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Designing mobile news solutions for South Africa

For programming wizards and creative techies, a hackathon is where their talent can really come alive. The intense air of competition fosters collaboration and promotes innovative solutions to complex problems.

DW hosted its first African hackathon recently in Cape Town, South Africa. Three teams gathered at the innovation center Workshop 17 for a 24-hour race against time to find a solution for providing news in places with poor Internet connectivity. The problem was how to compactly package news reports for consumption on low-data devices in areas with weak networks so that they remain appealing and relevant for South African users.

The three teams were composed of established South African web designers and developers along with web design students and budding experts. The mix of participants from different parts of Cape Town allowed for unique insight into how South Africans use digital news.

The winning team developed a tool that allows user-generated content (UGC) to be easily produced and quickly disseminated. UGC is quickly becoming an important resource for news broadcasters and providing capability to those with weak networks is a valuable service.

With the hackathon, DW could foster innovation in important technologies for African users while drawing attention to its special brand of international news. The event was organized with the assistance of the South African low-data social network Mxit along with the online radio aggregator iono.fm. Logistical support was also provided by Silicon Cape and Code4Southafrica.

 

Date

2015-12-04 | 5:40

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Partnering for the greater good

Crossroads_Generation

DW’s Crossroads Generation has found another great partner with Mxit. The South African social media app goes beyond providing easy access to online social networks by actively aiming to improve lives through information and education. Aside from technology, they accomplish this through social activism.

Mxit Reach is an NGO run by the company, which seeks to improve lives by providing innovative mobile solutions. An estimated 1 million users access educational, counseling and health services through Mxit Reach. And with Crossroads Generation, DW has created a radio soap that tackles tough social issues with the help of a love story. It covers issues that are important for African youth like drug use, pregnancy and domestic violence – and does this in a fun and entertaining way to keep listeners coming back for more. Mxit can help the program do its job even better.

One of the Mxit app’s core strengths is “tailoring features for original localized content targeted at emerging market youth”. Crossroads Generation, the educational radio soap, is targeted to this market – African youth who will greatly benefit from having the program on such an accessible platform. Mixt enables users to gather around the content to react, discuss and develop their own ideas and this will surely expand Crossroads Generation’s effectiveness.

DW’s educational content for Africa is produced to enlighten and educate young Africans and is an ideal complement to the Mxit mission. With DW doing a lot of other work in media education and social awareness, it would be a positive development to see this partnership develop in the future.

Find out more about DW’s partnership with Mxit here.

Date

2015-01-23 | 1:50

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How to unlock the full potential of online video even on low-quality networks

There is a high demand for quality media in Africa but in many places network infrastructure cannot keep up. A positive aspect of this technological disparity is that it promotes the development of alternative services, which provide access to media by getting around network deficiencies. Launched in January 2012, Tuluntulu (which means stream in Zulu) opens the floodgates to a reservoir of uninterrupted television streams on mobile devices– even in locations with low-bandwidth networks.

Now DW’s flagship English channel will be included Tuluntulu catalogue. This new partnership will bring world-class programming and information to a hard-to-reach audience. With partners on board like DW, no one has to miss out on quality content because of technological deficiencies.

Tuluntulu works by using Adaptive Real-time Internet Streaming Technology (ARTIST), which allows content to stream at low data consumption levels. The service was developed specifically as a platform for the technology. The company claims that ARTIST technology can provide unbroken streaming video at the low broadband speed of 30kbps adding that no other service can provide video under 100 kbps. With its wide-selection of networks, Tuluntulu is truly a breakthrough for mobile media in Africa. The service is free to download right now for iOS or Android devices.

This is only the beginning of developing these technologies and DW is an integtral part of what makes them so important in providing information to those who need it in a place they couldn’t find it before.

Date

2015-01-09 | 2:44

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Let’s get high-quality information to low-tech devices in Africa

AnnelieGuest commentary

Annelie Moreira Da Silva, DW Distribution Representative for Africa

Smartphones are fast becoming the standard tool for consuming news and information, but for many people in developing and emerging countries, this technology is still out of reach. It is estimated that out of the total 5 billion mobile users worldwide, only 1 billion are using smartphones. The remaining number represents a majority of people in emerging and developing countries who are using 2G or “feature phones” for mobile Internet access.

DW works hard to provide top-quality news and information to people in hard to reach places. In emerging markets such as in Africa, expensive Internet and mobile technology makes smartphones a luxury that few can afford. Most people try to use their feature phones to access valuable social networks and online news which usually demands a higher level of data processing than these devices can provide – but there are some solutions.

A innovative platform called biNu is providing a way for feature phones to efficiently navigate the web. And since June, DW has been cooperating with biNu to provide feature phone users in Africa with easy access to DW’s high-quality online news content.

The biNu app provides high-end functionality by turning feature phones with a basic Internet connection into “virtual smartphones.” It achieves this by using cloud networks to process and compress data from websites allowing the end result to be easily used via a feature phone. The result of using a cloud platform to streamline data is a service that is 10 times faster than a standard mobile browser while requiring 10 times less bandwidth. The displays are simplified and optimized for a feature phone and the most important elements of the website are passed on to the user.

The service already has more than 900,000 users in Africa, mostly located in fast-growing media markets like Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Ghana but also in countries like Zimbabwe and Ethiopia where, because of the difficult political climate, are harder for international media to access.

Even as infrastructure improves, the low cost of feature phones and continually expensive network and Internet access means that many people in these developing countries will continue to use their mobile phones as the primary device for going online. Providing them with easily accessible news, information and social networks is a hugely important task. Through cooperating with biNu, DW can overcome the disparity in international technological standards and provide information that people need on the device that they prefer.

Date

2014-08-06 | 7:27

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Market roundup: February 2014

Africa

A selection of educational programming from DW Transtel was purchased by Channel ED, a new knowledge and education channel based in South Africa. Channel ED was launched in December 2013 and is produced  in Johannesburg at Urban Brew Studios. The channel is a part of a programming package offered by the Pan-African digital satellite broadcaster DStv, which is operated by the South African digital media company, MultiChoice. Channel ED targets young adults and will broadcast to 49 countries throughout Africa.

Asia

The Pakistani business news channel Business Plus has just purchased an extensive programming package from DW Transtel. The channel has also carried the popular DW format Euromaxx since November 2013. Starting in 2014, Business Plus will be broadcasting nationwide 50 hours of DW Transtel’s travel and culture programming. Around 12 million households in Pakistan have access to the channel.

DW has also added three new partners in the Baltistan region of northern Pakistan. New Rakaposhi, Garden Cable Network and Shaheen Cable Network provide television service to around 10,000 households in the city of Gilgit. The Pakistani channel Zaiqa TV will also be broadcasting DW’s lifestyle and fitness program In Good Shape via satellite to a potential audience of 12 million households.

Latin America

DW has a new TV partner in Peru. Since October 2013, RPP TV, the news and information channel from Gruppo RPP has been broadcasting DW’s  En forma, Claves, Enlaces and Reporteros en el mundo. Around 1 million subscribers of the Pay-TV service, Moviestar TV currently pick up RPP TV. The channel will also be available via terrestrial television until the end of 2014, which should considerably increase the exposure of DW (Latinoamérica) to potential audiences in Peru.

Europe

The mobile livestream from DW (Europe) is now available in the Republic of Moldova on the country’s leading mobile carrier, Orange Moldova.  Since the end of 2013 content from DW (Europe) can be uploaded on iOS and Android mobile devices with the Orange TV App. DW is also available on Orange Moldova’s television news package and online at tv.orange.md.

Online

The complete video archives from DW in German, English and Spanish can now be accessed on Google devices via a Smart-TV App.

DW(English) is also available on Google Newsstand and Google Play Kiosk. Google Newsstand for Android mobile phones can be downloaded at the Google Play Store.

Date

2014-02-05 | 12:12

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