All posts by Ed

Nyong’o doc to launch on Smithsonian

Lupita Nyong’o in Black Panther

Oscar-winning Black Panther star Lupita Nyong’o will soon launch her documentary named Warrior Women (1×60’) on Paramount-owned American pay TV channel Smithsonian.

The documentary was originally commissioned by UK broadcaster Channel 4 and follows Nyong’o as she journeys across Benin, West Africa to uncover the remarkable truth behind the women known as the Agoji – named Amazons by Europeans – who helped to inspire the Dora Milaje of Marvel’s film Black Panther.

The 2019 show is produced by Sandstone Global for Channel 4 and is distributed worldwide by UK-based Cineflix Rights.

“I traveled to Benin to make a documentary about the warrior women of the Dahomey Kingdom. They are arguably the world’s greatest female army and helped inspire Black Panther’s Dora Milaje. Watch Warrior Women when it premieres in the US on Smithsonian Channel on March 28 at 8pm ET/PT as part of their women’s history month programming,” she said on Instagram.

Iren’s Loving Amanda preps online debut

Nigerian author and film producer Laju Iren is working on a screen adaptation of her best-selling novel Loving Amanda, which will premiere virtually from April 15 to 18.

Laju Iren

Loving Amanda is a romantic movie that tells the story of a young woman’s journey from brokenness towards love, healing and redemption.

It is directed by Michael ‘Ama Psalmist’ Akinrogunde and features a cast including Blossom Chukwujekwu, Teniola Aladese, Chinonso Arubayi, Rita Edward and Adesunmbo Adeoye.

“The papers say we are making history and calling it a daring route. We are calling it the best virtual premiere of the year. Loving Amanda is coming this Easter. You can watch from anywhere in the world. Thank you for coming on board with us to shake the entertainment industry,” stated Iren on Instagram.

Other movies from the author include Love is a Star and During Ever After.

Mzansi Magic’s Housekeepers set for S3

Housekeepers S3 arrives on MNet next month

MNet-owned South African network Mzansi Magic is set to bring back a third season of thriller drama Housekeepers next month.

Housekeepers is a dramatic thriller packed with grit and suspense. Amid high walls and luxury, the wealthy believe they are powerful in the comfort of their mansions, but it is the housekeepers who see all and know all.

Produced by Johannesburg’s multi-award-winning Ochre Moving Pictures, the series follows an agent solving criminal cases while working undercover as the house help. And while she has a massive crime to uncover, her biggest fight is her desperate attempt to save her brother’s life.

The series stars Thando Thabethe, Paballo Koza, Gabriel Simphiwe Mini, Ernest Ndlovu, Andile Mxakaza, Noxolo Dlamini, Fezile Makhanya and Zandi Nhlapho, while the supporting cast includes Kenneth Nkosi, Connie Chiume and Chichi Letswalo.

Shirley Adonisi, director of local entertainment channels at MultiChoice-owned MNet, said: “We’re happy to keep giving viewers shows they love, and Housekeepers is one of the series that has kept our audience enthralled since its premiere. It’s a very South African twist on the classic detective show, and it’s so much more than a crime series. It’s relevant and features social commentary and a lot of heart, while still being entertaining. The show is as multifaceted and as intelligent as our audience.”

Housekeepers S3 debuts on 4 April at 20:00 on Mzansi Magic DStv 161.

Channel 4 acquires SA crime drama Reyka

The Cane Field Killings (aka Reyka) stars Kim Engelbrecht

UK commercially funded pubcaster Channel 4 has acquired South African crime drama The Cane Field Killings, which is known as Reyka in Africa.

Produced by Serena Cullen via her prodco Serena Cullen Productions and Quizzical Pictures’ MD Harriet Gavshon, The Cane Field Killings is a coproduction between South African channel MNet, part of pay TV group MultiChoice, and Fremantle, which distributes the series internationally.

Starring Kim Engelbrecht (Bullet Proof, Eye in the Sky) and Iain Glen (Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey), The Cane Field Killings tells the story of a brilliant criminal profiler, played by Engelbrecht, who is struggling to comes to terms with her dark past.

Having been abducted as a child by a farmer (played by Glen), she now channels that traumatic experience to get into the mindset of Africa’s most notorious criminals. The series follows her investigation into a string of brutal murders committed by a serial killer in the sugar cane fields of Kwa-Zulu-Natal.

The Cane Field Killings was created by Rohan Dickson and is executive produced by Jan du Plessis, Yolisa Phahle, Allan Sperling, Gavshon and Cullen. The series will premiere on Channel 4 next month, with all episodes available immediately after on its on-demand platform All4.

AMVCA producers reveal show date

The organisers of the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCAs) have revealed the date for the eighth edition of the event, which is set to take place between May 7-14 this year.

Busola Tejumola

The eight-day series of events will commence on May 7 and will include an opening night, a runway show, MultiChoice Talent Factory day, content market day, pan-African food festival and cultural day, digital content creator’s day and a nominee gala, ending with an awards night ceremony on May 14.

Busola Tejumola, executive head, content and West Africa channels at MultiChoice Nigeria, said: “We are focused on shining the light on the many aspects that make the African film and television industry truly magical and beaming that magic to millions of Africans who watch the awards every year.

“These curated events will feature a celebration of fashion, technology, food and African culture. There will also be panel discussions and film screenings from our MultiChoice Talent Factory, industry sessions, and competitions for digital content creators and budding fashion designers.”

The nominees for the eighth edition of the AMVCAs will be unveiled on March 9 in a special broadcast on all of MultiChoice’s Africa Magic channels on DStv and GOtv from 21:00 WAT. The event will be hosted by Nollywood actors Adesua Etomi-Wellington and Daniel Etim-Effiong.

Since the introduction of the AMVCAs in 2013, it has fostered the development of the African film and television industry.

Baboon partners AAN on new toon outfit

Garbage Boy & Trash Can

US-based Baboon Animation has partnered with the African Animation Network (AAN) on a new production unit to work with creators in Africa.

Baboon Animation Africa has launched in partnership with AAN to help foster a “socially responsible animation industry” in Africa, the two organisations said.

Mike de Seve

The move comes after the two were commissioned by WarnerMedia-owned Cartoon Network Africa to produce superhero series Garbage Boy & Trash Can (10×2’30”) with the show’s creator Ridwan Moshood earlier this year.

Mike de Seve, president of Baboon Animation, said the aim of Baboon Animation Africa is to develop talent and shows in an “equitable and responsible way that keeps creators in the driver’s seat.”

Among the six initiatives the two are set to launch in the next six months as Africa’s animation industry continues to grow are The Great Big African Animation Pitch, slated for early 2022 and focusing on under-represented creators.

Nick Wilson

Nigerian animator Moshood, creator of Garbage Boy & Trash Can, was identified by Baboon as part of a pan-African talent development partnership with AAN’s Nick Wilson and the Annecy International Animation Festival/MIFA in France.

“We are building on the success of our new WarnerMedia show, Garbage Boy & Trash Can. Real ownership by African creators is our goal and we have the relationships to do it. AAN pioneered this approach through their social impact goals and together we are expanding,” said de Seve.

“Baboon is a perfect creative partner for this enterprise,” said AAN founder and head of projects and content Wilson, who developed and produced the continent’s first half-hour adult animated comedy in 2015.

AAN, which links various animation professionals and national associations across Africa, unveiled plans for a linear channel to Content Nigeria earlier this year.

“We have relationships with the biggest comedy stars and animation talent in Africa. The word is out that we are the go-to people if you have a show. We are the first ones producing African shows in Africa for a global media company,” added Wilson.

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Gov’t inaugurates Nollywood creatives

Committee members with Lagos state governor

The Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has inaugurated a nine-member committee on film production empowerment.

The committee members include Richard Mofe Damijo, who will chair the committee, as well as Tunde Kelani, Mo Abudu, Kunle Afolayan, Peace Anyim-Osigwe, Adebukola Agbaminoja, Tinubu Ferdinand R.O, Taju Olayiwola Olajumoke and Funke Avoseh.

According to the governor, Nigeria is the second largest film producer in the world and Lagos is the centre of this huge creative enterprise.

He said: “To further support practitioners and enhance the sector as a significant contributor to our state and national GDP, today I inaugurated a nine-member committee on film production empowerment for Lagos state, made of core industry practitioners.

“Our administration will continue to invest to support the industry to create thousands of jobs and boost the economy. We trust members of the committee to deliver on their assignment with great commitment so the set objectives will be achieved.

“We have set aside a seed capital of N1billion [US$2.6m] for the creativity and tourism sector. The scheme is to support creative ideas of producers who are constrained by funds to bring their concepts to reality. I am looking forward to working with the team and taking this great industry of ours to greater heights.”

Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife TV, in appreciation took to Instagram to say: “I would like to show my heartfelt appreciation to Mr Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu for his continuous support and contributions to our creative sector in Lagos state. Today, myself alongside Mofe Damijo, Tunde Kelani, Peace Anyim-Osigwe and Kunle Afolayan were inaugurated into a nine-member committee on film production empowerment for Lagos state.

“N1 billion has been set aside for the creativity and tourism sector. We will work collectively with filmmakers to identify these projects and bring them to life on screen.”

DSO rolls out in Lagos State

The launch of free digital terrestrial television (DTT) as part of the digital switchover (DSO) of broadcasting in Nigeria recently took place in Lagos State.

Armstrong Idachaba

The DTT launch on Thursday this week marked the start of the second phase of the DSO rollout in Nigeria, which will provide 60 channel options to Nigeria’s television households. It will also provide better quality television viewing to more than five million TV households in the State.

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) officially began DTT transmission on Thursday at an event in Lagos, several years after the DTT pilot in Nigeria. In addition, free set-top boxes were also launched.

The welcome address posted by NBC director general Armstrong Idachaba on Instagram reads: “After almost three years’ lull, I thank God that we have taken the bold task of commencing Phase 2 of the Digital Switchover with the switch on of Lagos today.

“The DTT free project by the Nigerian government is one that is home grown, unique in its philosophical underpinning, which has the development of our indigenous culture and tradition and the empowerment of the mass population of our country as a core value proposition. Our home manufactured Set Top Box is a melting point and convergence point of our collective heritage.

“To arrive to this point I must acknowledge the constant policy direction and support of this administration, especially that the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting only commenced earnestly in 2016 with the advent of this administration. Before then it was so much steam without motion. I therefore thank the President for his unwavering commitment to bring information and access to information to the mass of Nigerians.

“I want to most sincerely thank the honorable minister for his drive and energy to deliver this proposition for the good of Nigerians. I recall that it took his intervention and dogged commitment to drive the process before we attained the pilot roll out in Jos. For me, the greatest win of this Lagos launch is that broadcasters are owning the process. They are excited and see the success of the DSO as theirs.

“The digital switch-on we are activating here in Lagos today means that from today with just a set-top box, Lagosians can now enjoy over 30 digital television services, subscription free.”

He added that with the roll-out in Lagos, about five million Lagosians will have instant access to digital television services and also job opportunities for creatives, engineers, technicians and small-scale business activities.

Toyin Subair, chairman of Inview, also took to Instagram saying: “Free TV, the Nigerian Digital Switch Over platform launches in Lagos. 5.5 million TV households, for grabs.”

Orange lines up Y’Africa S2

Y’Africa is dedicated to African culture

Telecommunications company Orange is set to launch a second season of its TV show dedicated to African culture titled Y’Africa.

Y’Africa, a contraction of Africa Ya lelo or Africa Today in the Bantu language Lingala, puts emerging artists such as painters, photographers, sculptors, choreographers, stylists and musicians in the spotlight. It also showcases African culture in all its forms, and presents an opportunity to shine and to strengthen the local presence of the Orange brand in Africa.

Alioune Ndiaye

The second season will debut from fall 2021 and will be broadcast on 15 African national TV channels, on YouTube and also adapted as a podcast.

The 8×26’ show will be executive produced by France-based Fame Productions and directed by Dan Assayag. It presents 24 artists from eight countries – namely Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Morocco, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Tunisia – who will tell their story through their work, while acting as a guide to the cities where they live.

Orange’s executive director of communications, engagement and brand Béatrice Mandine said: “I am delighted with the success of the first season of Y’Africa, which drew a wide audience to these artist portraits and generated plenty of attention on social networks.

“This original concept proved its value through the quality of its content, a wide choice of artists and the emotions it inspired in viewers. Building on the very positive feedback we received, we are pressing ahead and are starting shooting for season two.”

Alioune Ndiaye, CEO of Orange Africa and the Middle East, added: “The first season of Y’Africa was a great success. This audiovisual programme showcases the richness of cultures and the creativity of African youth. Season two will enable us to discover new talented artists, I am looking forward to listening to their testimonies.”

The first season of Y’Africa aired in February last year. The show is distributed internationally by France’s ZED.

SA’s Ugly Betty set for launch

The South African adaptation of Latin American comedy-drama format Yo Soy Betty la Fea (aka Ugly Betty) is slated to launch on April 5 at 19.30 on SABC1.

Ugly Betty

With three weekly episodes airing from Mondays to Wednesdays, the show will feature former MTV star Farieda Metsileng, who will portray the title role of Ugly Betty.

The show will also simulcast on streaming service Viu.

South Africa’s version of the well-travelled Colombian format is titled uBettina Wethu. It follows the journey of an intelligent but gawky people-pleaser with a dated, unsophisticated sense of style who finds her self-worth and image challenged when she is hired by a brand management company.

SABC1 head of channel Phumzile Zonke said: “We are very proud to call ‘uBettina Wethu’ our own as SABC 1. The production value is astounding and is a great fit for our growing brand, and spot on in terms of our market domination strategy.

“This first-ever simulcast with Viu is breaking new ground and we are glad to be part of broadcast history in the making. As the largest television brand in Southern Africa, we’ve always set the tone and dominated the landscape with authentic storytelling.”

Regarding the casting of Metsileng and the others actors, Tshepiso Sello Phiri, producer at the SA company behind the series, Known Associates Entertainment, said: “We wanted to cast the net as wide as possible and in order to give a fair chance to talented actors and actresses who may not usually have access to agents or auditions.”

Other cast members include Zweli Dube, Tsholofelo Mashishi, Linda Jiyane, Lesego Tlhabi, Michael Potter, Elliot Makhubo, Mbasa Msongeli, Brighton Ngoma, Ayanda Bandla, Mhairi Fergusson, Motshabi Tyelele, Jason Willemse and Alex Sono.

The show is coproduced by the South African public broadcaster and the video streaming Viu and produced by boutique Johannesburg studio Known Associates Entertainment (KAE) with Tshepiso Sello Phiri the exec producer.

African films nominated at Annecy

Room 5 from Ghana’s Francis Yushau Brown

The Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France has selected two African short films that will be in competition during the June event.

Scheduled to take place from June 14 to 19, the event will include I Am Chuma, from South Africa’s Clea Mallinson and Wendy Spinks, and Room 5 from Ghana’s Francis Yushau Brown.

I Am Chuma is produced by Zeropoint Studios and is based on the life story of street artist Chuma Somdaka. It follows a young disabled lesbian who finds herself living rough on a bench for three years. She deals with suppressed traumas of a gang rape via street art.

Room 5, meanwhile, is produced by Daty Kaba and tells the story of how patients are treated by nurses when they visit the hospital, coupled with a sub-plot of how most people are afraid of injections.

Brown’s studio Animaxfyb took to Instagram to make this announcement; “Hey guys! Our short animated film ROOM 5 just got nominated at Annecy Festival in the Perspective short films category. We can’t keep calm at the studio.”

DStv launches movie feature

African pay TV operator DStv has introduced a new feature tagged Add Movies, which allows subscribers to top-up their current movie offering.

Yolisa Phahle

The feature enables subscribers to the Compact Plus, Compact, Family and Access packages to see extra movies available on channels M-Net Movies 1 and M-Net Movies 2. It also includes movies on holiday pop-up channel FliekNet, which showcases locally produced blockbuster movies, classic favourites and a variety of Afrikaans film for an additional R99 (US$6) per month.

Some of the movies include Terminator Dark Fate (2019), Rambo Last Blood (2019), Playing With Fire (2019) and Fiela se Kind (2019).

Yolisa Phahle, chief executive of general entertainment and connected video at MultiChoice Group, noted that Add Movies was developed in response to customers’ appetite and interests.
“It remains our priority to give customers both choice and value. Add Movies firmly delivers on both scores, with a wide variety of quality movie content at a compelling price,” she said.

Add Movies is available for existing subscribers to add to their packages, or on sign-up for new subscribers.

MTN rolls out 5G in South Africa

Mobile operator MTN has launched its commercial 5G network in South Africa, which will provide customers with access to the new service in over 100 sites across the country.

Godfrey Motsa

The telecommunication company is stepping up its digital revolution with the next generation of mobile technology, which promises to bring about “exponential improvements” to the country’s economy, according to MTN.

During the company’s live-streamed launch event, MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa said: “Today, from MTN’s birthplace of South Africa, we are stepping up our digital revolution with the next generation of telecommunication technology, demonstrating to all South Africans that 5G is no longer just an idea. It is here, it works and it has the capacity to bring about exponential improvements to our economy, and to the lives of the people we serve.”

The launch of the network is due in part to SA telecoms regulator ICASA’s allocation of temporary spectrum, which currently covers specific parts of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth, Durban and other smaller cities and towns.

Giovanni Chiarelli, MTN South Africa’s chief tech and information officer, said: “Our 5G strategy has been years in the making and we are confident that we have built a strong foundation to grow and support our 5G ecosystem. One of the key innovations driving the broad roll-out by MTN has been a strategic approach to dynamic spectrum sharing, as these deployments overcome the challenges of lack of dedicated 5G spectrum.”

According to the company, the regulator had allowed certain telcos additional spectrum in order to aid South Africans during the Covid-19 pandemic that has gripped the country tighter than any other in Africa. MTN’s 5G service runs on four spectrum bands, making it easier for network technology to migrate from older tech to 5G as well as cover smaller towns and rural areas.

Since the advent of cloud-based game-streaming, the main drawback for platforms in South Africa was always connection speeds. “Cloud gaming will do to gaming what video-on-demand has done to TV; it’s a complete game-changer only this is a game-changer that will be delivered by 5G,” the company said during its launch event.

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Yanga goes mobile with Vision 247

Yanga! TV, the award-winning channel aimed at the African diaspora, has brokered a deal with UK media tech firm Vision 247 and can now be streamed to smartphones via the VisionTV app.

The two-year-old channel, owned and operated by UK-based Africa MediaWorks and focused on Nollywood content, first debuted in the UK on subscription satcaster Sky, which Content Nigeria exclusively reported here back in 2018.

Now, with Vision 247 onboard as partner, the channel is also available on free digital TV platform Freeview, reaching 17.5 million UK homes, and most recently the VisionTV app, which is freely available to Android and iOS smartphones. To access the channel via Freeview, viewers need a Freeview-compatible TV set and an internet connection.

The channel said it has changed its content in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, pivoting to share relevant and topical information through original programmes. This includes the launch of Y! Community, a programme keeping African communities connected with news, hot topics and life hacks; and Your Voice, a live debate show in which hard-hitting issues are discussed.

“Recent topics on Your Voice have included the felling of historical statues linked to racial oppression and the next steps for the Black Lives Matter movement. This content has proven popular across the UK’s African communities, as the mix of drama and discussion has exposed traditional Nollywood lovers to dynamic debates about the world today,” said a Yanga! representative.

“In the current climate where stark contrasts have been uncovered in coronavirus mortality rates in black and Asian communities, and the UK embarks on an uncomfortable conversation about race, channels like Yanga! are now more important than ever,” the channel added.

Yanga! is run by Africa MediaWorks CEO Lindsey Oliver, the former director of networks at CNBC Europe and founding director of Al Jazeera International. Its programming director is Simon London.

Airing between 9am and midnight, Yanga! offers a mix of original commissions and acquired content across a range of genres, from lifestyle, comedy, music and drama to kids, current affairs and news. The network is the first commercial venture from Africa MediaWorks.

African toon shop to expand into Ireland

The Snail & the Whale was animated by Triggerfish

South African animation studio Triggerfish is set to establish its first international production arm in the city of Galway in Ireland.

Triggerfish is being supported by the Irish government through inward investment agency IDA Ireland and the Galway move is expected to create 60 new jobs over the next three years.

The Galway studio will be headed by Triggerfish’s studio producer Andy Wonnacott, who said: “We need more capacity to keep up with our ambitions and Galway ticked all the boxes for our European base.

“It has a similar time zone to South Africa; is very well connected, with both flights and broadband connectivity; has a thriving creative community; and offers loads of really fantastic business support.”

Andy Wonnacott

Ireland’s minister for business, enterprise and innovation Heather Humphreys TD added: “Galway will be a natural fit for this creative company. They will join a burgeoning list of award-winning indigenous and foreign animation studios already based here, and will be a great addition to this thriving sector.”

Investment in animation in Ireland has tripled since 2015 to €180m (US$202m) annually and employment figures have doubled to over 2,000, thanks to incentives including the Section 481 tax relief.

IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan said: “This is a great investment for Ireland and Galway is a great choice of location, given the availability of highly skilled creative talent there. The 60 new roles being created are a welcome boost to the economy of Galway and the West region.

Mama K’s Team 4 was Netflix’s first original animated series from Africa

“It is a huge vote of confidence in Ireland and demonstrates our continued strong value proposition and our agile and adaptable business environment at a time of unprecedented global flux due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I wish Triggerfish every success with its operations here.”

The South African studio is behind Netflix’s first original animated TV series from Africa in Mama K’s Team 4 and also animated the Oscar-nominated Roald Dahl adaptation Revolting Rhymes.

Its other work includes the Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler adaptations Zog, The Snail & the Whale, Stick Man and The Highway Rat, all of which were produced by Magic Light Pictures.

“To keep up with demand, we started outsourcing work to Irish animators in 2019 and were quickly won over by both the quality of the work and the dedication to the craft,” said Triggerfish CEO Stuart Forrest.

“In many ways, the Irish creatives seem very similar to what we always look for in South Africa: a passion for animation, a love of story and the deeply felt ambition to create award-winning and entertaining work.”

Founded in 1996, Triggerfish was instrumental in the birth of the South African animation industry, co-founding the country’s official animation association, AnimationSA, as well as an ongoing monthly screening and networking event.

Mama K’s Team 4 is set in a futuristic version of Lusaka, Zambia, where four scrappy teen girls join a retired secret agent on a quest to save the world – on a budget. Triggerfish is also in production on its third feature film, Seal Team, an action-comedy about a brave, reckless seal who forms a rag-tag team to save his home from Great White Sharks.

OurTV offers FTA, DTH services

A new direct-to-home (DTH) satellite TV service called OurTV has launched in Nigeria, offering free-to-air TV channels to its viewers.

Lagos-based telecoms and data company Trefoil Networks is behind the new service.

With no monthly subscription fee but a one-time payment for the decoder, the OurTV service gives viewers access to watch YouTube and other over-the-top (OTT) services on their TV sets.

In addition, the satellite service has launched on NigComSat 1R, enabling access to content ranging from news to movies, music, kids channels, sports channels, religious and health channels and also Nollywood series channels.

Channels on the service include Channels TV, AIT, Al Jazeera, Catholic TV, The Church TV, Health & Wellness, Zamani TV, Smilie TV, Speed Factor, Yotomi TV plus several of OurTV’s own channels OurMovies, OurMusic, OurSports and OurKiddies.

Braide Sayaba, head of TV at Trefoil Networks, said: “We started our first transmission in 2015 but today, Trefoil Networks is flagging off sales of OurTV decoders nationwide. OurTV is the first and only H265 DTH satellite TV in Africa with 18 exciting channels.

“OurTV is the definition of local content: homegrown content, aggregated by Nigerians, transmitting on a Nigerian satellite and being received through decoders made in Nigeria. The contents of the channels are safe for both children and adults. These channels cut across all demographics and genres.”

OurTV is a division of Trefoil Networks, which is licensed by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to provide a mix of services including ICT, broadcast, network and internet solutions.

FG unveils strategic plan for NCC

Nigeria’s minister of communications and digital economy Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has unveiled the strategic management plan for the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for 2020 through 2024.

Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami

This directive was given by President Muhammadu Buhari and is aimed at creating a seamless strategy to actualise digital economy in the country, leverage on the national digital economy policy and strategy as well as the national broadband plan and also ensure all parastatals and agencies of government are efficient and effective in service delivery to Nigerians.

According to Pantami, the NCC as the regulatory body needs to drive developmental regulation in Nigeria. He also identified the five components needed in the implementation of a strategy – People, Resources, Structure, System and Orientation – and called on the commission to provide his office with a monthly report on progress made.

Executive VC of the NCC, Umar Danbatta said: “The roadmap is in line with the objective of creating a seamless strategy to augment the commission’s effective management and regulation of the telecommunications sector.

“The SMP will leverage on the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) as well as the new National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2020 – 2024 and will cover the guiding principles and act as the operations manual for the commission towards actualising the digital economic agenda of the federal government in the next five years.

“It will be resident in the corporate planning, strategy and risk management department which will ensure that the contents of the document become the guiding principles for the commission in the next five years.”

TV among most admired brands in Africa

Television services have emerged among the most admired brands in Africa, joining a number of other globally revered brands on Brand Africa’s list of the top 100 most-admired brands in Africa.

Martin Mabutho

The list for 2020 compiled by Johannesburg, South Africa-based Brand Africa includes Nigeria’s Channels TV, Silverbird TV, NTA and MultiChoice-owned video entertainment platform DStv.

The list was revealed in a virtual event co-hosted by Brand Africa, represented by founder and chairman Thebe Ikalafeng; Feyi Olubodun, founder and managing partner of Lagos-based marketing agency Open Squares; and Martin Mabutho, chief customer officer at MultiChoice Nigeria.

Compared to last year’s list, DStv moved up nine places from its #45 ranking in 2019 to #36 in this year’s top-100 brands list and up one place from #4 to #3 on the list of most-admired African brands.

Speaking at the virtual event, Mabutho said: “It is our honour to be associated with Africa’s best brands and we are delighted to co-host this session in conjunction with Brand Africa and Open Squares.

“I believe that as Africans, we have what it takes to launch our brands to the next level and even compete favourably with global brands. It is what drives us at MultiChoice Nigeria to continuously create and enhance our platforms to showcase these excellent African brands. Congratulations to all winners.”

TNT Africa to debut movie catalogue

WarnerMedia-owned regional pay TV broadcaster TNT Africa is gearing up to launch its first slate of original productions on July 4.

Escape From Pretoria stars Daniel Radcliffe (right) and Daniel Webber (left)

The channel’s line-up will feature a slate of new movies produced or acquired by Particular Crowd, Turner Latin America’s original movie company, which was launched earlier this year.

The pan-African channel will premiere Escape From Pretoria, a true-life story of Tim Jenkin (played by Daniel Radcliffe) and Stephen Lee (Daniel Webber).

The young, white South Africans were branded ‘terrorists’ for working covert operations for Nelson Mandela’s banned party ANC. Incarcerated in Pretoria Central Prison’s maximum-security wing in 1978, they decide to send the apartheid regime a clear message by escaping.

Other titles include Buffaloed, directed by Tanya Wexler; Human Capital, a thriller starring Liev Schreiber and directed by Marc Meyers; and Guns Akimbo, also starring Harry Potter star Radcliffe.

Guillermo Farré

Guillermo Farré, head of general entertainment channels at WarnerMedia Africa, said: “With this launch, we are expanding our TNT Africa’s channel offering. We’ve been extremely successful with our selection of American blockbusters to become the second most-watched movie channel in South Africa.

“We’re always obsessed with creating unique experiences for our fans, and with the new TNT Original Movies, we’re providing our audiences with an exciting, wide-ranging and consistent flow of high-quality programming across all genres. Our subsidiary Particular Crowd’s creators bring it all, building a slate of originals that is nothing short of amazing, aligned with international standards.

“Escape From Pretoria will resonate with the local audience while acting as a hook to introduce the new editorial strategy of TNT Original Movies. The race-against-time thriller, with an international cast, is exciting and captivating. We think this is timely wherein the current climate staying at home is our new routine.”

Netflix takes on next African original series

Jiva! is from Cape Town-based prodco Blue Ice Africa

Streaming giant Netflix has commissioned an original drama series from Cape Town-based prodco Blue Ice Africa.

Jiva! follows the life of a talented street dancer who, while juggling the demands of a dead-end job, family responsibility and a rocky love life, realises her dance moves could be her ticket out of a working-class neighbourhood in Durban, South Africa.

The series, which was created by Busisiwe Ntintili, is a local African production from script to screen, and will showcase an all-African cast and crew.

Ntintili will act as showrunner on Jiva! and will exec produce with Adam Friedlander and Tebogo Maila. Scottnes L Smith, Mandla Dube and Mmambatho Montsho will direct.

Dancer, actor and radio personality Bontle Modiselle and Tom London, founder of South African dance crew Soweto’s Finest, join the creative team as choreographers.

In March, Netflix teamed with Star Wars actor John Boyega’s production outfit UpperRoom to develop non-English-language films drawn from Africa.

Earlier this week, the streamer renewed its first African original series, Queen Sono, for a second season. The six-parter, starring Pearl Thusi in the title role, was Netflix’s first script-to-screen original production on the continent.

Netflix will soon debut another African original globally, Blood & Water, a young adult drama series set in Cape Town, South Africa. The streamer has also previously announced its first Nigerian original series, from Nigerian director Akin Omotoso, as well as an animated project, Mama K’s Team Four.