iROKO has announced content development and in capital funding deals today, totaling $19 million, including investments from French media giant CANAL+, and existing investor Kinnevik AB, in addition to iROKO’s own cash flow, all in an effort to give the leading African tech & entertainment company the platform to scale its operations and expand aggressively across the continent.
The investment will be go into the financing and production of local content, and into its product and engineering teams in Lagos (Nigeria) and New York. The goal here is to produce at least 300 hours of original content in 2016, with the expectation of doubling that by 2018.
This will enable the company to build on its already extensive catalogue, making it arguably one of the largest libraries of local African content. The announcement also sees Jacques du Puy, President of Canal+ Overseas, join the iROKO board.
Jason Njoku, CEO and Co-founder of iROKO says: “With millions more Africans poised to come online via mobile in the coming years, our mission is to lead viewers to content they’ll love.This is something the vast majority of the continent struggles with today. We hope to bridge that divide, and this additional investment supports such a plan. For us, there is no version of reality where the marriage between Africa’s most powerful communication tool [mobile] and the most prolific and loved entertainment provider [Nollywood] won’t be a joyous union.”
Mobile phone subscriptions in Africa are almost at 1 billion and by 2019, it is predicted that smartphone handsets, with which viewers can watch content, will make up 73% of the continent’s devices.
Njoku adds: “The challenges surrounding mobile TV in Africa are mighty, but not insurmountable. It’s human to be entertained and connect over community and we are obsessed with creating Africa’s largest community around local content. We have always been crazily bold in our ambitions to bring the content closer to viewers and build a truly frictionless and inclusive entertainment experience. Today’s news improves those odds.”
Fabrice Faux, CFO of Canal+ Overseas says: “We congratulate Jason and all the iROKO team and investors for their outstanding achievement so far and we are proud to partner for the scale-up in French-Speaking Africa, with clear ambitions and the means to reach them.”
Nollywood is the world’s second largest film industry in terms of output, employs roughly one million people and makes up 1.04% of the Nigeria’s GDP. iROKO, the home of Nollywood, has previously raised $25m from international investors, including Tiger Global, Kinnevik and RISE Capital. The technology and entertainment company is a leading Nollywood film, TV, content producer and platform provider and currently has a mobile app for Africa, holds distribution deals with Canal+, BA, Emirates, Nollywood TV and Lebara, and has two Linear TV channels on Africa’s Star Times.