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RWANDA/ A Country With Unconventional Vision And Leadership

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KIGALI – RWANDA, Wednesday February 19, 2020/www.gbafrica.net/ – Since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Rwanda has risen from $752million to $9.5 billion in 2018, and the GDP per capita has grown from $125.5 to $787 during the same period. Due to Rwanda’s internationally recognized universal access to healthcare policy called ‘Mutelle de Sante’ life expectancy has risen from 29 years in 1994 to 67 years in 2016. Inflation has fallen from 101% in 1995 to 1.1% in 2018 and Rwanda has jumped over 100 places in the World Bank Doing Business Index, today ranking 38th globally and 2nd in Africa.

Furthermore, with the 9 Year Basic Education policy, Rwanda has seen the average expected years of schooling rise from 6.2 years in 1995 to 11.2 years in 2017. These numbers, both the increases and decreases, are not merely statistics on paper, they reveal a people who have taken the reins of destiny into their own hands. Following the defeat of the genocidal forces by the Rwanda Patriotic Army rebels led by now president, Paul Kagame, many highly qualified development experts believed that the fabric of Rwandan society was irrevocably torn asunder. Over one million people had been killed in less than 100 days, over 3 million had fled the country to refugee camps in Tanzania, Burundi and the DRC (then Zaire), the national treasury was looted and there weren’t even pens and paper in government departments.

Speaking to members of the Australian chapter of the YPO (Young Presidents Organization) in May last year President Kagame was asked this question, “experts say that a turnaround from a cataclysmic event such as genocide is supposed to take a century or at least a generation, how was Rwanda able to do so in only twenty years”? President Kagame mentioned the main aspects of the Rwandan turnaround; thinking big, having a vision, refusing to get stuck in the status quo, believing in, and having faith in the vision and, lastly, making sure that the journey is inclusive by bringing people in and creating possibilities for them to make their contribution.

Rwanda does not have the usual ingredients for economic transformation. It does not have a wealth of natural resources such as oil or diamonds, it is landlocked, it has one of the highest population densities in the world. However, Rwanda has a will to build a better, more prosperous nation.

What Rwanda did was put together a development plan called ‘Vision 2020’. This plan envisioned a Rwanda that was middle-income and knowledge-based. With a GDP growth rate which was dominated by double digits over the last 10 years, we are reaping the fruits of the ambitious plan.

One of the fruits is the emerging MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) sector. Who could have imagined that 25 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda would become home to one of the most iconic and most expensive buildings in Africa, the KCC (Kigali Convention Center)? The KCC, a venue that includes a five-star hotel and conference facilities that can host over 5,000 delegates, will this year host, among other world class events, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). To date, KCC has hosted the African Union Heads of State summit, the Transform Africa summit as well as a myriad of regional and international events and conferences.

The KCC has not been the only such ‘out of the box’ investment that the Government of Rwanda has made to create value where no one expected. A decade or so ago, the Government insisted on building the country’s very first five-star hotel, the present-day Kigali Serena hotel. Our development partners baulked at the investment, saying that there was no need for such a high-end facility. The Government, believing in its vision, went ahead and built the hotel thereby creating the anchor accommodation facility that opened Rwanda to the opportunity of becoming a regional destination for business travel and MICE. The country now has five 5-star hotels and more are opening up this year. Furthermore, high end accommodation establishments have opened their branches across different parts of Rwanda. To create the ecosystem that a vibrant MICE sector needed, the national carrier Rwandair was established, investments in skills and capacity building were made and the private sector was encouraged and supported to invest in the sector.

Because the Government refused to take a laissez-faire attitude to the development of the MICE and the overall tourism sector, investments that we have registered in the sector as the Rwanda Development Board have totaled $1.5 billion since the year 2000. Hotel rooms have increased from 623 in 2003 to 14, 866 in 2018, tourism revenues have jumped from $131 million in 2006 to over $300 million with MICE tourism revenue numbers growing from inconsequential numbers in 2000 to $55 million in 2018. We expect that all the numbers will grow by at least 10% per year and projections show that the tourism sector will be worth $800 million by the end of 2024.

This might seem ambitious, but we believe in our vision and we are actively working towards fulfilling it. That is why we partnered with different partners, including but not limited to Arsenal FC and Paris Saint Germain, English and French football teams respectively, to market Rwanda as a destination for tourism, MICE and investment. That is why Rwandair is increasing both its fleet as well as its destinations in Africa, North America, Europe and Asia and that is why we are currently building a new international airport in Bugesera, on the outskirts of Kigali, in partnership with Qatar. In addition, we have taken an active role in building an Africa that freely trades with itself through the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACTFA) and internally we have reformed both our business environment and visa regimes.

The business community has followed our lead. Last year, we registered over $2.4 billion in investments on the back of over 8% GDP growth. Leading global businesses such as Volkswagen, Motorola Solutions, Andela and Radisson today provide jobs to young Rwandans graduating from global institutions of learning that are based in Rwanda such as Carnegie Mellon University. In addition to the recent opening of the first smartphone factory by Mara Phones; companies including Volkswagen (in partnership with Siemens), Ampersand, and Safiride are also rolling out environment friendly transport solutions through electric vehicles and motorcycles on the street of Kigali and other parts of Rwanda.

When we tell businesses that Rwanda is the right place to invest in, we are confident that they will find the right environment to thrive. Why? Because we built that environment.

Mr. Zephanie Niyonkuru is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer, the Rwanda Development Board. The Rwanda Development Board is a one stop shop for investors, bringing business registration, investment promotion, tourism, ICT development, SMEs, human capacity development, privatization and specialist agencies under one institution.

Zephanie Niyonkuru

(Source: Forbes Africa)

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Snapchat Partners With Adidas, Topshop, Farfetch On New E-commerce Feature

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Multimedia messaging app has launched a new free-to-use Dynamic Product Ads (DPAs) feature, allowing brands to create globally-served Snapchat ads in real-time to help them reach an increasingly online, younger audience. Adidas, Topshop and Farfetch are among the big-name fashion brands to have become advertising partners of Snapchat in the UK for its new e-commerce offering designed to “simplify the consumer purchase journey and drive measurable ROI”.

After testing the beta version of the DPAs for just a few weeks, Arcadia-owned Topshop achieved over four times the return on advertising spend (ROAS) benchmark usual for the UK market, the brand said. Adidas in turn saw a 52 percent growth in ROAS.

“In the wake of the Covid-19 epidemic, Adidas has further accelerated its digital business. With e-commerce a key focus for us in 2020 and beyond, we’re excited to Beta test Snapchat’s Dynamic Product Ads in the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands,” Adidas’ senior director of media activation Europe, Rob Seidu, said in a statement. “The launch of DPAs allows us a route to reach our target Gen Z and Millennial audiences with relevant product creative throughout the consumer journey.”

But it’s not just big brands that can access the feature. Snapchat said the new tool “allows brands of all sizes to showcase their products and services in a professional layout, through customized ad formats that can be easily set up.” The company said this will save advertisers time both on the creative process and on the admin side of things, allowing them to run ‘always-on’, measurable, campaigns.

Snapchat is looking to capitalise on the heightened focus in recent months on companies’ online operations after the Covid-19 pandemic caused international lockdowns and wreaked havoc on physical retail. In fact, online sales in the UK grew to a 10-year high in April, up 23.8 percent year-on-year, according to the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index.

Last month, social media giant Facebook announced the launch of its new shopping feature allowing businesses affected by the pandemic to set up a free online store on Facebook and Instagram. “In the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown we have shifts in how consumers are interacting with e-commerce with people increasingly shopping on their mobiles – a trend we expect to continue,” said FarFetch chief marketing officer Gareth Jones.

“As a result, we have re-engineered our e-commerce marketing activity to support the many fashion boutiques we work with, and the consumers we serve. Farfetch’s relationship with Snapchat has transformed our activity across the entire funnel and gives us a unique and an unduplicated audience across multiple markets.

“We leaned heavily into DPAs during the testing period and we have seen significant success that has translated into high-quality customers and ultimately transactions. We plan to continue to build on our relationship with Snapchat and we see them as an always-on partner.”

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Microsoft’s New Chromium Based Edge Browser Is Now Available Via Windows Update

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Microsoft new Chromium based Edge Browser is being rolled out to all users with the latest Windows update. The new Edge browser was first launched in January for Windows 10 users but users had to download it manually. Now, Microsoft is making it a part of Windows update and as per the company’s support page, the new Edge browser is available for Windows 10 version 1903 and 1909. Initially, the browser was only available to Windows Insiders through Windows 10 update but now, it has been made available to all users.

As per the Microsoft support page, this new Chromium-based version of Microsoft Edge comes with support for the “latest rendering capabilities, modern web applications, and powerful developer tools across all supported OS platforms.”

Windows 10 already comes with Microsoft Edge browser, but with this new update, Microsoft aims to make the transition from the current browser to the new Chromium-based version of Edge fully seamless. The support page states:

  • Microsoft Edge Users Will Get a Contextual Search Experience
  • Start menu and taskbar pins, tiles, and shortcuts will migrate to the new Edge browser from the current browser.
  • The new Edge browser will replace the current browser in the taskbar if the current one has been pinned.
  • Most protocols that Microsoft Edge handles will migrate to new Microsoft Edge.
  • After the update, First Run Experience (FRE) will auto-launch after the device restarts.
  • Data from earlier versions of Microsoft Edge including passwords, favorites, open tabs, etc. will be available in the new Microsoft Edge.

The prerequisites for the new Chromium-based version of Microsoft Edge for users updating from Windows 10 version 1903 is the October 8, 2019 – KB4517389 (OS Build 18362.418) update. Notably, like all other updates, this update with the new Edge browser will also be rolled out in batches and will reach all users gradually.

Microsoft has been working on the Chromium based version of Edge for quite a while now. The beta was first made available for Windows and macOS users in August last year. Then, in January this year, the company released the new browser for the public to manually download. A month later, it started bundling the Chromium version of Edge with Windows 10 update to Windows Insiders.

In March, the company added vertical tabs, Tracking Prevention, InPrivate Browsing, and a few other features to the Chromium version of Edge.

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How East African Musicians Are Generating Revenue Today

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As the world continues to embrace technology, and with the current state of quarantine in so many countries, musicians are in a constant search for new and better streams of income. In East Africa, artists and companies are looking to tap into a tech-savvy, smartphone-connected population of around 537 million people through several pathways.

Ahead of the MIDEM digital panel conversation on Reinventing Monetisation Sources in East Africa, which we will be moderating, we spoke with the panelists: Tanzanian star Vanessa Mdee, TRACE TV’s Head of Music Business East & Anglophone Africa and Swahili nation Founder Cleopatra Mukula, and Mdundo‘s Chief Operating Officer Wanjiku Koinange, and also hear from insider voices like Nairobi-based Camille Stormto get their takes on income options for artists in East Africa.

The best way for East African artists to make money right now—given the current situation

“Currently the best way is to monetize off of digital content and brand endorsements,” says star singer-songwriter Vanessa Mdee. “Beyond concerts, artists in East Africa make most of their revenue on social media and off of their music streaming platforms. However being a brand ambassador is the most lucrative means of making revenue aside from the above mentioned.”

Locking in partnerships with brands is a point that comes up a lot throughout our discussions with the group. Vanessa herself has had numerous deals with the likes of Samsung Tanzania, Doffi washing powder and others, as do all major artists in the region.

Mdundo’s Chief Operating Officer Wanjiku Koinange.
Photo courtesy of Mdundo.

“It’s a positive thing that artists are monetizing through their partnerships with brands,” says Cleopatra Mukula of TRACE. “Thank god for endorsements, that check goes a long way during this current situation, and most of the artists that I’ve spoken to say that. Some companies have started to do digital concerts sponsored by brands. Some of the brands in Uganda have been even sponsoring artists to do indoor concerts, all well controlled, but I can’t say names.”

But what can up-and-coming artists who can’t secure lucrative deals with brands do? “The obvious way is endorsements and brand ambassadors, but even then it’s the top 10 artists per country [getting them], specially those known in recent times,” weighs in Wanjiku Koinange of Mdundo.

“It would be great to see more artists working with brands that want some impact on social media to do monetized live streams and the like,” adds Camille Storm, founder of the Nairobi-based creative agency Camille & Co. and current OkayAfrica contributor. “Beyond that I would say a big source of income is digital ringtone downloads.”

“What I love about artists from the East is that we like to think about smart ways of monetizing our business,” mentions Mukula, “If we look at Vanessa Mdee, she’s not just an artist but an entrepreneur. She has merch and a record label—that keeps a smart ecosystem. You’re not just making revenue from live shows but also supporting other artists and monetizing through the collective. Merch has been a big one. Quite a few artists have merch in the East. A Pass, Diamond Platnumz has his media/record label, Ali Kiba has partnered with brands.”

Streaming & online service options for East African artists

“The future is in data and East Africa has that,” says Cleopatra Mukula. “The East African algorithm and ecosystem actually drives lots of business for artists in the East and lots of Africa. Africa has 1.2 billion people. A minimum of 75% are on smartphones. Look at the data. The majority are 35-years-old and under. This is a demographic that consumes music. For East Africa, you have a population 537 million. In Nairobi, 80% of people have a smartphone.”

“East Africa like most of Africa is filled with Android users and the most popular music platform for the consumer has been Boomplay,” adds Vanessa Mdee. “Apple Music only recently became available for the music consumer in East Africa even though iOS/Apple products have been in use for years.”

“The generally cheaper data prices in East Africa (especially Tanzania) could see music on these platforms do super well as it has on Youtube for example,” mentions Camille Storm.

Cleopatra Mukula, TRACE TV’s Head of Music Business East & Anglophone Africa
Photo courtesy of Cleopatra Mukula.

The mobile-web based music service Mdundo has been operating in East Africa and beyond for close to eight years. It offers songs for free downloads and streaming directly from their website and Android app. “We’re predominantly a digital music service available as a web download and streaming app. We have 5 million users on a monthly basis and work with 50 thousand artists signed directly to our platforms,” explains Wanjiku Koinange, “but we also have partnerships with Believe, Tunecore and others.”

“We create an option for users to be able to stream, an option for low income users on the digital space, people who have very basic phones or smartphones. We’re trying to get all the music available on the catalog for free. Piracy is the number one thing we have to fight.” Any user searching for “download Sauti Sol” on Google, for example, will see Mdundo’s site in the top results. The company cites that it now has 7.2 million users in Tanzania, 7.1 million users in Kenya, and 5.4 million in Nigeria, 3.4 million in South Africa and more across the continent.

Streaming giants like Apple Music and American companies like Audiomack are also looking to the region. “Apple Music recently just expanded to Tanzania and are super interested in setting up closer relationships with more East African acts and labels,” mentions Camille Storm. “Audiomack also shows a lot of support for East Africa with their playlists and promotions. It would be great for East African artists to hop on these opportunities to learn and grow to get on par with the rest of the world in terms of roll-out strategies for their music on these streaming platforms for maximum impact as well.”

Build from within or look towards streaming giants?

“We have for a while tried to support and work with national/local streaming companies like Mkito, Mdundo, Mzikii, however the Chinese Boomplay and American Audiomack have been the most popular amongst the masses because of their ease on consumers as well as their availability to Android users,” explains Vanessa Mdee. “The consistency for consumer and artist with the local streaming platforms has been unstable over the years hence why the dependency on the more developed streaming companies.”

Vanessa Mdee.
Photo courtesy of the artist.

Wanjiku Koinange of Mdundo has this to say: “We are learning from Apple and Spotify but we also understand that the systems that allow them to exist, like royalty collections, are not necessarily what we have here. In Kenya, for example, we don’t use credit cards/debit cards as often, we have the mobile money. So for these companies, if they’re trying to get into this market, the cost would be big. I don’t know if it would make sense. They could cater to the top income earning population that do have credit cards or do the required subscription payments.”

“I do think the solution will come from within and what I imagine will happen will be to tailor a product similar to services like ours (Mdundo, Boomplay),” Wanjiku adds. “The solutions will come faster from within. The model of Mdundo has changed a bit throughout the years and it’s focused on the app and changed our product market.”

“I think the whole of Africa in general needs to build from within first,” agrees Camille Storm. “There’s a lot that we need to do that can’t be fixed overnight by major companies or international record labels coming in. We can’t look to them for all the answers but I think international companies coming in to invest in the East African music industry would be beneficial and it’s something that is bound to happen anyway. But for them to effectively work with us or invest in us we also have to have made more progress in terms of creating a system that really works on the ground with regards to functioning labels and creative agencies, charting systems, and royalty collection and payments.”

“An option could be that big players come in to the market and find smart people to adapt DSP services locally,” says Cleopatra Mukula. “The smart players will understand that for you to really work with East Africa you have to understand the culture, the people and find ways of dealing with a demographic that’s sustainable on its own.”

– Kam Tambini/Okay Africa

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Munyaradzi Chanetsa Appointed As A&R Manager At Sony/ATV Music Publishing

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Sony/ATV Music Publishing South Africa has appointed Munyaradzi Chanetsa as its Africa A&R manager with effect from 1 June.

Chanetsa joins Sony/ATV SA from the Composers, Authors and Publishers Association (CAPASSO) where he served as head of licensing since March-April 2019. Before CAPASSO, he was head of operations at Content Connect Africa where he also assumed the role of managing director for Content Connect Ghana and Content Connect International. Chanetsa also served as the head of marketing and promotions in South Africa for New York label Putumayo World Music.

He will be responsible for finding new talent throughout the continent, promoting songwriters’ copyright and careers, and connecting them with bigger opportunities. He will also work closely work with his Sony/ATV colleagues to pitch new and existing repertoire to the marketplace.

“I have worked with Munyaradzi previously and I have no doubt we have a person here who brings with him dedication, passion and experience, which is key as we expand our publishing business across the continent,” Sony/ATV South Africa managing director Rowlin Naicker said.

Details of Chanetsa’s appointment come after Sony/ATV SA partnered last week with his previous employer, Content Connect Africa, on a deal that will seek to expand the label’s publishing services.

“I am joining a great team of talented people who share my passion, and I just cannot wait to see what we can all achieve together,” Chanetsa said.

Sony/ATV international president Guy Henderson said: “We are excited to work with him to achieve our goals. Munyaradzi is a creative talent with vast experience and a perfect fit for our company and its creative ambitions. With Munyaradzi’s position in the creative community both in South Africa and across the African continent, he will be a great addition to our global team.”

Chanetsa is a well-known music executive in Africa with more than 10 years of A&R and licensing experience. He has engaged mobile and online platforms, independent record labels, artists and music publishers. He has also been a featured presenter on music copyright at leading forums and conferences in South Africa, Angola, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

– Ano Shumba/musicinafrica.net

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