The Aga Khan
‘His Highness’ the Aga Khan founded Nation Media Group (NMG) in 1960 to provide independent news in the years building up to Kenya’s independence through the Taifa and Nation newspapers. Now majority-owned by public shareholders, though the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development remains the largest shareholder, it is the biggest media house in East Africa, having expanded operations into Uganda and Tanzania. Along with its two original publications it also publishes the regional weekly East African as well as running NTV, QTV, QFM and Easy FM radio in Kenya, and NTV and KFM radio in Uganda. It is also one of the largest companies on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE). The Aga Khan became Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims in 1957 at the age of 20, succeeding his grandfather.
Kirubi is the owner of Capital FM, popular among the upper and middle classes of Kenyan society. The station is an urban music station, which plays a mixture of hip-hop, RnB, rock, neo-soul, new jack swing, jazz, and techno, dance and Kenyan music. Kirubi bought the station in 1998. Owning north of 40 commercial and residential properties in Kenyan capital valued at $200 million and other assets worth $100 million, he occupies 31st place on the maiden Forbes’ list of Africa’s 40 richest people. It is claimed he first started in business by buying dilapidated properties in Nairobi, renovating the buildings, and then re-selling them for a profit. He currently owns various residential and commercial buildings in Nairobi and a shareholder in a number of companies.
Royal Media Services, which Macharia owns and chairs, has emerged as a popular media conglomerate in Kenya, owning the country’s dominant TV Station, Citizen TV, as well as 15 radio stations. Citizen TV was forced to stop transmitting regularly during the presidency of Daniel arap Moi, but Macharia turned the station around by poaching talent from competitors. The company has also carved a niche in vernacular programming with the group now owning nine local language radio stations. In competing with Nation Media Group and the Standard Group, Macharia targeted the common man- the low-income masses in rural areas before taking root among the ubarn middle class. This has paid off, giving Royal Media Services massive popularity countrywide.
Gitahi heads up Nation Media Group, the $350 million media conglomerate that owns seven newspapers, three television stations and three radio stations, as well as mobile valued added services and internet companies across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Gitahi graduated with an MBA from the United States International University in Kenya and joined NMG after a long career as a senior executive with Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline in East and West Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
Ghanaian Quarcoo is the co-founder and CEO of the Radio Africa Group, which owns six Kenyan radio stations: Kiss 100, Classic 105, Radio Jambo, X FM, East FM and Relax FM. The group also began broadcasting TV station Kiss Television this year, gaining popularity countrywide by airing Premier League matches as well as local and Nigerian movies. The group also owns The Star, the third largest newspaper in Kenya and arguably the most independent, which launched in July 2007 as the Nairobi Star but changed its name after it expanded distribution across the country. Though radio had been a successful venture for the group, the launch of The Star took it to a new level. Quarcoo was previously a journalist reporting for the likes BBC World Service.