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Wananchi Group hires former Ono boss as CEO

Wananchi Group, the owner of East African pay TV operator Zuku TV, has appointed former ONO CEO Richard Alden as its new chief exec, replacing current boss Richard Bell.

Alden, who has worked as chief operating officer at Wananchi since the start of the year, takes the top job as Bell moves into a new role as non-executive vice chairman of the board.

Bell has led the company since its inception in 2006 and launch in 2008 and was praised by group chairman of the board of directors, Ali Mufuruki, for overseeing the growth of the business, particularly in the last two and a half years.

“Richard has done more than we asked him to do and has done it in record time under some of the most challenging circumstances, considering much of the fundraising was done in the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008 when it was extremely difficult to attract investments especially into the TMT sector in Africa. Today we are happy to see that the company is sitting on a solid foundation and ready to move to the next level,” said Mufuruki.

Bell said that he now planned to go back to leading EACP (East Africa Capital Partners) in raising its next round. Bell is a partner in EACP, a venture capital firm focused on tech, media and telecoms investments in the greater East African region.

Bell was credited with increasing the capital base of Wananchi Group to nearly KSH25.5 billion. His other highlights as Wananchi boss include establishing the firm as a dominant VSAT wholesale provider to resellers across Africa through its iSat brand, growing its cable Triple Play Services in Kenya, launching DTH Pay TV services in three countries in East Africa and growing the number of linear Zuku Channels from six to nine.

Speaking to DTVE in August, he said that he also planned for Wananchi Group to launch a fresh funding round for US$50 million to US$100 million before the end of the year.

Alden brings 20 years of TMT sector experience to the role. From 1998 to 2009 he was CEO and founding director of Spanish cable operator ONO and has also previously worked as CFO of Groupe Videotron.