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Econet Media Refocuses Business towards a Digital Future

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KWESE is changing it’s business model ditching satellite television for streaming.

BELOW IS A STATEMENT ON THE SAME

Econet Media Refocuses Business towards a Digital Future

Lusaka, Zambia, 2 November 2018 – In order to maintain its position as a leader in broadcasting innovation in Africa, Econet Media has reviewed its business strategy and service offerings, to align them to changes in the global digital and satellite broadcasting sector, and growth in access to mobile and fixed broadband on the continent.

The strategy review will see Africa’s leading multiplatform broadcast network focus on three core services; Kwesé Free Sports (KFS), Kwesé iflix and Kwesé Play.  KFS is Africa’s largest free-to-air TV service, Kwesé iflix is Africa’s leading mobile video-on-demand sports and entertainment platform while Kwesé Play is a leading edge video streaming service with more than 200 sports, entertainment, kids and news channels including Red Bull TV, NBA, YouTube, TED and Bloomberg.

With increased focus on these three services, Econet Media will streamline its direct-to-home satellite television service effective 2nd November 2018. This will see the reduction of third party channels available on the bouquet, as well as the removal of Kwesé branded sports (excluding KFS) and general entertainment channels. The broadcaster’s new bouquet will carry FTA, religious, and free news channels which will be available to viewers for a minimal fee, as the broadcaster will waive monthly subscription fees. Kwesé subscribers who have already paid their subscriptions for the month of November, or in advance, will receive a full refund.

Kwesé was launched at a time when the global pay television industry was in transition. Business models were evolving from traditional content rights linked to linear broadcast channels, to premium content rights moving towards digital media platforms.

Kwesé has built a satellite TV business with presence in 11 markets, a free-to-air business across 27 countries, delivered the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ across Africa to a network of 115 sub-license broadcasters across 37 countries – reaching over 200 million households, acquired a controlling stake in a leading mobile video-on-demand service, and launched its own OTT service Kwesé Play. The business has also managed to secure leading sports rights and general entertainment channels to build a compelling content offering across its platforms, making a significant shift in the continent’s complex and competitive media industry.

Having recognized the importance of carrying original local content, Econet Media will also establish its own content creation hub, Kwesé Studios. Through Kwesé Studios, Econet Media will invest in developing its own original programming and provide a platform for African producers, script writers, actors and directors to tell authentic African stories on a pan-African broadcast network.

These changes are in keeping with Kwesé’s commitment to providing affordable premium content, maintaining an innovative approach to content delivery and being attuned to audience viewing and purchasing habits.

Joe Hundah, Group President and Chief Executive of Econet Media, says the business’ repositioning is perfectly timed in response to market trends.

“We believe these changes will safeguard the future success of our business as we continue to make an indelible impact on Africa’s media industry. The revised business strategy will also ensure that Kwesé TV continues to remain competitive within the industry. Refocusing our business offering across markets, is a strategic move which aligns our business to OTT and video-on-demand trends which present significant growth opportunities for Kwesé. This renewed focus on digital services will see us provide new compelling offers for our customer’s enjoyment.”

“Additionally, through the development of the Kwesé Studios content hub, Econet Media will now have a legitimate claim to being the home of African content, as we will now create a place where Africans can tell their own stories and shape their own narrative.”

“Kwesé’s entry into the market had a game changing impact on the media industry. With these changes, we believe Kwesé will continue to positively disrupt the industry for the benefit of African consumers, as we continue to provide affordable premium content through digital media services.”

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Ndola High Court dismisses UPND petition, to stay the decision by ECZ to ban campaign rallies, describing it capricious and without authority of law

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THE Ndola High Court has dismissed an application by the United Party for National Development (UPND) in which it asked the court to quash the decision by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to ban campaign rallies.

In its petition filed in the Ndola High Court, party secretary general,

Batuke Imenda asked the court to stay the decision by ECZ to ban campaign rallies, describing it capricious and without authority of law.

Mr Imenda also contended that the decision by ECZ not to prescribe the amount of airtime in any given language on public television, radio and electronic media all the participating political parties and independent candidates is illegal.

He further argued that ECZ abrogated its responsibility under television, radio and print media for the benefit of all participating political parties and independent candidates for the forthcoming national polls.

When case came up today, Ndola High Court judge Mary Mulanda dismissed the petition to allow campaign rallies.

Judge Mulanda however granted the party leave to apply for judicial in respect to its demand that public television, radio and electronic media should allocate equal airtime in any given language to all participating political parties and independent candidates.

Judge Mulanda said the decision by ECZ to ban campaign rallies is in the best interest of Zambia and her people.

“It’s not the campaigns that were suspended but the rallies and political parties were advised to use appropriate campaign strategies such as mobile public address  system,  distribution of fliers and other political party materials with minimal or no contact to the crowd. For the reasons stated, I am not satisfied that there is case fit for further investigation at a full inter partes  hearing, according I refuse to grant the applicant leave to apply for judicial review of the first respondent’s decision to ban the campaigns rallies during the campaign period leading up to the general elections scheduled for August 12,” judge Mulanda said.

Meanwhile the judge has granted the party judicial review in which it has argued that the public are not giving equal airtime to all political parties including independents.

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Marcopolo tiles declares dividends to Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB)

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MARCOPOLO Tiles has declared dividends to Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB) of K7,200,000.00.
The ceremony took place in the WCFCB Boardroom HQ. WCFCB is a shareholder in Marcopolo tiles. Marcopolo Tiles Acting Managing Director Roy Chisanga Mwamba presented a dummy cheque to WCFCB Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer Mrs Priscilla Bwembya.
In May 2020, the Board positively assessed and resolved to purchase 10 % shares in Marcopolo.
The decision to purchase shareholding in Marcopolo was made in line with the objective of diversifying the investment portfolio to capture value from manufacturing sector of Zambia and in so doing maximize financial returns.

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Can Debt for Nature Swap offer some relief to debt distressed African Economies?

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By Nachilala Nkombo, WWF Zambia Chief Executive Officer

What does 2021 Africa month mean to 1.2 billion Africans seeking a better and secure future amidst the global health pandemic? While the COVID-19 death toll is lowest in the continent of Africa compared to other parts of the world, Africa has to prepare for the worst in terms of the economic and social impacts of Covid-19. African economies are expected to be in a sharp recession as they depend largely on external financial flows from economies that have been hit hardest by Covid-19. Most financial inflows  into the African economy are from tourism and other raw materials it exports  to Europe and Asia such as copper, timber and oil.

Prior to Covid-19, African policy-makers were grappling with two significant challenges; rising poverty and rising  national debts, which have not gone away. According to the World Bank, Africa is the only continent in the world that is seeing a rise in the number of people living with poverty.  The absolute number of people living below the poverty line was estimated to have grown to 433 million Africans in 2018, rising from 284 million in 1990. With Covid-19 now, we expect that the number of people living below poverty will increase and will do so exponentially. With regard to its total debt burden, the total debt stock of the continent stood at over 67% of its GDP in 2020, above the levels of Debt sustainability as guided by the International Monetary Fund(IMF).   For us who care about natural capital, we know that high debts and high poverty represents a bleak future for nature that we must arrest.

Despite Africa’s resources and people having created fortunes for a number of successful multinationals and a few individuals from within and outside Africa, poverty and national debts are rising exponentially. If not well managed, these realities will  halt recovery of Africa’s economy during and post Covid-19. To the fallen Africa independence hero, high poverty and high national debts are not the freedom she or he died for.  Zambia is the poster child for an African country that failed to honour its debt service obligations due to the size of the debt relative to the economy and the Covid-19 induced negative growth rates.

Zambia’s public external debt position as of the end of December 2020 had increased by 9 per cent to US $12.74 billion from US$11.65 billion as of the end of December 2019. Regarding debt service, a total of US $639.68 million was paid to various creditors compared to the US $1,091 million in 2019, a decrease of 41.4 per cent. The significant reduction in external debt service is explained by the debt service suspension granted to Zambia by members of the G20/Paris Club and other private creditors from May to December 2020, under the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI).

The Zambian Government has equally engaged the International Monetary Fund(IMF) for Extended Credit Support, but the negotiations have protracted, with some analysts reporting that the deal won’t be closed any time soon. Equally, the discussions for debt service suspension with the Euro Bondholders have not yielded any fruit, with the Zambian Government electing not to make the semi-annual bond repayments. Angola and the Republic of Congo have similar levels of indebtedness.

As the debt stress levels continue to increase, innovative financial mechanisms are needed to safeguard a series of African countries from worsening economic, health and environmental circumstances.

Reversing these high poverty rates growing exponentially will be difficult with a huge debt burden, but not impossible to resolve. In addition to the proposals laid out by the G20 countries to re-negotiate debts G20 countries owe the world whose repayments have been made difficult by the Covid-19 induced meltdown of the global economy, Africa, can however capitalise on its natural resources by considering debt settlements instruments that help to restore nature and simultaneously drive a green recovery and create green jobs.

One approach that can achieve these aims is the use of Debt for Nature Swaps. Debt for Nature Swap is a transaction where a country has its debt purchased, renegotiated or forgiven by its creditors (fully or partially) with specific conditions, for example, that savings on debt service are invested in environmental conservation activities (Mathias, et al., 2018). Therefore, the country is freed from the strict debt service payment on one end and invests towards conservation and enacting environmental protection measures on the other end.

 

The concept of Debt for Nature Swaps was first initiated in 1967 by James Goff of the Experimental Conservation Agency with association to the Bidborough Badgers as an opportunity to deal with the problems of developing nation indebtedness and its consequent deleterious effect on the environment (Visser & Mendoza, 1994). Lovejoy (1984) suggested that ameliorating debt and promoting conservation could be a win-win situation for the country and for nature.

Countries that have leveraged the debt-for-nature swaps typically have several threatened or endangered species, experience rapid deforestation, and have relatively stable, often democratic, political systems. Since 1987, Debt-for-Nature agreements have generated over US$1 billion for conservation in developing countries (Sheikh, 2010).

 

Zambia’s failure to agree with its creditors  on a debt service suspension programme represents an opportunity for  a Debt for Nature Swap which it has experience with.  Learning from the past and similarly structured transactions, the Government of Zambia in 1993  established a debt conversion programme that permitted an orderly conversion of external debt owed to its creditors purchased by  many NGOs to restore nature.

In this programme, funded by the World Bank debt buy-back and facilitated by the Debt-for-Development Coalition (a non-profit institution that executed debt-for-nature swaps on behalf of single NGOs), NGOs purchased Zambian debt at 11 per cent. They received a dollar-denominated note worth 16.5 per cent (WWF Report, 2003).

 

Despite being viewed as an innovative financial option to relieve debt distress and achieve environmental and developmental outcomes; Debt-for-Nature swaps have yet garnered worldwide recognition. International observers have raised concerns over the perceived inefficiency of debt-for-nature swaps compared to other financial mechanisms and the potential risks that debt relief deals pose to a developing country’s sovereignty (Didia, 2016).

However, failure to enter into such deals can only make the countries with high levels of debt not only default but also continue with the massive degradation of the environment as they try to find solutions out of a vicious debt trap.

 

In conclusion, Debt for Nature swaps can only really work when the country is at a high risk of defaulting on the debt payments mainly because the debt is bought at a discount. With the Zambian credit rating being low graded and with a record of a default,  it is the right time to look at issuing Debt for Nature swap.

Another issue the Debt for Nature swaps would  address is the significant challenge of attracting more private investment with conservation objectives over the long term and also helping to relieve the country from debt distress aggravated by the impact of Covid-19. Beyond the debt challenge, the Covid-19 pandemic has yet again exposed the weaknesses that characterise most African economies that need urgent transformation.

These  include high vulnerability of Africa’s nature due to high levels of poverty and a  drive for growth;  a high import bill for agriculture and manufactured goods that could have been produced locally that have a huge global carbon footprint,  export of raw materials such as copper, cocoa and unprocessed oil and inadequate financial and trade linkages between African economies.

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Foxdale Forest – Phase 2 Selling

ZAMBIA: COVID-19 STATS

12 Jun 2021, 1:50 AM (GMT)

Zambia Stats

110,332 Total Cases
1,365 Deaths
96,646 Recovered

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