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Yahoo sets its sights on South Africa

American multinational internet publisher Yahoo has been quietly approaching South African publishers and advertisers over the past four months in preparation for re-entering the country.

The site had a visible presence in South Africa in the late 90s but pulled out of the country for unknown reasons. Now the company wishes to make another play for South African audiences.

Yahoo has a presence in key emerging market BRIC countries, including Brazil, Russia, India and China. It does not have a dedicated presence in any other African country, besides North Africa.

Already a Twitter account with the name @YahooNewsSA has been setup with a modest following. The account’s bio reads: “Yahoo! South Africa brings you in-depth coverage of news from South Africa and around the world including finance, sport, entertainment and breaking news”.

The account has yet to tweet anything relating to the impending launch.

Yahoo claims to have two-million South African readers hitting its international site, and a dedicated local presence will boost that. This will easily rank the internet giant in the top five South African websites. Recently another large internet player, the BBC, listed a local presence, assisted by internet sales house Habari.

The online advertising pie these local and international sites are competing for is estimated to be around R600-million at rate-card rates, or less than two percent of overall advertising spend (Nielsen Media Research). This advertising figure excludes Google advertising numbers, estimated to be at around R400-million annually.

It is thought Yahoo South Africa will launch on the domain za.yahoo.com, which currently redirects to uk.yahoo.com.

South Africa will join 44 other countries the company currently has a presence in. The official directory for the entire Yahoo! International sites is world.yahoo.com.

Currently Yahoo! has a multi-lingual interface and the site is available in more than 20 languages, including English.

Each of the international sites are wholly owned by Yahoo!, with the exception of Yahoo! Japan, in which it holds a 34.75% minority SoftBank holds 35.45%.

A move to South Africa means direct competition with Google, who currently holds dominant position in the South African search market, and through various local ventures has established a strong foothold in the local online advertising space.