Africa’s Mobile operators turn to local content to boost internet usage
10 April 2012
This is Africa - 31 March 2012
With more than 500 million subscribers across the continent inching the mobile voice market towards saturation, mobile technology companies are increasingly looking to data services as a means of capturing new sales. Although mobile broadband uptake is certainly growing- traffic will increase thirty six-fold in the region between now and 2015- at a mere 4 percent, penetration is still very low. To get more Africans connected to the world wide web via their mobiles, businesses have started thinking local. Local content, that is.
To boost adoption rates, firms are turning to the development of more content specific to the region. The importance of this when it comes to enticing new web users is of central importance to those in the ICT space.: “Providing local content is a key aspect of any content-oriented service and many mobile operators and service providers understand this,” says Arun Tanksali, head mobile lifestyle solution at Comviva, an Indian based provider of value-added services to mobile phone operators in Africa. “Local content forms an important part of the content catalogue of every single service in most countries. This is obtained by tapping into the local traditions and artists of that region,” he adds.
Developing such content is of particular importance on the continent, argues Mr Tanskali.: “Content in general has very strong regional ties and nowhere more so than in Africa.” Despite this, a severe dearth of local content aimed at African audiences to attract more users persists.
Changing this is fast becoming more of a priority for mobile operators such as South African based MTN, Africa’s largest. “MTN believes that local content is critical, as it has a major role in content and digital strategies,” says a spokesperson for the firm.