Remembering Zafar Siddiqi: The Formidable Entrepreneur And Investor In Media For Over Three Decades

Published 1 month ago
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Zafar Siddiqi, the co-founder and chairman of CNBC Africa.

Zafar Siddiqi, the co-founder and chairman of CNBC Africa, passed away on Friday, February 23. He was 76.

An entrepreneur in media and education with an impeccable record across three continents – the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, Siddiqi was also the Chairman of Lancaster University Ghana and Curtin University in Ghana.

In a letter to the staff of the ABN Group, which includes both CNBC Africa and FORBES AFRICA,

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Dr Rakesh Wahi, the founder and publisher of FORBES AFRICA, said that Siddiqi’s “leadership, wisdom, commitment, values and support will be missed and will leave a gap in our lives”.

“Twenty years ago, Zafar and I embarked on a journey to set up CNBC Africa. An ambitious project that was seen with scepticism as no one had attempted a Pan-African Business News Network for the African continent,” Wahi said.

Before starting his journey in media, which would span over 30 years, Siddiqi started as an accountant for global auditing firm KPMG and later as the Managing Director of one of its consultancy practices. He spent 18 years with KPMG in Oman and Pakistan.

His introduction to TV began in Pakistan specializing in providing business programs to overseas broadcasters. He later founded the CNBC Arabia network across the Middle East, the first international brand to broadcast in Arabic. This was followed by CNBC Pakistan and CNBC Africa.

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“Nothing broke our will to succeed and succeed we did, with the support of all of you (management and staff) and armed always with each other’s strength and belief in what we had embarked on. We never gave up and vested our lives both physically and financially, into our beliefs,” Wahi added.

Siddiqi firmly believed in Africa and the future of broadcast journalism on the continent. “I believe Africa is on the verge of explosion as far as investment is concerned. There are not many places in the world that have the resources Africa has,” he stated in a 2018 interview with FORBES AFRICA.

His passion for TV was evident in his 2019 book, TV News 3.0: An Insider’s Guide To Launching And Running News Channels In The Digital Age, which was an authoritative study of the media world.

“In 2002, I launched CNBC Arabia, over the whole of the Middle East, which was 26-odd countries,” Siddiqi also told CNBC Africa in an interview in 2019. “The dialects were different, traveling was different. Media was just about opening up after the Gulf War… and that’s all changed. It’s changed so much. And I think technology has changed all of that. Social media has changed all of that. And I think that African countries are moving very quickly towards this integration, because you’ve got to keep up with what’s happening in the rest of the world. So that is why I firmly believe that these economies will move closer together. And hence, I believe that CNBC Africa will play a very important role.”

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In the interview with FORBES AFRICA, as an entrepreneur, Siddiqi had this valuable piece of advice on the power of networking: “Remember to be yourself and be original, that’s how you succeed. Originality [always] comes through!”

His passing is a loss not just for the ABN Group but to the industry to which he was passionate about.

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