Group'S CE0 Statement

The East Africa region experienced a recovery from the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with an average GDP growth of 7.5% from -0.3% in 2020. The region’s recovery was attributed to the resumption of tourism, a rebound in commodity prices and global demand, adequate agricultural harvests and the rollback of the containment measures that had been set up at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The vaccine rollout across the continent and the increased focus on digital economies played a key role in the recovery of the region’s growth, though this growth was uneven across sectors with industries such as tourism still feeling the pressure. The media industry also experienced a slim upward trajectory relative to 2020, due to the easing of movement restrictions and re-opening of economies.

These measures regulated consumption patterns in the markets and allowed businesses to run product and service campaigns across print, broadcast and digital platforms to drive brand awareness and uptake, which in turn had a positive impact on our business performance.

However, the gains made in 2021 face the challenge of being reversed due to the ongoing Ukraine crisis with the sanctions against Russia expected to have an adverse impact on the prices of food, fuel and other essential goods as well as on global supply chains.

Financial Performance

The Group’s profit before tax at Shs 0.7 billion was higher than the previous year. The business recovery that started in the second half of 2020 after the devastating Covid-19 disruption continued to hold in 2021 mainly attributable to growth in television and print advertising, digital advertising and E-paper subscriptions. The sustained recovery in print advertising has been propelled by the gradual but staggered resumption of economic activities across the region. On a positive note, subscriptions to our ePaper have continued to grow as content consumption habits shift to digital. The cost containment and business optimisation interventions rolled out at the onset of the pandemic have resulted in improved operational efficiency and continue to positively impact profitability and cash flow.

Digital Transformation Journey

The media landscape has continued to evolve over the past few years, and 2021 was no different. The rising uptake of digital platforms for content consumption has challenged traditional media platforms and their revenue generation, meaning that organizations have had to go back to the drawing board to rationalize their revenue models. We have therefore re-engineered the Group’s business model from a legacy advertising model to a reader revenue model to keep up with these market changes.

Following the launch of the organization’s anchor digital brand, Nation.Africa, NMG took a bold step to become the first ever media company in East and Central Africa to launch a digital news content subscription service. The Nation. Africa paywall, rolled out in February 2021, aimed to diversify our sources of revenue, give our readers the power to select the content they wish to consume, contribute towards shaping the agenda of the continent and improve the quality of the content produced.

While the launch of the paywall was met with mixed reactions in the market, our audiences have begun to appreciate that in this age, reliable and quality content comes at a price. The paywall has recorded over 61,000 individual subscribers in the one year since its launch in February 2021, with approximately 21,000 users paying to read content on a daily basis.

We remain cognizant of the fact that the journey we have embarked on to monetize content will be a long winded one, but we are committed to delivering content that is worth the audience’s time and money; that is relevant, interesting, relatable and engaging.

In a bid to get one step closer to achieving our mission to be the Media of Africa for Africa, we also launched the Africa page that enabled us to expand our content and reach across the continent and in the diaspora. The page boasts up-to-date, well-researched and relevant news and stories for our audiences.

Marketing Campaigns & Activities

In the previous year, NMG rolled out marketing campaigns, events and on-ground activations to drive brand awareness, brand love and product uptake across the region.


A 2021 survey conducted by the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) showed that NMG’s Daily Nation remains the market leader in the country with respondents indicating that it is their newspaper of choice. To further cement its leadership and reinforce the brand’s position as the voice for the voiceless and a trusted partner for Kenya’s democracy, Daily Nation run the “You Deserve the Truth” campaign. It highlighted truthful statements across National News, County, Lifestyle, Gender, Environment and Sports news, and challenged socio-economic issues while using a unifying campaign tagline “You Deserve the Truth”. The tagline placed our audiences at the centre of the campaign and sought to endear them to the brand in conversations across marketplaces, resulting in a social media reach of 210 million users.

In addition to this, Daily Nation run a “Faulu na Nation” campaign, designed to create an emotional connection with our young and old consumers alike, by rallying the nation to send messages of success to children sitting their final primary and secondary school examinations. Through the campaign, Daily Nation published over 300 messages and reached over 5.5 million social media users. The Business Daily’s much anticipated “Top 40 under 40” Men and Women Awards were re-introduced in 2021 following a brief hiatus in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A first in the Kenyan media industry, this annual award has, and continues to recognize homegrown change makers who have made outstanding contributions in their respective fields. The 2021 awards, which received more than 2,000 entries, attracted participants from varied industries from musicians, paralympic athletes, surgeons, cyber-security experts, aeronautical engineers and selftaught 3D animators. The awards continue to be synonymous with drive, achievement and impact across all ages, industries and professions. The Top 40 Under 40 award has opened up job opportunities and international recognition for past winners, given businesses enhanced credibility and grown networks. The awards played an integral role in positioning the Business Daily as an aspirational brand and increased its relatability with the target audience.

In light of the evolving editorial landscape, and the ever-changing needs of the consumer, NMG embarked on a journey to reposition Taifa Leo, Kenya’s only Kiswahili daily, as a fresh, modern, informative, educative and entertaining brand anchored in broadening the Kiswahili spectrum both locally and internationally. This led to the redesign of the newspaper to give it a bold, vibrant and refreshing look, while simultaneously making it easier to read. The launch, hosted in Mombasa County, allowed us to celebrate the rich Swahili culture through the use of traditional regalia, décor and a showcase of Swahili dishes. The redesign resulted in a 9.7% increase in the sales of Taifa Leo, and reached 15,228,365 people and media. It was the leading trend with 184,561,465 impressions on social media and was the leading trend on Twitter driving conversations around the Swahili language.

The brand also launched a Table Mat Campaign that saw it print table mats for use in hotels and eateries across the country from the Coast region to Kisumu, Kakamega, Eldoret, Nakuru and Naivasha. The campaign aimed to increase brand awareness in the targeted areas, increase readership of the ePaper version through the use of QR codes printed on the mats. The campaign proved to be successful with increased awareness, heighted Taifa Leo queries and hotels converting to newspaper agents to drive accessibility of the paper in their locality. These marketing initiatives among other interventions, saw Taifa Leo become the fastest growing publication in Kenya, reporting a 4.7% increase relative to 2020. In Uganda, Monitor Publications Limited (MPL) launched themed campaigns to celebrate Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, with winners walking away with getaways, monthly data plans and dinner reservations to celebrate the day with their consumers.

Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL) continued to utilize their Content Preference Study to gain insights on their products and audience inclinations – the ongoing feedback process has been instrumental for the editorial team to improve their content, especially on day two stories. The team in Tanzania also embarked on a digitization process that supports the analytical performance of stories to drive regional content and advertising solutions.

The Citizen embarked on various brand awareness and promotion initiatives to position itself as a business paper, with one of these being the first edition of the Rising Woman Initiative, under the theme “Women in Leadership; Achieving an Equal Future”. The aim of the initiative was to develop women leaders to play key roles in public and private institutions to contribute to business growth in the everchanging landscape. To mark Tanzania’s 60 years of independence, MCL utilized its various platforms to commemorate the country’s milestone. MCL profiled companies that have been in existence for the 60 years, run print campaigns and hosted symposiums on five key sectors (Mining and Energy, Finance, Agriculture, Infrastructure and Education) to document the country’s journey of Uhuru.


NTV Kenya stamped its authority as the home of sports entertainment, with exclusive rights to air the highly anticipated World Athletics Under 20 that were hosted in Kenya. In addition, the station signed a multi-year, free-to-air partnership agreement with the National Basketball Association (NBA), to broadcast the All-Star game and over 25 live games through the second half of the 2020-2021 season. NTV also brought the Tokyo Olympics to life for their Kenyan audiences during the sporting period. The sports content strategy extended to our radio station – Nation FM – which last year launched The Game Plan, a weekly show that highlights and discusses sports news from across the industry. The introduction of the show saw it host on-ground activations across the country to drive awareness, build a community of sports fans, enhance brand love and position it as the sports station of choice.

NTV Kenya also introduced new shows such as; With All Due Respect, a show that features conversations and debates with newsmakers on the issues of the day, and Attitude, a pop culture music show that has drawn in a younger audience.


While the Nation.Africa paywall subscriptions had been growing steadily since its inception, a campaign was launched as part of the platform’s first anniversary campaign to convert the platform’s passer-by’s into super fans through a mix of email marketing, newsletters, premium content, flash sales and digital gifts. The campaign drove a 64% growth in subscriptions and enhanced awareness and traffic to the Africa page.The brand also ran a Registration and Subscription Campaign that aimed to create top of mind awareness and communicate the value of Nation.Africa’s in-depth journalism and educate the consumers on the benefits of paid content.

An Africa & Diaspora Campaign conducted in 2021, sought to drive awareness of the Africa page to our readers on the continent and abroad to enable them to access relatable content. The campaign resulted in heightened awareness in South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana, increasing audience traffic in these markets. In Uganda, Daily Monitor continued its digitization journey by repositioning itself as a brand powered by Nation. Africa and ran a reward promotion to drive its online subscriptions by creating opportunities to win prizes such as TV sets, children’s tablets, power banks, branded merchandise and so much more


In 2021, NMG executed multiple events to create opportunities to interact with its stakeholders, and create experiences to ramp up brand love among our target audiences. One of the events we launched in this period was the Digital Summit, a conference convened to examine digital trends in Africa and how organizations can adapt their businesses to deliver value to their stakeholders. It attracted over 200 in-person and virtual delegates from across the country.

2021 also witnessed the launch of the first edition of the Meat Expo and Conference, under the theme “Safe Quality Meat for Nutrition, Health and Wealth Creation” that was held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre towards the end of the year. The expo, hosted in partnership with the State Department for Livestock, Kenya Markets Trust, Kenya Meat Commission, Livestock Exporters Council of Kenya and other partners aimed to explore possible solutions to the challenges facing the meat sector and the need for innovation, and enabled us to engage and forge relationships with new partners in the industry.

The second edition of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Conference and Expo that took place at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, brought together industry stakeholders to spotlight challenges facing SMEs in Kenya, provide a platform for dialogue to realize growth and offer opportunities for the businesses to showcase their innovations, under the theme “SME Resilience, Recovery and Sustainability”. The conference attracted 135 exhibitors and over 6,000 participants.

Global Recognition

I am pleased to announce that both of our thought leadership platforms – Nation Leadership Forum and Kusi Ideas Festival, bagged awards at the International News Media Association Global Awards in 2021. The Nation Leadership Forum was awarded “Best in Africa”, and came first in the “Best Use of an Event to Build a News Brand”, while Kusi Ideas Festival was awarded second in the same category. In addition to these, the Daily Nation rebrand was awarded second place for the “Best Use of Print” while Nation.Africa received honourable mentions in the “Best Product and Tech Innovation”, as well as the “Best Use of Audio”. Nation.Africa won the Brand Identity and Campaign Video categories in the International Forum (iF) Design awards (the Oscars of Design) a great fete in the first year since its launch. These awards have served as a testament that we have built a global brand over the years.

Over and above these awards, our staff across the region were recognized for their efforts in telling the stories that matter on the continent. In 2021, NMG bagged 9 awards in Kenya, 23 in Uganda and 4 in Tanzania.

Culture Transformation

The pandemic and disruption of the media landscape has had major impacts on our human resources and workplaces. In 2021, employees’ wellbeing was a focal point for us, acknowledging the important role our staff play in the transformation of the organization. Last year, the emphasis of the culture transformation journey was on the implementation of the results of the talent mapping and upskilling survey conducted in 2020. The survey identified gaps in digital skills and existing disablers within the business units. Focus group discussions held in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, followed the survey and identified measures that guided the change program for the year and into 2022. In addition to this, a change management program for senior managers in Kenya and the Managing Directors of the subsidiaries was conducted in Q3 2021 to upskill them to manage change and incorporate the NMG values into the digital work culture.

In Kenya, an Employee Feedback Survey was conducted in Q3 2021 to understand staff sentiments and areas of improvement for our culture journey. A majority of staff indicated satisfaction with their work-life balance, living corporate values, employee wellness and training.

2022 Strategic Direction

As indicated above, our digital transformation is not a place we are hoping to arrive at, but a journey that we have embarked on as the tech revolution evolves. As such, we shall refocus our attention in the short, medium and long- term strategic initiatives, as needed, to win. This year, our emphasis will be on two key pillars, Product Innovation and Organizational Transformation, which will enable us to utilize our multi-channel platforms to drive audience acquisition, engagement and monetization of content. We have identified six (6) enablers that will drive this strategy as follows:

  • Content: At the heart of our existence is the stories we tell. This shall remain a central tenant of our strategy as we continue to drive towards our mission to be the voice of the voiceless.
  • Culture: We will continue with our change management agenda as we drive a more collaborative, agile and digital first organization.
  • Technology: We have invested in systems to deliver content to our audiences, taking into consideration their consumption preferences.
  • Talent Our personnel have always been the driving force behind the success of our strategy and we shall continue to invest in our talent pool to deliver a digital first experience.
  • Structure: We shall develop workflows and processes to align to our new ways of working. • Audience: NMG shall capitalize on tools and talent that deliver a seamless, world class user interface and user experience that delivers products that can be monetized.
  • These enablers will drive the organization to not only achieve its mission, but also grow new revenue streams that ultimately deliver both societal and shareholder value. On behalf of the NMG Executive, I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank each stakeholder that continues to believe in our agenda to transform societies, and supports the realization of our vision to be the Media of Africa for Africa. I am especially grateful to the staff within NMG who continue to exhibit passion, innovation and resilience year on year, and to the NMG Board of Directors who have consistently offered their unequivocal support and guidance to the business.

    We look forward to an even better 2022, and commit to bring our audiences content that inspires, informs and educates. As we enter the election period in Kenya, we commit to being an objective, bold, independent media house that reports without bias and/ or favouritism, and count on our stakeholders to walk this journey with us.

    Nation Media Group
Nation Media Group