CNBC Africa launches in SA

29 May 2007

Sub-Saharan Africa’s first international business news channel, CNBC Africa, starts broadcasting from Johannesburg on 1 June, with an hour-long interview with South African President Thabo Mbeki as its first programme.

The Saturday Star reported on the weekend that the interview, scheduled for 7pm, will feature 70 audience members who will ask the questions.

According to the paper, prominent South African journalists – Bronwyn Nielsen, Leigh Roberts, Lerato Mbele, Nikiwe Bikitsha, Mandlakazi Mpahlwa and Peter Ndoro among them – have joined the business news channel.

CNBC’s Cape Town bureau chief, Debbie Sharwood, told Saturday Star that the channel would broadcast nine hours of local business programming, while cutting across to its international affiliates throughout the day for market updates and breaking news.

The channel will broadcast using feeds from bureaux in Abuja, Cape Town, Lagos, London and Nairobi. According to the paper, the channel required about US$20-million in start-up costs and has state-of-the-art equipment.

Sherwood said the focus would be on business and finance, but that there would also be interactive debates as well as lifestyle programming looking at real estate, personal finance, business leaders, entertainment and sport.

“We will be looking at some of the more positive stories making headlines in Africa, without painting a rose-tinted picture,” she told Saturday Star.

According to the paper, CNBC Africa is a franchise of NBC Universal, which is majority owned by US conglomerate General Electric. The channel will be available to DStv subscribers on channel 54, as well as free-to-air across Africa on the Sentech “Vivid” platform.

A milestone in African TV

Speaking to journalists in Johannesburg in November, CNBC Africa chairman Zafar Siddiqi described the launch as “a milestone in African television broadcasting”.

“CNBC Africa will bring African business closer to the decision-makers of other parts of the world,” Siddiqi said.

“By focusing on the financial, business and economic news of the region, we aim to provide a platform to an ongoing inter-African discussion on globalisation, employment, career, business and investment opportunities, living standards, infrastructure development and other relevant issues.”

Evening viewers will be given something “appealing, lighter and exciting” related to education and entertainment. Later at night, the channel will cross live to New York, Tokyo and Singapore before returning to Africa in the early hours of the morning.

Also speaking at the launch in November, Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa said that CNBC was following in the steps of “a host of other multi-national corporations” who had chosen the province as a home for their corporate headquarters.

“The political stability we have experienced in the province since 1994 counts among the reasons why big companies are choosing to relocate their continental head offices here,” Shilowa said.

Gauteng, he said, was also a crucial air transportation hub in the southern African region, and a “major determinant and contributor of economic and social development in the continent.

“It is classified as Africa’s fourth largest economy – after South Africa, Egypt and Algeria – and as the economic hub of the sub-continent.”

SAinfo reporter

Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material