Eleven years of CNBC Africa…on a personal level, what has the journey been like for you?
They have been 11 very good years. Looking back to when we first moved to South Africa to establish it, we had challenges from a regulatory point of view and a distribution point of view. But all that is now behind us. We are looking at business confidence picking up in South Africa and the rest of Africa. We are looking forward to the future.
What is the future of the media industry in Africa?
There are challenges in emerging markets. I sincerely believe universities and educators look at the curriculums across Africa. The whole environment is changing. We have digital coming in a big way globally. Print media is dying and how you give birth again to what was print on digital is quite a challenge even for television stations. There are challenges for media moving forward. The owners, from the management perspective, also have to consider what they would do with digital.
With that in mind, what are your plans for CNBC Africa?
Luckily, we are a niche channel. Niche channels, up to now, have been alright. Whether you have a food channel or a fashion channel, music channel or news channel, you will have to look at how you mix both the digital part and TV part moving forward. Having a business channel depends on how the economies are moving. I believe Africa is on the verge of explosion as far as investment is concerned. There are not many places in the world that have the resources Africa has. People are looking at these things.
How are you looking to growing the company in the near future?
When I started off [in the Middle East], we did the whole of Arabia, which was 37 countries, I did Africa and I did Pakistan – these are the three CNBC franchises, and we learned from each of these franchises, and we have an excellent relationship with CNBC. Moving forward, we are looking at various ways to grow. You need to target your demographic. On the digital side, it has to be millennials. Forget about the over 50s, and mobile is the way to go if you want to target the millennials.
What advice would you give young people trying to break into the media space?
Go digital. Take advantage of the technology and keep your costs down when you start. You don’t have expensive cameras because you can use mobile. Also use citizen journalism, stick to quality and concentrate on demographics.
Should we be following global trends in the media space as a continent?
People want things to drop from the sky. You have to market yourself well, make sure there are transparent rules and regulations for foreign investors who want to come in and make sure you have a level playing ground in the countries that make up the African Union…
How significant is the power of networking for young entrepreneurs?
Networking works but remember to be yourself and be original. That’s how you succeed. Originality comes through. We know when a young person is trying to ‘network you’.
What lies ahead for CNBC Africa?
We are looking forward to the next five years. We are positive both in Nigeria and South Africa. We might be going more digital and taking advantage of other niche channels we are thinking of partnering with outside of Africa.