More than two years ago CNBC, the international satellite business channel explored the viability of establishing an Africa arm. In the last week of September it was announced that the new channel, CNBC Africa will launch programming in the first half of next year and will be available free-to-air across Africa.
This news followed close on the announcement by al-Jazeera, the Arabic news channel, that it would be broadcasting from SA “within weeks” and would establish offices in 12 African countries. Nigel Parsons, managing director of al-Jazeera said that the channel would broadcast not only the tragedies of Africa but also its hopes and successes.
Zafar Siddiqi, chairman of the newly created CNBC Africa, who was in South Africa recently to address the International Media Forum (IMF), explained what made the network add an African regional arm to its worldwide coverage. “There is a change in government attitude towards the media; they’re welcoming international journalists and broadcasters.”
The new channel will focus on Africa’s business markets and provide global business news from an African perspective.
Siddiqi said the stock market, business activities and economic news in Africa were not generally covered internationally. The emphasis abroad tended to be geared towards coverage of civil wars, crime and corruption.
“The new CNBC Africa channel is an ideal first step in modelling African and world business stories from an African angle,” says IMF organiser Fergal Parkinson. “Local communicators and business leaders will get the opportunity to meet and network with Mr Siddiqi.” He added that he was very optimistic about the change of attitude the channel could effect.
The initial investment in CNBC Africa will be $25m and will initially be based in Johannesburg with live connectivity to Cape Town, Tanzania, Botswana, Kenya and Nigeria.. Some of the difficulties they faced in setting up the channel included “disjointed and unclear” broadcasting policies between countries, Siddiqi said.