What you need to know:
- Speaking at the continents’ largest gathering of creatives known as the Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX) at the just concluded second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021) held in Durban, South Africa, Prof Benedict Oramah of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) said the creative industry is a bankable market, and pledged Afreximbank’s support to the creative economy.
The cultural and creative industries (CCIs) have been earmarked as key catalysts for intra-African trade with the ability to create millions of jobs for the continent’s young population.
Prof Benedict Oramah of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) said the creative industry is a bankable market, and pledged Afreximbank’s support to the creative economy.
He was speaking at the continent’s largest gathering of creatives known as the Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX) at the just concluded second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2021) held in Durban, South Africa. The trade fair was jointly organised by the African Union (AU) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat.
The fair, which ran from November 15 to November 21, discussed challenges of piracy and lack of finance, cross-border collaborations and investment opportunities in the respective clusters of the CCIs.
Prof Oramah said the young men and women in the creative sector have turned it into tradable services with a global reach, appeal and impact.
“At Afreximbank, we understand the power of the creative industry to catalyse intra-African trade, create millions of jobs for the continent’s young population, and promote the emergence of national and regional value chains. We also know the power of creatives to catalyse industrial development because this is a bankable industry,” he said.
Prof Oramah said Afreximbank instituted the CANEX programme to support Africa’s CCIs in a manner that would revolutionise the continent’s untapped talent.
The commissioner for economic development, trade, industry and mining at the African Union Commission (AUC), Mr Albert Muchanga, who also attended the summit, said globally, the cultural and creative industries play a key role in contributing to the country’s GDP.
“Having recognised the importance of the creative industries in achieving the continent’s Agenda 2063 objectives of regional integration, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development, the Commission declared 2021 ‘The AU Year of Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want,’” he said.
Mr Nkosinathi Mthethwa, the South African minister of arts and culture, who performed the official launch, said the CANEX programme represented an opportunity to unlock the best of Africa.
“The next gold for Africa is the cultural and creative economy,” Mr Mthethwa said.
He said Africa’s political agendas could be positively influenced by the rich tapestry of arts and culture.
“Central to cultural diplomacy is the notion of people-to-people relations and Africa can use ‘soft diplomacy’ by leveraging the arts to create these human connections,” he added.
Wambui Gathee, the screenings manager of Docubox East African Film Fund, founded in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2013, to support talented independent film-makers and documentary producers through funding and grants, said the Fund’s reach had expanded throughout East Africa as it sought to build a world-class breed of vibrant, creative film-makers.
“We’ve dedicated ourselves to aggregating and allocating opportunities to an ever-growing community of film-makers of up to 40 independent East African film-making teams. We’ve awarded grants from $2,500 (about Shs9m) to $23,500 (about Shs83m),” Gathee said.
Les Allen, the founder of ICON Festival in South Africa, called on creatives to take more advantage of digital platforms to advertise and sell their crafts. He said it was no more about gatherings and physical interactions as the world was now digital.
“There is money to be made,” Allen said, adding: “Computer gaming, comic stories and animations are the new language of wealth in the creative platforms."
Specially curated by and for the African creative sector, there was a three-day live theatre programme that hosted informal conversations, showcases, case-study presentations and highlights of personal journeys of some of Africa’s most exciting talents.
The panel conversations included leveraging the AfCFTA to promote African CCIs; access to finance; monetising visual art: from artist to collector; monetising social and digital content; globalising the African fashion industry: challenges and opportunities; Africa and the global digital disruption; protecting African creativity - intellectual property best practice; developing the African film industry; among others; and complemented with live performances from some of Africa’s top talent.
At the panel conversation “Afrobeat – What’s Next for Africa Music,” the panelists explored why Afrobeat, predominantly from West Africa, is so successful and shared leading practice from other genres in Africa in order to pave the way for further global success. They acknowledged that digital platforms such as YouTube are exporting African music to the largest music markets in the West.
Lack of managers
The founder of Kalawa Jazmee (South Africa), Oscar ‘Oskido’ Mdlongwa, said: “We need to have basic knowledge of music industry. We lack proper managers to handle artists in terms of training and registering intellectual property. We don’t only need booking agents but we have to build and invest in proper music ecosystems and value chains, and education.”
Mdlongwa said music had shifted towards digital spheres.
“It’s not about printing CD’s anymore. It’s not even about getting airplay on radio. One’s music must be marketed and sold online. Streaming services and social media are the new lucrative vehicles. The music business has evolved and up-and-coming artists and old-players must be educated about the new technologies,” he said.
Ade Awofisayo, the head of music, Sub-Saharan Africa, for YouTube, said what is lacking in Africa now is education on how to leverage digital platforms.
“More people are interested in music from Africa than ever before and that represents a huge opportunity for Africa’s creatives,” she said.
She, however, warned that if Africans did not use the existing platforms and leverage the earning potential, their creativity would be repackaged and monetised by third parties.
The chief executive officer of ContentConnect Africa (South Africa), Antos Stella, said: “African artists are aspiring to become global stars on YouTube but the pay cheques are not coming to them because of the limitations of digital payment solutions.”
Stella underscored the need for a collaborative approach by musicians in Africa in order to establish an African-grown streaming service that defined African standards and set African benchmarks for monetising digital platforms. Such an approach would see more artists being exposed and earning better livelihoods.
Audu Maikori, the founder of Chocolate City Entertainment, Nigeria, argued that Africans should think “local first, global later” as a strategy to empower the African music industry. Bold capital investment was also required to create a local streaming service as that would benefit struggling artists.
Supporting the position, Sipho Dlamini, the chief executive officer of Universal Music Group Sub-Saharan Africa (South Africa), called for payment gateways for African users on streaming platforms that make African music and culture accessible to Africans. He said such gateways would help break down the barriers that limit the ability of Africans to download and stream each other’s music.
“Many African musicians don’t have YouTube channels and other parties are making money off the ignorant artists. We need quicker payment avenues. African governments should ease the artists’ visa restrictions, and make it easier to transact in different countries and currencies. It becomes difficult to pay artists and transfer money from different countries as a result of bureaucracies,” Dlamini said.
Africa and its creatives continue to lose the ability to generate billions of dollars in royalty. The legal protection of the creative economy was discussed during the panel discussion “Protecting African Creativity - Intellectual Property Best Practice,” which also touched on the role of Collective Management Organisations (CMOs).
“South Africa has a fairly developed collecting society far better than other countries on the continent. However, we still have issues to do with music played on television. For CMOs to be successful, they need good and reliable data,” said David Alexander, a board member of Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) and founder of SHEER Music Publishing (South Africa).
“The biggest problem is with the new artists who are just joining the industry. They are ignorant about intellectual property. You could survive on gigs when you are energetic and younger. As you get older, you will get royalties from your registered music catalogue,” he added.
The co-founder and chief operating officer at amplify Africa (Nigeria/USA), Timi Adeyeba, said: “Some people don’t know that intellectual property can make them millions of money. You must begin by registering your copyright. Registering can be expensive for the beginners. In that case, you can resort to mailing your work through your postal mail address. Putting your ideas in tangible form is very important. For example, before you share your works, you should sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) with producers.”
“There is a general mistrust of local African CMOs because of a misconception that you can’t get royalties for your intellectual property on the continent. Many young artists who I have worked with are registering with foreign international CMOs that are collecting royalties on their behalf. Securing intellectual property is now easy. All that you need is to log into international CMO online registration platforms. Music labels can advance you money on your forthcoming albums as collateral,” said Nigerian singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, music executive and founder of the emPawa company Oluwatosin Ajibade, better known by his stage name Mr Eazi.
“Artists need to have trained managers because music is an entertainment business to manage the rights and benefits of the artists,” said Jotam Matariro, the chief executive officer of CAPASSO (South Africa). “Some CMOs in Africa have bad reputations, but not all of them are bad.”
Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX) was put in place by Afreximbank in 2019 to support and leverage African and global resources and partnerships to transform the continent’s cultural and creative industries (CCIs). Critical elements of CANEX includes, among others, financing, capacity building, export and investment promotion, linkages and partnerships, digital solutions, and policy advocacy.
Designed specifically for African creatives, including digital innovators and experts, fashion, film, and music actors looking for ways to monetise their content across the digital landscape, the forum is a space to share, discuss and create solutions that will encourage creatives to find innovative ways to use existing technology to increase their remuneration and thrive in their careers.
On January 17, 2020, Afreximbank announced a $500m (Shs1.8 trillion) envelope to support the production and trade of African CCIs over the next two years during the Creative Africa Exchange Weekend (CAX WKND) in Kigali, Rwanda.
The facility is to support the production, packaging, distribution, and consumption of creative content and products in Africa. It is accessible as lines of credit to banks, direct financing to operators and as guarantees.
About $128m (Shs454b) of the $500 million facility set aside as seed capital by Afreximbank towards CANEX has already been invested in the form of loans to artists and facilitation of initiatives aimed at activating the nexus.
Latest example was 20 African fashion designers who were taken to the Portugal Fashion Show on an apprenticeship programme as part of the bank’s initiative to globalise Africa’s fashion industry.
“…I would argue that it is the largest facility supporting creatives and culture anywhere in the world. Through this facility, the bank is financing the development of garment factories. We are considering funding a motivated group of African entrepreneurs to acquire a Swiss manufacturer of popular African fabrics. The development of a textile park in Togo is also in advanced stages. The bank is also in discussion with Burkina Faso to build an integrated textile manufacturing plant…,” Prof Benedict Oramah of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank, said.
Silverbird Group and AAA Entertainment signed a $50m (Shs177b) partnership deal at IATF2021 under the Afreximbank facility to develop and produce a slate of cinematic African feature films on the continent.
AAA Entertainment will bring to the partnership an experienced film development, financing and production team, facilities and partnership network, while Silverbird Group brings its cinema exhibition and distribution infrastructure and experience in West Africa and the rest of the continent, as well as its studio facilities and network in Los Angeles, USA.
AAA Entertainment has distributed and produced some of the top South African box office hits and is looking to expand that success to the rest of the continent. Their experience in the distribution and sales of African content locally and globally, combined with Silverbird Group’s reach and understanding of the rest of the African cinema market, will ensure a slate of well-developed and produced films can reach a global audience, while being relatable and entertaining for the domestic African market.
Prof Oramah said the bank also recently approved a $5m (Shs18b) facility for a movie production entity, which is a collaboration between Nollywood and Hollywood. Since the launch of this initiative, about 400 young Africans have benefitted from the training programmes.”
“…We are proud to be opening opportunities for our talented young creatives to own valuable intellectual property. The bank has also provided credit lines to young entrepreneurs to build entertainment studios and pre-finance movie production. We are also processing a facility for a major US star to develop a production studio in Botswana,” Prof Oramah added.
However, Prof Oramah decried a weak regulatory environment that has fuelled widespread piracy and undermined the growth of Africa’s creative industries. “For instance, it is estimated that Nigerian Nollywood loses $2 billion annually to piracy. It is, therefore, a welcome development that innovations in international distribution are helping to resolve this challenge. The emergence of streaming platforms such as iROKOtv, a Nollywood movie streaming service, and Netflix, are enabling African creative producers to access global and African audiences, helping to leapfrog distribution obstacles.”
He added: “These platforms have also become the launchpad to catalysing the growth of Africa’s entertainment industry. At Afreximbank, we believe streaming services can get a significant boost if they are backed by a pan-African system that allows purchases of streaming content in national currencies. The bank is currently piloting a Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) that will go a long way in supporting the export/import of creative content across Africa. It will enable Africans to pay for cross-border goods and services in national currencies,” Prof Oramah said.
“In no distant future, a Kenyan interested in downloading Nigerian movies can do so by paying in Kenyan Shilling, while the Nigerian receives Naira. PAPSS will boost streaming services in Africa and enhance intra-African trade in creative content,” Prof Oramah further said.
CANEX culminated into a music concert featuring top artists from across Africa that included Mr Eazi (Nigeria), Dajila (Tunisia) and Gordon Williams (US), Sauti Sol (Kenya), Salatiel (Cameroon), Oskido featuring Candy (South Africa).