What If?

I spent the weekend with a lively group of people and we talked a lot about the state of e-commerce in Kenya (more on this in a later article). Things seem to be really really picking up – for example, Nickel Pro has built more online shops this year than the whole of 2009 (and we’re only in March). However, as fast as things seem they are moving, great huge stumbling blocks remain. There is still no reliable, convenient way to process online payments in Kenya. 🙁

One thing that we discussed at length was the state of old media (particularly newspaper companies) in Kenya. In more developed countries, newspaper industries are dying because of the Internet. Many of these companies have good and useful websites but no one has found out how to efficiently make money off news sites. This means that the newspaper companies are facing a declines in sales because less people are buying the physical newspapers – preferring to read news online yet the online news is not monetized efficiently. What a predicament, eh? The news business is in trouble!

What about Kenya, though? Well, I think that this situation will take time to be apparent in Kenya. The impact of the Internet on newspaper sales is probably minimal. But for how long? Newspaper companies should be wary – especially with the fast uptake of of the mobile web in Kenya. It won’t be long before people, en masse, start consuming news primarily through their mobile devices and PCs.

Can we do anything to speed this up?

What if you poached the leading writers from all our major newspapers? You know, akina Mutahi Ngunyi, Sunny Bindra, Chris Hart…even Oyunga Pala. Take twenty of the best and most well known writers in the country – writers with fans who never miss reading them. Pay them handsomely to work exclusively for you and set up a website that is well designed and works very well on the computer and on mobile devises. Now, everyone who wants to read their favorite writer has to come to you. Hopefully, the newspapers will not find replacements quickly enough.

The question is…..will you succeed in shaking up the industry? Will the new business make you lots of money? How will the public take it? What do you think of this idea?

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