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Just published: guide for African mobile news businesses

Published: 10 August 2011

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the African Media Initiative (AMI) have just published Mobile Media Services At Sub-Saharan African Newspapers: A Guide To Implementing Mobile News And Mobile Business, aimed at helping African newspapers harness this important platform in the region.

Mobile news services offer high hopes for African publishers, who now have a new handbook to help them develop their mobile media and mobile businesses.

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the African Media Initiative (AMI) have just published Mobile Media Services At Sub-Saharan African Newspapers: A Guide To Implementing Mobile News And Mobile Business, aimed at helping African newspapers harness this important platform in the region.

The handbook includes case studies gathered through interviews with newspapers in Uganda, Kenya and South Africa, including the Observer and Daily Monitor in Uganda, the Standard and the Daily Nation in Kenya, and Grocott’s Mail, the Mail and Guardian, the Sunday Times and the Sowetan in South Africa, as well as News24.com – South Africa’s biggest online news provider.

“The mobile channel in Africa is of undisputable importance,” said lead author Kristina Bürén, research director at WAN-IFRA.

“This is one of the regions where mobile usage and mobile internet usage is growing the fastest. As internet penetration is low here, mobile is, for many Africans, the only way to access news and information digitally," she said. "We hope this handbook will help African media get started with mobile publishing, both by inspiring and by giving practical tips to help media companies avoid some of the possible hurdles along the way.”

Amadou Mahta Ba, CEO of the African Media Initiative, said: “For news organizations operating in Africa to stay relevant and grow, I strongly believe they need to adapt to new technologies, mobile telephony in particular, given the phenomenal adoption and penetration of this technology across the continent. That's why AMI chose to partner with WAN-IFRA to publish and distribute this report as widely as possible among key media decision makers in Africa.”

Expert advice

In addition to the accounts of successful mobile services, the handbook includes analysis and expert advice covering the key questions media houses should ask themselves when going into mobile. The handbook also provides detailed how-to guides for potential mobile services African media houses could offer.

“We are delighted that the African Media Initiative has joined the publication as a co-publisher and we hope now that the handbook can impart vital information for media houses across Sub-Saharan Africa, providing inspiration for newspapers to expand and sustain their publications in the increasingly digital future of the press,” said Louise Hallman, who manages the Mobile News for Africa project for WAN-IFRA.

The handbook can be downloaded at http://tinyurl.com/4y9dcth (from the bottom of the page). A print edition will be published and distributed by AMI in the coming months.

The handbook is part of WAN-IFRA's larger Mobile News for Africa project, which aims to test and implement innovative content production and delivery models through new technologies, accompanied with new business models for newspapers in emerging markets and developing democracies. Mobile News for Africa is part of a strategic partnership between WAN-IFRA and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency to advance media development and press freedom worldwide.

More on WAN-IFRA media development projects can be found at http://www.wan-ifra.org/microsites/media-development

WAN-IFRA's Mobile News for Africa project has also launched the Mobile News Grants and Training Scheme, through which Africa newspapers can apply for direct funding, consultation and training for their mobile services.

Further information on the Mobile News Grants and Training Scheme, including how to apply, can be found at http://tinyurl.com/3e4lnd7

The African Media Initiative (AMI) is an unprecedented pan-African effort aimed at providing the continent’s private and independent media owners and practitioners with the tools they need to play an effective role in their societies. AMI aims to strengthen the private and independent media sector in Africa to ensure the accountability of institutions and to promote social development, economic growth and the empowerment of the powerless, especially women. More on AMI can be found at http://www.africanmediainitiative.org
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