31 July, 2012

Western Union Partners With M-Pesa In Enabling Local Mobile Money Receipts

It is now possible to receive funds sent from abroad through Western Union Money Transfer services via the M-pesa Platform ! This comes as particularly good news to Kenyans both in the diaspora and locally who have been seeking an efficient and seamless service when it comes to money transfer.

On 16 July 2012 the global payments service provider announced  a promotion set to run till 7 September 2012 with intent to popularize the service especially among Kenyans in America. Customers who tell at least three friends and family members through a qualifying referral about the Western Union® Mobile Money Transfer service from the U.S. to Kenya will receive a coupon for a $0-fee* transaction. To qualify for the coupon, U.S. customers must “tell a friend” through www.westernunion.com/mpesa using e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.

The new service enables consumers to be able to send money to Mpesa subscribers from nearly 170,000Western Union Agents located in 91 Countries and Territories including the USA.According to the press release from the Company:
 The service operates on Western Union’s worldwide network and trusted global “hub” for processing cross-border remittances. It also builds on the unprecedented success of M-PESA, a mobile money transfer service in Kenya offered by Safaricom that has attracted nearly 15 million customers since its launch in 2007. Funds are delivered directly to M-PESA subscribers and are usually available in minutes.

This facility is a ready welcome and enabler for e-commerce within the region.It is expected that the service will prove very popular among Kenyans.According to a recent Central Bank of Kenya report Kenyans in the Diaspora remitted back home a whooping US $891,107,000 in 2011.This is a lot of foreign exchange and definitely indicates that both Safaricom and Western Union are targeting an already existing and lucrative market.For Kenyans the "Mobile Wallet"service will certainly ease transactions and  enhance money transfer services and usage.

Nokia connects with the youth in Kenya through smart phones

Local research reports validate the value proposition of the Nokia Asha range

Nairobi, Kenya – Nokia today shared a number of key trends identified by local research reports on Kenyan youth culture. This follows the recent launch of the Nokia Asha mobile phone range, signaling Nokia’s intent to connect with the youth market. The Nokia Asha range provides smartphone features at more accessible price points attractive to this vibrant market segment. Research now indicates that this strategy is paying off.

The Institute for Economic Affairs estimates Kenya’s youth to be around 9 million strong. In fact, those under the age of thirty-four comprise a staggering 78% of Kenya’s overall population, and over 80% of that target group has mobile phones. In terms of mobile internet usage, social networking is the clear leader at almost 60% of usage, followed by internet browsing, other forms of communication such as e-mail and chat, and streaming or downloading music.

“The youth in Kenya are all about self-expression,” says Bruce Howe, General Manager for Nokia East Africa. “Whether through music, fashion, technology or design, the youth are searching for individuality while at the same time being part of a socially connected community, and mobile phones play a key role in this always connected lifestyle. In fact, research indicates that the youth spend more on air-time than on any other item, including clothing and transport.”

Recently, Youth Dynamix (YDX) conducted research amongst the local youth market to identify trends and insights. The topline report called out five key pillars of Kenyan youth culture - music, entertainment, fashion, technology and sport. This is consistent with research that Nokia has undertaken, as well as insights from Instant Grass youth agency.

While music tastes vary and provide opportunity for individualism, it is clear that local music is hugely popular amongst the youth, with Camp Mulla emerging as a firm favourite. When it comes to entertainment, the youth are discerning and expect this to be tailor made for their needs with gaming gaining in popularity.

Fashion is another important pillar within the context of youth, who spend 64 billion Kenyan Shillings a year on clothes. ‘Avant-Garde’ fashion is also growing in popularity as the youth seek to stand out from the crowd, and second hand markets are the place to be seen, as they offer more affordable access to high fashion items.

Technology plays a central role in the lives of Kenya’s youth. YDX estimates that young Kenyan consumers send an average of 250 text messages per day, and over 40% surf the internet from their mobile phone daily. They are also at the forefront of social networking with 76% having a Facebook account and 61% a Twitter account. Social currency is important to these consumers and they like to be the first to know and share information.
“If you look at the value proposition of the Nokia Asha range, it aligns perfectly to the needs of the youth market,” adds Howe. “Nokia Asha offers freedom of choice across design, colour, form factor, feature set and price point. It also offers a seamless music and entertainment experience with thousands of apps at your finger-tips, and Nokia Browser for faster, cheaper and more enjoyable web browsing.”
The first Nokia Asha phones to arrive in Kenya earlier this year – Nokia Asha 200, 201, 302 and 303, all offered a full Qwerty keyboard and integrated social networking for the best possible social and chat experience. This unique range was brought to life through the ‘Let’s Qwerty’ campaign, these phones created a buzz in the local market and quickly gained traction.

Now Nokia has extended the range with two new products, the Nokia 202 and the Nokia 305, which is the first full touch Asha product. The Nokia 305 has the additional benefit of coming to market with an exclusive-to-Nokia offer of 40 free* to download games from Electronic Arts (EA), featuring much loved titles like Tetris®, Bejeweled®, Need for Speed(TM) The Run and EA SPORTS(TM) FIFA 12.
“Nokia Asha builds on our commitment to bring great mobile products to our consumers by truly understanding their needs. And the experience goes beyond the phones to the thousands of applications that are available on Nokia store, the innovation through Nokia browser, right down to our locally relevant marketing campaigns that are attracting the attention and admiration of the youth”, concludes Howe.
Nokia is currently running the “Don’t Break the Beat” campaign which is a search for East Africa’s top cypher from amongst the youth. Auditions in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have already taken place with several club battles now underway ahead of the national finals. This will culminate in early September with the East Africa finals, where the winner will walk away with 250,000 KES in prize money and a recording contract.
*data costs may apply

Ruth Matete Bags Tusker Project Fame Season 5 Finals!

On Sunday 29th July 2012, the curtains came down on the popular East African reality tv musical talent show Tusker Project Fame Season 5 with 26 year old Kenyan Communications graduate Ruth Matete (here's her facebook fanpage) emerging the winner!To a great extent she was hugely popular especially amongst young Kenyans and tipped to win due to her strong voice and Neosoul/RnB songstress prowess.
Whether or not her win will translate into a successful musical career is perhaps what critics are out to watch for as previous winners have hardly left a mark in the musical scene within the region.Will she perhaps change the trend? time will tell.

As a winner Ruth Matete takes home Kenya shillings 5 Million in cash, a 10 Million Kenya shillings recording contract with Universal Group , one year security services from G4S and a whole lot of other freebies.

Her performance in the academy was constant often managing to pull impressive feats with sterling stage performances of the different genre of songs she was put up to.From quite early in the show one could tell that she would make it to the final two.She did not disappoint in that regard!

Her second strongest competition was Rwandan competitor Jackson Kalimba who wowed the crowd with a spectacular performance of Lokua Kanza's song Voir Le Jour which when translated means 'until i see the day' .Earlier in the competition a controversy had simmered in certain circles as to whether Jackson Kalimba qualified as a professional musician prior to the auditions of the show which seeks novel talent.

Jackson Kalimba however ended up being a close third after Kenyan Doreen Muchiri (in my two cents he was better than Doreen hands down) who performed dismally.In my take Doreen though talented goes off to the world with a performance that befits probation.During the show she earned the title "probation queen"-as an artiste she faces the daunting task of avoiding being dubbed the "probation artiste".

Surprisingly,Joe Irankunda of Burundi managed to survive to the top 5 whereas his musical prowess was severely limited.He basically was comedic,lacked vocal appeal but his strategy lasted him in the academy to the last five standing and for that he deserves a measure of congratulations.As to whether he will translate into a successful musician is an enigma of sorts.

Tusker Project Fame Season 5 and Social Media:

What was particularly impressive about Tusker Project Fame Season 5 was perhaps its use of social media i.e,YouTube, Facebook and Twitter(@tuskerlager-my tip next time use  a twitter handle commensurate to the show and not a brand name) to engage the viewers in real time conversations. Selling a brand via social media adheres to different rules as opposed to traditional media.The majority users being the youth want a buzz not a corporate trying to sell them something in such an open manner.

According to the website Hashtracking.com the #tpf5 generated a massive over 70,000 impressions within 24 hours reaching over 56K people indicating the online buzz on the show was gigantic. Samsung Kenya also hyped the show by introducing tablets both in the show performances and in coordinating student tasks during their stay at the Tusker academy.That was significant progress and improvement as compared to past competitions.

TPF & The Future:

The challenge for the organizers is to reinvent the show and take it to a whole new level in the next season. One place that needs to be re-engineered perhaps is the modus operandi of the show ....the whole voting fiasco,the student tasks,the eviction shows to ensure the level of  unpredictability is hyped to a whole new level.Putting three or four contestants on probation each week as a way of eliminating week performers has now been surpassed by time! Re think the concept!

The organizers should also  re model the website....requiring users to input their age, country of origin and subscribe to terms and conditions takes out the beauty of having anything online,unless your website belongs to the r-rated category,that option should have long been discarded.The website also needs prompt updating, live streaming,visual-graphic appeal  and other antics that the internet nowadays offers!

25 July, 2012

Kenyan musicians join the Emirates Global Harmony Campaign

The chakacha fame, Them Mushroom, among the top bands selected by Emirates Airline to promote its new brand platform, Hello Tomorrow

Nairobi: July 25th, 2012: John Katana, the band leader of Them Mushroom of the Jambo Bwana fame, is pressing to the new tune in harmony with the rest of his band members as they move to the beat of Emirates Harmony tune in a YouTube video placed online a few weeks ago- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ReZESnkDs4.

Mr. Katana and his band are among the first participants in the world selected by Emirates to participate in the promotion of its musical composition, harmony. Kenya was among the three countries from Africa selected by Emirates to participate in the harmony Musicals besides Egypt and Morocco. From across the world bands/musicians from Korea, Japan, Australia, Ireland, Germany, India, Spain, among others, participated.

“Emirates is a passionate supporter of music and now, we're taking our passion one step further by inviting music fans to help us create a unique musical journey that will showcase the many and varied destinations we serve. It doesn't matter whether you are a professional musician, a keen amateur or just fancy the opportunity to show what you can do with a couple of saucepans and a wooden spoon, we want you to get involved,” said Emirates Vice President for East Africa Khalid Bel Jaflah.

He continued: “Kenya is one of our key markets in African and it is important that the country makes part of our harmony campaign. We would also like to appreciate the cultural disposition and diversity of this country.”

The airline, which launched its new global brand platform Hello Tomorrow on 2nd April 2012, is aiming to strike a chord with music fans around its network by asking them to help create the ultimate musical mash up.

The Harmony Campaign invites participants to interact with recordings by professional musicians playing traditional instruments from around the world, such as the Celtic harp, Taiko drum, Shekere, Oudht, brass, Indian Flute, bagpipe and other world known musical instrument.

“Emirates connects over 120 destinations around the world, each with its own distinct cultural traditions that are constantly being reshaped and re-interpreted as new ideas and influences come into play. As the bridge between these destinations, Emirates is perfectly placed to bring ideas together; and the goal of our Harmony campaign is to achieve this through music,” said Mr. Jaflah.

Visitors to the Harmony Campaign can browse the various instrumental arrangements and mash them up to create different versions of the score. The overall arrangement of the composition has been designed to ensure that all possible instrumental combinations sound perfect together.

Harmony fans can also add their own talents to the mix by recording themselves performing the score on a webcam or microphone and uploading the video or audio files to the Harmony Gallery. Submissions which impress the Emirates judges will be uploaded on to the airline's dedicated YouTube channel.

Once video or audio files have been uploaded to the Harmony microsite, the sender will receive an email containing a link to the video in the Harmony Gallery. From the Gallery, links to the videos can be easily shared via Facebook, Twitter and email.

Them Mushrooms is a musical band from, playing mostly Chakacha, some Benga and also some reggae. They are most famous for the Swahili song Jambo Bwana. In 2009 bandleader John Katana was among four pioneering Kenyan artists given Head of State Commendation awards by President Mwai Kibaki.


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