NASPERS LAUNCHES THE BIGGEST ONLINE BUSINESS IN AFRICA
Media24 has merged its digital arm with MWEB Studios, the division responsible for the development of web-based services, to create 24.com creating what could become one of the biggest online businesses on the continent.
Headed-up by Chief Executive Officer, Kim Reid, 24.com is the result of a Naspers drive to fuse complimentary digital properties creating a destination on the Internet where Africans can go to for the latest news and information. The new property will capture 60 percent of the local online audience.
The joint venture forms part of Naspers’ long-term growth strategy to ensure sustainable development across its print, television and online communication platforms. 24.com aims to dominate the digital arena in Africa and have a team of more than 300 experts who will be trying to do just that.
In addition to carrying content from the existing 24.com niche interest sites, the portal will boast a smorgasbord of new tools and services, including locally relevant web search technology, free web-based email, instant messaging, photo albums, blogs, other social networking tools and online shopping powered by Kalahari.net. Noteworthy developments for prolonged brand growth include the launch of a dedicated Mobile Division, responsible for developing a platform for the delivery of 24.com content to handheld devices, as well as an Africa Division, responsible for expansion into Africa.
“By combining the audience of South Africa’s two top digital publishing audiences, 24.com will be reaching an astounding 60 percent of the entire online universe in South Africa. This provides us with a healthy and completely unrivalled launch platform,” stated Arrie Rossouw, editorial director for 24.com.
Russell Hanly, chief executive of the commercial branch at 24.com, explains that 24.com is the culmination of varied, wide-ranging online and digital initiatives during the past nine years within Naspers.
According to Hanly the timely arrival of affordable broadband Internet connectivity in South Africa is increasing adoption figures exponentially and will be central in catapulting the Internet into mainstream consumer behaviour. “With the roll-out of affordable broadband in South Africa, local digital and online businesses are entering a new era. In The US 60 to 65 percent of US households are connected to the Internet. These encouraging figures bode exceedingly well for the growth of 24.com.”
This new era of always-on Internet is supported by significant advertising growth and exciting new products and functions that enrich the lives of online users and create new business opportunities. 24.com is perhaps the first in a wave of African businesses to explore the value of online businesses.
Ventures of this nature look set to grow as broadband penetration increases and the economic pay-offs for the continent as a whole look to be good as Africa enters the broadband era. It is encouraging to see big businesses like Naspers on the digital bandwagon.