Cape Town - The African News Agency (ANA), the continent’s first syndicated multimedia content service, began publishing South African and international news stories on Sunday as it launched with an experienced team of reporters in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria.

ANA, in which leading African entrepreneurs have invested an initial $20 million, strives to provide credible and reliable coverage of politics, economics, business, sport and lifestyle stories from the African continent. ANA will also provide its subscribers with syndicated international text and picture content from partners like China’s Xinhua and Germany’s dpa news agencies.

ANA’s launch follows news that the South African Press Association (Sapa) will be liquidated and cease to operate from midnight on March 31, 2015, leaving a major void in the South African media industry. Sapa’s liquidation was accelerated by the withdrawal of two major media houses in 2014, which severely incapacitated its ability to continue to provide an effective syndication service.

ANA CEO Chris Borain said: “We are very excited to be embarking on the first step of providing African news by and for Africans.”

Among those joining ANA’s news staff are former Sapa parliamentary correspondent Chantall Presence, former Weekend Argus deputy editor Lindiz Van Zilla, former Financial Mail reporter Thebe Mabanga and former Sapa sports correspondent Herman Gibbs. ANA’s management respects the terms and conditions of employment that apply to those who are required to work out their notice period at Sapa.

“The loss of Sapa is a big blow to the media industry in South Africa, but the launch of the African News Agency (ANA) is a bold, innovative step forward for the media landscape in this country and will be something truly special. It is an immensely exciting project and one I am thrilled to be a part of and to help build up from its infancy... so watch this space,” said Lindiz Van Zilla, ANA’s general news editor for South Africa.

ANA will seek to fill the gap in South Africa’s political, courts and sport coverage that Sapa’s demise will leave, but also aims to provide comprehensive and analytical coverage of economics and business news.

ANA continues to recruit talented text, photo and video journalists within South Africa and across the continent as it implements its strategy of expanding into 15 African countries by the end of July.

All content - ANA generated and that of syndicate partners - will be distributed via an African-designed and developed digital technology platform, Baobab Suite.

News of ANA’s launch was first announced in Cape Town on February 10, 2015. African business leaders - including Ladislas Agbesi, executive chairman of the Pan African Business Forum, and Dr Iqbal Surve, executive chairman of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings - are among those behind the formation of ANA.