Zimbabwean billionaire Strive Masiyiwa has been added to the Netflix board of directors as the streaming giant seeks to increase market share in Africa.
Netflix co-founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings announced Masiyiwa’s appointment in a press release. He said;
“We are delighted to welcome Strive to the Netflix board, 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.”
Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos added saying,
“I’m thrilled to have Strive join our board as we expand more across Africa and the world.”
Masiyiwa’s appointment follows last week’s news that Susan Rice left her post on the Netflix board in preparation to take a role in the Joe Biden administration.
The move also comes just a week after Masiyiwa was named as one of the 50 most influential people in the world.
In addition to serving as executive chairman of Econet, the London-based Masiyiwa serves as a director for Unilever, the National Geographic Society and the Asia Society.
He is a global advisory board member for Bank of America, the Council on Foreign Relations, Stanford University, and the Prince of Wales Trust for Africa, and is a longtime board member of the United States Holocaust Museum’s Committee on Conscience.
A former board member of the Rockefeller Foundation, he is chairman emeritus of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and African Union Special Envoy to the continent’s response to Covid-19.
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. The streaming giant already has two directors from Europe, which has been its fastest-growing region in recent years.
Netflix now has more than 190 million subscribers and is looking to regions beyond the U.S. and Europe for its next batch of customers. Asia accounted for the newest subscribers last quarter. For now, Africa is a small market for paid streaming video. 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.