15 May 2018

Africa: Digital Era and Disruption - Igniting Africa's Creative Industries

analysis

The annual Digital Dialogue Conference has recently ended in Dubai calling for greater collaboration by African content producers to harness the dividend of the digital revolution. The conference organized by Africa's number one pay-tv operator MultiChoice attracted journalist, regulators, government officials, film makers and digital migration specialists from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Angola, Tanzania, Zambia and Europe deliberated on the implications of the growth in the digital media front on traditional media/creative industry and the opportunities there after.

Opening the conference CEO Video Entertainment, MultiChoice, Yolisa Phale set the tone with a cursory look at the MultiChoice story of innovation in the pay-TV sector and emphasized the major things every digital content producer must consider: Content, Technology and People. She highlights that, in this digital era Content is king, hence focusing more on local stories that resonant with the market is the way to go citing how the making of a story like Game of Thrones has rejuvenated the film industry in Scotland and the local economy.

Broadcasters must be willing to adopt the latest Technologies to make their content easily accessible on multiple platforms in this highly connected era. She threw light on how DStv had introduced such products as DStv Now, Catch Up, Box Office and the Explora decoders amongst others in response to customer feedback resulting from changing lifestyles across the continent. "Why launch GOtv when you already have DStv?' for example, but, MultiChoice Africa was launched by People who were creating a media company not for the present, but one for the future." Yolisa Phahle added.

Zooming in on how the Digital era was creating disruptions in the broadcast and production space Paul Papadimitriou, founder of Intelligencr, said the digital era was changing the lives of businesses and has become the 3rd industrial revolution. He added the biggest companies are investing in big data and insights to know what consumers need; whilst consumers continue to move more towards digital content platforms that give them seamless experiences.

He emphasized the need for content producers to be mindful of the desire of consumers to go to all lengths to access content via whatever means. "We have to find new ways of engaging more effectively with viewers, when there are more choices than ever before, more free content than ever and our customers are becoming more and more accustomed to receiving personalised content and African broadcasters will have to start identifying such digital opportunities to meet consumer needs" he concluded.

Femi Odugbemi, CEO of Zuri24 Media, speaking at the Conference on the Development of Nollywood, said "the industry has grown into a financially rewarding vocation, which in 2014 was valued at approximately $3.3 billion". He ascribes this growth to the industry being the earliest respondents to the digital disruptions by shifting from Video Home System (VHS) to Video Compact Disc (VCD) formats, adding that the main stay of Nollywood was its consistency in connecting to the cultural experiences of its audience. Because of this cultural connection, he said, Nollywood was bound to continue to grow in leaps and bound, provided, however, it did not lose focus and continued to take advantage of the emerging opportunities provided by digitalisation.

Prof. Anthony Lilley, Director of Creative Industries, Ulster University in his presentation on the Rapidly Changing Entertainment Industry said choice and availability and were the main drivers of the value of content. Urging content producers to push the envelope by using the current digital options to reach wider audiences. He stressed broadcasters would have to be constantly listening to their audiences and looking at global trends to apply in a local sense to remain relevant and profitable.

The Digital Dialogue Conference is a thought leadership platform instituted by MultiChoice Africa to build capacity of the different stakeholders in understanding the future direction of the video entertainment industry in Africa. This year's conference sought to build knowledge on video entertainment and its future in the light of the Digital Migration agenda set by the International Telecommunications Union whilst creating necessary conversations with thought leaders about various industry-related issues.

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