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The Leading Voice In Telling The African Story

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CNBC Africa board members as on June 1 2019; (standing, from left); Sam Bhembe, Sid Wahi and Christo Fourie; Roberta Naicker, Rakesh Wahi, Zafar Siddiqi, Busi Mabuza

On June 1, CNBC Africa celebrates 13 years of relaying boundless stories of economic growth and prosperity on the African continent. It achieved its objective of changing the narrative and continues to do so with relentless reporting in the time of Covid-19.

There are mixed emotions as we celebrate CNBC Africa’s 13th birthday this year. There is untold joy in the reality that we have accomplished so much in the last 13 years. On June 1, 2007, there was a flutter of activity at Sandown Mews in Sandton in Johannesburg, as hundreds of guests came to witness the launch of the first pan-African business news television station.

The channel was born of a dire need to provide the world boundless stories of economic growth and prosperity on the African continent. All that was reported were stories of gloom, doom and despotic leadership; that was not representative of the paradigm shift of an Africa rising. CNBC Africa, under the ABN Group, achieved the objective of changing the narrative and is today a leading voice in telling the African story of economic prosperity; this is validated as we continue to receive glowing tributes from all captains of industry and policy-makers from across the continent.

This glory has not come without its challenges. The industry has evolved more rapidly and has been impacted by technology and the changing consumption patterns of its customers more than most other businesses. It’s indisputable that good and relevant content will always remain king but in order to remain ahead of the curve, the content also needs to be tailored increasingly to the customers’ (viewers) needs on the one hand and the clients’ (advertisers) needs on the other. While internet-delivered content will continue to grow, blended businesses like traditional TV provide an experience that will remain superior to digital-only businesses, as they have both features. The science of content creation and delivery will always be at the cutting-edge of our business.

The welcome change that we are going to witness is the alteration in the distribution models. Internet-based aggregators are likely to grow exponentially and will herald the decline of the monopolistic and highly inefficient subscription business currently prevalent. With further tariff reductions and alliances with telcos, we will see more value provided to customers through competitive pricing models and an equitable distribution of income to content producers, many of who are impaired by the incongruity of the current subscription model.

The current pandemic (Covid-19) has had a devastating impact on the media industry as a whole but on niche broadcasters in particular. On the one hand, media provides an essential service to all citizens by keeping everyone updated, revenue has all but dried up through this period, threatening the existence of a lot of businesses. We have made a humble appeal to all our advertisers and supporters to continue working with and supporting media companies through this crisis. We cannot succeed in our mission without the support of our viewers, advertisers and stakeholders to whom we remain eternally grateful for their backing over this long journey.

No tribute is complete without a thumping appreciation to our team that has worked endlessly to see this dream become a reality. In all parts of the continent, they have adapted to change, met challenges and continued to give their best under the leadership of Roberta Naicker, Sid Wahi, Chris Bishop, Jean Landsberg, Thameshan Sooriah, Fred VandeVyver and Denham Pons. I salute each one of them for their commitment and hard work.

The current crisis will see us coming out stronger, leaner and ready for the ‘new normal’ that awaits us.

The writer is Founder and Publisher, FORBES AFRICA, and Co-Founder and Vice Chairman, ABN Group

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