After leaving CNN, I pondered on the kind of media play that would develop a unique digital ecosystem, explode the walls of traditional content production and consumption, and rooted in mobile and social. After just one conversation between us, my co.founder Chidi Afulezi and I created aKoma.
aKoma is both a professional and personal venture for me. It is driven by a desire to counter the persistent negative African tropes in the international media by retaking our stories and telling them in our diverse voices. This is a content platform designed to reshape the African narrative globally, shifting it from that of a dark continent to one highlighting the affirmatives through stories told via African lenses. It is also a return to my Kenyan roots.
It has been a tremendous challenge building a business in this space. The Pan-African content market is fragmented, and the global networks and publications have shown limited appetites for African content. However, we are seeing a game-changing shift in content and and user behavior which aKoma - in addition to many of our coopetition out there hustling like us - is taking full advantage of.
Some numbers for context. According to We Are Social:
- There are 362M Internet users in Africa (29%). with 170M active social media users (14%), and 150M active mobile social users (12%).
- Almost 1B mobile subs.
- Active social media users growth since Jan 2016 is 32% (+42M), active mobile social users since Jan 2016 has jumped 47% (+48M).
- Africa (358M) has more mobile broadband connections than North America (344M) even with only 29% penetration compared to NA's 95%.
Clearly, a huge upside with social and mobile driving the exploding digital video market in Africa.
For talent, it is incredibly difficult to break into the media as a profession, more so in Africa. aKoma’s mandate is to remove these barriers, and focus on the storytellers and content creators, developing their relationships with audiences and brands. A cutting edge editorial component will emerge, but not at the expense of a throttled creator class, unable to tell awesome stories and make a good living while at it. Thus, we also commission content and partner with storytellers. We are huge on fair pay and fair payment processes for African talent. Top value must be assigned to the top stories and talent here in Africa. We subscribe to the belief that storytelling is a service, and content creators should be compensated equitably.
Our Tribe@aKoma initiative is another piece to aKoma’s support for Africa’s storytellers and creators, a community where select creators focused on Africa are part of a curated Slack community where they can connect, collaborate and engage each other, and get access to actual paid gigs. It is my mission to see Tribe become a thriving space for African content. It means African stories have a true genesis stage, with the tools and support from blue sky thinking partners and brands that provide the wind that powers the sails of the African content creator. It is how we amplify the real Africa.