African countries tipped on untapped potential of creative and cultural industries

AFRICA – In a bid to tackle unemployment among the youth, African countries have been urged to tap into the creative industry and cultural economy to boost their economic growth.

This statement was made on Monday, September 20th, 2021 by the Director Institute of African Studies’ Ghanaian Professor Dzodzi Tshikata, while opening the 3rd Kwame Nkrumah Festival 2021 which runs up to Friday, September 24th,2021.

The Kwame Nkrumah Festival is a Pan-African intellectual event curated by the Kwame Nkrumah Chair at the University of Ghana’s Institute of African Studies.

It brings together intellectual and cultural facets of the Pan-African ideologies as taught by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

This year’s five-day event is held under the theme; “Pan-Africanism, Feminism and the Next Generation,” engaging in the exploration and pursuance of self-sustenance and liberation from neo-colonialism through the establishment of culture, science and technology as viable mediums for the betterment of the lifestyle of the African people.

In her speech, Professor Dzodzi Tshikata, the Director Institute of African Studies, said that the African continent is home to approximately 1.3bn people and by the end of the century that number is expected to jump to 4.2bn.

The continent will probably overtake Asia and be home to the world’s largest labour force as early as 2040.

Tshikata said taking the trend of African countries in development issues, poverty, unemployment, and under development is embedded in culture. Therefore, the neglect of culture and creative industries will cost us the much-needed development goals and employment for the next decades.

According to her, not only is the continent’s unemployment rate well above the global average, but up to 70% of employed African countries are trapped in vulnerable, low paying jobs, with many living in outright poverty.

“To maintain stability and advance prosperity, African governments face the tremendously daunting challenge of tackling unemployment and creating millions of new jobs for a booming working age population,” said Tshikata.

Tshikata emphasised the need for African countries to add non-traditional strategies to their national development plans.

One of the strategies includes tapping into their creative and cultural industries which are an increasingly important piece of the puzzle.

She observed that the creative industries such as design, fashion, film, television, radio, music and much more have all too often been overlooked as legitimate avenues for jobs and gross domestic product.

“African governments should embrace and support the creative industries in their efforts to drive sustainable development and create jobs,” advised Tshikata.

Tshikata said that Pan-African countries should change their mindset and shift from focusing on agriculture to creative industry in their latest development plans if they are to pace up with European countries which prioritise these industrial growths.

She urged the governments of African countries to take creative industries and cultural economies as an added layer in constructing more diverse and economically viable markets.

Tshikata stressed that jobs in the creative and cultural economy have proved resilient to the economic shocks that consistently hurt core sectors in many African economies.

According to the Financial Times Website, in Nigeria, Nollywood film production which is one of the creative industries generates between $500m and $800m annually.

The success of Nollywood demonstrates how the creative economy can trigger a value chain between artists, entrepreneurs, distributors and support services to boost jobs and contribute to GDP growth.

Though Nollywood film production employs thousands of Nigerians, lack of intellectual property rights and enforcement have limited the ability of artists to earn returns on their investments, causing many to leave their home countries to go abroad.

“Besides, efforts to promote the creative industries are hindered by a scarcity of capital. Most of the banks and investors often shy away due to lack of capital that creators are able to offer as collateral and other associated risks,” she argued.

In order to tap into the creative and cultural economy, it is important to note that two-thirds of African countries have signed the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

Kenya has taken a lead by publishing the Nairobi Plan of Action on Cultural Industries and facilitating the buildup of institutions such as the Music Copyright Society of Kenya and the Kenya Film Commission.

African countries have long been ripe with talent, creativity and cultural riches; however, it is only now, with new technologies and commercial markets that global success is starting to materialize.

According to economists, the creative and cultural economy globally has been growing at a rate of 12.1% annually since 2002.

The European Union is leading in export of creative goods having exported $150 billion in 2013 of creative goods and $120 billion in services while China, India, Jamaica and Nigeria lead the developing countries.

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