We have the demand for local content, why not upload it?

Monday March 1 2010

By MOSES KEMIBARO

Of late everyone is talking about digital “local content” and the massive opportunity it represents.

It is only logical that this should be the case as the convergence of increasingly ubiquitous broadband Internet, digital television and mobile telephony in East Africa all create the right factors for local content to thrive.

But what exactly is local content and where does it come from?

Local content is all around us in many analogue formats such as books and video tapes.

But local content is much more than media — it is also our cultures, software, government services and educational materials, only that it is largely either not in universally accessible digital formats, or it is yet to be developed from scratch.

Could it be that we are about to see an East African dotcom boom driven by local content? I certainly think so.

Unlike the original dotcom boom, we have many platforms through which local content can be published for free, or nearly free.

This is especially pertinent considering the huge investment required to build a content platform like Facebook or YouTube where millions of users can upload video and audio content for free.

Facebook, currently the content platform of choice for over 400 million users, is one of the most popular websites in many parts of Africa.

The East African blogosphere has thousands of active bloggers who cover almost every conceivable topic within a local content context.

To cap it off, East Africa has over 30 million mobile subscribers and each of their mobile phones is potentially a platform for the distribution of a myriad array of local content.

However, content has to be of high quality, context and relevance if it is to succeed.

If these three factors work then there will be an almost insatiable appetite for local content, in all its forms.

We have already seen how local content on East African television has attracted a massive following across our borders.

On mobile content, ringtones derived from local songs already outpace international ones in total downloads — we do love our local stuff!

These emerging trends go to show that the more local content is repurposed or generated, the more the demand will rise.

The local content gold rush is only just getting started.