Here’s how to boost the creative industry in Africa

Burna Boy is the Best International act in 2019 at the 19th BET Awards. [Instagram/MTVBaseAfrica]
  • Africa’s creative space — design, fashion, film, television, radio, music and more — is having a great moment right now. 
  • Formerly overlooked as a legitimate source of income and contributor to the continent’s economic growth, this area is now turning into a gold mine for foreign investors eager to get their hands on a slice of this hot cake.
  • We explore ways to take advantage of the situation by boosting the creative industry.

Thanks to the growing Internet penetration across the globe, our undeniable rich talent, and continuing global success, there is now a gold rush for everything African.

We are seeing African filmmakers win global awards, artists dominating their various fields, authors showing up on the notable places like the New York Times Best Seller List while Netflix and other foreign streaming platforms are constantly acquiring our content.

With this big occurrences, things are gradually changing for the creative industry which used to be overlooked as a legitimate source of income and contributor to the continent’s economic growth.

According to the Financial Times, Nigeria’s Nollywood film production generates between $500m and $800m annually. The industry also directly employs 300,000 people and over a million indirectly. 

The music industry, on the other hand, is expected to double present-day revenue to approximately $86m by 2020.

Boosting the industry

The ongoing blowup of the African creative industry is the perfect opportunity to boost a sector rich in talent and creativity but filled with various challenges including a lack of proper funding.

George Beke, a Nigerian talent manager based in South Africa recently offered a solution during a two-day conference hosted by Showbiz Entertainment Africa (SEA BW) in Gaborone, Botswana.

Speaking at the event, Beke, who is the founder of a Pan-African entertainment and music consulting company called Geobek Entertainment, said there was room for growth in Botswana’s creative industry if everyone in the entertainment business was exposed to business proven approaches, trends, market disruptions and other strategic challenges.

He added that with constant training, mentorship, affiliation, policies and funding from relevant stakeholders, Botswana’s entertainment and creative industry could significantly contribute to the national economic growth.

Beke also encouraged creatives to stay original and avoid compromising their content. 

He said, “Creative minds crave to showcase their ideas but they are challenged by insufficient resources to turn these ideas into content for the already existing global market. The best way to make it out there is to stick to the originality of your content do not try to copy anyone.

“One can also benchmark to people who are already in the industry and ask for help. Being able to look at yourself and the market objectively and understand how you fit into the market in order to be able to push yourself forward.”

Oyinkan Braithwaite, a critically acclaimed Nigerian author, has also come with a plan to boost Africa’s creative industry. She shared her solution at a recent event, “In Conversation With Oyinkan Braithwaite”, held in Cafe One by Sterling in Lekki, Lagos. 

For her, the solution starts with people realising that there is more outside of the entertainment space. This is why she is creating a platform for upcoming writers to market themselves since ‘Nigeria doesn’t give enough visibility (recognition) to artists outside the entertainment space.’ 

She added that more will be revealed about her platform as soon as she is ready to make a formal announcement.

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