East Africa Gets First Free Newspaper


patient geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 150%;”>The paper’s entry into the market has seen it emerge as the third largest newspaper in Kenya within just three months of its launch.

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approved geneva;”>Launched on March 11th, XNews has already become the country’s third largest newspaper, by circulation, running only behind longstanding industry leaders Nation and Standard.

The paper is now distributing over 25,000 copies a day, with an expected rise to 35,000 by the end of June, and 50,000 a day before year end.

By the end of 2014, XNews is set to be the second largest newspaper in Nairobi, running behind only Nation, which was launched in 1963.

The rapid rise of XNews has been driven by news mix that has departed radically from traditional Kenyan print content in tightly targeting Nairobi’s youth aged 19 to 40 years, which is the age set that forms the majority of the city’s population.

The country’s paid-for print publications have struggled to capture this city youth audience, which is predominantly well educated, opinionated and tech-savvy.

This has led to a steady decline in traditional print circulations. According to recent research from the African Media Barometer, national newspapers in Kenya have seen their circulation drop steadily in recent years, from around 800,000 copies a day a few years ago to a joint circulation of between 350,000 and 500,000 today.

The research reports that the country is facing a generation that is unwilling to pay for news, generating a growing need for local newspapers to cover issues that are pertinent and improve readers’ lives, as opposed to the political and event reportage that still consumes local daily pages.

Plans are already underway to expand the publication regionally to cover Kampala, Uganda in 2015.

Uganda’s print industry has been struggling with dwindling copy sales. None of the Ugandan newspapers sells more than 35,000 copies.

The rise of the new media that has seen powerful online media outlets such as and increased usage of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter continue to eat into revenues of the print industry.

While research shows that consumers are still interested in newspapers, it is advised that media houses diversify to tap revenues from different internet advertising platforms.

Consumer report

A recent Consumer Insight survey found that Kenyan youths’ interest in politics is negligible, and is, instead, firmly centred on lifestyle, tech, music, sports and relationship topics.

XNews has stepped into this gap with a fresh news mix that is inspiring, informative, credible and consumer-driven, giving little space to mainstream personality politics, and focusing on social issues and practical ways of improving readers’ wellbeing.

The aim has been to bridge an information gap that sees the youth constantly searching for practical information and entertainment.

The new newspaper is distributed free across the city in the late afternoon and early evenings at key matatu and bus termini within the Nairobi Central Business District, targeted office buildings and along key major roundabouts and highways in the city.

It is also circulated in parts of the Industrial Area, Westlands, Kilimani, and Upper Hill. XNews also distributes over 2,000 copies daily to the University of Nairobi (UoN), the largest university in the country, and will soon expand its circulation to other major universities such as the United States International University (USIU).

XNews is produced by a dynamic team of young journalists attuned to the social, cultural and economic needs of the Kenyan urban youth. The paper focuses on human interest stories and trendy lifestyle features giving it a more entertaining feel and longer shelf life, and setting it apart from the other paid-for dailies.

With a more international focus, and strong sports coverage, the paper offers popular sections such as ‘The Hit List’ featuring top city nightclubs and restaurants, ‘Body Shock’ aimed at promoting health education, the ‘World Thrill’ collection of informative and interesting stories from across the globe, and ‘Quote It’, a series of uplifting and inspiring daily quotes, among many others.

The paper has already created a buzz across Nairobi City with many young urban residents offering plaudits on its feedback pages and social media platforms.

Andrew Awiti, 27, a Public Policy enthusiast, commends the paper’s analysis of current business topics. “I mostly enjoy the business section and how the featured prevailing business trends can impact on my entrepreneurial ventures,” he said.

Magdalyne Kanjejo, 25, a former University of Nairobi (UoN) student, says she never misses reading the ‘XTrending’ lifestyle section.

“I normally get useful glamour tips and various fashion accessories reviews that help me in my everyday look”, she said.


1. XNews is a commercial start-up. It is owned by the founder and publisher, investment banker Paul Marshall, who owns 30 per cent of the company, with venture capital support from UK-based Fusion Capital, which owns 40 per cent of XPublishing Ltd.

Fusion Capital is a UK-based hybrid business-financing and private equity house, designed around the needs of local businesses in the emerging economies of East and Central Africa. It specialises in Private Equity, Real Estate, Fixed Income Securities and Quoted Equities providing efficient management of liquid funds in the region.


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