NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 4 – Wananchi Group Holdings LTD (WGH), the operators of the ZUKU pay-TV brand have announced the appointment of Richard Alden as new Group CEO of the regional media and ICT Company.
Alden who has been the Group’s Chief Operating Officer takes over from Richard Bell who has overseen the growth of the company over the last two and a half years. Bell will take a new role as a non-executive vice chairman of the board.
While announcing the management change, Group Chairman of the Board of Directors, Ali Mufuruki lauded Bell’s role in steering the company since founding in 2006 and especially his efforts in fundraising and company turnaround.
Alden brings with him 20 years of experience in the TMT industries in emerging markets in Europe and South America. From 1998 to 2009 he was the Chief Executive Officer and a founding director of ONO, the largest cable television and telecommunications operator in Spain. He was also the CFO of Groupe Videotron, Optel Inc.
“Through his stellar leadership, Bell has seen the company rise from a mere idea in 2008 to a dominant player in its field, not only in East Africa but across large swathes of the African media and technology landscape. Your leadership, experience and extensive knowledge of the industry will indeed be a valuable asset to the Board and the company as a whole,” said Mufuruki.
Bell will be remembered for his role in the creation of WGH where he spearheaded the founding in 2006 of East Africa Capital Partners (EACP), the first Venture Capital Fund Manager focused exclusively on the African Technology, Media and Telecommunications sector.
He led EACP when it raised its first fund dubbed Africa Technology Media and Telecommunications (ATMT) Fund 1, LLC in 2008 and joined forces with the late James Gachui, Richard Essex and Mark Schneider to become the founding investors and promoters of WGH in the same year. In 2009 the Zuku Brand consumer retail triple play and pay TV brand was born.
“I am very delighted to have been part of the growth of this great company. I am now going back to leading EACP in raising its next fund,” said Bell.
Under his watch, Bell saw the company achieve significant milestones among them increasing the capital base of the company by double to nearly $300mn, making WGH a major the dominant VSAT data provider to the corporate market through its SimbaNet brand and taking a significant market share of the carrier of carriers business through Wananchi Telecom.
Other highlights of his tenure include making WGH a dominant VSAT wholesale provider to resellers across Africa through its iSat brand, growing its cable Triple Play Services in Kenya in terms of network coverage, subscriber numbers and quality of service, launching DTH Pay TV services in three countries in East Africa and growing the number of linear Zuku Channels by its media group from six to nine.
“Richard has done more than we asked him to do and has done it in record time under some of the most challenging circumstances, considering much of the fundraising was done in the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008 when it was extremely difficult to attract investments especially into the TMT sector in Africa. Today we are happy to see that the company is sitting on a solid foundation and ready to move to the next level,” said the chairman.