Issue No.96 / October 2017

Meet the man who does President Buhari’s social media – Tolu Ogunlesi talks policy messaging, pidgin and What’s App

No astute African politician goes anywhere without having their own social media accounts. Communicating is no longer a case of issuing a press statement but requires a subtler blend of messaging about how policies benefit people. Russell Southwood spoke to the Special Assistant to the President (Buhari) on Digital New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi.

The latest video clip interviews from Smart Monkey TV can be found at the bottom of this e-letter

Tolu Ogunlesi works for PODE – for which the full title is Presidential Office of Digital Engagement – Presidency and Government of Nigeria. The post is fairly new in Government and started under the Jonathan Government which had two people in the post before him:” It means that I got quite a bit of latitude about what the position would do”.

Before his Government, Tolu Ogunlesi was a man of many parts: journalist, author, poet and photographer. Indeed he was widely known as tweeter with his account now attracting 360,145 followers. His work has appeared in Wasafiri and Farafina and as a journalist he was a regular contributor to both national and international press. He was also features editor of the now defunct Next newspaper.

So how did he get the current job?:”I was offered it. I was quite visible as a journalist and commentator over the last couple of years with a fairly visible profile. I was also quite vocal about tbe fact that I’d had enough of the Jonathan Government. I wrote a New York Times article on that topic. I was told ‘a number of people were considered and you were chosen’. That was in February 2016”.

“One of the things looking back was under the Jonathan administration there was a lot of personalization of the office. He left after 5 years with no official digital archive. There was no website, no Twitter handle, etc. Everybody used their personal handles and websites”.

The first things Ogunlesi did was to build a Facebook page, create an official Twitter and start a page on Medium:” I’ve spent the last 18 months building up our social media assets. Inspired by President Obama’s White House digital team. I want to meet people where they are (online)”.

He has experimented with different ways of reaching people online:” We’re always looking at how people are consuming social media”. He produced the first email newsletter produced by the Nigerian Government:” Email as a digital medium is still very much underutilized by the Government of Nigeria. We also have a plan to do SMS”.

He’s also done a podcast which he wanted to be an audio version of the e-letter:” We did the podcasts on SoundCloud. The plan was to have the podcasts as audio versions of the e-letters. We’ve fallen behind on that and not done it in a while. The goal is to do pidgin podcasts. That’s part of meeting people where they are and it’s important for the digital marketing of the public sector”.

It’s important to understand how big Whats App is in Nigeria. Unfortunately Facebook has not put out figures on it so it’s hard to give exact numbers:”Everybody I know with a mobile phone is on Whats App these days but it’s hard to track what’s going on on What’s App. You want to make sure your content makes it on to Whats App. We try to do this by circulating screenshots from Facebook. We’re always asking how can we make our content What’s Appy? We plan plan to launch a What’s App and are thinking about how we can make it work”.

The Presidency’s Twitter handle used to have 200,000 followers when he took over but now has 650,000. The Government of Nigeria’s Twitter handle had only 29,000 followers but now has 250,000. The Facebook page has 98,000 followers up from a standing start when he launched it. The e-letter reaches a more humble 4,000 people but he hopes to raise this to 5,000 by the year end.

The Presidency’s Twitter handle used to be 200,000 when I took over. It’s now 650,000. The Government of Nigeria’s was 29,000, it’s now 250,000. The Facebook page didn’t exist before and it’s now 98,000 and the e-letter is just under 4,000. We’re targeting getting 5,000 by the end of the year. It’s all been organic growth.

He’s very conscious of the need to widen the reach for all this digital engagement:”Most of our digital engagement is in English but that’s not the way to go when pidgin and local languages are so big”.

The socio-demographics of the audiences vary from platform to platform. Facebook is a lot more diverse in its reach, especially with lower income classes. Twitter and Facebook are a lot more male than female. Also the users are mainly young, mainly in the 18-45 age range. The majority of followers are in Nigeria but there are decent numbers of followers in the Nigerian diaspora in the UK, USA and South Africa. Almost everyone accesses the Presidency’s social media on mobile.

If that’s the social media mechanics, what’s the message?:” Government messaging before social media was quite conventional. There would be a press statement and that was it. That’s been the Government’s style in the past. Now there’s a lot more video and infographics and even lists”. Olungesi says the Government wants to focus on policy issues in terms of  “what this means for you.

So what has been a policy communications success?:”We’ve got a Presidential fertilizer initiative which is about domesticating the production of fertilizer. We’re pumping up the local production of fertilizer, creating local jobs. The explanation is quite complicated so we did a post on Medium – Everything You Need To Know. We’ve been influenced by the Buzzfeed style of doing things. 5 Things …lists. You’ve got to make it easy for them. We then put out videos and photos from the fertlizer plants, talking to people who had no jobs before who are now packing fertilizer. There must be video”.

The Vice President (now acting President) commissioned a rice mill in Northern Nigeria, the first one conceived and commissioned in a long time. To make it more interesting, Olungesi went to Kebe with a drone and shot film that was then made into a two minute video that “went far and wide. People want to see stuff, not just read about it. There’s a need to acknowledge how much cynicism and distrust is out there and has built up over then past few years. There’s a need to provide evidence.”

So what happens about questions about the President’s health:”We get a lot of questions (on this topic) on social media”. But answering questions like this is not his direct responsibility.

”Digital engagement is to support the Government’s advisers. There are spokesmen for the Government as a whole. We support and amplify what they do and we do our best to stick to that. Every government has difficult questions that don’t have easy answers. You have to live with that. There are policies and solutions and how they impact on people’s lives and I do my best to focus on that. If you’re not careful, you find yourself completely distracted away from what affects people as citizens.”

Finally, PODE is an in-house digital agency for the Government. The idea is that it is available to support any Government agency, as the equivalent of a consultancy agency:”We’ve done live discussions on Facebook twice with the Minister of Finance, which produced tens of thousands of views. Two weeks ago there was the announcement of pioneer status incentives which was complicated. The CEO of the investment promotion agency did explainer videos and these were put out on Facebook and Twitter. We help Government agencies build up digital capacity.”

Film and TV+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Globecast South Africa has created its own VoD platform – Clients use it to create new content business models

Faced with the high cost of international platforms, Globecast South Africa decised to create its own VoD/SVoD platform to offer to its clients. Russell Southwood spoke to Alan Hird, CEO, Globecast South Africa about why it chose to do this and how its clients are using it.

Q:Why did Globecast South Africa create its own SVoD/VoD platform?

A: We did it for a number of reasons. We see it as the future, or at least a key part of the future, and we want to provide our clients access to a platform that can help future-proof their business. We have all seen the take-up rate on platforms like Netflix and are familiar with the issues that are arising because of cord-cutting.

We also created this platform because while investigating the cost of international platforms, we found they are incredibly expensive and this was made worse by a weakening SA currency and the risks of its on-going fluctuation. By and large, we have Rand-based costs and can apply Rand-based pricing, which is a tremendous help to our customers.

To read the rest of this article, click on this link:

Econet Media partners with Netflix and Roku

Econet Media’s Kwese TV announced the launch of a long-term partnership with Netflix or the sub-Saharan Africa region. This move leverages Kwese’s pan-Africa reach to facilitate consumers to enjoy Netflix. Part of the partnership involves Kwese to partner with telecom operators across Sub-Sahran Africa to distribute Kwese TV and Netflix.

Netflix members in Africa will also see some shows that are not available to US viewers like the hit series Designated Survivor and the new Star Trek: Discovery series.

Econet Media also announced the launch of its IPTV service, Kwese Play, which is a video streaming service delivered on high-speed data networks. Instead of creating its own VOD business, the company took a singular approach by building the best platform to house Roku, the largest OTT and streaming platform in the US. Kwese Play service will combine the strength of Roku platform and bring local and global VOD entertainment to users in Africa.
Source: NexTV

The Africa Channel Sets Launch of Subscription VOD Service

The Africa Channel is the latest to get into the internet subscription-video game: The cable programmer will launch its new streaming video service, Demand Africa, on Oct. 1.

At launch, Demand Africa will stream more than 300 hours of original and acquired lifestyle content. In the following months, it will add several hundred additional hours of scripted TV series and movies, targeting 500-plus hours by the end of the first quarter of 2018, according to the company.

Demand Africa will cost $6.99 per month, with a discounted rate of $69.99 per year. The company is offering subscribers who sign up now a 50% discount off the first three months.

In addition to premium HD streaming video, Demand Africa will feature free access to short-form video series and an online lifestyle blog community highlighting content across the African diaspora on Read the full article in Variety here

Zimbabwe: Telone Applies for Vod Broadcast Licence

State owned telecommunications company, TelOne has applied for a broadcasting license to offer video on demand (VoD) services, the industry regulatory authority said on Monday. The company, which wants to widen its revenue base through the new service, posted a $25 million loss last year.

The possible introduction of VoD services will broaden its revenue base, although the marketability of the product remains unclear. VoD is an interactive television technology that allows subscribers to view programming in real time or download programmes and view them later.
Source: The Herald 

Nigeria: YouTube Go Makes Debut in Nigeria

YouTube has announced that the YouTube Go app previewed at the recent Google for Nigeria event is now available for initial public download in Nigeria.

YouTube Go is an app designed to help users manage their data in such a way that they can control the amount of data usage while downloading or browsing online, and was specifically designed for emerging markets, Nigeria inclusive.

The YouTube Go app is being launched 12 years after YouTube app was launched in May 2005, and has since then become the world's most popular online video community allowing billions of people to discover, watch and share video.

YouTube has been reimagined to meet the needs of the next generation of users in YouTube Go, which is available for initial download in the Google Play Store. YouTube plans to continue to learn from its users to improve the app over time.

Built from the ground up to meet the needs of the growing online youth population, YouTube Go offers easy video downloading, phone-number sign-in, effortless searching, and more effective ways to control data use. YouTube Go also features a home screen that shows both personalised recommendations as well as trending and popular videos nearby, allowing users to see the latest content that the people around are watching, upfront. It offers a 'preview video' function to make it easier to decide what to watch or download.
Source: This Day

BlackBOX, Africa’s Next Netflix Doesn’t Require Internet to Stream Content

BlackBOX, founded by Claude Marcello Champier is a broadcasting service that allows customers to stream content without an internet connection.

Claude Champier, founder of BlackBOX, started BlackBOX TV because he wanted to create a VOD (Video on Demand) system, a Netflix for Africa. However, he wanted people to have access to content without a conventional data connection.

Traditional streaming of content requires a data connection with sufficient bandwidth to operate. BlackBOX requires no such connectivity; instead, the product uses third party programmes written externally by programmers and developers.

The company’s proprietary software runs off of Android 4.4.2 (KitKat), and the company attempts to mimic the end-user’s interaction with that of a smartphone. Promising a simple “plug and play” experience, the company hopes to expand product usage internationally.

Another interesting aspect of BlackBOX is that there are no subscription fees. The company sells the product at a one-time cost. The price point for the product is affordable, and in most cases, more cost-efficient over the long term than subscription-based services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus.

Among the biggest draws for the product is its simplicity. The product itself is shipped with three basic items: a power adapter, remote control, and HDMI cable. Instructions are relatively basic in nature, as the regional TV listings guide is already preinstalled. Listings automatically update every 15 minutes to provide the user with the most current information.

The content available to watch includes movies, TV shows, and sporting events. The specific programs are determined by regional availability, although a payable option called IPVanish exists. It spans over 40,000 IPs on a network of over 400 servers located in more than 60 countries around the world.

As the company is very new, it is difficult to ascertain the future levels of customer adoption. BlackBOX has goals to expand internationally, which could be difficult given the complexities of marketplace penetration in many countries.
Source: Tech Moran

In Brief

Afrostream, the video-on-demand service offering exclusively African films and series, announced, on September 13, the shutdown of its services. The company specializing in VOD, long cited as an example for startuppers, makes its sign song after a start in a tornado.Created in 2015 by the Franco-Cameroonian Tonjé Bakang,

Zuku Fibre, the home-based fibre optic provider, a subsidiary of Kenyan Internet service provider Wananchi Group, has improved its Internet service offering in the country by launching the product called “Zuku Fire”. This is the Triple Play – Internet, Voice and Television – that the telecom company officially introduced to the market on September 12th. Tanzanian capital Dar Es Salaam is the first launch zone for this new offer, which will then be made available to consumers in the cities of Dodoma, Mwanza and Arusha.

The social live streaming app, VOOV, allows users to share unfiltered peeks into their daily lives. Users can discover, connect and engage with their favourite celebrities and friends. ‘VOOVers’ can also become the stars of their own live show. VOOVers can use the platform to entertain an audience and to discover all the perks VOOV offers. VOOV offers cool features, gifts, and filters which create a fun and engaging experience. VOOV is already very popular among some top celebrities such as Thando Thabethe, Somizi Mhlongo, Pearl Thusi, Khanyi Mbau and DJ Zinhle who share unfiltered, intimate peeks into their daily lives as well as exclusive behind the scenes content on their live streams.  “

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by Discover Digital and Hashtag Live will create new content development opportunities for local producers and creatives, help mainstream and commercialise local content, and upskill talent latent across South Africa. Taryn Uhlmann, Executive Head: Content at Discover Digital, says the far-reaching MoU will see the two companies collaborating on a number of projects, including upskilling young creatives in SA’s townships and hosting a Hashtag Africa branded section on Discover Digital’s DEOD service.

DStv Premium customers have something to celebrate - they will now get Showmax, worth R99 per month, at no charge. In addition to getting access to Showmax's catalogue of more than 25 000 TV show episodes and movies via the DStv Explora decoder, DStv Premium customers will also be able to access Showmax via the DStv Now app, as well as their PC, laptop, mobile device, media player or smart TV.


NaijaMusic launches to connect Nigerians to their favourite artists

NaijaMusic has launched in Nigeria to connect users with the latest songs and videos from their favourite artists. Founder John Kilsi told Disrupt Africa, which went live at the end of June, was user-friendly and had easy-to-find links at the top of the page.

Users can search by category and genre to access songs, videos, mixtapes and artist biographies, with new music available every day.

“When promoting music online, there are certain successful strategies that artists can take to get their music noticed not only within their country, but worldwide,” Kilsi said.

“One of the biggest ways to get music noticed is having it on a site where possible listeners can immediately buy or download the tune onto a laptop or portable device. The other big promotion technique that really helps artists is thoughtful advertisement placement.”

All of this is available on the new platform, which makes money by charging for advertising space. Kilsi is hoping for success based on the level of access to new music offered by NaijaMusic.

“Finding a music website that properly caters to certain music tastes can be extremely difficult. For many Nigerian artists, the chances of reaching a larger audience are slim to none. NaijaMusic is looking to fulfill all of these needs by providing music videos to view and songs to download from popular and upcoming music artists to those who visit our website,” he said. The bootstrapped startup hopes to move into other African countries if it proves a success in Nigeria.
Source: Disrupt Africa

Spotify is coming to South Africa

The “Spotify is not currently available in your country” browser message may soon be a thing of the past in South Africa. This after the streaming service posted an ad for a ‘Senior Editor/Music Programmer – South Africa’, effectively letting the cat out of the bag regarding the company’s plans for the continent.

It’s no speculation that Spotify’s entry into the South African market would be the company’s first foray towards a potentially lucrative expansion drive into Africa’s other big music markets – in particular Nigeria and Kenya. There was, however, no confirmation about the exact launch date when Music In Africa contacted Spotify to elaborate past the job posting, although insiders believe the service will open its doors to users in South Africa “in the next few months”.

Spotify’s arrival in South Africa follows music streaming services such as Deezer, Google Play and Apple Music, who have already made a notable footprint on the country's market. Last month, South African telecoms provider Telkom announced a no-data deal for its FreeMe clients, which sees users streaming music and video for free when using services such as Google Play, Apple Music, Simfy Africa, Showmax, Netflix and YouTube. 

Spotify is entering the market at a time when music streaming revenue is on the rise. Earlier this year a report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said total South African streaming revenue increased from $1 877 000 in 2015 to $8 150 000 in 2016, which constitutes a massive growth of 334.2% in just one year. This bodes well for new players looking to claim a piece of the music streaming pie in Africa’s most developed economy.

The Spotify ad says the new recruit will join the company’s Shows and Editorial team, responsible for South Africa, in London or Dubai. It said the editor would “play a senior editorial role in the daily programming for South Africa and curate a large number of varied playlists”.
Source: Music in Africa

Kanda Bongo Man leads the pack at Vodafone African Legends Night

Congolese music legend, Kanda Bongo Man, has been named as the headline artist at this year’s Vodafone African Legends Night in Ghana. Organisers of the event, Global Media Alliance (GMA), made this announcement in a press statement copied to Entertainment Today. The 6th edition of the annual music show which comes off on September 30th, 2017 is expected to take place at the Banquet Hall, State House in Accra.

Born January 1, 1955 Kanda Bongo Man’s music career took off in full flight after moving to Paris in 1979 where his music started to incorporate elements of then-vibrant zouk music. His first solo albums, “Iyole” in 1981 and “Djessy” in 1982, were instant hits.

The Congolese singer, known for structural changes, is widely credited with revolutionising soukous music by encouraging guitar solos after every verse and even sometimes at the beginning of the song. His form of soukous gave birth to the popular “Kwassa Kwassa” dance rhythm where hips move back and forth while the hands move to follow the hips.
Source: Todaygh

In Brief

Interested collaborators are invited to contribute to a book project that will examine the intersection between politics and music in the African continent. The project is tentatively titled Politics and Music in Africa: A political communication perspective.
Chapter-contributors should e-mail their abstract of 150-200 words to the editor, Dr. Uche Onyebadi at Each abstract should be prefixed or titled “Politics and Music in Africa.” Joint contributors are also welcome. This is an eclectic project that welcomes contributions from multi-disciplinary backgrounds and all theoretical/methodological persuasions. Deadline for submission of abstracts which should indicate methodology and theory, is November 15, 2017. The following information should also be submitted:  (a) Title/Topic; (b) Author’s name (c) Institutional Affiliation (d) E-mail address (e) Academic Rank (f) Brief Bio (50-100 words). Decisions will be communicated by December 30, 2017. Guidelines about the full-length manuscript and other deadlines will follow. Information about the publishers of the book will also be made available.

In South Africa, Google is now selling a Google Play Music family plan subscription which is priced at R89.99 per month. Like Family Library, you can share the subscription with up to five family members, who may use Google Play Music on up to 10 devices each. Google Play Music family plan subscribers automatically receive access to Family Library.

Social Media++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Social Media deepens its hold on SA

Social Media use has intensified among South Africans during the past year, with Facebook now being used by 29% of the population. This is a key finding of the SA Social Media Landscape 2018 study, conducted by brand intelligence organisation Ornico and high-tech market research consultancy World Wide Worx.

The study found that the number of South Africans using Facebook has increased by 14% since 2016, from 14-million to 16-million. Of these, 14-million were accessing the social network on mobile devices.

A big contributor to the increase was the growth in downloads of Facebook Lite, a low-intensity version of the Facebook app that some mobile operators allow to be used without data charges on their networks. The study showed that it was the fifth most downloaded app from the Google Play Store for Android phones in South Africa, with instant messaging apps WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger at number one and four respectively. The Capitec app was a surprise entry into the list at number nine, making it the most downloaded banking app for Android.

“These are great examples of how tools geared towards the dynamics of a market can make a difference in uptake and penetration,” says Oresti Patricios, CEO of Ornico. “The staggering proportion of people accessing Facebook via mobile devices – no less than 87.5% - tells us that we can expect mobile to become the default home of social media.”

Twitter continues to grow at a slow rate in South Africa, in line with international trends, which have seen a small decline in the USA balanced by a small increase in users outside the network’s home market. It is now used by 8-million South Africans, up marginally from 7.7-million in 2016.

There were two surprise trends in the survey: the previously fastest growing app in South Africa, photo-sharing network Instagram, has seen its growth slow down dramatically, while the professional network, LinkedIn, has maintained steady growth. The former is now used by 3.8-million South Africans, up from 3.5-million, while LinkedIn has increased from 5.5-million to 6.1-million.

The study included a survey of social media use by South Africa’s biggest brands, with 118 participants providing insights into their social media practices, strategies and results.

The survey found significant shifts in each of the platforms used by brands, mostly upward. Facebook is now almost pervasive, in use by 97% of brands, from 91% the year before. Twitter has increased marginally, from 88% to 90%, while LinkedIn and Instagram continued their relentless rises, now both standing at 72%. YouTube has fallen slightly behind them, despite a marginal rise to 68%.

Declines were reported for Pinterest, Google+, WeChat, WhatsApp and SnapChat.

A similar picture emerged when brands were asked whether they advertised on social media. Facebook is by far the most popular for advertising, at 86% of brands, with Twitter and Instagram in distant second and third place at 45% and 40%. LinkedIn comes in fourth, on 35%.
Source: Press Release

The top 13 most followed South Africans on Twitter

The top most followed South Africans on Twitter are as follows in reverse order (followers in brackets):

13 – Black Coffee (1,548,869)

This musician, real name Nkosinathi Maphumulo, has been making waves globally, having played recently in Ibiza and partying up a storm with Paris Hilton and Diddy. Not letting a disabled hand stop him from chasing success, this DJ is one to watch.

12 – Boity Thulo (1,565,268)

Actress and TV host Boity Thulo describes herself in her Twitter bio as ‘A Legend in the making’. Her posts on her timeline are mostly motivational, mixed with a bit of promotion of her various business ventures.

11 – DJ Zinhle (1,615,696)

DJ Zinhle, real name Ntombezinhle Jiyane, has certainly made a name for herself in the South African music scene, as well as on Twitter. With her booking details in her bio, Zinhle’s account is very much utilised for promotion of her business ventures.

10 – Gareth Cliff (1,725,294)

Radio personality Gareth Cliff is very active on the social media platform, retweeting and interacting with many other users. He regularly gives his opinions on stories in the news as well as promotes his online radio station CliffCentral.

9 – AKA (1,972,824)

Hip-hop artist AKA was not on Twitter Counter’s list of the most followed South Africans on the social media platform, but after doing some research his name popped up. Promotion of his music and the gigs that he is playing are interspersed with a lot of retweets on his timeline. Interestingly, AKA is the person on this list with the fewest number of following as well as the lowest number of tweets.

8 – Minenhle Dlamini (2,032,102)

The Twitter timeline of on-air personality, actress and model Minenhle Dlamini, popularly known as Minnie, has been dominated recently by news around her bridal shower and wedding, which happened on Saturday. She also posts a lot around promoting the projects that she is involved in.

7 – Bonang Matheba (2,289,268)

She who reigns supreme, according to her Twitter bio, television personality, radio host and businesswoman Bonang Matheba made headlines recently when she was mocked by those on Twitter for the quality of her book. It contained bad grammar, incorrect spelling and untruths, which spawned a series of memes. However, many Twitter followers rallied around in support of her. What stands out most on Matheba’s timeline is the confidence she has in herself, with the following Tweet summing it up perfectly: “They have to talk about you. Because when they talk about themselves, nobody listens”.

6 – Kevin Pietersen (3,440,307)

Describing himself as a Durban boy in his Twitter bio, Pietersen was born in Pietermaritzburg and grew up in South Africa until 2000, when he moved to England, the country he played cricket for. A lot of his Tweets centre, of course, around cricket, while other sports also feature including golf and soccer. There is also a huge presence of wildlife conservation content, particularly around saving the rhino.

5 – AB de Villiers (4,928,733)

The top sports star on the list, Protea’s cricket player De Villiers’ timeline is unsurprisingly littered mostly with content related to sport, but not just cricket. A lot lately was around showing support for Kevin Anderson at the US Open, while golf and rugby also feature.

4 – Caspar Lee (5,147,154)

Having ranked number one on our list of the most subscribed to South Africans on YouTube, Lee is also one to watch on Twitter. Recently named as the chief creative officer of social media marketing agency Influencer in London, Lee says in his Twitter profile, “I create and build stuff with people more talented than me”.

3 – Troye Sivan (6,384,065)

Twenty-two year old South African born singer songwriter Troye Sivan claims third place on the list. Now residing in Perth Australia, not only has his singing career blossomed but he has made film appearances in all three of the Spud movies as well as playing a young Wolverine in the 2009 X-Men film. He is also a force to be reckoned with on YouTube, having racked up over 4.4 million subscribers. Sivan is a well known gay rights activist having come out on 7 August 2013.

2 – Trevor Noah (7,418,262)

The comedian, who recently renewed his contract on The Daily Show in the US for another five years and won his first Emmy Award, is the second most followed South African on Twitter. Beating third place by over 1 million followers, Noah’s profile blurb reflects his sense of humour stating, “I was in the crowd when Rafiki held Simba over the edge of the cliff, like an African Michael Jackson”.

1 – Elon Musk (12,709,256)

Another South African-born personality who has since moved to another country, Tesla, SpaceX, OpenAI and Neuralink founder Elon Musk is looking to change the world for the better through technology. He is by far the most followed South African on Twitter (beating Noah by almost five million), and even though he doesn’t live in South Africa anymore, we will still claim him as one of our own.

All data was sourced from Twitter Counter  and directly from Twitter and was correct as of writing. If there is an account that is not on this list, which you feel was overlooked, please email
Source: The Media Online

In Brief

Facebook, announced on September 6, 2017, that the company has begun the roll-out of Developer Circles in South African cities; Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria. The project, which was launched at Facebooks Developer Conference (F8) in April 2017, now comprises of over 70 initiatives around the world, the four South African circles join other African countries in Cairo, Casablanca, Dakar, Harare, Lagos, Nairobi and Tunis.


Is podcasting the way to open up African media?

Could the podcast be the perfect yardstick that advances Africa’s already complex stories? The African scene is of far lower rank than other regions in uptake. Besides there being no visible research, the only shine the scene gets on Google is a string of “top 10 African podcasts to listen to”. The economy’s terrain is still in a warp of discovery, with a fixation on the newest-freshest talking head(s) rather than a focus on long-term potential. With the exception of Al Jazeera’s bouquet of long form podcasts, so far on the continent, the baseline format is conversational – along the lines of a radio show – whereas internationally documentary-styled content gets attention.

In the wake of Apple’s announcement that it will develop a new version of its podcast app that provides basic analytics to podcast creators, African podcasters have an opportunity to ride the wave of monetising the platform. The app gives the ability to see when podcast listeners play individual episodes, and — crucially — what part of individual episodes they listen to, which parts they skip over and when they bail out of an episode.
The South African situation

South Africa’s podcast bubble has, from a creative point of view, favoured independents, who seemingly have impetus to be experimental. This cohort pushes the envelope more aggressively than established radio brands. Among the heralded ones are Alibi, Tech Round Up and Lesser Known Somebodies. All popular for their ability to pick apart interesting strands of narrative in investigative journalism, technology and popular culture.

Generally, podcasts for local radio are downloadable shorthand versions of on air shows. The motivation is to update the listener with content that they might have missed during regular programming. Alternatively (and as observed through the lens of a few urban radio stations, to the dismay of an increasingly insatiable audiences with a strong case of FOMO), podcasting is a repository of dumbed down lifestyle content. This limitation extends to a station’s inability to filter podcast-worthy content from duds. Radio is currently challenged in weighing between content with mass appeal for on-air programming versus niche podcast material.

This dilemma feeds into local radio’s generally often cavalier approach to the creation of diversified content. Our medium sticks to the same old script (negating many a pioneering digital content strategy).

However, talk radio is the one category apparently seeing the nimble potential of the podcast. Indicative of this willingness is SAFM’s support of the documentary styled Alibi. The Alibi radio series investigated whether one man, Anthony de Vries, is innocent of his crimes (a double murder and robbery at a Checkers supermarket in Vereeniging in 1994). Run over eight weeks, Alibi is compared to successes such as S-TOWN and Serial. The show seems to have given a new dimension to the necessities of well planned editorial oversight.

According to its writer and producer Paul McNally, “Alibi was scripted and re-scripted. Compared to some of the American podcasts this is nothing new, but there is such a powerful trend in radio here for it to be live and be open for callers to input, that it is at times difficult to stand up for the amount of time this type of work takes. It has been rewarding to see how people have engaged with the story and I think partly we are fascinated with mid-90s South Africa and what happened during that time.”.

Jon Gericke, who runs Pint Sized Media and Niche Radio, which hosts a wide selection of podcasts, says the biggest issue in terms of podcasting in Africa is bandwidth and communication.

“African podcasters find it very challenging to get their content on the web at a good value for money. Having said that, there are some very creative podcasts that don’t need the expense of traditional media to get their message out,” he says.

“Payment is also a challenge with money movement costs becoming prohibitive. We have found that BitCoin works well for our payment systems to the continent. African stories need to be told and we are always on the lookout for new, interesting, on-the-ground views of Africa instead of the normal news media angle.”

The advantages of Nigeria’s podcast scene are owed to its diaspora, as heard on podcasts such as Chicken & Jollof Rice Show, whose four hosts create conversations around Nigerian lifestyle and identity as informed by their first generation perspectives in the US. Also unique to Nigeria’s podcast flair is Not Your African Cliche, which magnifies the Nigerian experience through the lens of entrepreneurship and fashion. Collectively, these podcasts debunk the narrow views of what it means to be African as well as paint contemporary portraits of the continent.

Domestically, Nigeria’s internet data costs are still exorbitant and that limits the scene. But that hasn’t hindered the growth of audio storytelling. Household podcasters, such as Dayo Samuels and Steve Harris, have made names for themselves and see the potential of the medium in standing out of a cluttered digital terrain. Next to YouTube and blogging, Nigeria has a cutthroat and concentrated independent literary publishing scene, which allows for podcasting to be an alternative to reach audiences.

With Kenya’s impressive internet penetration, podcasting is being treated for both local and global audiences in regards to promotional efforts. The cohort of independent podcasters such as Africanah, Bench Warmerz, Kenyan Queer Questions, Spread and Otherwise, thrive from a blend of lifestyle, sports, LGBTI issues and politics.

All of these have a geographic spread to areas such as South Africa, Nigeria, Canada, US, Germany and Reunion in terms of subscription.

Kenya’s podcasters are arguably the most astute in the long term viability of the medium. This is largely evident in the conscious effort to target a young audience, between 18-34, with the realisation that Africa is a young continent whose conversations should centre around youth.
Source: The Media Online

Innovator Q&A: Liberia’s FrontPage Africa founder Rodney Sieh

Many Liberians get their news through radios and newspapers, but FrontPage Africa revolutionised digital media in the west African country

Veteran Liberian journalist Rodney D. Sieh, with more than two decades of experience, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of one of Liberia’s most widely read independent print and digital publication, FrontPage Africa. The online publication was started in 2005, followed by the launch of the print edition four years later. The publication’s success is partly owed to its business model as its advertising revenue from the website funds the print version of FrontPage Africa.

However, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the publication and Sieh. In 2013, Sieh was jailed and the publication was shutdown for having failed to pay a libel verdict of $US 1.5 million that was won by former minister of agriculture Chris Toe. Sieh wrote an op-ed from jail , originally published in The New York Times, detailing that experience. Today, FrontPage Africa continues to draw in more audiences and report independently in Liberia.

Q: What were/are the resources that were needed to start FrontPage Africa?

A: I started FrontPage Africa with one laptop, it was a Dell, from my one-room apartment in Parsippany, New Jersey. I had a single correspondent in Monrovia at the time. Because it was only online at the time we did not need a lot of resources to get started. It was not until I quit my job at the newspaper I worked for at the time and decided to return to my homeland that the challenges began. I took a loan from the bank to purchase the first set of printing materials and equipment before making the transition from online to print.

Q: Were there any failures along the way? What were these failures?

A: There were a lot of initial failures along the way. Logistical issues which included building capacity of journalists as a result of the civil war was the first major challenge. Secondly, the two color Heidelberg printing machine we purchased was a major headache because we could not find any one who could operate the machine.

Looking at this is website and taking into account that you’re a journalist, how much of technical knowledge did you have when you started it?
Very little. My cousin, Wulwyn Porte provided the technical support including the creation of the website and the maintenance.

Q: What skills did you have to acquire to be able to run a successful online publication?

A: I started journalism early, first as a newspaper vendor when I was in elementary school. After the civil war I worked as a reporter for the Monrovia Daily News. I left Liberia in 1990 to join my uncle Kenneth Best who had started the Daily Observer newspaper in The Gambia. There, I began to work as a correspondent for the BBC. When Yahya Jammeh seized power on July 22nd 1994 I scored the first interview with the new coup leaders but soon after dictatorship began to creep in and I was forced into hiding before fleeing to London and then the US.

Q: How do you make your money? And do you have a vision of how you will sustain this model?

A: Most of our funds are generated from online advertising and ads in the print edition. It’s difficult especially on a nation where the government is the biggest advertisers and we are their harshest critics.

Q: What models should media organisations be looking to implement as more publications are placing a lot of focus on their digital offerings?
I think podcasting and more visual output would be the way to go. That’s the direction we are moving into although held back by difficult financial and political challenges.

Q: How big are online publications in Liberia? How do people get their news?

A: Most people get their news through radios and newspapers. Our paper revolutionized the online digital media and remains today the leader in both print and online.

Q: What advice could you give to other journalist/media practitioners on the African continent who’d want to create something similar to FrontPage Africa?

A: Persistence, perseverance, and strive for integrity. I feel it is first important to believe in the work you are doing and everyone must have the vision and competitive drive to push to the highest limit. I think a lot if not most of us have a tendency to be complacent with what we are. But it is only if we push beyond our wildest imagination and defy the political conventions of the powers that be in most countries on the continent where leaders are afraid to hear truth being spoken to them.
Source: Medium

In Brief

A journalist from north-eastern Nigeria has won the third BBC World News Komla Dumor Award. Amina Yuguda is a news presenter on local network Gotel Television, where she has reported on high-profile news stories, including the Boko Haram insurgency. She will start a three-month placement at the BBC in London in September. The award was created to honour Komla Dumor, a presenter for BBC World News, who died suddenly aged 41 in 2014.

The Associated Press, in collaboration with LiveU, recently announced the launch of AP Live Community, the first live video content and service exchange platform for global newsgathering. The new platform will go live at the IBC exhibition on 15 September 2017. Combining AP’s global news network with LiveU’s technological expertise, the innovative online platform expedites live coverage of breaking news and events in any location by connecting live video publishers and contributors around the world. AP Live Community, which is free to access, makes it straightforward and cost- effective for any broadcaster to book a service provider for a specific time to cover anything from live breaking news to the coverage of planned events.

Code4Africa is recruiting two data wranglers for part-time fellowships to help kickstart a data journalism desk in South Africa’s leading financial newsroom, the Financial Mail (FM). A data liberation fellow — who could be a university student or journalistic freelancer — will help digitise FM’s extensive editorial archives over a 3-month period in preparation for a series of flagship investigative data journalism projects. A second data wrangler fellow — who should have data analysis / data storytelling experience — will help FM drive its first major data journalism projects on a renewable fellowship that is performance-based. Only Johannesburg-based applicants will be considered.If you are interested please send an email to:

Digital Advertising+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Follow the data – insights from Gary Meyer

Condriac’s data-focused approach to PR is changing the game, says Gary Meyer, founder and managing partner at Condriac. He says data affords Condriac an unprecedented capacity to remain dynamic, agile, and responsive to subtle changes in the way in which audiences respond to key messaging, creative concepts, and value offerings.
Follow the data – insights from Gary Meyer

Traditionally, PR has relied on time-tested methods of tailoring the development and execution of campaigns. These methods rely largely on data collection post-campaign launch, meaning insights and calibrations are only available once campaigns are already running for some time.

While this outdated approach does have its merits as a process of learning about target audiences, Condriac has found that using carefully collected, statistically relevant data to guide PR campaign development from day one is a much more effective strategy.

An argument may be made against this approach, in that it is perhaps too limiting or constraining on the potential scope and freedom afforded to creative and strategic processes.

However, after years of using this data-centric approach for delivering profitable PR campaigns, Condriac argues that it is these very constraints that are largely responsible for their success.

Knowing the specific interests, sensitivities, and limitations of target audiences control the focus and, as a result, allows Condriac freedom to execute quickly, efficiently and, most importantly, with confidence.

Databases have been used to help identify potential areas of friction in demographics, audiences, and focus groups for clients in a myriad of industries. Findings from digital-only campaigns are combined with empirical 'in-the-field' data to attentively curate service offerings to current and future clients. This process enables a more personal, 'in-house' approach to the relationships manage both with and for customers.

In addition to the priceless value, data provides us in the research, planning, execution, and management of campaigns, another crucial area data aids us in is reporting. By basing reports on real, accurate data collected throughout a campaign’s lifecycle, our capacity to unearth insights for customers is magnified ten-fold.

It is not unusual to discover information about a client’s own customer that affects the very way their business is conducted going forward. This data enables clients to make the changes and improvements necessary for growth in their businesses, all while cutting costs and improving their focus on delivering valuable products and services to their own customers.

In conclusion, in order to create dynamic, relevant, engaging, successful PR campaigns, simply follow the data.

For more information, visit Alternatively, connect with them on Facebook or on Twitter.
Source: Media Update

In Brief

With more than 15 years’ experience as a marketing manager and client service professional, Ulrike du Toit has joined Sprout Performance Media as a digital operations director. The programmatic media buying agency has been growing since it was founded in 2013, and having du Toit onboard will assist Sprout in optimising its service levels on both the client service and campaign management side.

Ogilvy Public Relations has announced the appointment of Cheryl Reddy to its board of directors. Reddy, who has been with the agency since 2011, is currently a business director and lead for the agency’s corporate practice.

Other Digital Content and Services+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Nigerian start-up Publiseer launches a digital platform to help writers and music artists to distribute their work

Nigerian startup Publiseer has launched a digital publishing platform that allows authors and music artists to publish and distribute their material across a variety of mediums. Launched early this month, Publiseer distributes books and songs to over 400 premium stores, including Amazon, Google Play and the Apple Store.

The platform also offers product fine-tuning, taking the words written by an author and transforming it into a piece of work ready to be published. It does the same with songs, paying authors and artists US$1 in royalties for every copy sold.

Co-founder Chidi Nwaogu said Publiseer had competition from the likes of BookBaby and CDBaby, but said platforms like this charged artists and authors a hefty publishing fee.

“Most of these authors and artists spend so much on publishing that they have very little money left to market their book or album. That is where Publiseer comes in. We are the publishing company for the third world,” he said.

“Many people in Nigeria live under a dollar per day and they cannot afford to publish their works. Usually these works are breathtaking and these people are talented, but their talent wastes away because they don’t have the money to publish.”

Publiseer publishes this work for free, in turn for a share of any revenues generated. “Most talents die when their work lies around with them, unknown and undiscovered. Publiseer wants to give them their first step, so that all they can worry about is getting their work marketed. And they don’t lose money marketing because their work is everywhere for everyone who is interested in it to purchase a copy,” Nwaogu said. He said Publiseer is currently a self-funded startup but is seeking angel investment.
Source: Disrupt Africa

West African Gaming Expo 2017 (WAGE 17)

West African Gaming Expo (WAGE) is the first technology conference and exhibition in West Africa focusing on animation, video, mobile games and related products.
WAGE aims to connect the best, brightest, and most innovative professionals in the interactive entertainment industry. Leading-edge companies, groundbreaking new technologies and never-before-seen products will be showcased.

WAGE 17 will be a place where attendees can learn about coding, games development, animation creation, take part in hackathons, register to attend game development classes , take part in educative tournaments, and meet the creators of their favorite games.

WAGE has partnered with Bundesverband Interaktive Unterhaltungssofware. Te BIU, the German Games Industry Association, is the organisation that ofcially represents the German computer and video games industry. Te BIU will be inviting the biggest and best gaming companies from around the world to fy down to African and work with African developers.

Confrmed speakers :
Nicholas Hall ( Makes Games South Africa (Largest gaming association in south Africa )
Abiola Olanirun ( CEO Gamsole Nigeria)
Zubair Abubakar ( CEO Chop Up Games Nigeria)
Grace Olugbodi ( CEO BeGenio Games)
Dominique Yakan Brand ( CEO Kiro Games Cameroon )
Eyram Taiwa ( CEO Leti Arts Ghana )
Jide Martin ( CEO Comic Republic Nigeria )
Henry Hofman ( Bafa award winning games developer. Hue the game. UK) Dami Solesi ( CEO Smids animation )
Adedeji Ogundipe ( CEO Twin Crown studios) Shina Ajulo (Comic Animation Academy )
West African Gaming Expo ( WAGE ) 8 SPG Road, Millennium Estate Oniru, Lagos, Nigeria Tel Number - 09095327326
Source: Press release

In Brief

SteamSpy, from game developer Sergey Galyonkin, has collected data from Steam and segmented it by title and country. Valve, the company behind Steam, does not release sales figures. However, estimates suggest it is by far the dominant player in the PC digital game distribution space. For the week of 4 September, SteamSpy showed the following: Total active users – 777,144 (± 91,449). Most popular games in descending order were: Counter Strike – Global Offensive; DOTA 2; PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds; ARK: Survival Evolved; Rust; Rocket League; Path of Exile; Grand Theft Auto V; Paladins; and Terraria.

If you’d like to subscribe to Digital Content Africa send an email to with Digital Content Africa in the header. If you think that there are African creators and innovators we should be interviewing, send me a message on twitter @smartmonkeytv

Yours sincerely

Russell Southwood
Smart Monkey TV

PS Watch Comrade Fatso on Zambesi News, a comic parody of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation news:

PPS To subscribe to our web TV channel Smart Monkey TV, click on the link below and press the red Subscribe button below the monkey with the camera on the logo:

Jim Teicher on CyberSmart’s all-in-one edtech device trialing in Senegalese schools

Jim Teicher, Founder and Director,  CyberSmart Africa talks about: the failure of many edtech projects in Africa and the reasons why; the things built into CyberSmart’s device to avoid these issues; what the device can deliver and how; the cost of the device; its trial in Senegalese schools; and CyberSmart’s fundraising round.

Abdulai Awudu on Ghana’s No 1 broadcaster’s VoD partnership with local start-up 2C TV

Abdulai Awudu, Programmes Director, Multimedia Group talks about: why as a broadcaster it went into Video on Demand and streaming; the importance of getting revenue from it; its partnership with 2C TV; the reach of the platform it runs; and the type of content that is successful.

Keke Lebaka on how African food giant Promasidor uses social media to talk to its consumers

Keke Lebaka, Group Social Media Strategist and Content Manager, Promasidor talks about: what Promasidor does and where it operates; why it started shifting to using social media; its different strategies for different countries; what social media is most effective; and what proportion of its budget it spends on social media.

Keni Ogunlola on his TV comedy series Lodgers, writing an AY film and working with Mo Abudu

British-Nigerian film-maker Keni Ogunlola talks about: how his pilot for the TV series Lodgers won prizes as a short film; the storyline in the Lodgers series, writing a film for Nigerian comedian AY and working on a film with Mo Abudu.

Paul Mugambi on edtech start-up Kytabu’s change in direction to help it scale better

Paul Mugambi, , CEO, Kytabu talks about: what Kytabu does; how students access it and how they pay for it; its use of video; changing the focus to address teachers and parents; the investment in it so far and the prizes it has won.

Willie Currie: His comic novel Blue Eland Foxtrot on apartheid & eerie present day parallels

Author Willie Currie talks about: his novel Blue Eland Foxtrot; the story in the novel and its autobiographical aspects; the impact of the UDF; whether Afrikaans nationalism was a cousin of Nazism; and the eerie parallels between apartheid and the present day Government.

Alpesh Patel on Africa’s original start-up Mi-Fone, the hip-hop telecoms brand and why it failed

Mi-Founder Alpesh Patel talks about: the founding of Mi-Fone and what it set out to do; its early success and later, its failure; the reasons for its failure; his book about his experiences, Tested; and what he’s currently doing to help start-ups.

Kunle Afolayan on the 3 films he made in the last 12 months: Omugwo. Roti and Tribunal

Nollywood actor and director Kunle Afolayan talks about: how he came to make 3 films in 12 months; how easy it was to do it; the genres and stories in the three different films; and the next film that he’s working on.

Michelle Andrade on how Lagos’ Workstation helps entrepreneurs turn ideas into reality

Michelle Andrade, Head of Business Development, Workstation talks about: the type of co-working spaces it offers; the additional support services for members; its programme to help start-ups and its expansion plans.

Christopher Baker-Brian, BBOX on how start-up BBOXX is providing off-grid solutions to Africa

Christopher Baker-Brian, CTO, BBOXX talks about: the idea for the company; how its off-grid service is supplied; the number of people using the service; controlling its off-grid boxes using mobile connections and its future expansion plans.

Izu Ojukwu on his current film 76 and his forthcoming film about warrior Queen Amina of Zazzau

Nigerian film-maker Izu Ojukwu talks about: the story in 76; Nigeria’s “decision-making” decade; the importance of understanding history; and his latest film that is in post production about Queen Amina of Zazzau.