MEF, the global community for mobile content and commerce, has launched a dedicated regional office in association with Vodacom to help promote African mobile growth and showcase innovation.
Headquartered in Johannesburg, the MEF Africa Office will serve as a hub for the trade association’s growing African membership. A MEF member steering committee from across the African mobile ecosystem has already been constituted to drive the regional agenda.
With a mandate to help drive mobile growth and innovation at both a continental and country level MEF Africa will advance regional market initiatives aimed at boosting consumer trust and promoting monetisation as well as providing business development and dedicated analytics across the Africa region.
MEF’s Global Consumer Survey 2012 released last week underlined Africa’s status as a major growth market and early adopter of mobile content and commerce services with 95% of mobile media users in South Africa engaging in mobile content and commerce activity, more than either the US or China.
As well as analytics and regional initiatives, MEF Connects events and programming will connect regional and global mobile stakeholders. MEF Africa is part of the MEF EMEA (Europe Middle East & Africa) Chapter.
MEF’s 2012 Global Consumer Survey to be released next week affirms Africa’s stature as a ‚’mobile first’ continent with 96% of South African mobile media users stating that their mobile phone plays an important role in their lives (the highest response of the 10 countries surveyed). Africa also plays a pivotal role in driving mobile innovation as an instrument of consumer empowerment and social inclusion. MEF’s annual global awards, the Meffys, this year acknowledged Africa’s contribution to the mobile industry in numerous areas including social responsibility & development: content & mobile banking.
Rimma Perelmuter, MEF Executive Director said: ‚”With such diverse innovation originating in the African continent, it is clear that Africa offers the mobile industry a strategic opportunity to learn and do business. There is already strong MEF membership in the region and as an organisation, MEF brings with it over a decade of heritage as a truly global trade body which has established vibrant local chapters in some of the most diverse and challenging markets in the world.
“By launching MEF Africa, in association with Vodacom, we will provide an essential hub for mobile companies throughout the African mobile ecosystem and beyond. A dedicated Steering Committee will provide a strong platform to drive the regional agenda and ensure that the newest MEF office showcases home grown innovation, undertakes relevant initiatives and connects local businesses to MEF’s global member base.‚””
According to Prins Mhlanga, Managing Executive of Vodacom Digital Media, “”MEF has a lot to offer to the telecommunications industry and consumers who stand to benefit from the innovations that will emanate from its initiatives and analytics. Its expertise in commissioning and producing unique reports in the international mobile arena is invaluable and its ability to bring together industry leaders to collectively progress opportunities will benefit the local and African market. We’re pleased to be associated with MEF’s initiative.‚””
Africa gets broadband boost
ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.
Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.
Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.
ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.
At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”
Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”
ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.
Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world
Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.
Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.
AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.
The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.
‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”
The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.
‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.
The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”