Cape Town on 11-13 November.
The panel will look at the complicated relations between telecom operators and OTT providers and how they can make their partnerships work. The panel will be composed of some of Africa's leading operators: Arthur Bastings, EVP Africa at emerging market specialist Millicom (better known under the brand Tigo), Christian de Faria, CEO of Airtel Africa (and former MTN Group executive), and Marc Rennard, EVP Africa, Middle East and Asia at Orange. They will be joined in the debate by representatives of two of the most significant OTT players in the world: Chris Daniels of Facebook and Katie Lampe of Twitter (participating for the first time at AfricaCom).
Panellists will look at the various partnership models for operators and OTT players and share their views on how the partnerships can benefit the customerswhile making commercial sense for all parties involved. It is a debate that has raged for the past few years and took a new turn earlier this year with the growth of voice-based OTT brands .
The session will open three days of inspiring debates in an event tht has established itself as the annual meeting place for the telecoms, media and ICT industry. Visit www.comworldseries.com/africa for more details

Spending money where it counts!

Written by: Erik Couture, EVP Sales at Polystar

Despite spending millions of dollars on expensive advertising campaigns, CSPs are still uncertain about where higher revenue can be found and how better customer loyalty can be created. It’s a bit like shooting arrows in the dark: they hope they will find the target, but they can’t be sure. It would be better if CSPs could find a way to be more focused and to choose more visible targets.

Consider the problem of churn. When an individual customer moves to another provider, there’s a huge cost involved in trying to win them back. The cost is much higher if it’s a large corporation with many employees, but the rewards are greater, as it is likely to have a correspondingly higher level of expenditure. Such customers regularly spend significant amounts on premium services, such as VPN, or international voice and data traffic. If one of these customers moves to another CSP, it can have a significant impact. Put simply, CSPs can’t afford to lose such high-value accounts. Large corporate accounts represent hard-won assets: they must be protected and nurtured.

These are clearly identifiable and highly visible targets. CSPs have to prioritise their efforts so that, while they take a broad-brush approach to mass-market advertising, they also adopt a more focused approach with such accounts. One way to achieve this is to invest in enhancing customer satisfaction, so that they reduce the likelihood of the most significant customers churning to a rival.

Time after time, market studies have shown that quality of service factors – and how they’re interpreted by customers – are the single most important predictors of user satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is the key factor in churn. Increased satisfaction increases customer retention. This doesn’t mean that things have to be perfect all of the time. In many cases, customers can tolerate temporarily degraded service qualities but only if they’re proactively alerted in advance to specific geographic or service-specific issues or, again proactively, offered bill reductions or free service to compensate for any impact on their experience.

But CSPs can only adopt such tactics if they have systems in place to  identify potential service-affecting issues before they hit the customer. Such service assurance systems need accurate information that provides the required service performance data. This information can deliver insight that can be used to support active, agile account management and a more customer-centric orientation. In addition, these insights will lead to enhancements in overall network quality, to the benefit of all customers. It’s a far better strategy to invest in appropriate CEM and service assurance systems and tools to ensure that any service issues don’t accumulate to create churn in the first place. Customer satisfaction is paramount.

These insights also have the potential to help CSPs in other ways, First, they can enable CSPs to direct network investments to the places in which they will deliver the best return, both in terms of revenues and customer experience: real-time network insights help target investment and enable CSPs to proactively manage service quality for their customers. This helps drives efficiency, as costly investments can pay better dividends and are not spread where they will have least impact.

Second, the same information can yield insights that allow new service offers and enhancements to be delivered to key customers. As we noted, delivering better customer satisfaction is key – but it’s just the initial step in a journey towards putting the customer first and delivering services and packages that really meet their needs. Information obtained from service assurance systems enables such processes to be created, based on objective information and not guesswork.

To deliver this kind of information, you need to first gather data in format- and vendor-agnostic ways from multiple sources. All elements involved in service or content delivery, spanning all relevant parts of the infrastructure must be covered. By converting this data into standard business objects reusable across different platforms, it becomes possible to expose it to all relevant supporting systems across the entire OSS/BSS environment. This enables the interpretation of the collected data, driving insight and improvement in vital areas, such as customer account management, as well as providing tactical information on user behaviour that can then be used for upselling new tariff plans, new devices and for enabling the targeted delivery of new services, tuned to actual user needs.

Service assurance has become a critical function, not just for the smooth operation of the network but also for ensuring consistent customer satisfaction. Gathering and delivering the required information to the right systems is a fundamental aspect of a CSP’s business. Quality of service, which is the foundation of service assurance, accounts for more than 50% of the influencing factors in customer experience. If customers experience poor service quality, all other efforts CSPs make to influence their experience will be wasted. CSPs therefore need to implement service assurance and optimisation programmes in a cost-effective manner. In essence, if CSPs don’t deliver the right quality to the right users, other investments will be seriously undermined.

This is a huge topic. It involves all aspects of the CSP’s organisation and can consume many resources. As such, it’s essential to minimise risk and to focus investment where it can deliver the most immediate returns – and support a customer centric strategy that targets the most valuable customers, such as large corporate accounts. While the integration of multiple sources of data for different platforms to consume is one option, another is to deploy a standalone platform that performs all of these tasks, including the presentation of data to other solutions.

Polystar provides both standalone and fully integrated solutions that can be deployed quickly to collect the information required to support such a programme. They include integrated CEM functionality and can be used to deliver subscriber, customer and marketing analytics, which enable CSPs to build new offers and specialised programmes for their customers, and to enhance network quality and optimise investments.

To spend money where it counts, you first have to know what matters. If you choose the right targets and use objective data to deliver exceptional service and performance, then everyone else can benefit too – but the CSP will be more certain of obtaining return on investments. More importantly, these investments will be more likely to have a positive impact on the bottom line. Data helps illuminate the target and ensures you don’t shoot arrows into the dark.

Meet Polystar at AfricaCom stand B36 to discuss how you can deliver a better experience for your customers.

14 Oct 2014

Managing Talent Acquisition across Africa


Written by: Tunde Makinde, Executive Consultant, Executives in Africa

Executives in Africa, the leading international Search firm focused 100% on Africa, is delighted to be media partner to AfricaCom 2014. Globally, we have the largest team of search consultants purely focusing on the Sub-Saharan market, with longstanding results in 22 different African countries.

Increased stability in communication routes in recent years has led to Executives in Africa being able to guide their candidates through the interview and job placement process more efficiently, and we believe our patience and tenacity during the times when technology was not so enabled has helped to give us a firm foothold in this busy arena.

Time and time again our clients tell us that one of the main problems they face is that of sourcing senior executive talent and candidates for leadership roles in Africa.  President and CEO of the Dangote Group recently said, “Having comparative advantage is no longer enough. You need a superior talent pool”. This is backed up by a recent report by PWC which found out that talent shortages are a major issue in Africa. Creating and fostering a skilled workforce is highly regarded by 84% of CEO’s surveyed. 

Talent acquisition is more than just finding the ideal candidate in for the working environment and we work hard to ensure our candidates make informed decisions on where they are locating to, have a firm understanding of protocol and a belief in being able to deal with any challenges they may be exposed to.
We have recently worked with a client that had exactly this type of problem. It is a large Tanzanian Group, which was committed to diversifying into the Pay TV sector and sought a high calibre and experienced Pay TV CEO to be hired within an exceptionally tight time frame as the planned launch date was in just three months.

The senior management of the Group held no prior experience of running a business in this particular sector, so they entrusted us with the critical task of identifying the most suitable individual for the CEO role. The truly global nature of this search meant that we needed to identify and map potential candidates all over the world.  

Our Research team successfully located strong potential candidates across Africa, the Middle  East,  India,  Europe  and  the  USA. Recommendations of possible candidates were also taken from existing contacts in this sector. The list reached 187 potential candidates with a good representation of both expatriate and local candidates.

We delivered the Short List within four weeks of sign off and the successful candidate was made an offer, had accepted and was in situ Dar es Salaam within three months.

Executives in Africa was recently also approached by the leading Pay TV company across Africa, who were looking for a Chief Operating Officer in Nigeria to lead a substantial team and report directly into their high ranking MD.  The candidate, who would be tasked with setting strategy and executing the business plan, represented a key hire for the client as Nigeria is set to go digital in 2015.

The Research team set out a global search and we were delighted to be able to swiftly present a candidate who had outstanding credentials, previous experience and who starts his contract next month.

We look forward to meeting you at AfricaCom 2014. If you would like to speak to Tunde Makinde please contact him directly at tm@executivesinafrica.com.

About Executives in Africa
Executives in Africa which is a search firm focusing on sourcing senior level professionals for roles based in sub-Saharan Africa. 
We have globally the largest team of search consultants purely focusing on the Sub-Saharan market and have successfully recruited in 22 different African countries. We pride ourselves on being able to identify both international talent and local talent and on numerous occasions we have provided shortlists purely with local candidates. In fact around 55% of our placements to date have been African nationals. For more information please visit: http://executivesinafrica.com/