Young, passionate and enterprising, Alex Okosi sits at the helm of Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN), formerly MTV Networks Africa as the Senior Vice-President and Managing Director.
Born in Enugu Nigeria and the youngest of seven children, Okosi left home at age 12 to pursue his education in the US. He attended various schools in Florida, Nebraska, Missouri, and New York before proceeding to Philips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. He later got the opportunity to attend university with a basketball scholarship, and received strong grades. Okosi is a graduate of St Michael’s College, Vermont, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1998, with a double major in Business Administration and Economics. Through exposure to various internships, he succeeded in securing a job at MTV, and worked his way to the top. In 2005 he was responsible for launching the music channel MTV Africa on the continent, and today heads Viacom’s Africa subsidiary.
A man of many parts, the global corporate executive is responsible for building and driving the growth of a multimedia portfolio of VIMN brands in Africa, encompassing MTV, VH1 Classic, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET. At a very young age, Okosi found his passion- to showcase the realities of the rich African culture and heritage to the world, having been exposed to many of the misconceptions surrounding the continent as a teenager in the US. As soon as he got into MTV, he recognized his opportunity and immediately took advantage of it.
For me it was my way of showing this vibrant youth, culture, music, and all the great stuff that our young Africans, like me at the time, had to offer. He tells How we Made it in Africa.
In 2004 Okosi got the long awaited approval to launch out in Africa. It was indeed a dream come true. With optimism and clarity of purpose, the icon went all in and within two and half years of launching the media conglomerate in Africa, they broke even.
Since then, it’s been no holds barred for the media trailblazer. He has remained a mighty force behind VIMN’s rapid expansion of its brand across Africa distributed on multiple platforms including cable and satellite, internet, mobile and radio; “since we launched, we have been the fastest growing within Viacom in terms of revenue growth,” He tells Forbes Magazine. VIMN Africa is currently distributed via a combination of pay-TV / Direct-To-Home (DTH), FTA, Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) affiliates and can be seen on a variety of distribution platforms in 50 African countries including pan Africa on Dstv, Kenya on Zuku, Angola, Mozambique on Zap, Cape Verde on CV Multimedia, Burundi, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda on StarTimes, Nigeria on Silverbird TV and AIT, Uganda on WBS, and Ghana on GHOne.
VINM’s key objective is to reach a wide range of Africans; youths especially, mostly between the ages of 16-24. The business model makes profit in 3 primary ways; distribution model paid from their distribution partners (Dstv etc), advertising and partnerships and sponsorships.
Based on his experience, Okosi insists that a sure way to ride unto success is through determination, passion and recognizing opportunities. At every opportunity, he shares his most valued business experience- the encounter with Viacom’s global CEO that changed his life forever.
I emailed him, called his office and got a lunch,” he recounts to How we Made it in Africa. “And when I sat down with him, he started asking me questions like what my passions are. I thought this was my shot [and said] I wanted to bring MTV to Africa – it’s the only place in the world where we don’t have an MTV business.
It was this encounter that translated Okosi’s dream to reality and transformed his life. And so he advises other young people to always be keen and ready to take advantage of opportunities as they are presented.