Econet bringing down barriers in remote Africa


If there were any doubts about the tremendous strides being made by Econet in sub-Saharan Africa, they were erased by judges at the 2018 IBC Awards.

Econet Media, which received the Judges’ Prize at the awards, now has its tentacles in most of sub-Saharan Africa and the project is being assisted by some of the biggest broadcasting corporations in the world. The media outlet has partnerships with ESPN and Netflix, among others, producing a healthy blend of local and international entertainment.

The challenge for Econet Media was to develop a service which provided access across all types of OTT devices, but particularly to mobile devices in a geography in which fixed broadband is very limited.

It needed to present this in a form that was accessible, secure to protect the owners of the intellectual property, affordable in the context of sub-Saharan Africa, and practical to use.

Owners and industry commentators believe that objective is slowly being realised.

“Kwese Play is a game-changer, bringing sport and entertainment to viewers in a part of the world which has been hard to serve,” said Michael Lumley, Chair of the IBC Judging Panel.

“In our discussions, we recognised that the way the technology partners had collaborated on this project was innovative and successful, but we also felt that the outcome transcended the technology, delivering social change by connecting local people to global content,” added Lumley.

The technology partners which worked with Econet to develop the Kwesé Play platform include Verimatrix for its security technology, AWS Elemental for encoding the content to a single streaming format and DRM, and Roku for developing a player which would interpret this unified stream on any device.

“The IBC Awards are highly regarded across the broad sweep of our industry,” said Lumley.

“We are pleased to recognise the social as well as technical importance of this project.”