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Africa’s biggest TV content market kicks off Nov. 5 in Johannesburg with buyers, sellers and producers from more than 70 countries looking to cash in on the rapidly expanding African marketplace.

Some than 2,000 delegates and 250 exhibitors are expected at the ninth edition of Discop Africa, which will bring together leading broadcasters, pay-TV operators, mobile networks, online platforms and production companies for a three-day program at the Sandton Convention Centre.

“It’s going to be a stronger edition,” says Patrick Zuchowicki, general manager of business event organizer Basic Lead, which is hosting Discop. “We’re happy to see more participants, both from inside Africa, as well as outside Africa.”

The growing event has become the prime showcase for what Basic Lead estimates is now a $500 million TV content market in Africa, based on sales at last year’s event. According to Zuchowicki, that figure has doubled since 2011.

Zuchowicki says past participants are “sending more resources, sending more people. We see exhibitors bringing in more sales executives. We see TV stations sending more acquisitions executives.  They’re back, and they’re spending more money than last year.”

Along with individual exhibitors, there will be national umbrellas and pavilions representing South Africa, the Ivory Coast, Kenya, China, Korea, France, Israel, the United States and the European Union. The strong interest from outside Africa represents the growing demand to tap into the continent’s marketplace, according to Zuchowicki.

“We’ve seen many more companies who, years ago, weren’t ready to look at Africa,” he says. “Today, it’s a must.”

This year’s guest country, Ivory Coast, will get the spotlight as part of a growing effort to build stronger ties between English- and French-speaking Africa. The need for greater collaboration is underscored by Basic Lead’s own figures, which estimate that roughly 80% of last year’s business was done in the dominant English-speaking markets of South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria.

Ivory Coast, which recently emerged from more than a decade of war and civil strife, is the economic lynchpin of the Francophone West African region, and with a rapidly growing and diversifying TV sector, it represents a significant inroads into that region. The emphasis on that country, according to Zuchowicki, has attracted an increased number of participants from French-speaking Africa.

“We also see, from the English side, more interest in doing business with French-speaking Africa, which up until very recently was never the case,” he says. “We want to build up that bridge.”

Other highlights include a two-day conference celebrating 20 years of post-apartheid TV in South Africa, while also addressing the challenges and opportunities for building a sustainable digital TV ecosystem in sub-Saharan Africa’s most developed market; a close-up on Nigeria, the continent’s most-populous country, and the opportunities presented by its massive market; a panel discussion on continent-wide efforts to complete the digital migration process; a focus on developing the home-grown sports content industry; and a discussion on the opportunities for greater collaboration between content producers and mobile operators.

DiscoPro, a pitching, mentoring and networking program designed to help emerging TV content producers with content development, co-production and distribution across the continent, is also expected to be a popular draw. The three-day program, which will include a pitching competition, will attract 500 independent producers looking to tap into the African marketplace.