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The Economist Group opens sub-Saharan offices

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September 28: The Economist Group, owner of the weekly newspaper, The Economist, and the leading source of analysis on international business and world affairs, opened its first commercial office in sub-Saharan Africa at the beginning of August, 2010.

The opening follows another successful year for The Economist Group. Despite turbulent trading conditions, the Group achieved another record operating profit (£57.5m) during the financial year ending April 2010. Worldwide circulation of The Economist also rose to 1,443,083 in the January-June 2010 ABC period.

The Economist Group is seeing a growing interest in Africa. As an organisation that advocates political and economic freedom and focuses on the link between government and business, the Group views Africa as a market in which it can make a contribution while developing its own business. As a result, The Economist is proud to announce that an Africa only advertising edition is available to companies wishing to reach the pan-African market. This Africa only edition, available with immediate effect, will have identical editorial content to all other editions globally and will differ in advertising content only.

The new commercial office, located in Johannesburg, South Africa, enhances the Group's capacity to provide services and products that are tailored to countries and customers in the sub-Saharan Africa region. The South African office will be supported by regional and local representative companies. In the case of Ghana this is InFocus PR. InFocus PR is a leading West African integrated communications, events management and media consultancy based in Accra.

The Economist Group has had an editorial office for The Economist in Johannesburg since 1994 and circulation in Africa is currently 17,287 (January-June 2010 ABC period). The new commercial office will focus on promoting and extending the Group's other businesses across the continent. These include the Economist Intelligence Unit, Economist Conferences, Economist Corporate Network, The World In... and Intelligent Life.

The Group also owns EuroFinance, a leading global provider of conferences, training, and research on cash management, treasury, and risk, along with CQ-Roll Call Group in Washington, DC, and European Voice in Brussels.

In 2008, as part of its strategy of expanding into emerging markets, the Group opened an office in Dubai to put the Group on the ground in the Middle East; now, the same is planned for Africa.

“We chose Johannesburg as our sub-Saharan hub because South Africa is Africa's largest economy and the commercial infrastructure in Gauteng makes it an obvious choice for running our business in the region,” says Economist Group managing director, Middle East and Africa (MEA), David Taylor-Evans.

The Africa office is currently staffed by two South Africans. Product sales managers, Paul Vos and Thembi Mthembu, have already been appointed. Vos, responsible for South and West Africa, has represented Time in Africa for 13 years, while Mthembu, responsible for South and East Africa, has worked with News24 since its inception. Taylor-Evans and his team are also recruiting an editor to develop conferences, research, and the recently launched Africa Corporate Network.

“Africa is an important market for us,” Taylor-Evans says, “because, as Vijay Mahajan wrote in his book Africa Rising, 'If Africa were a single country, according to World Bank data, it would have had $978 billion total gross national income (GNI) in 2006. This places it ahead of India as a total market - and Africa would show up as the tenth largest economy in the world.'''

“The Africa office allows us to be closer to our African readers, members, delegates and clients so we can ensure that our products and services are even more relevant to them. For example, in February this year we launched Africa Corporate Network. The Economist Corporate Network was designed specifically for emerging markets and the Africa edition is customised still further for this particular market. “Furthermore, greater visibility in the market will help us increase circulation for the newspaper.”

To contact The Economist's African office in South Africa call Paul Vos, Regional Group Sales Manager, on [email protected] or +27 11 881 5770. To contact InFocus in Accra, Ghana, please call InFocus PR on +233 -244 623 012 / +233-244 591 888.