Talent abounds in Africa. The creative industry on the continent is gaining speed and interest as a result of social media and digital streaming services expanding the impact and reach of African artists and creatives to a global level. What does this mean, though, for a frequently underutilized and unappreciated sector? This industry is expanding quickly, and it has the potential to stimulate economies and promote inclusive socio-economic growth. The creative industries have considerable economic potential as a source of growth and employment creation, as evidenced by their large contribution of 3% to the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).
According to the think tank G20 Insights, by 2023 the creative economy is expected to be worth $985 billion globally and may account for 10% of global GDP.

Beyond each particular contract, this creative wealth has worth. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, developing countries produce and sell a wide range of creative goods (including movies, music, fashion, cultural crafts, and computer games and apps), which boost development outcomes by increasing domestic GDP, exports, and growth (UNCTAD).

According to Marisa Henderson, head of UNCTAD’s creative economy program, “the creative economy is increasingly acknowledged as an instrument of sustainable development.” This “creative economy” is defined by UNCTAD as the total of all commerce, employment, and output within the creative industries. Since it began monitoring the trade in creative products and services about 20 years ago, the agency has repeatedly discovered that the growth rate of exports from the creative sector exceeds that of other industries.

In 2019, Boomplay and Warner Music Group struck a license agreement that raised $20 million and a collaboration agreement with prominent Nigerian record label Chocolate City. The same year, the French media behemoth Canal+ purchased IROKO TV, a provider of video on demand, of the Nigerian production studio ROK Film Studios. The world rights to Lionheart by Genevieve Nnaji were purchased by Netflix in September 2018. Black Panther, the first film with an African theme and a primarily black cast, achieved worldwide popularity in the same year, earning over US$13.5 billion at the box office. Carry1st, a South African publisher of social games and interactive entertainment for all of Africa, raised a $20 million Series A extension on January 19, 2022, under the direction of Andreessen Horowitz. These significantly raised awareness of the innovative digital economy in Africa (Osiakwan, 2022).

UNESCO estimates that the creative industries provide more than 30 million employment worldwide, employing more young people between the ages of 15 and 29 than any other industry (UNESCO, 2015). National economies in Africa will need to employ as more young people enter the labor force to keep up with demand. The critical demand for employment development throughout the continent might be addressed by creative sectors (Mastercard Foundation).

Phiona Okumu had always understood that the appeal of African music would extend to people all across the world, but she wasn’t sure how it would do so. Okumu, Spotify’s Head of Music for Sub-Saharan Africa, thinks that the African music business is at a turning point now that streaming services and digital platforms are bringing African pop to a worldwide audience. Because everyone can see that demand is great and the world is prepared, she claims that artists have already signed significant agreements with the top companies (UNCTAD).

The International Finance Corporation’s managing director, Makhtar Diop, claims that digitization is bridging the gap between the innovative economies of emerging nations and global markets (IFC). “This is significant because cultural wealth transfer may spark social transformation and provide jobs for young people.” The World Trade Organization (WTO)
claims that the ability of performers, artists, musicians, and others to access a worldwide audience through digital platforms is fostering their growth.

A theme of the November 2021 Creative Africa Nexus Summit (CANEX) in South Africa was the convergence of creativity and technology in Africa’s creative and cultural sectors. The World Bank projects that by 2025, digital music streaming revenue in Africa would increase to US$500 million from just $100 million in 2017. Today, more than half of the worldwide music industry’s revenue comes from streaming services. A 26% increase from the prior year saw global internet video subscribers reach 1.1 billion in 2020.

Reduced tariffs and increased trade in products and services, possibly including those created by the creative industries, will result from the creation of the largest free trade area in the world measured by the number of member nations, the African Continental Free Trade Area (Hopps, 2021). The AfCFTA is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take advantage of the continent’s $21.9 billion in unrealized export potential. However, steps must be taken to guarantee that regional and intra-African commerce benefits everybody (Buckholtz, 2021).

The film has not been forgotten. Films from Kenya, Uganda, Namibia, and other nations are becoming more well-known on a regional and international scale in addition to Nollywood and South African productions. With the rise of organizations and initiatives spearheaded by filmmakers like Petna Ndaliko Katondolo who are focused on utilizing cinema to communicate tales of Congolese history, the film industry in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for instance, is seeing a rebirth (Ochai, 2021).

To fulfill anticipated demand, Africa would need to add over 20 million new jobs yearly, with labor force growth predicted to range between 12 and 16% per half-decade until 2050. Investment in the culture and creative industries (CCI) is a fantastic opportunity that should not be passed up to take advantage of the demographic dividend of such a young labor force. Though slowly, investment is already being made in Africa’s creative sectors. Only $22 million, or 1.1% of all investments made in African start-ups in 2019, went to the entertainment sector, according to research. Contrarily, in October 2020 and August 2021, $800 million in venture capital was invested in startups in the United States and other creator economies (Hopps, 2021).

To close these gaps and provide creatives a boost in their pursuit of sustainable professions, the HEVA Fund was established. It is the first fund on the continent devoted to advancing the cultural and creative industries (CCI). To assist companies to survive the epidemic, it has so far made investments in 50 enterprises, personally helped over 10,000 creative professionals, and made $1 million in loan finance available. The fund works to offset foreign investors’ risk aversion and their disconnection from some aspects of the African economy (Gachara, 2020).

An N22 billion fund for business owners and investors in the IT and creative industries was unveiled by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Banker’s Committee in May 2019. The announcement of a $500 million loan facility to boost African cultural and creative products was made in January 2020 by Afreximbank, the African Export-Import Bank. The €100 million Impact Fund for African Creatives (IFFAC) was unveiled by Annan Capital Partners, a Luxembourg-based impact fund manager, at Paris Fashion Week around the end of 2021. (Osiakwan, 2022). Roberta Annan, an entrepreneur from Ghana, just unveiled the Impact Fund for African Creatives, which has a $100 million fund. Grants and funding will be made available to chosen fashion entrepreneurs and enterprises claim Business Insider Africa (Hopps, 2021).

By employing technology to streamline inventory, payments, and logistics, the Mastercard Foundation and Kisua, a well-known African fashion brand, have developed Ananse, an e-commerce platform that links African designers with both domestic and foreign customers. Through programs like their monologue challenge, Casting Africa, a platform founded by Ghanaian businessman and industry expert Kwasi Bosiako Antwi, aids in finding talent throughout the continent. Content producers may communicate with their audience thanks to the interactive content and fan interaction technology from AMP Global Technologies. 2022) (Osiakwan).

The IFC’s Sonneborn stated that the organization was “seriously examining investments in Africa’s creative sphere” and that a market analysis was currently being done. We would like to assist African creative firms in growing and possibly going worldwide because there are great economies of scale here. There are an exciting development and job creation potential as we move forward because by strengthening the industry’s core, peripheral services will also expand. (Hopps, 2021).

Despite its vitality, enthusiasm, and rising economic clout, Africa’s creative industries are still mostly in the early stages due to persistent obstacles. The cost of data on the continent is among the highest in the world, and wi-fi connectivity may be difficult, particularly in rural regions. These factors restrict the quantity of online entertainment that is accessed and hinder the growth of streaming services. It is challenging to do cross-border business in Africa due to fragmented marketplaces, several currencies, and expensive and inefficient transportation systems. Additionally, the marketing opportunities for African creatives are restricted, their earnings are poor, their national policies and strategies are not coordinated, and there is a lot of piracy that affects everything from music and film to fashion (Hopps, 2021).

According to PwC, Nollywood has the potential to become Nigeria’s top export, with a compound annual growth rate of 19.3% from 2018 to 2023. Piracy and counterfeiting, however, impede progress. But some of the most urgent issues can be solved by new technology.

According to Bill Sonneborn, Senior Director, Disruptive Technology and Funds at IFC, mobile money systems make it simpler for customers anywhere in the globe to pay for movies, music, and art while NFTs can aid in copyright enforcement and fight piracy, enabling artists to get rewarded for their work (Buckholtz, 2021).

The future of the sector depends on protecting these creatives. Additionally, it will increase people who could be dependent on them and decrease the vulnerable working population. Senegal, Kenya, and Nigeria are among the nations on the front foot. Reactions from some governments have been positive, providing relief cash and other services.

Overall, despite the issues raised regarding the relative paucity of talent, infrastructure, regulation, and other areas, there was a sense of purpose and optimism with new companies like the Creative Economy Practice, which aims to encourage more innovation and technology application in Africa’s creative industry, HEVA Fund, which is funding creative industry businesses in East Africa, and the Afreximbank’s $500 million facility, which will provide much- needed access to capital, these issues would be resolved. In addition to enhancing their economic well-being, Africans have a previously unheard-of opportunity to tell their own experiences and advance their narratives.


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