This virtual notice board service is quietly but surely disrupting traditional publishing and content aggregation across the continent. Mimiboard, which is expanding across the continent, will allow citizen reporters to upload news about entertainment, sports, business, social and political issues in the communities live as it happens.
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Mimiboard CEO Johan Nel, who took home a Nokia Lumia 800 from the competition, says that the service is a virtual, ‘3.0 version noticeboard’ but works just like a traditional, wooden version. According to Nel, Mimiboards are set to help people in communities, cities and organisations share issues in real-time with their groups, as any member can post or leave a notice for others.
Nel believes that the portals will deliver relevant local content with a focus on entertainment, property, jobs, news and even politics to users across the two countries. His dream is to localise news and conversations for Africans by Africans. In East Africa, Umuntu Media is already working with established media houses including PC Tech magazine.
Albert Mucunguzi, CEO of PC Tech said,” It is great for us to be working with continental innovators like Umuntu Media, and advent of Mimiboards will certainly revolutionalize the way African communities engage with each other.” PC Tech is a monthly technology magazine that features African ICT innovation, personal and enterprise technology initiatives, social media, product and software reviews and research on ICT in Africa.
Mimiboard’s claim of solving problems publishers face during news gathering and engaging audience in the process is what is driving their expansion. Recently, Mimiboard launched its information portals (iportals) in Uganda and Rwanda and is eyeing a spread across the continent. “Publishers all over the world have the same challenges: Keeping users engaged, playing in the social media area, revenue and maintaining a community,” said Nel.
Umuntu Media has also partnered with The Zimbabwean, a newspaper, and has taken Mimiboards to Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, and Gauteng regions of South Africa and to those online looking for relevant local content.
Analysts say the Mimiboards, which mostly rely on mobile, are a great plus for the continent. According to a recent report by Informa Telecoms & Media, Africa has become the second most connected region in the world in terms of mobile subscription count, up from fourth place at end of 2010. The report further claims there were over 616 million mobile subscriptions in Africa at the end of September 2011, which means the mobile market on the continent is second only to Asia-Pacific in terms of mobile subscription numbers.
Nel, a former digital executive at SA’s giant media firm Naspers, unveiled the Mimiboard in February at the Mobile Web East Africa conference in Nairobi, Kenya. Mimiboards are actively in use in Kenya, Tanzania and major parts of West Africa. Umuntu had earlier this year launched iZambia, iRwanda, iBotswana, and now iNamibia.
Image credit: Adrian Short