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Economist

East Africa?s news business: Paper kingdom

January 17, 2013

Crowd funded
?I USED to do drugs,? quips a jovial Linus Gitahi, the boss of east Africa?s largest private media company, Nation Group. Few Western media chiefs have the time and spirit for jokes these days. But at Nation Group? Hakuna matata (?No worries?). Mr Gitahi, who used to run the west Africa division of GlaxoSmithKline, a drugmaker, oversaw a rise of 45% in the publisher?s revenues in the five years between 2007 and 2011, to around 11.3 billion Kenyan shillings ($130m). Although last year?s results will not be announced until March, they are thought to be leonine.East African countries leapfrogged to mobile phones before landlines spread. Kenya was the birthplace of M-Pesa, an innovative money-transfer system that relied on mobile phones, not banks (see article). But in news, tradition reigns. An ascendant middle class has pushed up print newspaper sales, as well as television audiences. Radio, long the medium of choice for Africans without...

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