TV MEA: Tell us about what Econet wants to achieve with Kwesé TV.
HUNDAH: Our strategy is focused on sub-Saharan Africa. It’s an exciting time to be in broadcasting and media on the continent. Viewers are increasingly looking for choice, quality and, importantly, access and convenience. We are well past the stage where African viewers were happy with whatever content they could access. As competition increases, we see that in order to succeed, broadcasters must be responsive and have a compelling value proposition. There has been an increase in home-grown African broadcasters and content producers, which is allowing for more tailored offerings specific to African audiences. This is encouraging innovation in an industry that has traditionally set the agenda and the tone of its relationship with its consumers. Kwesé is premised on quality, innovation and creating a platform for the best in African content. I believe that our business model allows us to be responsive to consumer needs in a way that many cannot be. Ours is a multiplatform-content-focused business targeted at the urban African middle class. How you access it is up to you, but we can promise viewers premium content, and we will continue to pursue the best in both international and local content as we add to our portfolio.
TV MEA: How did you begin preparing for the launch of the service? What kinds of infrastructure and partnerships did you need in place?
HUNDAH: Fundamental to our entry in the market is ensuring that our offering is based on sound research. Rather than dictating to the viewer, our aim is to fill a gap and address a latent need in terms of programming. So first and foremost we conducted extensive research to understand the trends shaping the media industry in sub-Saharan Africa. Our partnerships with rights holders as well as local content producers are critical to our business. We believe in the quality of our content, and we are extremely selective about who we partner with. We have been fortunate to establish relationships with some of the leading content rights holders. Our proposition is premised on providing access and exposure to the best content across sports, entertainment and actuality/news programming. We have led with sports and introduced [coverage] which would likely be inaccessible to the majority of viewers on the continent. Our portfolio is diverse and includes sports that enjoy huge interest on the continent, such as football—specifically the English, Brazilian and Argentinian leagues—and basketball, through our relationship with the NBA and NBA Africa. Also, we have rights to sports that have niche or region-specific fan bases but are growing in popularity, such as motorsports with F1 and Formula E, NFL, cricket and rugby. We look forward to introducing the rest of our programming portfolio to the market.
TV MEA: How are you tapping into the resources of the Econet Group for Kwesé?
HUNDAH: Our ability to leverage the broader group is certainly of commercial value to us, and we believe that our strategic relationships and business model will stand us in good stead in navigating the industry across the continent. The details of our go-to-market strategy are still very sensitive at this stage, but we will be in a better position to expand on this in due course.
TV MEA: What are the greatest challenges and opportunities facing the media sector in sub-Saharan Africa?
HUNDAH: Certainly infrastructure constraints are primary on that list. It is our constraints that are forcing us to think differently, and this is what encourages innovation. Kwesé’s model provides a solution to bringing programming to audiences in a way that is accessible and leverages the leapfrogging that has happened in terms of digital and mobile across the continent.