Discop: Africa’s largest video news agency AFP now has the capability to offer SMS news services to the continent’s broadcasters and telcos

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They are several international news agencies with global reporting networks but few with a strong presence in Africa with the exception of AFP, Reuters and Xinhua. Balancing Act met with AFP's Marketing Manager Sylvain Risse and International Commercial coordinator François Bohn, at AFP's HQ in Paris to highlight what AFP has been doing on the continent so far and what it can offer to African media and corporate players in the future.

AFP is a global B2B news agency delivering fast, in-depth coverage of the sensitive events shaping our world in 6 languages: English, Arabic, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German. The agency delivers written content, videos, graphics and its news portal has a solid search engine and bespoke web and mobile solutions. Clients access AFP's paid content services via satellite transmission and ftp servers with secured access codes.

The agency is filing an enormous volume of new stories based on facts every day, promoting independent and investigative journalism of public interest. Key topics covered range from wars and conflicts to politics, sports, culture and entertainment and the latest breakthroughs in health, science and technology. AFP in Africa focuses on African news and perspectives on politics, sports and culture, lifestyle but other aspects such as agro-business and economics are already on AFP's radar.

"Content-wise, we have a strong catalogue of 5 million pictures from Africa which grows every day since we produce 2,500 more pictures each day. For the last 4 years we have also invested a lot in videos with between 200 to 250 more quality video reports added each day. Today, we can claim to be the largest news agency in Africa for video with audiovisual reports from all 54 countries" said Sylvain Risse, adding that "sport and entertainment take a large share of our catalogue in Africa."

On the money, AFP made 280 million Euros in 2011 and generates revenues from the media players (about 60% of its turnover), the corporate and institutions sectors (40%). The agency recently invested in sport, video, digital mobile solutions and Arabic language content.

AFP has about 3000 staff globally including 1500 journalists, 80 nationalities and 11 major news productions centers on the African continent. North African offices include Rabat, Algiers, Tunis and Cairo. Offices in Dakar and Abidjan are in covering West Africa while the Nairobi bureau takes care of East Africa and the Indian Ocean. Bureaus in Libreville, Lagos, Kinshasa and a key centre in Johannesburg for activities in Southern Africa close the loop. AFP has a network of correspondents present in all 54 countries. The agency has started aggregating news from Africa since the 50's.

Today Africa only represents 4% of AFP's global revenues but its share is due to grow in the years to come. "Africa, Latin America, Europe and Asia are our growth markets. In Africa, most of our business comes from large media players mainly from anglophone countries but we have kept strong historical links with francophone countries. Our clients' churn rate in Africa is faster than in other regions." said François Bohn to Balancing Act.

"We have the capability to work with large telecoms service providers to provide sports' SMS services on a large scale but we need local SMS platform partners to deliver the service. Our large clients in Africa are Orange, large TV stations, newspaper groups and national news agencies. We look forward to setting up partnerships and set up innovative news platforms with large media players in Africa." François Bohn concluded.

AFP will be present at Discop Africa to be held from 31 Oct. to 2nd. Nov 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Colman Murray, Director of Sales and Marketing Africa from AFP's South African office will represent the company and participate at a round table. To contact AFP in Africa, call Colman Murray at (27 11) 530 9900.

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