B.CREATIVE CHALLENGE SHORTLIST

Afta

Team: Biniam Assefa, Melat Hailemelekot, Imnet Worku, Betsega Girma, Befekadu Ayenew, Michael Yitayew, Melaku Getahun

Introduction

The press and book publishing industry Ethiopia has had a long history but fails to reach its potential. Readership remains very low and the industry is crippled by high printing costs, high distribution costs, customs, trade barriers, and competition from large state owned publishers and foreign publishers. As the industry declines, so does the number or publications and authors. At a time when more books are required, they have become less available. The beleaguered industry is also being challenged by the advent of digital content and new reading habits.

Technology has an accelerating scope and scale in operations in Africa. Mobile and internet have emerged as the key drivers of growth and productivity in many sectors including banking, retail, health care, agriculture. Africa’s penetration of smartphones is expected to reach 50% by 2020 and research estimates that the internet could drive 10% of Africa’s GDP by 2025. So the future of publishing in Ethiopia rests in the hands of mobile technology as we embark to open a page in Ethiopia’s digital future.

Concept

Afta Solutions was born out of a profound discussion on disruptive mobile technologies in Africa and lack of adapted solutions in Ethiopia. We were especially concerned about the book, publishing and distribution industry in Ethiopia which sparked the idea to develop a mobile eco-system which will create wide reach, greater readership, authorship and content curation.

Afta was developed as a mobile, tablet and web e-book reader, store and e-publishing platform that caters for readers, writers in Ethiopia and abroad. Afta vision is to use the ubiquitous mobile in the hands of million disadvantaged youth and women as a power weapon for self education, self development, entrepreneurship and more. Our mission is to multiply the volume of new books, content by two digits while making every mobile user a reader.

Key activties

Key activities completed are the following:

  • Application development
  • Amazon Web Service integration
  • Digital Rights Management system integration
  • Ethiopian Business License registration-underway
  • Relationship with Ethio Telecom and the Ethiopian Writers Association has been developed

Key Activities remaining:

  • Local payment ecosystem integration, revenue share agreement with Telecom, mobile money
    providers
  • International payment system integration (Stripe)
  • Web development including dashboard and online reader/publisher
  • Human capital development
  • App testing and soft launch
  • IOS app development
  • Content development
  • Communication/marketing campaign and official launch

About the team

Biniam Assefa is the founding partner and Project Manager for Afta. He is an IT Strategy & Project Manager at the leading African Airline, Ethiopian Airlines head office in Addis Ababa. Prior to joining Ethiopian, he worked at Cernotech Computer Solutions as web application developer and project manager. He has worked on several web and software in e-commerce and localization projects for international companies outsourcing projects. He currently works as Project Manager at the Ethiopian Airlines, in Addis Ababa Ethiopia.

Melat Hailemelekot is the founding partner and strategy and business developer of Afta. She is an Investment Analyst in a private equity firm based in Addis Ababa. Prior to that, she worked on various consultancy projects ranging from FMCG to agri and tech projects. She has worked as Senior Business Analyst at Kifiya, the leading financial and payment services company in Ethiopia. She currently works as Investment Analyst in a Private Equity firm, in Addis Ababa Ethiopia.

Imnet Worku is Afta software developer, he has been working on this project for the last 5 months. He has many years of experience in programming and web development.

Betsega Girma is Creative Director for Afta digital content. He has many years experience in UI and graphic design, he currently works as Art Director at Orangeswitch Marketing & Advertising in Addis Ababa.

Befekadu Ayenew is a member of our Advisory Board. He started his computer software career at Oracle where as Senior Applications Engineer, he now works for LinkedIn as Software Engineer. Befekadu is also an entrepreneur at heart, he co-founded ArifSoft a music streaming and social networking tool with over 500K downloads. He designed and implemented the solutions; planned and executed the milestones all the while maintaining customer/user friendliness and feedbacks; he presented the project to Hubspora at Secretary Clintons 2012 Global Diaspora Forum in Washigton DC. As a seasoned entrepreneur and a highly experienced software engineer, Befekadu will play an important role in the advisory board both on the technical and business angle.

Michael Yitayew, a member of our advisory board, studied Computer Science at Princeton University. He is working as Software engineer on NetSuites ERP at Oracle now in Silicon Valley same as Befekadu. Michael will play an important role in the advisory board during technical capability of the application.

Melaku Getahun is also part of our Advisory Board, he plays a key role in all legal, business compliance and regulatory compliance issues in the Ethiopian context. He has many years experience in both law firms and corporate settings.

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