December 10, 2013, 5:02 PM — The availability of fast, affordable Internet connectivity, rising awareness of options for tech businesses and an ambiguous regulatory framework has allowed Kenya's online content business to blossom.
Video on demand seems to be a favorable choice for organizations with existing capital reserves or those backed by venture capitalists while applications providing African traditional knowledge through tablets and mobile phones are growing.
Safaricom, the largest mobile services provider in the country, and Liquid Telecom, one of the oldest and largest ISPs, have already launched online TV services, while Able Wireless, a VC-backed content provider, is seeking to wrestle the market from the two giants through affordable online streaming services.
"Able Wireless is providing Kenya's first affordable online streaming services, allowing the users to take control of what they watch and when they watch, at a cost of $8 per month on the basic package," said Kahenya Kamunyu, Able Wireless founder and CEO.
The online platform developed by Able comes with customer premises equipment known as a "black box" that connects to a nearby base station and allows the user to access a repository of online videos. The service uses infrastructure set up by other ISPs and a revenue-sharing model has been designed. In areas with no existing connectivity, Able Wireless is working with newer Wi-Fi providers to offer the service.
"We are already working with established ISPs in some of the areas while in others we are working with smaller wireless providers to serve more people; the service is working well and we are sure it will get better," added Kamunyu.
On its part, Safaricom is buoyed by growing revenue from SMS and mobile data and is hoping that online TV content will push more people to consume more data.
"We expect major growth in the content business mainly supported by local content industry in the areas of entertainment; increased penetration of affordable smartphones, new technologies like LTE and the digital migration will be anchor pillars to this growth," said Nzioka Waita, Safaricom corporate affairs director.
Safaricom launched its "Web box" service in 2011. The box allows users to transform their TVs into PCs and carry out normal unctions as they would on a PC or laptop. The online TV service aims to take advantage of massive infrastructure investments and keep consumers within the Safaricom network.
In addition to such large companies, there are smaller businesses like Afrokidz, a software publisher that develops African- themed innovative mobile and tablet applications for children and families. The company packages African oral narratives in a fun and exciting way for children or adults who want to know more about African traditions.