Online publication Quartz Africa launches in mission to cover the ‘next billion’

Renowned US publisher Quartz launches its second international chapter in Africa today, reiterating a ripple of international interest in the region which is said to be a hotbed of trade and investment.

Launched two years ago by the America’s Atlantic Media, Quartz is well-known for being natively digital, meaning that it’s been built with the millennial reader first in mind. “Like Wired in the 1990s and The Economist in the 1840s, Quartz embodies the era in which it is being created,” the company writes.

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Quartz is on curious a mission to tap into the world’s fast-growing markets (or “the next billion“, as its recent conference was dubbed) while they’re still in development. Almost exactly a year ago, the publication announced Quartz India which marked its entry into the world international emerging market sphere.

More than 40% of Quartz’s readers are from outside the US of which more than 100 000 monthly unique users come from Africa. “The rise of the African consumer economy is one of the biggest, and most under-covered, stories that are critical for business readers,” the company notes in a press release.

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The publisher notes that Africa is significant in that it’s where most of the world’s change is coming from. These include being home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, a “hotbed” of trade and investment, and an “important global laboratory” for management, mobile, and financial innovation.

Similar to its India launch, US multinational General Electric (GE) joins Quartz Africa as founding partner. In part, this means that the site will be accompanied by a series of sponsored content as well as advertisements.

In an interview with Grubstreet, Quartz director of communications, Emily Passer says:

A programme like this also gives GE great thought leadership content that they can use with GE customers and other stakeholders outside of the Quartz environment, and that’s important for a brand like GE’s. They are always seeking to partner with great storytellers who can distill a technical idea down to an emotional, compelling narrative.

This entry into Africa comes at a time with more and more international focus has come to enjoy the region’s fast-growing populations and economies. With technology, business and innovation in its focus, Fast Company SA — another example — put up shop late 2014 when it introduced its print magazine to South Africa, covering local and international content.

This is interesting considering a handful of long-standing print publishers have called it quits within the last year, in South Africa at least. Cult video game classic New Age Gaming (better known as NAG) recently announced it will go online-only after computer magazine PC Format stepped out a year ago.

As the print market begins to shrink, lifestyle magazines have also felt the crunch with guys’ magazine FHM, celebrity gossip chatter Heat and so on.

While the entry of international publications may be exciting they also spell more competition for local players. Either way the cookie crumbles, it’s worth noting that — as the case is with GE — these publications are accompanied by brands and big business for Africa. As the market matures, it’s going to be interesting seeing how the media industry takes shape.

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