Opinion: Creativity Is The New African Gold. It’s Time To Bank It

Opinion: Creativity Is The New African Gold. It’s Time To Bank It

From Mail&Guardian. Story by Carlos Lopes.

While there is clearly no shortage of talent in Africa, the continent nevertheless has been relatively poor in profiting from it.

Africa’s presence in global markets for creative goods and services has been stagnated by its limited supply capacity, lack of intellectual property knowledge, obsolete policies and regulations, as well as under investment in the industry, particularly infrastructure.

For example, in the U.S. there are 40,000 movie theaters; India has 20,000; China 13,000; but the whole of Africa has less than 1,000 which accounts for 1 cinema per million people. Such gaps signify an untapped potential for growth. Creativity is the new money and it is time for Africa to reap its benefits.

Technology and the digital revolution have opened doors for the continent to be a trailblazer for frugal innovation. For instance, digital cinematography gave rise to Nollywood, making it mushroom to become the third-largest film industry by value in the world, after Hollywood and Bollywood.

It generates an estimated $500-million-to-$800 million annually and is one of the largest Nigerian employers by sector, second only to agriculture. On average, more than 2,000 feature length movies are made each year. A feature movie sells an average of 50,000 copies at about $2 a DVD, offering Africans an affordable entertainment option.

Nollywood’s model of rapid production and home consumption is now being exported across the continent, with countries such as Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, and Mali adopting this model over traditional American or European features.

The time is ripe for Africa now for a number of reasons. With 7-million-to-10-million youth looking for jobs every day, all opportunities should be seized. Africa’s creative economy can trigger a value chain between artists, entrepreneurs, distributors and support services across multiple sectors to provide modern jobs.

Cape Verde, said to have the highest number of musicians per square kilometer in the world, is a good example of how a country can leverage such resources to place the creative economy at the cornerstone of its development strategy.

With few exportable resources, Cape Verde is enabling its cultural assets to be a significant contributor to the economy. Efforts have made it easier for artists and producers of creative goods to produce locally as well as for export.

For instance, a micro-credit facility referred to as a Culture Bank was created in 2012 to facilitate access to seed money for small entrepreneurs and creators across the islands. To further encourage the creative drive, networks of crafts, art, museums, venues and festivals have been set up across the islands so that everyday culture and arts are stimulating the economy.

Read more at Mail&Guardian.