Culture and creativity form an intrinsic part of human development, the failure to recognise the role culture and heritage plays in the upliftment of a nation’s people denies the identity of a country. Cultural productions communicate shared values through creative representation, shaping these collective narratives. The creative economy is considered a viable avenue not only for economic strategies, but also for integrating socio-economic development. Africa’s creative and cultural industries (CCIs) are some of the oldest, and yet the creative economy in Africa is still relatively untapped as a source of inclusive economic growth.
CCIs in Africa and the potential of the creative economy
The Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) are sectors which produce cultural or artistic goods and services. Recognised as a highly diversified gender-neutral sector, CCIs in Africa stands as one of the main sectors contributing to the employment of rural women, and together with the Middle East accounts for $58 billion (about 3%) of global trade in cultural goods. It is estimated that by 2030 the creative economy will employ 30 million people worldwide, generating an estimated $2.25 trillion in global revenue.
African countries are not short of talent, and there is evidence of a growing global market for African art, design, and goods. One of Africa’s most prominent and well-known CCI is the Nigerian film genre and industry, Nollywood. It is estimated to generate over $20 billion in revenue, of which the Nollywood industry alone generates $600 million for the Nigerian economy. The continent’s population growth, together with ongoing digitalisation, and fast-paced globalisation has opened a world of possibilities for the exposure of African creativity across the globe.
CCIs hold the potential to contribute in the creation of employment opportunities, wealth, socioeconomic development and contribute towards cultural diversity. Tapping into the global market with African-made art works and services can bolster local economies, whilst trade amongst African countries garners massive potential for Pan-African developments.
Challenges Africa faces in leveraging its’ CCI’s
The informal nature of CCIs and lack of data on their operations means that CCIs often fall outside the scope of government policy and support schemes. It has been suggested that this can be due to the inability to accurately measure the contribution of creative goods and services to ultimately achieve economic growth. Consequently, Africa’s creatives suffer from limited market access, low revenues, poor value chain coordination, weak intellectual property protocols, and underdeveloped policy framework which in turn undermines socio-economic gain. Because of this, African artists often find it easier to export their craft, rather than produce for local consumption. Despite rapid technological advancements within the continent, Africa still finds itself playing catch-up to the digital world. Data costs on the continent are amongst the highest globally, and access to wi-fi in rural areas limits the amount of online entertainment consumed, slowing the expansion of streaming services. Underdeveloped transport links, scattered markets, and a lack of access to capital are some of the significant challenges faced by those in the creative industries.
Making CCIs Work for Africa: What needs to happen
Developing policies and approaches to leveraging CCIs for Africa’s economic benefit also means promoting indigenous values as a part of these cultural products, together with respecting ethical norms, traditions, and beliefs. CCIs are the most dynamic sectors of the global economy.
The continent already boasts the planet’s youngest and fastest-growing population which, by 2035, is predicted to result in sub-Saharan Africa having more working-age people than the rest of the global workforce combined. In leveraging the potential of CCIs for Africa’s development, the focus should not be placed solely on technical interventions and economic indicators; it is about understanding the role culture can play in inclusive development. If key challenges can be overcome, CCIs can offer African economies, women, and the youth many new opportunities to capitalise on the continent’s rich creative traditions.
Africa’s CCIs carry the dreams of those ready to take charge of their own destinies. It is vital for stakeholders, artisans, curators, institutions, and government agencies to get together and craft a future for the growing sector. Identified routes to stimulate the growth of the sector are the development of cultural and creative infrastructures (for example galleries and museums), investments in arts education and professional development programmes, and the integration between sectors that focus on creativity.
BAZ-ART in ACTION
If you are interested in learning more about the creative economy, join us for our annual flagship event – the International Public Art Festival (IPAF). March 2023 will mark the 7th edition of Africa’s largest public art festival. This offering further expanded the introduction of a bigger conference component – the International Public Art Conference (IPAC). This amalgamation of public art celebrates Africa’s creative economy by featuring world renowned public artists such community and graffiti artists and experts from various sectors, facilitating a platform for discussions, network-building and creation, all whilst interacting with the public and stimulating a sense of belonging.
Africa’s CCIs are ready to explode! To better understand why and how we work, read our brochure here HERE where we explored ways in which to stimulate creativity on the continent.