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(Quartz) Africa’s biggest media company will fight Netflix for control of the global streaming market

(Reuters/Mike Blake)

netflixWritten by Omar Mohammed

When Naspers, the South African media conglomerate, launched its video-on-demand (VOD) service Showmax earlier this year, the assumption was this was an attempt at keeping out Netflix. The US-based streaming platform aims to expand its service globally in 2016, including in Africa’s second-largest economy.

But it seems like this was just the opening salvo for Africa’s biggest media company. Naspers is reportedly expanding its three-month-old platform beyond the continent. The aim is to go global and challenge Netflix everywhere else, too, according to a report by Bloomberg. Naspers is hoping to attract potentially 15 million subscribers in North America, Europe, and Australasia.

The company, which already owns one of the most popular pay-TV outlet in Africa, has always believed it can compete beyond the continent. “We’ve never limited our ambition to South Africa,” Bob van Dijk, the chief executive of Naspers, said in August.

Naspers’ expansion strategy will be boosted by the partnership it has reportedly agreed with Samsung to have Showmax available on its smart TVs. Samsung controls almost a third of the global smart TV market. That’s a potential audience of about 60 million people.

But the manner in which Showmax aims to distinguish itself from Netflix appears to be around offering content that has yet to be the natural purview of the American platform. While it will continue to stock shows from the likes of CBS, the BBC and Time Warner, an area of strength for Netflix, it aims to show Africa-specific content as well, according to Bloomberg.

On this point, it has a clear edge over Netflix, at least for the moment. Through its MultiChoice outlet, the pan-African pay-TV platform, the company has access to significant content from across the region. This could help it attract the sizable African diaspora to its platform, which is estimated to be about 30 million people worldwide.

In addition to that, Naspers owns a stake in a Middle Eastern VOD platform that specializes in Bollywood and Arabic content. Housing this kind of programming could attract this demographic to Showmax and once again position itself differently from Netflix.

Naspers has shown itself to be astute in playing at a global level, particularly in emerging markets. It invested early in the Chinese internet giant Tencent and the Indian platfrom Ibibo, one of the country’s largest travel companies. With Showmax, Naspers—a $65-billion business and Africa’s biggest company by market value—is making another bet at a global audience.

To compete, Netflix needs to up its game, too.

This article was published on Quartz Africa.


First annual African Union Expo featured on

The first annual African Union Expo, hosted by the African Union Expo LLC and Go Africa Network at MIST Harlem on November 17, was featured on, an online African television channel.

Listen as female entrepreneurs who participated in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s InnovateHER competition share innovative products and services that empower women and families, leaders detail their plans and policies in the trade and investment arena for Africa and the organizers share the event’s goals and mission.


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SAN FRANCISCO — Intel, the world’s biggest maker of computer chips, has seen its future. There may not be room for some of Intel’s old friends in it.

“A new world is coming, and it is inevitable,” said Diane M. Bryant, who runs Intel’s business in chips for industrial-size computing centers. “Everyone has to act differently.”

Indeed, Intel’s venture arm is expected to announce on Monday that it will put $100 million toward software that is used in cloud computing, an increasingly popular method for making bigger and more efficient computing systems.

Intel will lead a $75 million equity investment in Mirantis, a little-known start-up specializing in open-source cloud software, and will spend another $25 million on bolstering its own resources for working with Mirantis-type products, according to several people familiar with the deal. They declined to be identified in order to maintain relations with Intel and other companies.

Intel was part of a $10 million investment round in the company in 2013 and last year joined another group of Mirantis investors.

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JEAN DICKOW, 78, never wanted the latest whiz-bang technology. But her gadget-friendly daughter, who lives in Norway, was worried that Ms. Dickow would fall in her apartment and no one would know.

So Ms. Dickow was persuaded to put on an Apple Watch look-alike called the Lively safety watch, which has an alert button to push if she falls. Wearing a medical alert pendant that screamed old age was not an option, she said.

Besides displaying the time, the safety watch is also a step counter and even has a medication alert. But Ms. Dickow especially likes the watch’s chic look. “My club members ask me where I got the Apple Watch,” Ms. Dickow, who lives in Oakland, Calif., said with a smile.

“This is a new wave of electronics and how your kids can watch over you,” said Ms. Dickow, who does not own a smartphone. “It’s a wonderful time for seniors.” Read more


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SAN FRANCISCO — Denise Chapman, a director at a San Diego advertising agency, is afraid to count how many hours of each day she spends on her mobile phone, browsing for clothes or gifts. But when it comes time to actually buy something, instead of using her iPhone, she fires up an aging Dell computer that sits on a desk in her family’s kitchen.

“I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even try” to make online purchases with a phone, Ms. Chapman said. “There’s just always something, if it’s your fat thumbs or having to redo your information. I go straight to the desktop because I feel like it’s going to be easier.”

Now several companies, includingGoogle, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, are trying to bridge the gap between mobile browsing and desktop purchasing with a simple “buy” button.

Buy buttons have been around since the early days of the web, of course, notably with Amazon’s “One-Click Ordering,” where people set up a button that runs their credit card and ships whatever they have bought to a designated address. Read more

Civis Analytics

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The kind of data science that worked for President Obama is coming to cloud computing, and working at a speed faster than the president ever saw.

A company called Civis Analytics, financed by a group of data wranglers who worked on Mr. Obama’s 2012 campaign, is announcing on Wednesday a comprehensive set of big data tools available through Amazon Web Services.

Civis Analytics, which is presenting the service at anAWS event in Chicago, says it can eliminate much of the time and cost associated with figuring out things like marketing campaigns, much as it found and targeted likely Obama voters.

“In a presidential campaign, the outcome is an action,” said Dan Wagner, the founder and chief executive of Civis. “Companies want to do much the same thing.”

Civis does not claim to be breaking new ground in data science. Instead, the company says it can automate a lot of expensive processes in large scale pattern-finding. When the team was working for Mr. Obama it used regular computers, and the problems increased as the amount of data it had grew. Cloud computing better handles such growth. Read more

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Social Media giant, Facebook, has opened its first office in Africa to further the company’s commitment to help businesses connect with people and grow locally and regionally.

According to the company the branch will be based in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, Facebook’s newest business office will be headed by Ogilvy veteran, Nunu Ntshingila, the company’s new Head of Africa.

Facebook is already an important part of how people and business connect in Africa. This office will support the significant growth in businesses and people using Facebook — Facebook’s active user population in Africa has grown 20% to 120 million in June 2015 from 100 million in September 2014. More than 80% of these people access Facebook from their mobile phones.

“We are inspired by the incredible ways people and businesses in Africa use Facebook to connect. This momentum in Africa comes on top of strong advertiser partnerships and excellent adoption of our products across all regions. In Q1 2015, 52% of our total ad revenue came from outside the US and Canada. But we’re just getting started,” says Nicola Mendelsohn, VP, EMEA, Facebook. Read more

Writing in the journal Science

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Researchers have announced an advance that could double the capacity of fiber-optic circuits, potentially opening the way for networks to carry more data over long distances while significantly reducing their cost.

Writing in the journal Science on Thursday, electrical engineers at the University of California, San Diego proposed a way to extend the range that beams of laser light in fiber-optic glass wires can travel and, in theory, achieve that dramatic improvement.

One way to understand the challenge of sending data through fiber-optic circuits is to imagine a person shouting to someone else down a long corridor. As the listener moves farther away, the words become fainter and more difficult to discern as they echo off the walls.

A similar challenge confronts the designers of networks that carry data. Beams of laser light packed densely in fiber-optic glass wires need to be both amplified and recreated at regular intervals to send them thousands of miles. The process of converting the optical ones from light to electricity and then back again is a significant part of the cost of these networks. The process also limits how much data they can carry. Read more

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the City of Johannesburg’s transformation drive into a Smart City received a boost on Tuesday, June 23, 2015, when the metropolitan signed a collaboration deal with Microsoft South Africa.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement between the two organisations was signed by Johannesburg Executive Mayor, Councillor Parks Tau, and Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Mr Ali Faramawy, at the Metropolitan Centre in Braamfontein.

This comes just over a month after Mayor Tau unveiled the transformation plan of the municipality into a Smart City that thrives on easily accessible state of the art citizen interaction platforms such as free Wi-Fi hotspots and applications that boost service delivery.

The new public-private agreement will see Johannesburg and Microsoft  explore ways of partnering on a variety of programmes and initiatives to achieve their mutual goals of skills development, job creation, promotion of SMME’s – as well as to attract foreign direct investment into the City.

Speaking shortly after the signing, Mayor Tau said: “The agreement paved the way for joint efforts in the promotion of innovation and an easily accessible IT economy within the City. This will help us bridge the current digital divide faster.”

“Microsoft has already demonstrated its great appetite to bring value into the public sector through its push to take the lead in cloud-based approaches for particularly smaller businesses,” he said.

by Staff Writer @ IT News Africa

Johannesburg Smart City gets boost from Microsoft.

“This speaks to several of the City’s developmental and job creation programmes such as Jozi@Work, Vulindlel’eJozi – and the much anticipated Jozi Digital Ambassadors programme. The fact that Microsoft ‘s developmental objectives match those of ours as a City gives us confidence that a lot is to come from our partnership for the overall benefit of the people of Johannesburg,” said Mayor Tau.

Mr Faramawy said the partnership with Johannesburg is part of the global software giant’s programmatic value and contribution to areas of public interest.

“Microsoft continues offering value to small and emerging businesses, particularly in the digital entrepreneurial space. This includes a number of programmes that provide support ranging from free or very low cost software – to online business support tools to physical locations where entrepreneurs can operate,” he said.

Both Johannesburg and Microsoft have recently been involved in running hackathons and other developmental competitions for both applications and games in a bid to seek out new technology and talent.

“Through the new partnership with Johannesburg, Microsoft is very keen to calibrate this process for bottom of the pyramid impact,” Mr Faramawy said.

Read More at IT News Africa