Netflix Inc. has appointed Zimbabwean billionaire Strive Masiyiwa to its board of directors, becoming its first African director as it looks to the African market for future growth.
Dr Masiyiwa is the founder and executive chairman of Econet Global, a telecommunications company that operates across Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
Masiyiwa brings a fresh set of connections and experience as the first African and the third international media executive to join Netflix’s board in recent years. Masiyiwa a few years back shut down Kwese TV which had penetrated more than 13 African countries. The streaming giant already has two directors from Europe, which has been its fastest-growing region in recent years.
For now, Africa is a small market for paid streaming video mainly due to low internet penetration. In a continent of more than a billion people, Netflix has just a couple million customers, according to Digital TV Research. But the company has long argued that it would play the long game adding customers in Asia and Africa, home to the majority of the world’s people. Toward that end, Netflix has started offering cheaper, mobile-only plans and has commissioned a slate of original series and movies.
“We are delighted to welcome Strive to the Netflix board,” Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings said Wednesday in a statement. “His entrepreneurship and vision in building businesses across Africa and beyond will bring valuable insights and experience to our board as we work to improve and serve more members all around the world.”
Masiyiwa ensures Netflix will still have at least one Black director. Susan Rice, who became Netflix’s first Black board member in 2018, is leaving to join the presidential administration of Joe Biden.