Many have touted mass media distribution channels as one of the fastest ways to disburse information to millions around the world. Indeed, “Knowledge is power” is a popular slogan adopted by all who are in support of democracy and education. For these reasons and many more, it is imperative that we become aware of those who are making these ideals possible.
Koos Bekker is not only a pioneer in the mass media space, but is also a household name that most on the continent are aware of in some way. He was educated at the University of Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch University and Columbia University in New York. He was the CEO of Naspers, a mass media company based in South Africa. The company flourished immensely under Bekker’s leadership since 1997, and is widely recognized as an African giant in internet commerce, content, Pay-TV, and print media. It is currently traded on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (now JSE Limited) and is also present in Eastern Europe, Latin America, China, India and Russia.
If the name Koos Bekker still does not ring a bell, you might be familiar with the M-Net brand which was founded under Bekker’s leadership. The M-net brand further spread to include other channels such as SuperSport, M-Net Movies, M-Net Series, Africa Magic, Channel O, and K-TV. While still under Bekker’s leadership, the Naspers subsidiary, Multichoice began offering pay-TV services to the entire African continent through the DStv satellite television brand.
Under Bekker the mobile operator MTN, formally known by the name of its parent company M-Cell, was founded in concert with other partners. Today MTN is Africa’s largest mobile phone operator by a wide margin. The MTN brand offers its services and products in many countries outside of Africa as well.
Today, according to Forbes, Naspers has stakes in Tencent Holdings, Mail.ru, and Editora Abril. Bekker’s net worth is estimated very well in excess of $US1billion. Whether you know him or not, his contributions have likely made an impact on you in some form or the other. He stepped down as the CEO of Naspers earlier this year to focus on his travels. He plans to return to Naspers in the future.