Creative and cultural industries bring together several sectors, sectors defined in few and simple words, as sectors growing from the exploitation of one’s intellectual property, knowledge, information, creativity, and or innovation that could impact or transform a community, society, or the entire world. These industries, the creative industries, generate globally three trillion dollars annually, creates 200 plus million jobs. In Africa, we barely reach 2% of that worth, and we create less than 10 million jobs through these industries. We must be doing things the wrong way !
By Raoul Rugamba*
Across Africa, the creative industries sectors differ from each African country. The term creative and cultural industries was there since, but only in the 90’s it started taking shape, the UK being on the lead of this, and today, everyone is talking about it, but few on the continent understand it.
Being part of the creative industries on the continent, I had a chance to be part of a great network, bright minds, thinkers, innovators, artists, and other exceptional human beings part of that field for close to 10 years now. Two things are sure, players of this industry are driven by passion, and it is a tuff industry to be part of.
For long, being lucky to work in this industry with its players, I always do, trying to figure out how one succeeds in this industry and how one uses a magical formula not to get drown.
“A positive impact, but not considered as a priority sector in African communities”
An industry part of an informal economy, people in this industry, the majority, live day after day, but what disturbs more is to think how it is a sector that requires minimal resources in terms of investments, but could have high outputs, extraordinary ROI with a positive impact, but not considered as a priority sector in African communities, countries.
In 2008, I was introduced to the creative industries, started as a technician in events, had just finished high school in electronics & telecommunication. My uncle invited me to be on his team of technicians. From there, we were almost busy every week, providing equipment and technical assistance to events/artists. Growing up, I went to university, did computer science, and combined my technical skills with my skills in technology. My first job became my second job, and I went to work as an IT at the University of Rwanda, supported students and teachers, mainly with the use of technology in improving teaching and learning.
Looking at both backgrounds, the two worlds I lived in, I realize that empowerment, providing skills and knowledge required to be in the creative industries, is compulsory, and the only way to position the creative industry as a priority sector in African countries.
“The creative industry could play an important role not only in the knowledge economy but also the circular based economy”
Today when we say Africa is the youngest continent with the youngest population, it should be a great opportunity, a good and enough argument to drive the mission African countries had in terms of building a knowledge economy. By the way, the creative industry could play an important role not only in the knowledge economy but also the circular based economy.
Today, more than ever, the continent has more tools, more infrastructures (though they are not enough). Still, accessibility and affordability to those infrastructures should be on the top of the to-do list of African countries. I strongly believe complicity between private and public sectors across Africa would transform the lives of African countries and the continent and the rest of the world.
What I believe would be the next steps. Self-trust and empowerment. We, Africans, love what comes from the western world. We believe what has been made outside by the outsiders is better than what could be developed locally by locals. However, we forget that they are still trying things out, so why not trust the process and give ourselves a chance? This should actually be on the agenda of the African Union. It should seek to priorities enabling environments for creativity and labs to help Africans try out things.
The creative industry in Africa lacks environments that allow it to be. It allows it’s players to try things out, where they fail to make it on the second round or so. By not creating and enabling these environments today, we will get together in the next 50 – 100 years and still claim for “the African time,” and we will have given more room and opportunities to the westerns to have more to sell to Africa and convince Africa they are the “experts” in the domain, and that will awaken our complexity and frustration one more time.
“Supporting this industry is a privilege and opportunity African countries are getting to position themselves on the global market, sit on the high table”
For the creatives, working in a network is the way to go. Educating ourselves is the only way of bringing sustainability to our businesses. For African Governments, the creative and cultural industries are industries where Africa would face less competition, where the market could be the 54 countries on the continent and beyond, where African talents would become our minerals, our primarily natural resources to trade, our culture would be assets we export, and the image of Africa would never be the same, astonished, or manipulated. Supporting the creative industries is building the future of the continent and its people. Supporting this industry is a privilege and opportunity African countries are getting to position themselves on the global market, sit on the high table.
*Raoul Rugamba is the founder of Africa in Colors, a pan-African project working to build a creative industry ecosystem on the continent, for an industry that thrives and where players of this industry bring their bricks to build and develop our continent.
Twitter@raoulrugamba | @africaincolors
LinkedIn: Raoul Rugamba | Africa in Colors