Digital Broadcasting Migration in Africa – Options, Alternative and Pitfalls

As a solution provider and tech pundit, I make it my business to survey the business and economic landscape and determine the potential technologies that will radically change the future for Africans. Particularly in Africa – we have a tendency of arriving as late comers to the technology party BUT we more than make up for it in adoption and other value added avenues.

The digital broadcasting and migration guide indicates a subtle shift from analogue broadcasting technologies to digital infrastructure powered by IT systems that are becoming pervasive and more commonplace in our everyday lives.

It is safe to say that the availability of various technologies in the broadcasting arena provides various alternatives and avenues of exploration for this migration. And each player may choose a common, tried and tested route or opt for new solutions.

On a personal note and from my professional standpoint – the INTERNET provides one of the lowest barriers of entry and a cost-effective means to digital TV migration. As an infrastructure, it already exists and supports the display of almost all types of media. The major/ONLY constraint is bandwidth which will have to be managed on a user by user basis based on capacity or through a clever means.

In this regard there has been a steady expansion by most internet companies operating in Africa to grow their capacity to provide bandwidth to a growing subscriber base – whose preferences for video continues to grow. Today users are both “viewers” and “publishers” and this self authoring capability is now the future of broadcasting.

Various companies have invested in technologies that brings the internet into the broadcasting realm – Hulu, Chromecast and other contenders. There are also new mobile apps that provide a measure of content creation tools and broadcasting via a common platform – that have further eased the barrier of entry or content creation.

It is ONLY a matter of time (i dare say within a five-year limit) that broadcasting will have gone full-bore on the internet and also straddled new and innovative mediums (think virtual reality, augmented reality, etc.).

We currently have internet radio stations and from surveys and polls taken from  over the last seven to ten years – there has been a steady decline of viewership on traditional media stations as more attention is shifting to user preferences which can be found more readily on the web. Today i no longer have to subscribe to a bouquet that does not allow user choices or offer flexibility – today i am presented with content that can come from multiple sources and caters to different listening and viewing habits.

The cost of setting up a digital broadcast hub that will rely solely on the internet as a major propagation channel is already in the works by some companies and i have started doing the due diligence required to investigate the take off of such in Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Zambia and then by extension – the rest of Africa.

Set Top boxes that connect directly to the TV set either via video/HDMI or other available channels are already present. Their cost point ranges from 20$ – 250$ depending on the capabilities and requirements of the subscriber.

Scenario 1:
If these set-top boxes are paired with paid subscription plans that already factor in Data Subscription from various internet providers – we can begin to see the traction and viability of using Internet ONLY as a primary broadcast medium.

The internet is already considered a “utility” in most parts of the world. The technology aspect is to create a networks that supports all types of media without overtly large bandwidth and costs to the end-user or broadcast entity.

There are even SMART-TVs that have built-in web capability and access and these will continue to proliferate over time and in various guises.

Even the market for content generation, distribution and transmission will be a separate income segment with several stakeholders in different kinds of partnerships.

Scenario 2:

This option may depend on content being hosted and pulled from a central body with large-scale access currently present. Examples of these include Telecom companies, cable satellite companies and/or internet service providers. These already have reach and may therefore opt to create a model that bundles internet access and/or access to content in the form of radio, video and text.
For mobile operators – they have large-scale reach and equipment and most users already have cell phones. Their subscriber base numbers in the millions and account for more than 40% of the entire population of the country. They currently provide standalone access via dongles and hotspots – the only major challenge is capacity. How do they handle large demands for bandwidth from such a very large pool of users who may be downloading or uploading videos, images etc?
For Internet service Providers – these already provide internet access through their dongles or devices. The question is thus – how can we create value added incentives to a pre-existing business model using currently existing equipment?
These are the questions, issues and challenges that we aim to deal with in subsequent follow-up engagements on this article. We hope to hear your views and inputs to better shape this debate and perhaps – we can build a new type of business from the deliberations on these hallowed pages of knowledge.

INCUBATION HUBS AND THEIR ROLE IN THE BUSINESS OF IDEA INNOVATION AND EXECUTION

Image result for image for incubation hubs

Creativity is the spark that powers innovation, drives growth and development. It sets us free to express the full gamut of our inductive powers of reasoning, logic and passionate longing for something that was not once there or something that addresses a problem or that builds upon an already existing concept, theme or idea.

We all know the tough call of becoming a person of independence and deciding to go through with that crazy business scheme of ours – we all know too well the sleepless nights and the inherent doubts that haunt us repeatedly – the tiny voices of dissidence in our heads that scream out to antagonize this spark of creativity that seeks to live in our world. The negative voices of friends, colleagues and partners who now seem to stand against this new seed of an idea.

It is sometimes and most times a hard road to travel; especially if you are traveling alone and so you do need all the help you can get. That is why the advent of incubation hubs is so vital.

They are a concentration and support structure of people, skills and infrastructure that can often be the kiss of life needed to lift an idea off the ground. They can be the entrepreneur best friend in a time of chaos, difficulty and uncertainty. Where the inherent bliss of structure, support and routine create a safe haven for new concepts, ideas and entrepreneurs to thrive.

Incubation hubs as the name implies act as incubators of ideas – like an artificial womb – they cater to and sustain an idea with or without merit until it is fully formed and able to take a life of its own – they provide an environment for such ideas to thrive and develop at a pace that is not smothered with real world issues. the HUB by itself is not the magic bullet – often the individual or team involved may often have to go through various challenges in a bid to overcome seeming unmountable obstacles. The HUN only makes the journey occasionally easier.

They are often a mix of people with different talents and skills – business managers, marketers, analysts, technical personnel, creatives and they provide a haven and equipment, time, support either in personnel and infrastructure to the would be entrepreneur or business person.

These days as the engine room of growth that pushes for self independence – they are a means to jumpstart an economy that is mostly dependent on white collar jobs. The traditional mindset insists that people finish from college or the university and immediately start looking for jobs. In an flourishing economy with many jobs available – this would be no problem at all but in an economy marked by high unemployment numbers and shrinking job markets – it becomes a keenly contested battle where rights are sacrificed and employers become overlords.

Incubation hubs help to alleviate this by encouraging  independence, viable business plans and ideas that can create and open up opportunities that were sorely lacking. Most tech companies of today have very humble beginnings and started out in incubator hubs or its early precursors.

They received mentor-ship, financing, space, resources etc and in return they went ahead to create employment as employers of labour and eventually profit.

The sheer creative energy that resides in these hubs are a testament of the power of surrounding yourself with like minded people who seek to create something new and viable and which addresses real world needs and requirements.

These hubs create and promote a mindset and attitude of “never say never” – they create a pool of talented persons, solutions, services, platforms that can be called upon for different purposes depending on the needs and requirements of clients and other interested parties. After awhile the culture of exchange becomes a prevalent currency used to bargain projects and assignments within the hub.

At the juncture when that business idea is deemed viable and has been proofed – venture capitalists and partners step forward to offer support and other incentives to take it to the next level – this creates employment opportunities and re-creates the cycle all over again when one of the founding members goes out to start another venture.

We need much more of such hubs and we need people who are not afraid to be partners, stakeholders, sponsors, mentors in the creative process.

In Lagos, Nigeria – the cchub: http://cchubnigeria.com is one of such innovation hubs and has received support from major industry players like Google, Microsoft, RIM, MainOne, Samsung etc

In Lusaka, Zambia – the most prominent is BongoHive where i have been fortunate enough to meet fantastic people and to also mentor a few.

We need more innovation hubs like these both for the service they provide and the outlet for creativeness and other productive enterprises.

At the end of the day – the creative process and the steps towards the future begin with a spark of an idea and a vision of its eventual form. We are all part of the process and we cannot any more stand aside and wait for miracles to happen.

We are after all miracles in the making.

Announcement !!

We are excited to welcome Mr Chinedu Koggu as a contributor to our blog. We will let him introduce himself in his own words.

“A wordsmith – with a deep passion for ideas – people and solutions. Technology and its application are my first love and my life ambition is to solving real world AFRICAN problems and empower the next generation of entrepreneurs”-Chinedu Koggu

Look out for Chinedu’s debut articles on the role of incubation hubs and their role in business idea generation and execution. We can’t wait!!

Welcome to the family!!

 

The Triple Threat-Part 1

Forty  Out of 100 (40%) – 1996 Our Principles of Accounts teacher handed out the final test results of the mid term. Mr Bwalya paused as he gave me a stare down which said “I know you can do better that this” as he folded my transcript in half and handed it over.  The test was around constructing an Income Statement (Profit and Loss)  and Balance Sheet for a small business. I failed.  Mr Bwalya took us through the Principle of Accounts through graduation and went on to become Headmaster whilst I proceeded to pursue  training and a career in accounting (Management Accounting).

Paper Tigers and the School of Hard Knocks- 1999  I had secured myself an appointment with the Chief Accountant for one of the major trucking firms for the position of accounts clerk. This gig came just after completing the first semester of college and I desperately needed cash to pay next level of studies. A lot was at stake. I walked into the interview rooms and went through all the niceties of checking the certificates and a few technical questions. The final questions of the interview came down the questions whether I was familiar with Excel to which I agreed to the affirmative. I was handed over a piece of paper from an excise book with formulars and was asked to present the report by 12PM. This was 10AM.  I was handed over to one of the veterans in the accounts office who gave me a PC and full windows 95 glory excel to knock my self out.

After 6 hours and countless cups of free Tea, Coffee and ream of paper, I conceded and handed over the exercise. They never called.

“I am in Oil – 2004“This is your big break-Prog Lloyd Chingambo” . My defining moment was when I met Prof Lloyd Chingambo. The PSPF had been going through a recaptilisation process under a program financed by the World Bank in 2003. This process required the fund to clear any outstanding  pensions obligations owed to retiring civil servants across the country. The fund came looking for students on part time jobs to beef up the staff compliment and clear the backlog. I managed to get the gig and after the six month period required something more permanent. It is during this search that I was fortunate enough to meet Prof Chingambo (Prof), then General Manager of the LuSE.

Prof was running a chain of service stations from Lusaka through to Kabwe. The business was expanding and he needed someone for accounting expertise to be part of the management team.

Training Day – In 2004 I was appointed as Account for Lloyds Investments limited, overseeing the finances of the whole operation which included 5 service stations 3 fast food takeaway shops and a 24/7 convenience store with over 150 employees on our payroll. This was my first real job which gave me the opportunity to learn, experiment, fail, dream and grow.

Leap of Faith – Professor Lloyd Chingambo gave me the opportunity of a life time. He took a risk on an unknown inexperienced accounting student and gave me the runway to find my voice and place on both my personal and professional life. I am forever grateful.


Bringing All Together

Principles: Failing my Principles of Account test reminded me of value of understanding and applying with religious rigour the principles of accounting and by extension finance. Every consumate entrepreneur and business person need to understand and apply these principles to achieve long term success. Accounting and finance form basis for all key business decisions whether you for or not for profit, expanding a new product line, engaging the government on a new policy decision, lending, borrowing or inviting partners and investors to participate in a venture. The principles of accounting and finance are the basis on which the impact of decisions and action are evaluated and tested in tangible economic terms. We will explore emerging trends in this very interesting areas covering capital structure, new forms of finance, impact of taxation and trade incentive of a venture.

Technology:  Coming from an accounting background you realise early in your training the need to have the ability to interact with technology tools in transaction processing and decision making making. The ability to command technological tools to do your bidding is a price of entry to the market place.Technology now allows us to build more accurate and efficient model of business performance opportunities and risks. Growth in mobile and internet connectivity is creating new business models and ways of using publicly available data to steer your business and investments in the right direction. We will be exploring new ideas and innovations data science, cloud, mobile and e-commerce.

Design: Design influences how a customer or consumer experiences a product or service. In the oil marketing business design influenced the layout of the forecourt, the lighting, the positioning of the mast head (main bill board) the interaction between the staff and and motorist and the time it takes to serve. In modern hyper competitive market which most businesses are operating in design thinking impact every aspect of the customers journey from sales, fulfilment and after sales support. Global technology players live Google, Facebook and WordPress designed the business around seamless customer experience and engagement. We will be sharing insights and new thinking  and application of design thinking to product and business models.

The triple threat of Finance, Technology and Design will drive the success of the next generation and breakthrough business ideas we are excited about the potential and opportunities this presents. To be continued……..

What would kill Uber, Airbnb, TripAdvisor in one go? — Knoldus

What do Uber, Airbnb, TripAdvisor, PayPal etc have in common. Right, they are super successful and highly valued and …. ? Uber and Airbnb fall in the category of Shared Economy. Paypal has changed the way financial transactions are carried out and TripAdvisor makes the rating and booking of hotels and trips easier. So, what […]

via What would kill Uber, Airbnb, TripAdvisor in one go? — Knoldus

New words – 17 October 2016 — About Words – Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

chatbot noun [C] UK /’tʃæt.bɒt/ US /’tʃæt.bɑːt/ a software program that uses artificial intelligence to mimic conversation with the user Nadella and Marcus see chatbots – computer programs that you interact with by “chatting” – for example in threads in messaging apps – as an important new human/machine interface. [The Guardian 18 September 2016] blockchain noun [C] UK […]

via New words – 17 October 2016 — About Words – Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

Moving towards a cashless society — Indrosphere

I was reading an article on Bloomberg which stated that by the end of this month, Scandinavia’s last mint will have closed. Following in the footsteps of Sweden and Norway, Denmark has decided to outsource the production of its coins to Finland. The Danish central bank has already stopped printing banknotes. They’ve become so unfashionable that […]

via Moving towards a cashless society — Indrosphere

MEDIABARN + UX DESIGN — Digital Entrepreneurship

On Thursday Nov 3, we are very fortunate to host Keith Deaven. Mr. Deaven is a Penn State alumnus, the CEO and Co-Founder of Mediabarn (a UX research, design, and staff augmentation company), and Board President for the non-profit, Uplifting Athletes. He will host an interactive session aimed at reinforcing some of the concepts we’ve […]

via #9 MEDIABARN + UX DESIGN — Digital Entrepreneurship

BIG DATA — Starting Off With a Quote

Description: Big Data is the next big thing in computing. This video explains Big Data characteristics, technologies and opportunities. Source: http://www.explainingcomputers.com Due to the issues raised by its volume, velocity and variety, Big Data requires new technology solutions. Currently leading the field is an open-source project from Apache called Hadoop. This is developing a software library for reliable, scalable, […]

via BIG DATA — Info Systems in Practice

Getting Started

Christmas 2016-Getting started to cross over to 2017.  Last year this time I was sitting in class learning to code.  The big idea was for me to:

  1. Develop a new skill set and bridge my technical gaps
  2. Understand and investigate  the potential of new technologies
  3. Create the necessary tool kit to try out experiments and ideas in Data Science, Finance and Technology

I will share some my learnings in the next blog and some of the ground breaking ideas I am pursuing with a teams of talented young minds and collaborators.