Tandaa Kenya, a brainchild of Kenya ICT Board organized a meeting this past Monday that was sponsored by Google Kenya and hosted at the iHub premises. The topic that was up for discussion was Local Digital Content. The purpose of this meeting I believe was to encourage Kenyans to get more digital content online. But looking at the tweets from those attending the event, it was obvious that local digital content was not only nothing new to them but monetizing this content was currently their main concern.
But for those Kenyans out there who are not so savvy, who believe that talk of digital content is a reserve of the geeks developing APIs and UIs, this post is for you. I am here to demystify what local content is because honestly, until just a couple of months back, I also thought that local content to be the reserve of a certain exclusive programming oriented niche but turned out that local content is for any ordinary Wanjiku to create and monetize if they so wish.
According to PCMAG.COM, Digital content refers to:
Products available in digital form. It typically refers to music, information and images that are available for download or distribution on electronic media.
A perfect example to make this clear is the recent launch by KDN in Nakuru. Given the issues they are having with building owners who are hell bent on charging rent for the KDN internet switches being placed in their buildings these building owners were an important demography for KDN to reach. But during the launch when the KDN C.E.O asked who among us was a building owner, apparently none of us were. The reason this happened apart from lousy preparation was the fact that it is extremely difficult to know who owns these buildings and where to find them. It is not as if there is a database of building owners in Nakuru online that you can just Google, or is there?
And that is the definition o local content. One of these young people can take it upon himself/herself to develop this database. To go to very building in town, old and new, those being taken down and those coming up in their place, and create a database that reflects all these. This database can have names of owners, numbers, their contact details, the building they own in other towns, among many other useful parameters. This young person can then make this database available online either on a freemium or on a premium basis.
So local digital content does not have to be the sophisticated applications that only a select few can develop. No! Local Digital content refers to any actionable information that people in your village, estate, town, city, country, region, or Africa in general might be interested in searching for online. It can be a list of schools in your area, a list of hospitals and dispensaries, a how-to manual for irrigation or zero grazing, a checklist for starting a local business, a list of all tertiary colleges in your locality and the courses they offer, a how to cheat in exams at the university manual (you will be surprised what people actually Google) and any other information that might or might not make sense to compile into a database of sorts.
So the next time you hear of local content, think about that local thing you could not find on Google and make it available for those who will search for it after you. By doing that, you will be among the ranks of local content creators.
But a word of advice before I let you have your say in the comment section, always ensure that you have an underlying business model if you intend to make money from whatever variation of this local content. Be very clear from the onset where your margins will be and plan accordingly to try and test the model until you have a working system. Many examples abound about start-ups that started with providing content for free and when they tried monetizing later on by charging for the same content, they went down because people were not willing to pay for what they used to get for free. So make sure you define how you are going to get paid.
What say you?