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Cart’Afrik : CCI, a lever to boost the post-Covid African economy

African cultural and creative industries must reinvent themselves to successfully transition into a post-Covid world. This challenge is also a unique opportunity to strengthen the contribution of these sectors to the economy of the continent, according to the Rwandan cultural entrepreneur Raoul Rugamba. 

By Raoul Rugamba, CEO of the communication agency Hobe*

In 2019, the cultural and creative industries (CCI) generated $2.25 trillion in revenue worldwide (3% of global GDP), a figure greater than the revenue generated by the telecommunications sector ($1.57 trillion/year) or the GDP of India ($1.9 trillion). It is therefore not surprising that the economic weight of this sector is also particularly significant in Africa (5 million jobs and 26 billion dollars in annual sales). I discovered the cultural industry right out of high school, in 2008, and have been learning about this fascinating sector ever since. 

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has upset the existing balance and brought in its wake a sharp contraction in global economic activity. In such adverse conditions, the African job market in the CCI segment – an important source of employment for young people – was understandably affected, as the sector benefited little from public support measures. 

“It is necessary to rethink our approach to CCIs because they are catalysts for economic and social development in African countries”

In light of these challenges, it is therefore necessary to rethink our approach to CCIs because they are catalysts for the economic and social development of African countries, and an engine of growth for other sectors such as tourism, education, health, fintech … However, in order to successfully meet this challenge, the sector’s players will need to strengthen their knowledge and skills; an approach that goes against what has long been observed in the African CCI sector, where newcomers often considered the latter to be less constraining in terms of qualifications and requirements. It is this mindset that we, as CCI actors, must change today in order to provide young people in particular with the appropriate skills and help them position themselves for the job of the future and its tools which will be 3D, artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR). In Tunisia, our partner Net-Info -a school of Art and technology- is already working on this mission since it has introduced 10,000 young people to the various professions of digital culture while most of its graduates have been hired by international companies. This flattering observation seems to corroborate the conclusions of a study conducted in 2007, which noted that 17% of the employees of the most successful start-ups in Silicon Valley had a background in the art industry; a guarantee of creativity according to the authors of the report.   

The current post-Covid context should also be seen as an opportunity for African states to reconsider their policies towards CCIs. A relevant redefinition of cultural policies would in particular allow the entire value chain of the sector to be revitalized, and beyond that to accelerate the social development of the countries concerned. The time has come for the countries of the continent to make the most of their culture, to take advantage of the potential of their soft power in order to position Africa on the world map, to increase foreign direct investment and to use this creative production channel to export more goods and services.  

“The Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a unique opportunity to build a common market for African CCIs”

In this regard, the continental free trade area (AfCFTA) is a unique opportunity to build a common market for African CCIs. Governments, artists and more broadly, CCI actors in Africa, should not miss the opportunity to exploit a market of 1.2 billion people, where festivals, concerts and other carnivals would no longer be limited to a national audience. When you consider, for example, that the Brazilian carnival in Rio generated nearly $1 billion in revenue for the hotel industry alone in 2020, it is easy to imagine the revenue that a successful AfCFTA could bring to the continent’s cultural and creative industries. 

It is this vision of an Africa thriving on its cultural and creative industries that drove our Africa in Colors initiative, a pan-African platform born in 2018 in Rwanda and designed to showcase the continent’s creative economy. Today, as in our humble beginnings, our goal is to bring communities together, empower youth, create platforms where Africans meet, exchange and collaborate, and where access to finance for CCI players is no longer a challenge. 

“CCIs are an integral part of the sectors that will increase exports of goods and services, attract more foreign investment and generate more innovation on the continent”

One thing is certain, as African economies recover, CCIs are an integral part of the sectors that will increase exports of goods and services, attract more foreign investment and generate more innovation on the continent. More importantly, the sector will continue to provide a creative channel for young people to think differently, innovate based on their culture and community needs, and thus change the narrative of our continent. 

In the end, if this advocacy for the African cultural and creative industry makes sense to them, we invite all ANA readers to join our latest community platform project, created with Empower Africa to facilitate the collaboration of the various stakeholders of African CCIs for the benefit of their families, their communities and all of Africa.

*Raoul Rugamba is a Rwandan entrepreneur who is the founder of Hobe Agency, an event communication agency he created in 2015 and which is notably specialized in corporate communication, product/service launches and project development. He is also behind the Africa in Colors initiative, a pan-African platform launched in 2018 in Rwanda and designed to showcase the continent’s creative economy. 

FIND OUT MORE 

Twitter@raoulrugamba | @africaincolors

LinkedIn: Raoul Rugamba | Africa in Colors 

www.africaincolors.com

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