(Quartz) Africa’s biggest media company will fight Netflix for control of the global streaming market

(Reuters/Mike Blake)

netflixWritten by Omar Mohammed

When Naspers, the South African media conglomerate, launched its video-on-demand (VOD) service Showmax earlier this year, the assumption was this was an attempt at keeping out Netflix. The US-based streaming platform aims to expand its service globally in 2016, including in Africa’s second-largest economy.

But it seems like this was just the opening salvo for Africa’s biggest media company. Naspers is reportedly expanding its three-month-old platform beyond the continent. The aim is to go global and challenge Netflix everywhere else, too, according to a report by Bloomberg. Naspers is hoping to attract potentially 15 million subscribers in North America, Europe, and Australasia.

The company, which already owns one of the most popular pay-TV outlet in Africa, has always believed it can compete beyond the continent. “We’ve never limited our ambition to South Africa,” Bob van Dijk, the chief executive of Naspers, said in August.

Naspers’ expansion strategy will be boosted by the partnership it has reportedly agreed with Samsung to have Showmax available on its smart TVs. Samsung controls almost a third of the global smart TV market. That’s a potential audience of about 60 million people.

But the manner in which Showmax aims to distinguish itself from Netflix appears to be around offering content that has yet to be the natural purview of the American platform. While it will continue to stock shows from the likes of CBS, the BBC and Time Warner, an area of strength for Netflix, it aims to show Africa-specific content as well, according to Bloomberg.

On this point, it has a clear edge over Netflix, at least for the moment. Through its MultiChoice outlet, the pan-African pay-TV platform, the company has access to significant content from across the region. This could help it attract the sizable African diaspora to its platform, which is estimated to be about 30 million people worldwide.

In addition to that, Naspers owns a stake in a Middle Eastern VOD platform that specializes in Bollywood and Arabic content. Housing this kind of programming could attract this demographic to Showmax and once again position itself differently from Netflix.

Naspers has shown itself to be astute in playing at a global level, particularly in emerging markets. It invested early in the Chinese internet giant Tencent and the Indian platfrom Ibibo, one of the country’s largest travel companies. With Showmax, Naspers—a $65-billion business and Africa’s biggest company by market value—is making another bet at a global audience.

To compete, Netflix needs to up its game, too.

This article was published on Quartz Africa.

warned that a delay would have caused significant disruption to the export cycle and endangered tens of thousands of jobs in Africa

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The US government has granted a long-term extension to a major US-Africa trade programme on 29 June, a move welcomed by African textile and apparel manufacturers.

President Obama signed into law a bill reauthorising the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) for another 10 years. Since 2001, the non-reciprocal trade programme has allowed more than 6,400 items from around 40 sub-Saharan African countries to be imported into the US without duties or quotas.

The African textile and apparel sector, one of the main beneficiaries of the scheme, had urged the US government to proceed with the extension of AGOA well ahead of its expiration in September. Industry bodies warned that a delay would have caused significant disruption to the export cycle and endangered tens of thousands of jobs in Africa.

US imports of apparel manufacturing products from Agoa countries dropped by 5.6 percent to $225m in the first quarter of 2015, according to the latest available statistics from the US Department of Commerce. More decline is expected for third quarter of the year, according to Paul Ryberg, president of the African Coalition for Trade, a US organisation which represents African companies mostly in the textile and apparel sector and that has lobbied for the extension of Agoa.

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AFRICAN NATIONS are taking steps toward creating a free-trade zone with a combined size of $2 trillion, as heads of state meet in Johannesburg this week.

This comes after a potentially historic deal was signed in Egypt this week that created a common market that would span half the continent from Cairo to Cape Town.

Talks on removing the barriers to trade and the movement of people between the continent’s 54 countries will begin on June 15 at the African Union summit and conclude by the end of 2017, Fatima Haram Acyl, the AU’s trade commissioner, said in an interview on Thursday.

Progress on creating a continental trade bloc inched forward on Wednesday after an agreement on a free-trade area was signed in Egypt between three regional groups: the Common Market for East and Southern Africa, the East African Community and the Southern African Development Community. Read more

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Tazania’s current natural gas reserves now stand at about 55 trillion cubic feet (tcf) following new deep sea discoveries off its southern coast. According to the East African nation’s energy minister, George Simbachawene, natural gas resources discovered in the country increased by  18 percent to 55.08 tcf in April 2015, from 46.5 tcf in June 2014.

The United Republic of Tanzania has the second largest economy in East Africa, and the Twelfth largest in Africa. A great contributor to this is its agricultural sector, which accounts for 24.5 percent of the country’s GDP, 85 percent of exports and over half of the employed workforce. The country had relied heavily on this sector to drive its economy, but the emergence of natural gas is expected to change that narrative. Commercial production is scheduled to begin in September this year and expectations are high that the new commodity will rival the dominance of agriculture and enhance living conditions. Read more

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General Electric (GE), a 123-year old American Conglomerate with operations in 130 countries around the world, is gearing up to further exploit the economic potentials inherent in sub-Saharan African markets, especially Nigeria and Ethiopia. At the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, GE said it would increase its capital outlay to $10 billion over the next half-decade.

The conglomerate will target power, health and locomotive opportunities in several African countries. Nigeria, its prime target, offers a ready market with the numerous gaps in infrastructure and a new government looking to drive “change.” Read more

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According to worldometers.info, the population within South Africa sits at just over 53 million individuals. To add to the figures, Nigeria currently has over 183 million individuals populating its city’s.

Africa has always been viewed as a continent that isn’t very connected in terms of internet speeds and the number of users – compared to other parts of the world. However, the latest statistics say otherwise. Read more

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The challenges of this financing are magnified in sub-Saharan Africa, as there is a paucity of projects that meet the high-water mark required by most investment banks. Basic requirements include experienced and credit-worthy sponsors, healthy financial ratios and forecasts, exhaustive technical due diligence, and a stable and cohesive political and legal framework. Development finance institutions (DFIs) are more flexible than investment banks, but African governments are increasingly less willing to accept the more onerous conditions attached to their funding. Read more

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Drones are a controversial topic when it comes to national security. However cargo drones, with their potential applications for last mile delivery in remote areas and humanitarian emergency situations, are tipped to be an exciting area of innovation for Africa.

But who is behind the push for cargo drones in Africa, why has it got the business world so excited, and how is progress on this embryonic technology panning out?

Cargo drones are small pilotless airplanes designed to transport 20-30kg packages across distances of 80km or perhaps further. The technology could have a revolutionary impact for delivering products to remote, poorly connected communities in much of Africa. Read more

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As the evolution of mobile banking continues to disrupt the financial services sector, the founder and executive chairman of privately held telecoms conglomerate Econet Wireless Group sounded the death knell for traditional transaction banking.

“The transactional side of banking is gone,” Strive Masiyiwa tells This Is Africa on the side of a Clinton Foundation forum in Marrakech, Morocco. Read more

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Ghana’s mobile phone sector is booming. The country’s regulator NCA reported that the country’s mobile phone operators signed up some 400,000 subscribers during February, a sign that the sector is prime for a new round of promotions.

The regulator said that the total number of customers has now reached 31.03 million. Read more