The TRUE AFRICA 100 is our list of innovators, opinion-formers, game-changers, pioneers, dreamers and mavericks who we feel are shaping the Africa of today.
Elias Schulze is co-founder of The Africa Group, a tech and media-focused VC investor and early-stage operator. He previously worked with Emerging Capital Partners in Abidjan, McKinsey & Co in Lagos and Africa Internet Group across the continent. Now based in Ethiopia, he shares his outlook on the promising media and entertainment space in Africa.
Which media initiatives in Africa are you most excited about at the moment?
It’s been a dynamic last five years for media and entertainment and we’re only halfway through the decade. The more players and disrupters we see, the sharper the evolution will be for entrepreneurs, end-consumers and creators. Bold examples are numerous: Zuku has filled a key television gap in Kenya while iROKOtv has done the same for Nigeria (and for Nollywood fans globally). StarTimes jumped in to challenge DStv and Canal+ is investing significantly in original content for its Francophone Africa base.
The message is clear: Africa has come to the world and the world has come to Africa.
Talented African filmmakers like Zeresenay Mehari and actors such as Lupita Nyong’o are receiving global acclaim. The ‘Afropolitan’ media generation, embodied by TRUE Africa has injected something truly modern, genuine, raw and entertaining to keep us moving forward. The message is clear: Africa has come to the world and the world has come to Africa. We have bridges that go both ways and people are loving the journey.
How do you see TV developing in Ethiopia and in Africa?
TV in Ethiopia and for Ethiopians globally is certain to be an exciting growth story over the coming decade. EBC, the state-run broadcaster is working hard to improve its game and bring in fresh improvements, while the private player EBS has done a lot since its launch to introduce new concepts into the space.
I’m a big fan of folks who go hard, stick with something real and focus on outcomes not buzz.
A market like Ethiopia could experience at least a good ten profitable, well-run entertainment stations to serve its fast growing base of 90 million plus potential viewers over the coming decade. In this way, Ethiopia reflects the general dynamic of media across Africa’s more ‘frontier’ markets: our shared mandate is to stimulate the pie’s growth, not to compete for a small slice of a still modest pie. I’m not your typical dreamer but in this space, together we should all be able to achieve huge wins.
Who’s your African of the year?
I’m a big fan of folks who go hard, stick with something real and focus on outcomes not buzz. Given my background in pan-African finance, I have a particular respect for Brian Frimpong of Ghana and his team at the AAF SME Fund. They’ve closed five deals focused on the real economy across Africa over the last 24 months, no easy task. Brian is a talented and humble dude focused on getting stuff done – that’s rare.
On the media side, I’m pumped for Uzodinma Iweala and the Netflix release of Beasts of No Nation based on his book. Uzo is another great ‘new generation’ example of unique capabilities and undiluted creativity.
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