Buoyed by the launching of US$100 million initiative to connect homes to pay television and the unveiling of a continental online television news network, African broadcasters began a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya to discuss telecom convergence.
The first of its kind, the African Broadcast, Film and Convergence Conference, got underway to explore the co-existence of pay TV, cable news networks, and the film production market among a host of the different industries in telecommunication sector.
"You have a coming together of different industries, telecommunication and broadcasting industry to discuss how to effectively share the revenue amongst the different segments," said Russell Southwood, CEO, Balancing Act, an online publishing firm.
Kenya has become a perfect example of the rapidly expanding telecommunication industry, which has seen the regulator, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) introduce unified licensing for all the players, to ease service convergence.
"This is a very exciting time for the broadcasting industry in Africa. This conference will provide an opportunity for us to reflect on the richness of the African television industry," said Sean Moroney, chairman, AITEC Africa, the organizers of the conference.
Pan African telecom player, Wananchi Group, is set to launch the first Triple Play service comprising Internet, telephony and TV under a brand name Zuku, to pioneer a new concept of telecommunication where multi-channel television, broadband internet and voice telephony are combined through a cable and WiMax technologies.
Wananchi, a firm founded by Kenyan professionals, is planning to construct a cable linking Nairobi, the Kenyan capital to Mombasa, Kenya's coastal city, about 450 km away, at US$100 million to enable it to introduce the converged telecom product.
The conference has attracted 200 delegates, featuring 23 high-profile speakers, including Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga. It will also discuss new trends in the broadcasting industry, among them, the introduction of digital broadcasting.
"The participants would do a lot of business. There would be a lot of collaboration and participants would meet new clients. The film makers and the television stations that need local content to reduce dependency on external continent will also discuss collaboration."
The conference comes a few days to the formal launch of the A24 news channel, an online news network that offers African journalists and producers to sell content for broadcasting to millions of broadcasters across the globe.