INDEPENDENT Media, the largest publisher of English newspapers in Africa, planned to invest R1.2 billion over six years to catapult the group into the digital realm, executive chairman Dr Iqbal Survé announced yesterday.

The future of the news media will be increasingly digital and technology driven,” he said. The investment in technology and digital platforms will be the largest of any South African media company, according to the publisher of Business Report, and at least R200 million a year will be spent in the next six years. The investment will be multi-pronged, embracing both the acquisition of existing businesses and the organic growth of Independent’s technology-driven business units. Investing into the digital future would mark a profound shift for a company that has endured years of cutbacks and under-investment in new media initiatives even as the readers continue to migrate from print to digital platforms. “When we acquired Independent last year, the vision was always to build the most tech-savvy media company in Africa. This investment is tangible proof of our commitment to be Africa’s biggest media company in five years,” said Survé, who is Independent’s majority shareholder through Sekunjalo Independent Media. Survé said Independent’s recent digital milestone, the launch of IOLMobile, underscored the group’s commitment to expanding the platforms through which readers accessed the group’s content. IOLMobile debuted earlier this month, while the launch of My.Independent, the company’s flagship digital app, is imminent. The app would be available for download on Android and iOS devices, the company said. Sister company Sekunjalo Investments recently announced a R50m bid for news agency Sapa. – Staff Reporter