ENTERPRISE54 – There is no doubt that the creative industry in Africa has come a long way from the days in which professions in the arts were considered inferior and a time-passing engagement. African Creatives as well as their arts and crafts are now being noticed all over the world, thanks to an increase in
ENTERPRISE54 – There is no doubt that the creative industry in Africa has come a long way from the days in which professions in the arts were considered inferior and a time-passing engagement. African Creatives as well as their arts and crafts are now being noticed all over the world, thanks to an increase in effective partnerships between the Creative sectors and the Government, especially in countries like Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa.
The Creative Economy Report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) stated in 2008 that Africa holds less than one per cent market share in the world’s creative economy. That is like saying out of the world’s export of creative goods, Africa only contributed 1%. The report acknowledged though, that the low number may be due to most of our creative productions taking place in the informal sector.
Well, I can confidently (and gladly!) say that the story has changed. The Creative Industry has gained a lot more visibility in the past few years, propagated by the initiatives of several bodies whose work have been focused on promoting the industry – the likes of British Council Arts, Arterial Network, Dragon Afrika, Development diaries, Creative Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (CEAN), Enterprise Creative, and a host of others!
According to more recent reports by UNCTAD, global creative services (as against creative goods) exports jumped to $172 billion in 2011, up from $163.8 billion in 2010, and almost tripling the 2002 total of $62 billion. The African continent is not left behind in this shift as artists and cultural practitioners across Africa are increasingly adopting innovative business models and alliances. An appreciable number of private investors have also pitched in to give the industry greater visibility.
Another indication of the industry’s growth is the Conferences and award ceremonies that were hitherto uncommon within the industry. We have several of them going on today and we witness the birthing of new ones still. This year alone, Nigeria has witnessed the Social Media Awards Africa, the Creative Entrepreneurs Award, The wedding Industry conference, and Social Media Week Lagos…
It is however still a fact, that African creative goods face a good number of challenges in getting local and international support. On this, it has been argued that the continent is in need of local financial support in order to increase its global competitiveness in the industry and that the continent can unlock the full potential of its creative industries through funding and a number of funding platforms.
“Africa can be successful on many levels. If you look at current export statistics of African creative goods, we see that Africa is quite successful in fashion design, for example, and also in arts and crafts. There is a rising interest also, for African advertising services and architectural services,” Creative industry researcher and consultant, Sylvia Amann told CNBC Africa.
The continent’s arts and crafts industry has always been a key aspect in tourism revenue and exports, but requires more financial support from the private and public sectors to reach a globally-competitive level.
“We have to be aware about the structure of the creative industries, so it’s not investing in a big industry where you install big infrastructure and then have 3000 workers employed,” said Amann.
If you invest in creative industries, you work with very small businesses. The whole related policy for funding and supporting these industries has to be developed in a specific manner, which is completely different from current economic policy support measures.”