New African news agency launched in South Africa

Commuters stop to buy local newspapers at Cape Town Railway Station, in Capetown, South Africa (AFP Photo/Jennifer Bruce)

Cape Town (AFP) - A news agency describing itself as Africa's "first syndicated multimedia content service", has been launched by a group of leading African entrepreneurs, the agency said Monday.

With an initial investment of $20 million and staff in Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg the African News Agency (ANA) plans to expand into 15 African countries by July.

"We are very excited to be embarking on the first step of providing African news by and for Africans," ANA chief executive Chris Borain said.

One of the main figures behind the new agency is Iqbal Surve, whose Sekunjalo Independent Media Consortium acquired Independent Newspapers, South Africa's leading newspaper group, in 2013.

Also backing the project is Ladislas Agbesi, executive chairman of the Pan African Business Forum.

ANA "strives to provide credible and reliable coverage of politics, economics, business, sport and lifestyle stories from the African continent," the agency said, noting that it ran its first stories on Sunday.

"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," it said.

ANA's launch follows confirmation that the long-standing but struggling local news wire, the South African Press Association (Sapa), will be liquidated and cease operations on March 31.

Some former Sapa staffers will join the new agency, which will also recruit text, photo and video journalists across the continent, ANA said.

An editorial in the Cape Times, a member of the Independent Newspapers group, said Monday the new agency would challenge the domination of the major Western wire services in Africa.

"It is a matter not only of anger that this paper, like so many others, has had to rely on Europeans and others to provide it with news about its own continent...

"That is first and foremost a matter of shame.

"Now at last we Africans can tell our own stories in our own words," the editorial said.