Last week the first MEF Africa Day was held in Johannesburg supported by Samsung, and saw around one hundred industry leaders gather over three sessions for debate, dialogue, insightful presentations and constructive networking. MEF Africa GM Jo Crawshaw shares the day’s events, and if you were able to make it along to Johannesburg, see if you were caught on camera in our photo gallery.
Mobile in Africa plays a pivotal role in driving innovation as an instrument of consumer empowerment and social inclusion as well as being pervasive in many aspects of daily life, from providing entertainment to banking services, from shopping to enterprise. Many of these industry areas were addressed throughout the first ever MEF Africa Day as the dynamism, diversity and true breadth of Africa’s mobile industry was brought to life.
Rights Management in Mobile Music
The morning session sought to address the multiple issues that surround rights management in the burgeoning mobile music and video space. With attendees from mobile networks, handset manufacturers, content & service providers, collection societies and music labels, the discussion was animated and brought to the fore the complexity of extending rights management into mobile, opportunities for collaboration and the ‘out of the box thinking’ required to help the industry fulfill its potential.
Areas addressed included: defining composer-friendly rules of engagement; managing composers not represented by collection societies; guidelines for networks; pan-African partnerships; ways of working for collection societies and setting precedents for streaming; identifying international best practice for what could work. The session took the first important step in opening ongoing conversation for the good of the industry as a whole with a view to creating continuous engagement and identifying solutions among stakeholders.
MEF Africa Steering Committee Meeting
MEF Africa’s active steering committee met during the afternoon to review achievements and discuss upcoming priorities. After plenty of chatting and catching up the group got down to business and addressed initiatives as diverse as mobile money, rights management and in depth local analytics. With a continued focus on pan-African expansion and innovation, members shared their expertise and experience of growing their own businesses and addressed where MEF could support in this regard.
We’re still looking to expand this committee, whose remit is to drive the direction of MEF in Africa. With current members including WeChat, MTN, Nokia, Samsung, RedBull Mobile and KPMG among many others, opportunities for collaboration and dialogue among industry leaders is great. It’s currently open to all full members based in (or with operations in) Africa. Interested? Drop me a line.
MEF Connects Africa: Start Up to Success
The evening panel discussion and networking drinks had a theme of ‘Start Up to Success’ with a focus on the creation of locally relevant mobile content and commerce solutions for the African market.
The event was opened by MEF’s CEO Rimma Perelmuter who expressed her excitement for the region and its opportunities. 16 months into launching MEF Africa, Rimma spoke of the analytics, connections and knowledge sharing which MEF has delivered to boost Africa’s growth and innovation opportunities. MEF’s newly appointed EMEA board member, Brett Loubser, Head of WeChat Africa echoed Rimma’s enthusiasm and shared his belief that the collaborative nature of MEF Africa can only be a positive for the sector.
The evening was expertly moderated by well known tech journalist, analyst and entrepreneur, Steven Ambrose. Following an introduction by Steven the presentations were kicked-off by MEF members and event sponsors, Samsung. Thabiet Allie, Head of Content and Services for Samsung Africa took the audience through engaging initiatives Samsung has recently been responsible for through creative partnerships with other companies, including music streaming service, The Kleek and the launch of the first ever Pan-African mobile health delivery network that aims to enhance health & wellness for Africans across the continent.
Barbara Mallinson, Founder and CEO of Obami then took the floor to discuss the power of social and m-learning followed by digital business entrepreneur and investor, Gareth Ochse who brought to the fore the need for focus, localisation in celebrating African achievement. Craig Wing, Head of Small Business Marketing for Google South Africa delved into some examples of unusual ideas growing into great businesses through identification of problems that need solving.
With food served and drinks and conversation flowing, the evening continued on as attendees forged new relationships with mobile industry leaders and caught up with old friends and colleagues.
At MEF Africa we’re looking forward to building industry thought leadership, networking and business partnering opportunities among other activities to be rolled-out over the year. Key areas of focus will be pan-African innovation, mobile money and rights management as we extend our calendar of events and activities so keep watching this space for the latest!
Jo Crawshaw is MEF Africa’s General Manager. Follow her on Twitter. Visit the MEF website to find out more about MEF’s work in Africa, and stay tuned for the latest research from our ongoing series of reports on mobile content and commerce trends across the continent.