Mobile and the future of African entertainment: Q&A

From rural communities to small business owners, the impact of mobile technology in Africa is widespread. In addition to the impact on commercial business, education and services, the popularity of mobile entertainment has also grown exponentially. But is mobile changing the way consumers engage with this entertainment media, and is the media itself changing in response to the platform?

In the run up to the 2011 Mobile Entertainment Africa conference in Cape Town on 23rd and 24th August, we pose these and other questions to international filmmaker Aryan Kaganof and Obi Asika, chairman and CEO of Nigerian entertainment company Storm 360.

Kaganof was the first filmmaker to produce a digital feature film on video up to 35 mm with Naar de Klote! in 1996. Three years later, he took this process to Japan to produce the first-ever Japanese digital feature, Shabondama Elegy (“Tokyo Elegy”). In 2007, Kaganof created the world’s first mobile feature film, SMS Sugar Man, which will be screened at the conference.

Asika has a background in a variety of industries including law, oil, gas, sports, entertainment and now tech and mobile. He takes a multi-platform approach to the emerging entertainment industry in Nigeria and his company is involved in TV, film, music, events, digital and mobile.

M: Can mobile TV be considered as the “new frontier” of digital entertainment?

OA: It certainly is one of them. DSTV seems to have stolen a march on the market, but I’m sure there’s much more to come. In Africa, all things mobile will be critical moving forward, as we don’t have the infrastructure to develop in the manner other markets have. I believe Africans are among the most connected people in the world in terms of mobile, and this will only grow in future.

AK: What is so exciting (and confusing) about this moment is that there are many “new frontiers” of digital entertainment. Mobile TV is definitely one of the most intriguing possibilities available.

M: What technologies will you incorporate in the future to make the experience even greater?

OA: As a content producer and someone trying to reach the mass market and monetise that content, anything that enables us to move forward in that direction is important and we will deploy all available technologies in order to make this happen.

AK: It is impossible to forecast. So much is being developed. Everything is up in the air. It is a time for breakthroughs, for discoveries, but definitely not a time for the fainthearted.

M: How has mobile changed the way we experience entertainment?

OA: This is ongoing. Mobile and social media mean that everything is now immediate. This has already had a huge impact on media, news and consumption patterns. People’s attention spans are getting shorter; I believe mobile caters to this, and also makes entertainment more personal and available.

AK: It’s less pretentious.

M: What has mobile taught us about packaging content?

OA: We can break it down, we need to make content user friendly, and we can multipurpose that same content. The variety of platforms, devices and portals that are now part of the mobile entertainment ecosystem is amazing, and of course shows huge opportunity for growth.

AK: To be concise — really concise.

M: How can Africa benefit from the mobile entertainment?

OA: I believe we are already benefitting. Mobile empowers young people because it enables them to use their skills to generate income. In future, Africa can benefit in terms of mobile health, education, location, emergency services and more.

AK: Africans love their mobile phones. Africans love talking. With the right indigenous content producers can speak to billions of eager listeners.



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