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Why digital could lead to a new dawn for African content

George Twumasi,  CEO,  ABN

George Twumasi,
CEO,
ABN

Guest post by TV Connect Africa keynote George Twumasi (CEO, ABN)

The enduring wellbeing of any given community is directly linked to their belief systems and to the abiding myths upon which their society is founded on and inspired by.

For many centuries, and particularly in its recent past, Africa has largely lost the ability to tell stories that can uplift and motivate. With the passing of time, we lost the art of drawing from our own rich cultural wells of authentic myths in a style that could inspire future generations.

Yet Africa’s history remains rife with inspiring stories. From an audio-visual perspective, however, these stories are yet to be aptly documented.

A new (digital) dawn

In recent years, the global entertainment and media industry has moved from the traditional business model to a new paradigm where new digital platforms have become the central drivers of rapidly evolving operating models, consumer relationships and revenue growth.

This digital shift is already generating new opportunities with regards to how African content is published and distributed. In particular, it has created an insatiable demand for original television Made by Africans for Africans.

However, the majority of Africa’s current crop of digital pay-TV providers tend to cater to the middle to high-income segments of the market. There is very little effort on their part to engage in the origination of local African content channels.

Made by Africans for Africans

Currently, out of an estimated 100 million television homes (less than 17% of sub-Saharan Africa’s television households) approximately 15 million television homes can afford access to either digital terrestrial television or direct-to-home television.

Consequently, a low-cost, African content focused monetisation service, underpinned by a strong infrastructure and developed in partnership with mainstream broadcasters across sub-Saharan Africa, stands a huge chance of success.

Clearly, the Africa market is in need of an efficiently structured, win-win, commercial collaboration between an African content monetisation service provider, a major infrastructure services provider and mainstream African broadcasters.

The primary focus of this union would be on the creation and distribution of inspiring African content targeting low-income households. The commercial goal would be to secure access to a minimum of 50 million pay-as-you-go television subscribers, across Anglophone, Lusophone and Francophone Africa, during the course of the next three to five years. 

In a nutshell, an accomplished and respected African industry name and/or a culturally aligned television brand will be required to lead the content monetisation effort in order to secure the full buy-in of broadcasters and governments across sub-Saharan Africa.

In addition to securing substantial investments, the two key elements that will deepen and enrich a content offering Made by Africans for Africans would be:

  • the ability to create efficiently run regional content hubs that are capable of continually producing and distributing cutting-edge content to tens of millions low-income pay-TV households and mobile television subscribers and.
  • the ability to ensure the successful mass-market retailing of cost-effective digital content delivery devices on a country-by-country basis to the consumer. These comprise set-top-boxes, digital television sets, smartphones, tablets and dongles.

To conclude, the rebirth of Africa’s originality can only emanate from stories Made by Africans for Africa, and simultaneously result in a thriving digital content industry worth tens of billions of dollars.

Click here to download the full, free TV Connect Africa brochure

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