MTV Networks will launch an African version of its urban music service, MTV Base, in February.

MTV Networks will launch an African version of its urban music service, MTV Base, in February.

"This is the last piece in the jigsaw," MTV Networks International president Bill Roedy tells Billboard.biz. "We already had four channels broadcasting in Africa, but this is going to be a localized channel. We are very excited about it. There's great music and great culture in Africa."

According to MTV Europe, the 24-hour, English-language music TV channel "will reflect the tastes and interests of African youth" via a combination of African and international music videos and locally produced content. MTV U.K. and U.S. programs such as "Cribs" and "Making the Video" will also be featured.

African music will gain a platform on the channel, which will showcase genres such as kwaito, hip-life, mbalax and zouk. Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Sean Paul and French rappers IAM, Passi and Saian Supa Crew will be among the international acts highlighted on the service. "Musically, we are going to do a lot of events in Africa," says Roedy.

Roedy adds that having a localized channel will allow to MTV to better target its action on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. "I am also convinced that we are going to learn a lot about how to deal with HIV/AIDS in Africa from Africans," he says.

The advertiser-supported channel will initially be broadcast via satellite to 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa via multi-channel operators DStv, Trend TV, CTNL and FSTV. DStv is a pay satellite service that currently offers two music channels -- MTV Europe and Channel O. At launch, MTV Base expects to reach approximately 1.3 million households.

"There's an infrastructure and we are going to use all the platforms available," says Roedy, who does not rule out having the MTV feed carried by terrestrial channels in several African countries. "We have to be creative for our distribution," says Roedy.

The channel will be operated initially from MTV's London headquarters, but Roedy says the network has already hired staffers in Africa.