It is a case of Richard (Alden) replacing another Richard (Bell) as the CEO of Wananchi Group, the operators of East Africa’s pay-TV service Zuku.
New CEO Richard Alden has been the Group’s COO over the last two and a half years. Bell will take a new role as a Non-Executive Vice Chairman of the Board of Wananchi Group Holdings (WGH).
Alden brings with him 20 years of experience in the Tech, Media and Telecoms (TMT) industries in emerging markets in Europe and South America. From 1998 to 2009 he was CEO 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.
Bell, who has been with the Group since founding, was known in the industry for his frequent complaints against industry regulator Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) for being lenient with and even favoring Zuku’s rival, DStv Kenya.
While announcing the management change, WGH chairman, Ali Mufuruki lauded Bell’s role in steering the company since founding in 2006 and especially his efforts in fundraising and company turnaround.
“Through his stellar leadership, Mr. 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 US$ 300m, making it a major 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 3 countries in East Africa and growing the number of linear Zuku Channels by its media group from 6 to 9.