Monday, November 30, 2015

China's Sino-Africa Media Leadership Summit on Tuesday in Cape Town will be slight awkward as Naspers works with StarTimes competing with their own MultiChoice in pay-TV sector.

Tuesday in Cape Town with the first Sino-Africa Media Leadership Summit ever to be held on African soil will undoubtedly carry a level of awkwardness bubbling under the surface although everybody involved will probably just smile and wave; smile and wave.

Tomorrow Cape Town will host the inaugural Sino-Africa Media Leadership Summit, co-organised by South Africa's Naspers media conglomerate and China's StarTimes group.

The slight level of awkwardness that will permeate the gathering of hundreds of media types, dignitaries and media representative from across the African continent and from China originates from the subtext.

Naspers is onboard as co-organiser of the event given the media-conglom's massive interest and growing investment in China. The other co-organiser in StarTimes.

Naspers' own pay-TV ventures and brands are all in direct competition with China's StarTimes own fast-growing TV business in South Africa and across the African continent.

Naspers' M-Net, MultiChoice, GOtv and new subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) ShowMax in South Africa that is set to expand beyond the country's borders in 2016 are rivals to StarTimes across Africa and with StarTimes Media SA in South Africa running the StarSat satellite pay-TV service.

Thus while Naspers has its own pay-TV divisions in Africa, it is doing the Sino-Africa Media Leadership Summit in South Africa in conjunction with its biggest competitor on the African continent.

More than 200 professionals and delegates from South Africa, from across Africa and from the People's Republic of China - 43 countries in total - will attend Tuesday's summit at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) with journalists, editors, marketers and ad buyers from newspapers, TV, radio and new media organisations attending.

The conference with the theme of "A New Era of Win-Win Cooperation between China and Africa" will discuss growing media exchanges between Africa and China as China steadily ramps up development investment and media spend across the continent.

China has become Africa's largest trading partner and has offered loans totaling $32 billion to African nations the past two years. Chinese investments are received with open arms especially in places where Western countries have not ventured, while China looks to solidify and expand its commercial foothold across the continent.

China invited representatives from a vast number of countries to South Africa for the summit - including often-overlooked African nations like Ethiopia, Benin, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Mali, Niger, Togo, Liberia, Comorin, Chad, Tunisia, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire and a dozen other African countries.

China and StarTimes want to strengthen media business relations with all of these countries.

StarTimes with more than 4 000 employees has already set up subsidiaries in 28 African countries and says in its Sino-Africa Media Leadership Summit memo that it "enjoys profound capital strength and financing ability" and sees Africa's digital terrestrial television (DTT) and pay-TV market "as an important part of its long-term development strategy".

After Tuesday's media summit, the focus shifts to Johannesburg on Wednesday and Thursday where China is set to make some further investment announcements.

Tuesday's Naspers and StarTimes media summit is a precursor to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation taking place in Johannesburg on 3 and 4 December, with China's president Xi Jinping visiting South Africa after a two day visit to Zimbabwe.