New World TV – the Togolese group shaking up the audiovisual giants

By Georges Dougueli
Posted on Friday, 20 May 2022 11:28

Nimonka Kolani, the CEO of New World TV, and Lidi Bessi-Kama, the Togolese minister of sports, awarding the Jules Rimet trophy in Lomé, on 6 September 2021 © New World TV

Ever since it acquired the broadcasting rights in French-speaking Africa for the 2022 World Cup, New World TV has fuelled all kinds of fantasies. We investigated its promoters, financing and strategy.

In March 2021, New World TV (NWT) made a remarkable entry into the small world of sports event broadcasters by acquiring – for about $15.8m – the broadcasting rights in French-speaking Africa for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Since then, the pay-TV channel created in 2015 in Lomé continues to shop in this very closed market.

It has won the UEFA rights to the Nations League, the latest European football competition, for the 2022 to 2028 editions, as well as the broadcasting rights in Francophone Africa for Euro 2024 and 2028.

Positioning itself as a premium television channel, the channel has hired former TF1 star presenter Christian Jeanpierre, a future editorial director, and consultants to provide commentary on matches broadcast in French and local languages.

The business community’s curiosity is not only focused on the personality of its promoters but above all on the financing of the channel, which seems to have a lot of room for manoeuvre.

A team in Paris

“There is no public money at all in New World TV,” say people close to the director-general, Kolani Nimonka. This 54-year-old lawyer, who holds a master’s degree in business law from the University of Lomé, worked in the legal division of the Banque Populaire pour l’Epargne et le Crédit (BPEC).

He is the face of New World TV, whose promoter is Marc Adissou, a 46-year-old telecommunications engineer, the managing director and principal shareholder since 2016 of SKA Telecom, which is also owned by Rotimi Matthias Ibrahim and Olugbenga Omeiza Adebayo. SKA Telecom is also NWT’s main technical partner.

At the heart of this strategy is a team based in Paris, on Avenue de la Grande Armée, headed by lawyer Louis Biyao, who specialises in intellectual property law. The latter has recruited the London-based firm Media Business Solutions (MBS) – which was founded in 2012 by Richard Dimosi, a former Franco-Congolese journalist – as a technical partner to prepare the tender documents.

Togolese state funding?

Ever since the channel invited several former football stars (Emmanuel Petit, Marcel Desailly, Emmanuel Adebayor and Basile Boli) to Lomé last September, with the Togolese state’s logistical and security support, there have been rumours that the latter has been financing the young company’s development. The promoters themselves claim to benefit from the support of several local banks, including the Togolese subsidiary of the Burkinabe group Coris Bank International.

With regard to its development plan, NWT aims to establish itself throughout sub-Saharan Africa. However, in order to compete with the French giant Canal+ International, it is counting on the strength of its offer (a package of about 100 channels including those of the French companies M6, TF1 and France Télévisions and that of the Chinese company Startimes) and the fact that the French Ligue 1 broadcasts in local languages, including Ewe, Kotokoli and Kabye.

It is also banking on its subscription costs (from 3,000 to 7,000 CFA francs), which are lower than those of its competitors. Claiming a subscriber base of 100,000 in Togo, it hopes to acquire between seven and ten million subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa within the next three years.

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