Speaker Interview with Elinor Shields, Development Editor, BBC

Elinor Shields is the Development Editor for the BBC.

The Com World Series team caught up with Elinor ahead of the NigeriaCom conference and exhibition, taking place at the Lagos Oriental Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria, 17-18 September to find out a bit more about her experiences and focus at the event

Com World Series: How is your company positioned in Nigeria and what are its future objectives?

Elinor Shields: The BBC is the most trusted and established international public service broadcaster in Africa, providing live radio, television and digital services. Some 96 million people in Africa choose the BBC for news every week, and we are strongly positioned to move forward, as a leading digital news provider. Our objective now and in the future is to continue to provide independent and impartial journalism that people can find and enjoy on their preferred choice of platforms and devices.

Com World Series: What do you think are the top 3 major trends that are affecting your business in the region in 2013?

Elinor Shields: The mobile opportunity in Nigeria is significant for the BBC, given the country’s mobile appetite and its position in Africa, and with BBC Hausa a key mobile-first digital market. So the first major trend for us is that more Nigerians than ever can consume audio and video-rich content online, thanks to the growth of digital data and availability of enhanced devices.

However, increased competition in television and radio makes it harder for audiences to navigate the vast number of available services.
So in complex, fragmented markets, audiences increasingly seek out the brands they trust. Broadcasters in West Africa are keener than ever to broadcast BBC programmes on their channels and stations.

Com World Series: What are the remaining challenges in terms of connectivity and quality of services in the region and which technologies are most likely to resolve these issues?

Elinor Shields: The incomplete roll-out of reliable mobile data connectivity is still a big challenge. Network congestion can result in a poor user experience for video, audio and other forms of enriched content, because of the cost and length of download times. At the BBC, we aim to optimise our mobile offering to fit real-world conditions, based on what our audiences tell us. We are doing this through responsive design that is adapted for features phones up, and we are creating content and embracing working practices which work for the devices.

Com World Series: How are smartphones/tablets and cloud services impacting mobile/internet service providers in Nigeria?

Elinor Shields:

Audience research tells us that feature phones are still the dominant mobile entry point in Nigeria, with a variety of simpler handsets accounting for four-fifths of current consumption. So we need to ensure that both subscribers with feature phones and the increasing pool of smartphone users can benefit from our proposed enhancements. Our responsive design strategy is built to serve these complex realities.

Com World Series: In your opinion, which companies are spearheading innovation in the region and what can be learnt from them?

Elinor Shields:

It is a truism of entrepreneurship that the best ideas often burst out from groups combining a diverse range of skills and expertise. NigeraCom is a great opportunity to see that in action, with content and service providers coming face to face with network operators and manufacturers.

Com World Series: Who are you most looking forward to meeting/hearing from and what do you hope to achieve from taking part in NigeriaCom?

Elinor Shields: As I mentioned above, it’s a terrific opportunity to connect with every dimension of mobile life in Africa, which is why I’m so excited to be making my first trip to Nigeria. I’m looking forward to meeting representatives from every area, with my African colleagues.

Find out more at NigeriaCom.

Elinor will be speaking on day 2 at 9:40 in the panel on keeping up with changing habits in how content is consumed.

Meet Elinor by registering here.

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