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Universal Music Grows African Presence With Launch Of Nigeria Division

First signings include Tekno, Stonebwoy and Mr Eazi.

Universal Music is further growing its operations in Western Africa with the launch of its first dedicated label in Nigeria.

Based in Lagos, Universal Music Nigeria will be headed by veteran executive Ezegozie Eze Jr., who has previously held roles at South African-based Channel O Television, Nigerian independent label Empire Mates Entertainment and was a founder of Pan-African creative companies, Republic 54, Alore Group and Duma Collective. He will report to Sipho Dlamini, managing director of Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to Nigeria, the label will cover neighboring English speaking-markets Ghana and Gambia.

Among its first signings are Banku singer-songwriter Mr Eazi, Nigerian artist Tekno (in partnership with Island Records U.K.) and Tanzanian singer and songwriter Vanessa Mdee, who is additionally represented by AfroForce1 Records, Universal Music Central Europe and Universal Music South Africa.

The latter two artists mark the first time that UMG labels from the two continents have combined to sign and release African artists globally, says the major. Other inaugural signings include WurlD, Odunsi (the Engine), Tay Iwar and Ghanaian-born artists Cina Soul and Stonebwoy.

"In recent years there has been an increase in visibility of Nigerian and Ghanaian music and its influence on contemporary music around the world," commented Dlamini, eyeing the label playing a key role to "support, nurture and help develop artists and musicians from the region" and create new opportunities for international exposure.

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