Nigeria’s iRoko raises millions for expansion

African mobile and Internet television pioneer iRoko on Monday announced it has concluded multiple deals worth a combined US$19m to secure new content and fund expansion plans.

iRoko CEO Jason Njoku

iRoko CEO Jason Njoku

African mobile and Internet television pioneer iRoko on Monday announced it has concluded multiple deals worth a combined US$19m (about R312m) to secure new content for its platform and raise additional funding.

The Lagos, Nigeria-headquartered start-up said the French media giant Canal+ and existing investor, Swedish investment company Kinnevik AB, are investing further money to help it expand.

Canal+ Overseas president Jacques du Puy will join the iRoko board as part of the Canal+ investment.

“iRoko will channel the investment into local content financing and production, as well as its product and engineering teams in Lagos and New York,” the company said in a statement.

“The ambition is to produce at least 300 hours of original content in 2016, with the expectation of doubling that by 2018.”

iRoko said this will allow it to build on an “already extensive catalogue” of African content.

iRoko has previously raised $25m from international investors, including Tiger Global, Kinnevik and Rise Capital.

CEO and co-founder Jason Njoku said iRoko will use the additional capital to target the millions of Africans expected to come online via mobile in the coming years, providing access to a wide range of Nigerian film industry, or “Nollywood”, content.

“Mobile phone subscriptions in Africa are almost at 1bn and, by 2019, it is predicted that smartphone handsets, with which viewers can watch content, will make up 73% of the continent’s devices,” Njoku said in the iRoko statement.

“The challenges surrounding mobile TV in Africa are mighty, but not insurmountable. It’s human to be entertained and to connect over community, and we are obsessed with creating Africa’s largest community around local content,” he said.

iRoko said Nollywood is the world’s second largest film industry in terms of output, employs about a million people and contributes about 1% of Nigeria’s GDP.  — (c) 2016 NewsCentral Media

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