It is said that Africa is the last frontier in many ways, having vast resources yet untapped or undiscovered. This rings true on many levels when looking at the amount of knowledge inherent in our culture and history. In this day of increasing access to the internet and growing numbers of mobile subscribers, an ecosystem that supports the creation, aggregation, distribution and consumption of content has been created. This newly created markets are heavy consumers of content as shown by research, with many in Africa accessing the internet for the first time on a mobile device in their quest for content. It has been unfortunate though that a lot of the content consumed is foreign in nature; using the term loosely to mean not originated from Africa or being targeted to the African audience.
Developing markets and getting them to a stable state where the ecosystem is healthy requires time, money and lots of effort. Stable ecosystems exist where there is good demand, adequate choice and supporting infrastructure that is up to scratch. Identifying the different players and pushing the value that these newly created markets presents is a huge undertaking and Google is taking the lead on this having created a forum where key players in the ecosystem are identified and taken through an opportunity matrix and thereafter empowered with tools to exploit the same.
I was impressed by the format adopted by the Google Kenya team at Google Week in late 2012, that was held at a tricked out StartUp Garage along Kenya’s “silicon strip”. Each day was tailor made to address the needs and opportunities available for both those interested in and invested in leveraging the potential of Africa’s content. Those with online properties were shown how to monetize their audiences and use analytics to aid both the content creation process by providing information on what flavor of content is most engaging. The developer day was particularly interesting with an alignment to Vision 2030 brought to the fore, with the aim of helping local developers fine-tune their opportunity radar and build solutions that have a better chance of impact, scale and monetization as they will be modeled on a bigger road-map that will see and has seen the injection of capital by the government and other development partners. The C-level program saw key decision makers exposed to market insights – research, reports and case studies. I have opined in the past that many c-level executives are afraid to innovate or experiment with web and mobile technology as they lack authoritative data on their markets or other similar markets on which to base their assumptions and defend their propositions, an understandable dilemma but I sorely hope the knowledge transfer will go a long way in dealing with that paralysis.
Africa’s content is ripe for discovery and monetization with the journey to success for brands, indie content producers, distributors and developers made less daunting with access to many of the tools such as those provided by Google and others.