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Howzit MSN strides into Africa

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Howzit MSN, one of the largest Web portals in South Africa, has expanded its reach into the rest of the continent with the launch of a dedicated channel for Africa.

This move is a response to growing demand from African Internet users for locally relevant content and from advertisers for advertising inventory that reaches a pan-African market.

The new African channel targets all of the major English-speaking countries in sub Saharan Africa. Microsoft is redirecting African traffic from its global MSN property to the Howzit MSN African channel, helping users to find a wealth of localised content across topics such as business, local and international news, travel, lifestyle and technology.

In addition to content from Microsoft MSN, the African channel will source and aggregate content from a range of top African publishers and news providers such as I-Net Bridge, CNBC Africa and AFP. This will give users a one-stop destination for high-quality news and information about their own countries and the rest of the continent.

The African channel complements the Windows Live advertising inventory that Howzit MSN has to offer across 49 countries in Africa. Advertisers who have already signed on for the new Howzit MSN African channel include Samsung and MTN.

Published by Kagiso Media, Howzit MSN is the South African associate of Microsoft’s MSN family of Internet services. Howzit MSN’s African channel forms a key component of Kagiso’s plan to expand its presence across the continent.

Says Marcus Stephens, general manager at Howzit MSN: ‚The time is ripe for us to expand more aggressively in Africa because the audience for local Web content and the advertiser support are growing rapidly as Internet access becomes cheaper and more widespread.

‚Nigeria alone offers a potential market of 43 million people with some form of Internet access ‚ nearly as many people as the entire South African population and up from only 200,000 Internet users in 2000. Other key markets, such as Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Ghana are also all gathering a critical mass of millions of Web users.‚

Stephens says that Africa’s economic progress over the past decade has caught the attention of South African and multinational companies who want to market their products and services to the continent’s fast-growing middle-class. Howzit MSN is positioning itself to give them a vehicle that is cost-effective, efficient and has a wide reach into the market.

Microsoft Advertising and Online Lead Nazeer Suliman says that growing reach in Anglophone markets within Sub Saharan Africa is an easy win for MSN, given its position of strength in these markets and the complimentary strength of Microsoft’s Windows Live suite of consumer cloud services.

‚Howzit MSN will now not only give advertisers a compelling unified access point into South Africa, but into all Anglophone markets within SSA (Sub Saharan Africa) where locally relevant content will help drive a highly engaged audience base,‚ said Suliman.

‚We see huge potential across the continent, and this is a fantastic platform for our pan-African advertising clients to leverage.‚

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