Nigerian-born Alex Okosi is the senior vice president and Managing Director of MTV Networks Africa. About seven years ago, he convinced his bosses at MTV to set up shop in Africa by setting up MTV Base at a time when many didn’t believe there was opportunity on the African continent
In 2005, Africa wasn’t as sexy in the media as it is today. Majority of the news about Africa centered on poverty, wars and disease. However, having been born and raised in Nigeria, Alex Okosi knew and believed first hand the extraordinary opportunity the African continent could provide for a global brand like MTV.
He was asked to put together a business plan that would serve as proof of Africa as a lucrative market for the music broadcasting giant. This was no easy task. At the time, countries like Nigeria had little to no data on the advertising market. Undaunted, Okosi tapped into his personal network with friends of friends of friends as well as relatives coming to his aid and eventually providing him with hard to source offline data about the advertising market.
Bit by bit, he came up with a concept that proved attractive to the MTV Networks leadership and he was eventually tapped to run the business as Senior Vice President and Managing Director for Africa.
Okosi got to work setting up MTV Base at a time when contemporary African music was just coming of age. According to him, at the time, the quality of music coming out of the continent was not as good as what obtains today but despite the lack of quality content, he chose to stay laser focused on quality.
in addition, to gain access to a mass audience, he forged partnership with local broadcasting stations, bringing the MTV Base brand to millions of African consumers who could not afford cable television.
In 2008, he launched the MTV Africa Awards which substantially motivated and raised the profile of African artistes both locally and internationally. As such, he was able to bring global artistes to interact with and perform with local African artistes propping them up into global consciousness.
Putting MTV Base on the map as a formidable African broadcasting brand did not come easy however he stayed focused on his goal to promote African youth and pop culture.
To inspire young Africans, MTV Base rolled out MTV Meets…with MTN as a way for young people to interview inspiring Africans about what it takes to be successful on the continent.
During Nigeria’s last elections, he rolled out the Choose or Lose campaign as a way to galvanize young Africans to participate in the electoral process.
Alex Okosi is betting on an African renaissance powered by Africa’s young people. His advice to young Africans is for them to work hard and focus on being great at whatever they do.
Check out his interview with CNN’s Nkepile Mabuse below.