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Congo’s elections may impact Africa
After elections were delayed for more than two years, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi was sworn in as President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). While optimists claim that it is the first peaceful transfer of power in the country since its independence in 1960, critics think the elections were rigged, claiming that the outgoing Kabila regime used its powers to strike a power-sharing deal with Tshisekedi. How this battle will be resolved is important to many stakeholders. Given its size and location in the heart of Africa, political conflict and ethnic violence could easily destabilize neighboring countries, possibly setting up new refugee flows. Furthermore, technology production chains could become disrupted, as the DRC exports important minerals and metals, such as lithium (batteries), cobalt (smartphones), refined copper (electrical equipment), and tantalum (computers). However, considering the historical symbolic importance of the DRC’s elections, a positive outcome could give a boost to Africa’s stalling democratization process. As 18 African countries hold elections this year, post-election sentiments in the DRC could be a bellwether for Africa’s democratization process.
The next level of audience monetization
In a world where advertising money increasingly flows to the digital duopoly of Google and Facebook, publishers are turning to alternative survival strategies, including subscription models or industry consolidation. Already, several media CEOs publicly discussed potential mergers. However, other publishers seek a different approach. They revert to their core strength: audience knowledge, and apply it to market research, product labs and ecommerce, in addition to advertising. News website Quartz, for instance, already conducted audience research on its own, and is now offering user research as a service to advertisers. Internet media company BuzzFeed, which has developed full product lines for its food website Tasty and health and wellness brand Goodful, is offering product development sprints as a service to advertisers. For example, it helped Maybelline develop ideas for products. Lifestyle publisher Clique assisted jewelry designer Tacori to create a collection, pick the materials, and identify channels to market it. These alternative forms of audience monetization give publishers access to advertiser budgets that are often higher than those reserved for advertising.
Challenges of inequality and sustainability
Last week, we visited Davos, where more than 250 political leaders and CEOs of 1,000 leading companies gathered at the World Economic Forum (WEF). This year, the conference focused on Globalization 4.0: on shaping inclusive and sustainable societies in times of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. However, critics have pointed to the participants’ responsibility for exacerbating inequality and for climate inaction. Just before the WEF, two reports were published that endorse these observations. Oxfam showed that the world’s 26 richest individuals own the same wealth as the poorest half, while the IPCC indicated that, globally, 100 companies are responsible for 71% of climate emissions. Polluters are mostly oil and gas companies, but online shopping is close behind. A response came from Terracycle, which launched Loop: a special online delivery model involving reusable packaging that is already backed by large consumer brands, like Unilever, Nestlé, P&G and PepsiCo. Regarding inequality, panelists warned for the potential of AI to exacerbate huge inequalities; they agreed that technology could be better harnessed to ensure welfare reached those who need it.