Asif Sheikh – Founder of A24 Media – Aims To Bring Diversity To Storytelling In Africa
The Founder and CEO of one of the largest digitized video archives and production hubs on the African continent, Africa 24 Media, Mr Asif Sheikh, has a great passion for Africa and its people and is on a mission to showcase the continent and all its hidden beauty to the rest of the world.
As a seasoned leader of the media industry, he prides himself in positively changing mindsets and delivering diversity in the way that the African story is told to a global audience.
With Africa 24 Media’s recent launch of the continent’s first all-factual Video-on-Demand platform, Yebo.live, Mr Sheikh is confident that the VoD service is the new guide of Africa through stories.
Broadcast Media Africa (BMA) spoke to Asif recently, discussing the rise of Africa 24 Media in the global media industry, and there is no denying that this industry heavy-weight is set on ensuring that audiences from across the globe are exposed to well-packaged stories that celebrate Africa’s history and its heroes.
Below is the conversation that Broadcast Media Africa had with Mr Sheikh discussing his role as the Founder and leader of Africa 24 Media and his vision and plans for the content house going forward.
BMA: What motivated the starting of Africa 24 Media?
Asif Sheikh: The journey goes back to when I was a student in Kenya. We never had African studies in our syllabus, later when I left for university in the USA, Americans knew very little about Africa. Then I moved to Canada for 18 years, as an African in the diaspora, there was very little information available about the continent in either business or even the changing face of Africa. Media still showed the doom and gloom. Therefore, I had an itch of showing the Africa that I know and I was familiar with its hidden beauty.
BMA: What is the Operating Philosophy (Mission Statement) that Africa 24 Media has been built on?
Asif Sheikh: Africa 24 Media is set on four key things, to factually portray the real Africa. To inform the public about the different things happening in this diverse continent, educate the public on our history and heroes that deserve to be celebrated and lastly to entertain our audience through well-packaged stories.
BMA: As the founder and leader of Africa 24 Media, what have your strongest influences been to get you to where you are today?
Asif Sheikh: There is quite a few, but if I had to pick one, it is definitely, how the game of tennis has opened so many doors and opportunities for me.
I started playing tennis in Kenya and got a scholarship providing an income and a job for myself as a new immigrant to start a life abroad. Tennis has also shown me a healthy lifestyle, as I grow older, that healthy lifestyle and discipline have enabled me to stay focused and work hard to build a Pan-African media company here in Kenya.
BMA: Africa 24 Media recently launched Africa’s first all-factual Video-On-Demand platform, Yebo. With this groundbreaking addition to your offering, what is your vision for the future of Africa’s overall media sector?
Asif Sheikh: I strongly feel our journey could be a game-changer for the African media industry. For many years the African customer was limited to foreign programming, mostly American, Mexican, South American and Asian.
A few years back, the change the African audience craved for became available, but the metamorphosis is not complete yet. Available content is still limited largely to music videos and West African films because of easy marketability and cost of production.
The thirst for diversity is still on. That is why, as Yebo.live, we endeavour to showcase a different side of the continent, Sports, Wildlife, Culture, Heroes and History. This we believe is part of the diversity in content that has been missing, and we hope it will be a nudge to others to want to tell these kinds of stories that the mainstream media is not showcasing.
BMA: What advantage does Africa 24 Media have over its competitors?
Asif Sheikh: Content and experience in covering the continent. We have been building a rich content portfolio over the last 12 years. We have covered over 30 countries in Africa and accumulated over 16,000 hours of content, and we are still growing this vault.
When I talk about the richness of our content, we have a digitized archive of Africa that dates back 50 years to present. We do not believe anyone has what we have as far this type of a digitized African content portfolio and such a unique team of professionals in-house who can produce new content.
Our content also has the ability to be used in various models from Business to Customer, Business to Business and in Education.
BMA: What are you most proud of in regards to what Africa 24 Media has achieved thus far?
Asif Sheikh: Media is a very difficult business; Africa’s media landscape is even harder. The fact that we have stayed in business for over 12 years. Employed so many experienced and talented Africans from different countries over years as we created our content and the fact we have finally launched Yebo.live for the world to see these incredible stories is of great pride for me.