Affordable and relevant services key to drive growth in East Africa’s telecoms market


imagesAfter a first day where networks were at the centre of most discussions, the second day of East Africa Com yesterday – Wednesday May 22, 2013 – delved more in to the issue of services as indicated by this post-event release.

A panel session during the second day of the East Africa Com.
A panel session during the second day of the East Africa Com.

The day started with an interview of Jose Henriques, VP of data and online services at Airtel Africa, who highlighted the importance of affordability of data services, both in terms of data pricing and of devices. He was followed by John Naranka, who gave the point of view of an OTT player: Kenya-based social network Whive‎.

The sessions covered the services that are most likely to impact data growth in the region – including content, mobile money, e-health, TV, mobile marketing and apps among others. Some keywords were repeatedly mentioned when discussing how to make services successful: affordability, user-friendliness and simplicity.

Safaricom’s Betty Mwangi-Thuo – who gave an update on the M-Pesa service – also highlighted the importance of partnerships to ensure the success of services.

The topic of e-health was covered by a presentation from a representative of Ogra Foundation, the event’s charity partner, which works with and for vulnerable communities in Kenya to improve and promote health.

The event ended with the AppGig, a new session dedicated to developing, promoting and monetising apps for East Africa. A lively panel discussion covered both technical and commercial issues. The audience had a chance to share favourite apps for the region, ranging from traffic news to education and health.

Next year’s event – to take place in Nairobi on May 20 – 21, 2014 – will again focus on how to make networks more reliable and affordable in order to provide relevant services for the region’s users. 

Until then, the next events in the Com World Series will look at networks and infrastructure developments in West Africa (Connecting West Africa, 11-12 June, Senegal), Digital services (Digital Services Africa, 25-26 June, South Africa) and trends in Africa’s largest digital market (NigeriaCom, 17-18 September).