Africa’s contribution to the creative industry is significant when we look at it through the lens of cultural expansion and recent global adoption. However, although Africa is rich in talent, the continent is poor in infrastructure. Africa is booming with a deep pool of young creative talent, who are without the capacity to showcase their skills or commercialize and monetize their brands.
W.H.O., UN and the Sustainable Development Goals have all cited the potential the creative industries contribute to Africa’s economic growth. They state that the key drivers of job creation are: design, music, film, fashion and craft. This is most evident in Nigeria where the Nollywood film industry is the second largest provider of work in the country.
Nollywood churns out about 50 movies per week with an average of 130 people employed per movie. Regrettably, majority of the creative work force are freelancers, who are grossly underpaid in comparison to their foreign counterparts. The result of this fragmented industry has molded majority of the creative to working for daily fees, rather than salaries.
To tackle unemployment in the creative and other industries, there is need to ask: which jobs must be created, for whom and why? For Africa’s creative aesthetics, values and world views to be exported and to increase its market share and visibility in the creative economy, there will need to be greater vision, political will, access to capital and business expertise.
Until then, there is a role technology could play to close the unemployment gap in the creative sector across Africa. Now is the time where the frustration of the disjointed creative industry is forcing creative minds to build disruptive technologies as a solution. The benefits of looking to digital tools for unemployment solutions must be considered.
According to research by McKinsey Africa, “…There are 122 million active users of mobile financial services in Africa. The number of Smartphone connections is forecast to double from 313 million in 2019 to 636 million in 2023”. Statistics in Nigeria show that more jobs are being created in the entertainment sector and majority of these jobs are performed by freelance creative between the ages of 18 and 40.
Disruptive technology has harnessed this data and created an online marketplace that allows talented and skilled creative upload their profile, their availability, work portfolio, services and prices.
For the first time, African creative can connect with clients, promote their services and drive value for their work in the African creative economy.
Clients from across the continent can simply source, compare, book and pay securely online for the creative service rendered across any African country such as: models, makeup artists, hair stylists, photographers, voice over artists and more. This enables emerging and established creative to gain recognition, enter the global creative industry on their own terms and build sustainable brands.
This digital marketplace is scalable as it can increase the types of creative services rendered, easily increase its reach within less accessible African regions, allowing for mass talent awareness and job creation across the continent; all at the touch of a Smartphone.
Ultimately, without pro-growth policies from the government, which will attract the private sector, the creative sector must create its own ecosystem to improve productivity, innovation and technology dissemination.
In the next few years, we can expect to see invention of more disruptive and scalable start-ups, whose mission is to become the largest employer of freelance creative across Africa.
In order to meet some of Africa’s vast needs and unfulfilled demands within the creative industry, entrepreneurship, innovation and a mindset which views Africa through a lens of its potential will go far in tackling the unemployment issues across the continent.
WRITTEN BY DR. TIMOTHY IFEDIORANMA