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The Southern African Times website launches paywall in new strategic approach

LONDON – The Southern African Times will unveil a new subscription website as part of a broad initiative to enhance reporting quality that draws in business professionals, students as well governments. 

In addition to targeting its current global readership, the newly revamped www.thesouthernafricantimes.com is hoping to attract professional audiences prepared to pay £17.00 per month for a deeper level of coverage and data on African industry that includes mining, tourism, sustainable business, healthcare and fin tech. However, the launch of the paywall will be kicked off with a promotional fee of £1 to be charged weekly for the first six months. 

thesouthernafricantimes.com will remain free for a preview period, but will require users to register after three stories. 

The Southern African Times Limited – owned news division now joins a crowded market of major news organisations which already charge for their content.

Among them, financial news rival Bloomberg.com charges $34.99 per month before discounts, while the Wall Street Journal, which in 1996 became the first to launch a paywall, charges $38.99.

In an emailed statement, James Reeves , Chief Marketing Officer, at SAT called the launch “A strategic approach towards our growth plan. As SAT we truly aim to disrupt the media space and we aim to do that with the necessary independence required. It is imperative to find creative methods of raising capital to ensure that our editorial content and quality thereof is never compromised.”

He added: “We are focused on providing value based information that equips our target market to make decisions on the continent by proving access to industry knowledge, data and insights from expert sources.” 

The Southern African Times Head of Business Development Sean Shumba said the success of the digital, data and events business is one of their top priorities.

Ken Doctor, a veteran media analyst and founder of local news and information company Lookout Local Inc, characterized the introduction of the paywall as “late, but not too late,” noting that Bloomberg only started charging for its site in 2018.

“The critical question is to a business news consumer, what added value do I get from SAT that I don’t get from Bloomberg or Dow Jones?” he added.

In an internal memo to The Southern African Times staff CEO, Farai Muvuti stated the importance of the new digital strategy with a deeper investment in data sets within sectors such as mining, tourism, fintech, African Start ups, agriculture and technology. Providing such crucial insight will not only help promote African investment markets but will ensure the continent assumes its rightful role in global trade. 

SAT intends to launch new products, including daily newsletters. It will also offer live streams of SAT events to subscribers.

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