Cape Town – Top African investors have announced the creation of the continent’s first news syndication service, the African News Agency (ANA) with an initial investment of $20 million.
ANA, set to launch on 1 March 2015, is a digital content-generation and syndication service that will provide an affordable source of reliable and credible news from the African continent.
African business leaders – including Ladislas Agbesi, executive chairman of the Pan African Business Forum, and Dr Iqbal Survé, executive chairman of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings – are among those behind the formation of ANA.
“For the first time we shall be disseminating news and stories about our continent through our own voice, interpreting our own stories for the world. This is truly history in the making and a very significant development,” said Agbesi, who will be founding chairman of ANA.
“News about Africa is a growing demand globally and we hope to capitalise on that. We want to take our place among the leading voices on Africa in an increasingly interconnected globe. Our immediate goal is to have a presence in 15 African countries by July this year,” added Agbesi.
The agency’s launch follows news that the South African Press Association (Sapa) will be liquidated and cease to operate from midnight on March 31, 2015, leaving a major void in the South African media industry.
Sapa’s liquidation was accelerated by the withdrawal of two major media houses in 2014, which severely affected its ability to continue to provide an effective syndication service.
ANA, which will be headquartered in South Africa, will provide the South African and African market with solid political, business, current affairs, lifestyle and sport coverage.
ANA will collaborate with partners across the African continent to create a news syndication service by Africans, for Africans and a global audience.
ANA will provide quality multimedia content across the Baobab Suite, an African-born global media platform, which was demonstrated at the launch.
Chris Borain, former CEO of Primedia Online and head of business development for BBC Worldwide Australasia, has been appointed founding CEO of ANA.
“Sapa provided a quality service unparalleled in reaching the vast corners of South Africa and it will be difficult to emulate that. We are, however, recruiting an experienced editorial team to run ANA and we are also looking at how we can retain some of Sapa’s high-quality personnel and national resources,” Borain said.
“We are excited that, backed by superior technology, developed in Africa, ANA will provide an essential resource for the South African and African media fraternity. We are actively pursuing Sapa’s many existing clients and partners, to join us in this exciting initiative,” he said.
Borain said ANA would be actively going out into the South African and African media market to extend an invitation to media partners who feel they can benefit from or form part of the news syndication service to engage with and partner in growing this essential service.
Dr Iqbal Surve said: “At a time when competition and hostility amongst media houses is at its most intense, we at Sekunjalo Investment Holdings have been completely open about our intention to incorporate SAPA into the ANA syndication service and to invest considerable resources into establishing a quality African news agency. We remain committed to doing so, in the interest of the broader South African and African media industry.”
Independent Media, a subsidiary of Sekunjalo Investments Holdings, are among a number of subscribers to sign up and express interest in ANA.