Africa: Welcome to the Future - a World of Big Data, Voice Without Revenue and Shared Infrastructure for Over-the-Top Services
10 April 2012
allAfrica.com - 5 April 2012
London — At the end of March, Gateway Communications invited a panel of people and a selected industry audience to look at the "Future of African connectivity". With the exception of a small amount of disquiet over shared infrastructure, there was almost universal consensus about the three items picked out in the headline above.
The future of telecoms in Africa is always a funny thing because it consists of two stereoscopic images that don't always come into focus: what the developed world is doing and what Africa does differently. The same things that happen elsewhere inevitably happen in Africa: everything from markets being liberalized to consumers wanting gadgets like iPads. But all sorts of things happen differently from elsewhere: it's a pre-pay market and M-Pesa is still well out ahead of elsewhere because the market is largely unbanked.
Sometimes this means that Africa's operators lumber along, seemingly endlessly constrained by African realities and at other times as with M-Pesa and the rise of social media, the continent bounds along, leap-frogging old attitudes and technologies.
The panel addressing what will happen to the "Future of African Connectivity" were a selection of the brightest and the best from different parts of the industry. AndileNgcaba has done time in Government as a senior civil servant, served as Chair at Didata and through Convergence Partners has invested in Intelsat's New Dawn Satellite and the Seacom cable. Stafford Masie worked for Telkom and Didata, set up Google South Africa and is now a technology investor and consultant. IbrahimaGuimbaSaidou used to work for Intelsat and now works for SES. Chris Wood used to work for Flag and is now CEO of WIOCC, the JV initiated by the World Bank within EASSy. NziokaWaita has worked for Safaricom for over eleven years and is now its Head of Corporate Affairs.
Many things were said and what follows is not a verbatim account. But there was a surprising consensus on the arrival of big data, the death of voice revenues and need for shared infrastructure to deliver Over-The-Top services...