JOHANNESBURG – The African News Agency (ANA) celebrates its fourth anniversary next month as a reliable news and PR content service for Africa.
ANA has become the continent’s voice of a comprehensive offering of hard news, business, sport, lifestyle, religion and multimedia.
The agency syndicates its content with established global news outlets including dpa, AP, Sputnik, The Washington Post, Xinhua, WAM (the Emirates News Agency), Asian News International and Bang Showbiz, as well as a diverse range of private and government-owned news providers in Africa.
ANA was born a month after the shock demise of Sapa, which had been the go-to reliable South African news service for more than 70 years.
ANA editor Lindiz van Zilla says the agency has grown from a lean operation that started with six editorial staffers into an internationally recognised news wire.
“We’ve grown on Sapa’s successes and learnt from its mistakes,” Van Zilla says. “Sapa was South African-focused and its tech was dated. We acquired their assets but they were limited in their viewpoint. Initially, we were a replacement for Sapa, but we always had global ambitions.”
Group chief executive Grant Fredericks says ANA has improved the Sapa model with Africa and global wires, multimedia content and PR wire.
He adds that the business model has been re-engineered.
“ANA targets all major industries, across sectors, to disseminate press releases,” says Fredericks. “Our subscribers receive newsletters based on their requirements, whether sport, news or lifestyle, on a daily basis.”
Fredericks says ANA has media contacts across the globe and is free to view and disseminate on social media.
He says the agency also leverages its content through publications within the Sekunjalo stable.
“Independent Media is a large media house,” he says. “We have so many large media partners across Africa, who publish and pick up our content. And we have our subscribers abroad – The New York Times, AP and dpa buy our content.”
He says ANA also has an additional advantage, because it is rand-cost based. “We offer dollar services, but our cost base makes us very profitable. We’re especially grateful for the technology for our digital platforms, which does it easier. We don’t have dollar overheads.”
Van Zilla says ANA has changed the narrative from a Western perspective and offers readers content from an African perspective.
“We’re saying: we give you a varied world view. So look at what the Chinese and Russians are saying about Brexit, and the Western perspective. If you subscribe to ANA, we give you that broadened view. It’s important from a BRICS perspective too – you need to hear what other nations are saying.”
Fredericks says ANA has leapfrogged other agencies.
“With international news agencies, their content tends to be skewed to the West. And that can lead to bad investment decisions on the continent, because people don’t understand the nuances: religious, cultural and demographic issues. We’re changing the narrative about Africa.”