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Ayoba Messaging Platform, Powered By MTN, Reaches 1M Active Users.

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JOHANNESBURG – MTN Group today announced that its instant messaging platform, Ayoba has reached 1 million monthly active users. Ayoba is an advanced communications application localised for African and Middle East consumer needs, under an independent Over the Top (OTT) brand with unique features for MTN customers. The app supports many local languages spoken across the MTN markets including isiZulu, isiXhosa, Pidgin, Yoruba, Swahili, Hausa, French and English.

MTN, together with its partners, is driven to improve access to affordable communications to ensure that people in its markets can reap the social, economic and developmental dividends of being online. Ayoba underscores this goal to bring more people into the digital world by providing them with affordable and simplified digital communication services.

Some of its key features and offerings are: Local languages: Ayoba is available in the top local languages in the markets where the offering has launched, Chat now: Users can instantly send and receive text and voice messages with any of their contacts regardless of device type or network, Security: End-to-end encryption means that messages in a conversation cannot be read by anyone else, Chat with everyone: Users can send SMS text messages with anyone in their contact list, regardless of whether they’ve installed Ayoba or not, Channels: Users can subscribe to Channels for locally relevant content across various categories, Money transfers: Users will be able to make and receive payments via Mobile Money (coming soon).

Commenting on the milestone, MTN Group President and CEO, Rob Shuter said, “We believe that our customers in Africa and the Middle East deserve a communication platform that expresses our unique voice, honours our rich identity through local languages, and addresses our customers’ specific needs and challenges by offering a data-included offering for MTN users, Mobile Money transfers (coming soon) and locally relevant content via channels.”

The platform which was launched earlier this year is now operational in 8 MTN markets, namely: Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Congo Brazzaville, Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Afghanistan and South Africa. Ayoba is also available across multiple markets on the Google Play Store and via the Ayoba website www.ayoba.me as an OTT offering.

As part of continuous efforts to enhance its offerings, Ayoba will be adding more features in the future. “Ayoba is also working on building an open digital platform that will enable third party innovation. This will ensure that we offer a rich diversified experience on the platform, enabling us to deliver more value to our users, empower local developers and create local experiences that are optimised for local communities,” explains David Gilarranz, CEO MTN Digital.

Gilarranz adds that in addition to the number of exciting innovations on the cards Ayoba plans to expand to the rest of MTN’s markets, and other territories across the globe. Before the end of the year, Ayoba will go live in Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Benin and Rwanda.

About the MTN Group

Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a leading emerging market operator with a clear vision to lead the delivery of a bold new digital world to our 244 million customers in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East. We are inspired by our belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code “MTN”. We are pursuing our BRIGHT strategy with a major focus on growth in our data, fintech and digital businesses.

For more information, please contact:
Nompilo Morafo on +27 (0) 83 212 4022 | Nompilo.morafo@mtn.com
Karen Byamugisha on +27 (0) 83 214 3685 | Karen.byamugisha@mtn.com
Follow us:
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www.linkedin.com/company/mtn

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“TRANSFORM or DIE; The Value, Purpose Of Digital Transformation. – Huawei Boss Explains.

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It is not enough for business to simply stick to the fundamental products and services they have always offered. In the digital age it’s disrupt or die.

According to the IDC, digital transformation is essential for an organisation to adapt quickly to changing markets. Business opportunities are fleeting, the IDC said, and if your business does not have the agility to seize them, your competition will.

The IDC said that digitally transformed organisations can react quickly to changing market dynamics, and adapt their strategies quickly and on-demand. Companies that are not transformed will miss out. One example of this, are cellular network operators around the world. Not too long ago, offering mobile voice and messaging services was a game changer. Then came mobile data. Now these are simply the expected functions of a network. “They are fundamental, but not enough” said Lu Baoqiang, Huawei vice-president for the Southern Africa Region. To remain relevant, businesses have to adapt to new technologies and transform.

Huawei defines digital transformation as the application of new digital capabilities including tools, platforms and systems to processes, operations, product design, and services. Baoqiang said that the aim of such a transformation is three-fold: increase revenue, improve efficiency and decrease costs, and enhance the customer experience.

“When we talk about digital transformation, we have to realise it’s all about how you can engage your customers,” said Baoqiang. While new technology is essential to a digital transformation, it must be in support of the primary purpose of the exercise — making things better for your customers. Baoqiang said that, broadly, there are two forms digital transformation can take. The first is where existing operations are streamlined using new technologies. The second is where a business expands its offerings into new digital frontiers.

Huawei has partnered with several mobile network operators in Africa in their digital transformation, Baoqiang said. One example is Safaricom in Kenya. With Safaricom in Kenya, Huawei has helped implement financial technology in the form of services like M-PESA and Fuliza. These have unlocked a whole new digital economy in the country. Huawei and Safaricom have jointly received the “Business of Tomorrow” award for the most innovative service at AfricaCom 2019. The award recognises the two companies for offering Fuliza, a mobile money overdraft service that runs on the M-PESA platform. Fuliza lets users with insufficient funds in their M-PESA accounts borrow money to complete their M-PESA transactions.

The service was launched in January 2019, and has been gaining popularity in Kenya where Safaricom has over 23.6 million M-PESA users. Kenyans transacted over KES 6.2 billion (R900 million) in the first month of Fuliza’s launch. Fuliza has disbursed KES 140 billion (R2 billion) since January, processing 13 loans per second. The companies say that the service has a very low default rate due to its purposeful nature.

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Africa Gears Up For Digital Boom.

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The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) recently released its annual Global Collections Report, which detailed how digital revenues accounted for a little over 19% of all global music collections.

This translates to over €1bn ($1.1bn) in additional collections over the last four years. Chief among the reasons for this growth in collections is the formation of digital licensing hubs across multiple regions. These hubs allow for the centralising of processes and licensing activities as a direct response to the increase in digital consumption of music.

Streaming has given rise to an unprecedented amount of music consumption, which necessitates a change in how collective management organisations (CMOs) license their repertoire. Ease of access to repertoire on a multi-territorial basis is a now key requirement for many licensees. Hubs provide this much-needed convenience while also minimising the admin of duplicating licensing efforts in multiple territories thus allowing digital service providers (DSPs) the time to focus on growth.

In line with these global developments, the Composers, Authors and Publishers Association (CAPASSO) has for the past few years spearheaded the consolidation of pan-African repertoire and rights into a centralised licence. This has resulted in the formation of a unique pan-African licensing hub. The hub comprises 17 CMOs across the African continent and offers licensees repertoire on a multi-territorial basis in order to facilitate ease of access to a high-potential emerging market.

Africa’s digital collections over the past four years have seen a 32% growth. As a continent with a very young population and high smartphone penetration, the potential for even more growth cannot be overstated. In fact, one territory in the region is showing this potential with subscription streaming already accounting for 49% of all mechanical rights collections in South Africa. However, the rest of the continent has not quite taken to subscription streaming with the same vigour such that the potential for growth is immense.

“We are of the belief that Africa is on the brink of a streaming boom," CAPASSO chief operations officer Wiseman Ngubo said. "Our numbers indicate that streaming revenue across multiple territories in the region, excluding South Africa, has had an increase of over 62% year on year. This signals the readiness and the appetite for streaming, thus we as CMOs must gear up to facilitate that access. This growth is directly attributable to the consolidation of rights and repertoire via the hub. Even in South Africa where there is positive penetration, there is still huge potential for growth”

Countries that are currently participating in multi-territorial licensing hub include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, Cape Verde and Namibia, among others. The hub offers what is effectively the most comprehensive repertoire licence available in the region, thus making access to the region simpler.

To date, the hub has entered into multi-territorial agreements with various DSPs including the likes of Apple Music, YouTube, Facebook and Spotify. Regional DSPs such as Boomplay, Udux, Music Time, Mdundo and others have also been licensed on a multi-territorial basis via the hub.

In addition to providing an easy route to market for DSPs, the aim of the hub is to provide African songwriters with a reliable way to get fair royalties for use of their music.

Sheer Publishing founder and managing director David Alexander commended the formation of the licensing hub.

“Central to the success of the African Licensing Hub is the concept that the African CMO becomes the hero of this story," he said. "Currently the majority of African CMOs have limited success in licensing and distribution according to usage, which results in many of their economically successful members joining CMOs in Europe or the US.

"The African Licensing Hub proves that with decent repertoire data, the African CMOs can collect and distribute accurately to their own members, which starts a positive cycle of new members joining and providing their repertoire to the CMO, which results in better payments and services to local members.”

Although there is some work ahead given the continent’s challenges, the hub’s activities to date signal a clear message that Africa is indeed open for business.

CAPASSO CEO Jotam Matariro said: “Setting up the hub and putting licences in place is only but the first part of the process. We now need to encourage all our composers across the continent to provide metadata, which is key to collections. Without metadata, we will not be able to benefit from the licences that we have put in place, as collections are based on the works' information that we are able to identify from the massive reports that the DSPs provide to us on a regular basis. We therefore call upon all music authors and composers as well as publishers across the continent to notify their works so we can make this process beneficial to all.”

To paraphrase the musings of US business journalist and media publisher Susan Butler in Music Confidential, “Think regional hubs. Get connected to more established hubs already, and stop wasting money by thinking that what you have in your database is a proprietary domain of your collective that must be protected at all cost.”

The African Licensing Hub sees African CMOs move towards this collective understanding, and with discussions in progress with many more potential CMO partners on the African continent, the idea of a one-stop African digital licence for music users is no longer a dream but a reality in progress.

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South Africa Music Rights Launches App To Track Songs Airplay.

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The South African Music Performance Rights Association (SAMPRA) has launched a mobile app aimed at helping its members with quick access to news, updates, information, real-time support, membership applications and the registration of works.

The SAMPRA said the development of the app was driven by the desire to ensure that the association could reach its members through strong digital infrastructure. The mobile app is available for download on the App Store. A version via Google Play will be added soon.

“We want our members to know that we value them and that we will keep adding convenient platforms that they can use to access the organisation,” SAMPRA CEO Pfanani Lishivha said. “Our purpose as an organisation is very clear to all of us and over the past few years we have purposefully entrenched a culture of continuous improvement in team SAMPRA.

“We believe that technology is an enabler of change, of progress and of innovation. With this app, we want our members to get a glimpse of the Fourth Industrial Revolution through us. The SAMPRA app is Africa’s first CMO [collective management organisation] app and we are thrilled to be giving our customers our critical services in the form of an icon on their mobile devices.”

SAMPRA said the app was intended to create customer convenience so members could gain access anytime and anywhere.

“Research has shown that app use and engagement can go as high as 90% where an app user believes that the app adds value to their daily lives,” SAMPRA said. “One of the key features of the SAMPRA app is the Live Chat option, allowing members to engage directly with a SAMPRA consultant in real time.

“This means that members, especially artists, will no longer need to go to SAMPRA offices. Artists can also expect features like the ability to upload images and documents, a direct Email Us option, the ability to update their personal information, and be assisted with royalty queries.

“SAMPRA has created internal processes that will support the functionality of the app. A dedicated team has been assembled to handle all app-related queries, which will significantly shorten the time that a customer takes to perform certain tasks. This will ultimately improve our aim to increase customer-organisation engagement.”

SAMPRA is a CMO that administers neighbouring rights on behalf of recordings artists and record companies. This is done by licensing music users such as radio broadcasters, retailers, pubs, clubs, restaurants and other businesses that use music as part of their business models. The licence fees collected from these establishments are then processed and paid as music royalties by SAMPRA.

SAMPRA is a collective licensing society of copyright owners of music sound recordings. Its mandate is to collect and distribute royalties to the members of the Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA) whenever their recordings are broadcast, diffused or communicated to the public.

SAMPRA issues licences to South African radio broadcasters who use sound recordings (records, tapes, CDs) in SAMPRA's repertoire in their transmissions. SAMPRA also licenses shops, restaurants, pubs and clubs and other music users who render sound recordings in SAMPRA's repertoire audible in public. The SAMPRA licence enables music users to play literally millions of sound recordings on their business premises.

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Huawei Mate 30 Pro floors iPhone 11 Pro In New Camera Test.

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Apple‘s iPhone 11 Pro is now seen as one of the very best smartphone snappers on the planet.

This device comes with a primary camera, a telephoto, and an ultra wide-angle – each with 12-megapixel sensors. Of course, the device isn’t all about the hardware, there’s a ton of software ticking along behind the scenes, too. Apple’s new flagship has three software staples: Smart HDR, Deep Fusion and Night Mode. In a nutshell, Smart HDR will make sure photos taken outdoors aren’t blown out and that shadows are brightened up and feature more detail overall.

As the name suggests, night mode is leveraged when light is scarce – it works by taking a longer exposure that gives the iPhone 11 precious time to take multiple photos at varying exposures before stitching them all together.

Although Apple has crammed the iPhone 11 Pro with new camera hardware and software, it may not match the photographic prowess of Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro, according to DxOMark.

Who are DxOMark? Well, they’re a publication based in Paris that are renowned for conducting meticulous smartphone camera tests and awarding a final numbered score based on performance.

The outlet has finally issued its verdict for Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro. The device was handed a figure of 117 – that’s a hight a score but it hasn’t beaten Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro that sits joint first in its rankings with 121.

DxOMark praised the iPhone 11 Pro for its superb still image quality and video capabilities. However, the publication insisted the device is outclassed by the Mate 30 Pro in low-light, most likely because Huawei’s device has a much larger sensor overall.

DxOMark said: “With an overall DxOMark Camera score of 117, the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max secures itself a top 5 position in our current ranking. Its Photo score of 124 puts it among the best for still images, and it shares the top spot for Video with the Xiaomi Mi CC9 Pro Premium Edition.

“The camera performed very well in our tests in pretty much all areas, but some challenges remain. Still images generally show very good exposure. Dynamic range is very wide in bright light and under indoor conditions, but some highlight clipping is still visible in very difficult scenes.

“Overall, the iPhone is among the very best for exposure; it’s only in very low light when can’t keep up with devices with larger image sensors, such as the Huawei Mate 30 Pro. Like previous iPhone generations, the 11 Pro Max also scores very well for colour and is among the best in this category in all light conditions.

iPhone 11 Pro vs Mate 30 Pro
The Huawei Mate 30 Pro is yet to release in the West (Image: Huawei)
iPhone 11 Pro vs Mate 30 Pro
iPhone 11 Pro comes with a primary camera, a telephoto and an ultra wide-angle (Image: Apple)

“A slightly greenish cast is visible in some indoor scenes and in our lab tests, but overall colour tends to be very pleasant: a slight yellow cast gives some scenes a warm feel and works very well for skin tones in portraits.”

Even though DxOMark claims the Mate 30 Pro has a better camera system overall, the iPhone 11 Pro remains the only phone of the two you can buy right now.

Although Huawei revealed the Mate 30 Pro at a glitzy hardware event in September, its European release remains elusive. There’s currently no word on when it’ll finally arrive.

The US’s trade ban on Huawei is the most likely to blame for the delayed-release. This prevents Google from granting the Mate 30 Pro an Android licence, therefore the device can’t come pre-installed with Google apps and services like the Play Store, Gmail, Chrome and Google Maps.

With the results of the DxOMark test in, there’s still clearly some things that Apple could improve on when it launches the iPhone 12 next year.

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