In African countries near the equator, darkness starts at 6:30 in the evening. An estimated 500 million Africans lack access to electricity and can only work, read and cook with kerosene lamps. But that fuel is expensive, dangerous and bad for health. The solar lamps provide a lasting solution to these problems.
According to calculations by the World Bank 17 billion U.S. dollars are annually spent on kerosene lamps in Africa. Some light manufacturers, including the Australian Barefoot and Dutch Philips company focus on this growing market.
After some hard years of work Africa Interactive takes home the Diageo Africa Business Reporting Award for the Spark Africa series! Spark Africa is a 20 episode video series dedicated to sustainable economic developments and innovative projects in Africa.
Each episode shows the ‘spark’ of potential entrepreneurs who think about African solutions for African problems. Examples of foreign businesses who successfully invest in African countries are also shown.
Spark Africa is published on leading Dutch news websites like Volkskrant, RTLZ, NuZakelijk en Wereldomroep. This video series aims to balance the traditional image of Africa as a lost continent. Spark Africa shows the energy, innovation and opportunities of the continent.
All items are made by freelance African camera men/women, presenters and technicians. There is filmed in Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Initiator of this series is Dutch media company Africa Interactive. Check out a few episodes and a big congrats to the team 🙂 It is a big award and well deserved.
As many of you know, I am interested in understanding how the web will develop from an African perspective. Please see a previous article YouTube ‘burden’ creates opportunity in Africa and my interview with Alemayehu. He is the coFounder of Ethiotube.net, Ethiopia’s version of YouTube.
Where did you get the idea?
The idea came from the booming social networking industry, video sharing in particular. YouTube’s success was indeed an inspiration for EthioTube’s establishment.
When did you decide to actually execute?
I’d say a very fascinating CNN International panel discussion on social network-based entrepreneurship gave the final kick we needed to launch EthioTube February 2008.
How are you going about doing this?
We’re building a strong user-base right now. We’re trying to get more users involved in video sharing, rather than just enjoy what’s being shared. We are also trying to establish partnerships with various entities which will enable us to expand our network even further.
What is your experience with Ethiopia, start ups and the web?
Ethiopia’s web presence is really a disappointing one. CIA’s World Book on Ethiopia (2007) show’s that there are just over 290,000 internet users. A data from Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation (ETC), the only Internet provider in the nation, shows, as of September 2008, there are just close to 39,000 internet subscribers in Ethiopia. The poor connection speed and increadibly high costs – even for afican standards – tribute to this very low Internet presence. So, mostly, Ethiopians living overseas are our main users. We’d love to use our network to connect Ethiopians living in Ethiopia to the rest of the World. But this will continue to be very difficlute to implement, unless the telecommunication sector in Ethiopia opens up.
What are your biggest challenges in getting this project off the ground?
Finding a reliable host for our bandwidth demanding business was one of the biggest challenge we had. One other challenge we’re facing is: the online Ethiopian community hasn’t really picked up on the idea of direct communication, as we’d have wanted. Trying to get users talk to each other has been a difficulte task so far.
how are you different than other online video services like YouTube?
Our video sharing site is different from many out there, because we specifically cater to the large Ethiopian community with only ‘Ethiopia Related’ content. In other words, a user who is specifically looking for videos related to Ethiopia do not need to conduct a search on vast networks like YouTube.
Is Ethiopia ready for these kinds of services?
As many African and developing countries, Ethiopia has a long way to go on developing its Internet infrastructure. We understand Ethiopia is slowly but surly working on such projects. We believe once these projects are completed, greater number of Ethiopians will be online seeking an alternate media. EthioTube will be there to satisfy this demand.
Where will this project be in five years?
In five years EthioTube will be the hub for Ethiopians to find all kind of multimedia. We hope and work hard to become the 1# Ethiopian website in this timeframe.
What is the most surprising thing you have discovered/learned along the way?
It does not matter how small or unknown you are, if you listen to the heart beat of your targeted audience and deliver to it, you can be successful. It was also fasinating to learn how extremly careful we had to be about our own success; we could have easly become its victim.