Experts convene at Nation Media Group’s Digital Summit

The global Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in changes in advertising, marketing, promotions and media spend, forcing businesses and brands to re-evaluate their thinking about current and future advertising and marketing campaigns to maintain a steady stream of income. Most companies with trusted brands managed to leverage technology during the pandemic to remain afloat.

Speaking on the sidelines of Nation Digital Summit at the Sarova Whitesands in Mombasa, Nation Media Group Chief Executive Officer Stephen Gitagama said the company launched Nation.Africa platform during the pandemic and increased its followers due to the trust it has built among its clients over many years. Mr Gitagama said trust of information published on different NMG platforms earned the company a high number of subscribers when Nation.Africa was launched.

The CEO said the company’s strategy to go online has exceeded its expectations despite being launched in the midst of a number of challenges, including the Covid-19 pandemic. “NMG has moved from the traditional media model in both news and advertising,” he said. “We are now dealing and collecting revenue directly from users instead of depending only on advertising. The company has also distinguished itself from fake news agents and it will serve as an example to other companies to use technology to reach customers.”

The summit featured delegates from across Africa both from government and the private sector. The CEO said the company is engaging well with its customers and getting quick feedback due to the increasing numbers of subscribers, who are now over 240,000.

Participants acknowledged that technology has proven a vital resource, as work-from-home plans and other strategies put in place to contain the spread of the virus disrupted more traditional models of product and service delivery.

Paul Omeno, Regional Co-ordinator of Dr Artificial Intelligence (DrAI), a company dealing in data mining, said companies seeking its services increased, an indication that most people were interested in information regarding their companies. “We have been offering tools for text mining and Covid-19 indicated more people and companies got interested on their social and other data associated with use of technology,” said Mr Omeno.

During the summit, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru said the government will increase internet connectivity across the country to enable the use of technology to do business. “In Kenya, we have made strides in ensuring there is internet coverage to end connectivity disparity. At the moment we are at 98 per cent 2G signal coverage, and Kenyans can do basic internet support services, while 88 per cent is already on 3G,” said Mr Mucheru. The CS said to increase fibre optic coverage, the government is working with Kenya Power and Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) to reach populations already on the power grid.

On protecting intellectual rights, which has been cited as a major threat to the youth, the government is already working to train and incubate youth to growth their ideas. “As we move to the African Continental Free Trade Area, Kenya should ensure we move with speed to capture the market through the use of technology. Kenya already has the advantage of a large number of youth who are technology savvy.”

East Africa Breweries Limited Head of Media and Future Waithera Kabiru said the company had to re-strategise to ensure its customers were served in the face of the Covid-19 restrictions. “We had to sustain our advertising using trusted media markets such as NMG to reach our customers informing them on how to access our brands. Despite Covid-19, our clients did not change their brands due to their loyalty” said Ms Kabiru.

NMG Head of Development and Learning Churchill Otieno warned participants of increasing fake news and presented how best to differentiate and debunk such news. NMG Group Editorial Director Mutuma Mathiu, during the closing ceremony of the two-day summit, said NMG is determined to stay the route it has taken, as digital technology is a big thing in Africa.

“We expect a devastation of media, since a number will die, but we are certain about the decision the company has made,” said Mr Mutuma.