Netflix appoints first African board member

Netflix has appointed Strive Masiyiwa to its board, the first African to be appointed to the management body. The streaming company is hoping to grow in different markets, and sees Africa as untapped.

Read: MTN launches new data bundles for under 25s

Strive Masiyiwa, a Zimbabwean, is the founder and executive chairman of Econet Global, a telecoms company that operates across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Econet is a major player on the continent in smartphone services, broadband and satellite services, and is also a large provider of mobile payment solutions.

Netflix has surpassed 190 million subscribers around the world, as its primary markets in the US and Europe becomes ever more saturated. It needs to grow significantly in other areas if it wished to maintain the monumental surge in subscribers it has seen in 2020. One of the focus areas is Africa, where Netflix only has a couple of million subscribers on a continent of one billion.

The company has started offering cheaper, mobile-only plans to accommodate the different viewing habits of markets like Africa and Asia. It is also investing billions of dollars into original series and movies for these regions as it hopes to be more relevant to locals.

Masiyiwa brings a fresh perspective to Netflix as it tries to understand the consumers and markets in Africa. He also brings a slew of connections in various industries on the continent. He is the third international member of the board that Netflix has bring on in recent years. The other two are from Europe, which has been the company’s fastest growing region this year.

“We are delighted to welcome Strive to the Netflix board,” Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings said Wednesday in a statement. “His entrepreneurship and vision in building businesses across Africa and beyond will bring valuable insights and experience to our board as we work to improve and serve more members all around the world.”