Telecoms tycoon Strive Masiyiwa becomes the first African to seat amongst Netflix board

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Zimbabwean telecoms billionaire Strive Masiyiwa has become the first African to seat on the board of global streaming service company Netflix.

Masiyiwa, chairman and founder of Econet Group, a telecommunications and technology group with operations and investments in 29 countries in Africa and Europe, replaces American diplomat Susan Rice, who is taking up a cabinet post in the Biden-Harris administration.

“We are delighted to welcome Strive to the Netflix board,” said Netflix co-founder, chairman and co-CEO Reed Hastings.

“His entrepreneurship and vision in building businesses across Africa and beyond will bring valuable insights and experience to our board as we work to improve and serve more members all around the world.”

Added Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos: “I’m thrilled to have Strive join our board as we expand more across Africa and the world.”

Commenting on his appointment, Masiyiwa said: “Netflix is at the forefront of bringing great entertainment from anywhere in the world to everyone in the world, and I look forward to working with the board and all stakeholders to continue its traditions of innovation and growth.”

The businessman already serves on several international boards including Unilever, National Geographic Society, Asia Society, and the Global Advisory boards of Bank of America, the Council on Foreign Relations (in the US), Stanford University, and the Prince of Wales Trust for Africa, and is a longstanding board member of the United States Holocaust Museum’s Committee on Conscience.

Masiyiwa is also African Union Special Envoy to the continent’s COVID response, appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this year.

Zimbabwe’s only dollar billionaire has also been offering support to his country’s healthcare workers after services were cut back because of a lack of PPEs to deal with COVID-19.

His assistance to Zimbabwe includes PPEs, cash, life and health insurance and transport for nurses and doctors. The insurtech unit of Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe, which is part of Masiyiwa’s Econet Group, is overseeing the Zimbabwe programme.

Over and above that, Masiyiwa has been at the forefront of appealing the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other multilateral institutions to set up a $500 million trust fund to help Zimbabwe and Sudan tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

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