Publishers in Africa Lose Out On Online Opportunities

By Chief K.Masimba, Global Editor-At-Large,

Granted, the disruption happening inside the media industry has left some African publisher’s head spinning from left to right with no solutions in sight. As they see these disruptions unraveling in the developed world, much of what they have done is to put in place responses that are more technology-centric and less of a service to their local audiences.

Put simply, African publishers are failing to see that its not so much about the technology but rather part of the solution is in an intimate and thorough understanding of their key audiences. And that above it all, content remains kings, it in fact is the life blood of the media industry.

Content is important to the success of any publication. The content has to be strong, relevant and timely to hold the attention of any savvy audience.

According to, it is hard for traditional print publishers to add an online component. Many times there won’t be budgets for new hires, so the online components are slowly developed upon the shoulders of already extremely busy editors. This half-hearted approach to online publishing which often regards the online product as a competitor of the print product is self-defeating to say the least.

As Steve Forbes succintly put it: “The Internet is a platform to reach our basic constituency.” And in ignoring this basic fact, many African based publishers have failed to harness the full potential of the medium.

To succeed online in Africa, internet publishers have to recognize that they have a significant role to play in increasing the numbers of people visiting online platforms. At the moment, numbers are simply insignificant. But building a large affinity audience is critical to any successful online publishing effort.

The problem with most traditional publishers venturing online is that they are unwilling to strip away old models and experiment significantly with new ways of reaching audiences and creating revenue.

Oftentimes, there’s a lack of understanding of how the online medium works, which is seen in a clear reluctance to invest in thinking through strategies that can help traditional media to survive in the new media universe.

Underlying both the traditional print and the online universe is the fact that the publisher with the biggest audience usually wins. If someone is going to disrupt your market, let it be you is a mantra that ought to drive African publishers.

To achieve the full potential of new media technologies will require an entrepreneurial mindset and spirit among our publishers.


3 thoughts on “Publishers in Africa Lose Out On Online Opportunities

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