FILE PHOTO: Man holds laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture. GroupM has launched an inaugural study on the media landscape in Africa which aims to provide insights on trends and knowledge of the sector.

JOHANNESBURG - Advertising media company GroupM has launched an inaugural study on the media landscape in Africa which aims to provide insights on trends and knowledge of the sector and how it affects investment, governance, local business and economies.

The Africa Media Index comprises data from Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique, Botswana, Angola and Ethiopia and identifies trends that are relevant to industry investors looking to increase their footprint and reach multiple audiences in a meaningful way across the continent.

It focuses on five key categories -- economy & business, media landscape, media consumers, technology as well as governance & legislation.

"Many companies – both those already on the continent and those wishing to reach consumers and businesses across Africa – often struggle to find consistent and reliable information which gives a clear understanding of the media landscape," GroupM sub-Saharan Africa CEO Federico De Nardis said.

"The intention of the Africa Media Index is to bridge that gap."

Data shows that sub-Saharan Africa hosts 17 percent of the world population, but only represents two percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and even less when looking at advertising investment, which is US$2.6 billion or 0.47 percent of global investments.

However, due to mobile and Internet expansion, strong urbanisation and a booming middle class, the next 30 years should tell a very different story, GroupM said.

"While the African middle class population is growing impressively, so is their access to technology and media consumption. This is demonstrated through the rising sales of televisions, which now replace radio as a preferred purchase option in places where electricity supply is increasingly available," it said.

"Access to the internet also accounts for a large growth in the media landscape, however, internet use is restricted by high data prices in various regions."

More than 83 percent of respondents in its survey believed online media was growing significantly, while 75 percent believed radio through internet broadcasting was on a high trajectory. The same respondents were also bullish on television.

"In addition, print media is experiencing positive growth, contrary to what is happening in the rest of the world. For example, in Kenya newspaper consumption has grown by 14 percent in 2018 versus the previous year and 12 percent in Nigeria according to ‘This Year Next Year’ report, by GroupM Global," the company said in its report.

GroupM said media growth in Africa was a contributing factor to deepening democratic processes, with political uncertainty dominating the business headlines in recent years where heightened tensions saw a military coup in Zimbabwe, a widely disputed election in Kenya and highly contested elections in South Africa and Nigeria.

"These might appear as isolated events but they are an amalgam of events that increased media interest in Africa," GroupM said.

It said one of the biggest challenges for African governments and media houses would be to close the media access gap between urban and rural areas.

"If this is left unattended, there is an increased risk of widening inequality between those who have access to a plethora of innovative and rich media options ... and those who are not exposed to it," it said.

GroupM is a leading media investment company responsible for nearly US$48 billion in annual media investment through various agencies.

African News Agency (ANA)