Azam Media: Our vision is to bring Africa’s narrative to the world

Wednesday June 10 2020

President Jakaya Kikwete during the grand

President Jakaya Kikwete during the grand launch of Azam Media in 2015. He is flanked by CEO Tido Mhando (left) and direc-tor of operations Yahya Mohamed. PHOTO | FILE2020 

By The Citizen Reporter @TheCitizenTZ

In its early days barely 15 years ago, it was simply known as Azam TV, and started specifically as a channel for Azam FC, a soccer team that has since grown to rival giants Simba FC and Young Africans Club.
The idea then was to establish a platform that will not only highlight the Chamazi-based club activities but also rally support around sports as an avenue for job creation and entertainment. Football in Tanzania is a craze and there could have been no better Launchpad.  
Fast forward. Today Azam Media Limited (AML) has positioned itself on a trajectory that rivals long established media companies in Africa and elsewhere. Its footprint and influence has rapidly expanded on the backdrop of delivering a mix of high quality local and international entertainment content to consumers, and on the cheap.   
‘I would say that our quick success is not by accident. We live by our desire to deliver quality content, be reliable and affordable to as many people as possible,” says Mr Loth Mziray, the Head of Customer Support at Azam Media Limited.
Mr Mziray has seen it all. He was there during the Chamazi days when they were only a mere 63 employees. But presently with more than 500 staff, he talks excitedly of the next big thing for this Tanzania media outfit which slightly over a week ago made the rank of Africa’s Most Admired Media Brands. Indeed, Azam Media has played a pivotal role in selling the Group’s name in Tanzania and around the continent.  
 Included for the first time in the survey by 2020 Brand Africa 100, Azam Media was placed 9th of the top 25 media brands in the continent. The top 10 list was dominated by foreign media such as BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, and Dstv which at position 2 was the only other Africa-based brand among the leaders.  
Brand Africa 100 is a premium study carried out every 10 years to gauge the performance of business brands in the continent. The study is carried out by GeoPoll, the leading US-based provider of remote, mobile-based research in emerging markets throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America.   

Where’s the African media?
According to Mr Mziray, the fact that only 7 of the top 25 media brands originate from Africa rightfully begs the question how  much of the continent’s narrative we control. “There lies in the question that Azam Media has tried to answer. Our expansion to more African countries is meant to give our audiences programmes that they can identify with directly through their own languages,” he noted.
Azam Media which was launched a DTH platform in December 2013 following the migration to digital spectrum, now covers most of Sub-Saharan countries such as Ghana, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda among others. The media house has eyes firmly set on exploring frontier markets in other regions. It is investing in new technology to also deliver its content to the diaspora around the world through Azam TV Max, a web-based app that allows one to access the programmes.
AML has developed excellent state of the art infrastructure to promote local movies, reality shows, family entertainment series, educational programs, sports and much more. Its telecast of Tanzania Premier League has been hugely popular and drew in millions of viewers.   “One of our objectives is to cultivate local talents and encourage local artists, musicians, comedians, program managers, sportsmen, cameramen, students by providing them the platform to showcase their talent. We prioritize home grown talent and believe this approach has endeared our service more in markets where we operate.”
According to Mziray, when Azam TV was started, customers across the continent had been treated to one suit cut for all feeds but the digitization has enabled us to fill the vacuum and create high quality content that resonate with the needs of customers such as culture and language, among others.  
This year, the media house is set to roll out Tanzania’s largest Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) network which will see viewers across the country receive the same high quality digital content delivered through affordable Set Top Boxes (STB). “We are excited about this project that will change the TV viewership landscape in the country’” says Mr Mziray. Customers will only need an aerial and the STB to receive the signal and enjoy premier programming that is currently a preserve of the urban and semi-urban communities.
“Azam is pumping some $20 million (Sh46 billion) into this DTT network project to ensure the rural masses also enjoy the same privilege in getting timely information and enjoying the programmes of their choice. This is the true vision of serving the community through offering quality and affordable news and entertainment content to the masses. We want to be seen as a partner offering a platform for our people to raise their standards of living.”