Surve to launch Sapa replacement

The African News Agency (Ana), which plans to syndicate stories across the continent, will open its doors in March, founding CEO Chris Borain said on Tuesday.

“With Sapa terminating its services on the 31st of March, we intend to commence operations… on the 1st of March 2015,” he told journalists in Cape Town.

He said the service would offer news currently offered by the SA Press Association as well as by other syndicated services, namely breaking news, politics, economics and business, sport, crime and courts, and lifestyle. It would issue daily diaries.

Content would be web, mobile, and application based, as well as through feeds and web services integrated into existing newsroom systems. It would be cloud-hosted and offer photos and videos.

The digital content-generation and syndication service would initially be based in Johannesburg and Cape Town, with stringers throughout Africa.

Initially, 60 percent of content would focus on sub-Saharan Africa and 40 percent on North Africa.

Sekunjalo chairman Iqbal Surve and the Pan African Business Forum’s executive chairman Ladislas Agbesi were among those behind the agency’s formation.

There was an initial investment of US20 million (R233m).

“At a time when competition and hostility amongst media houses is at its most intense, we at Sekunjalo Investment Holdings have been completely open about our intention to incorporate Sapa into the Ana syndication service and to invest considerable resources into establishing a quality African news agency,” Surve said.

Iqbal Survé

The launch followed the announcement last Thursday that Sapa would be liquidated as a non-profit company and close its doors at the end of March.

Since Sapa, which has been in existence since 1938, was a special category non-profit company, it could not be sold off.

The Sapa board said three parties, Gallo Images, KMM Review Publishers, and Sekunjalo Investments Holdings, had expressed an interest in setting up an operation on similar lines as Sapa.

“In the period since September, the parties had each presented their proposals for the establishment of a commercially based content-generating and syndication service business and at last week’s meeting provided updates on their original proposals,” the board said last week.

An independent firm of auditors and financial advisers was evaluating these proposals.

Borain said discussions with the relevant parties continued and reiterated a desire to work with agencies in the country and across the continent.

He had faith in the Ana’s funding model and said the subscription rate would depend on the client and content used, although he was not at liberty to reveal amounts.

The agency was recruiting an experienced editorial team, which would apparently aim to incorporate existing Sapa staff.

At the end of the briefing, Borain told journalists: “We will be aggressively coming out to your editors to showcase content and the platform to sign you up as quickly as possible.”

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Surve to launch Sapa replacement