There is an urgent need for job creation on our continent. If high levels of joblessness were not this worrisome, a surge in Africa’s working-age population (expected to reach 1 billion by 2030) requires job creation on a historically unprecedented scale. To keep up with this demand for population growth, African countries must collectively generate 1 million jobs per month, according to the Africa Report.

We believe this is a prime time to look beyond oil and gas, manufacturing, and agriculture, typically associated with labor-intensive sectors, and include the creative industries on the priority list. We are building an ecosystem where individuals with varying talents and acquired skills can make a decent living off their handwork.

The arts – film, music, fashion, and handicrafts – underpin Africa’s vibrant, yet oft-ignored leisure and entertainment sectors, which are increasingly finding a global audience and relevance.

Research has shown that issues in social development, such as unemployment and inequality, are often at the root of conflict and are key areas that impact sustainable development. The challenge for governments remains, in large part, one of the limited resources to address these issues.

With intricate value chains threading together multiple service providers, creative industries are a job multiplier and generate $4.5bn in revenue across the continent. Nollywood alone generates over $600 million annually for the Nigerian economy; employs more than 1 million people per year; and, in 2016, contributed about 1.1% to the country’s GDP. Those industries are also recession-proof, as they depend on local demand.

But, lying in the informal sector, creative industries need investment to grow and unleash catalytic potential. Here are three requirements to make investments a reality in Africa’s creative sectors.

  • Understanding Value Chain Complexities
  • Diversifying Investments Across the Supply Chain and Strategically Using Insurance Products
  • Mitigating Local Monetisation Problems with International Distribution
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Innovations in international distribution have provided a fillip to Africa’s creative industries, particularly music and movies. With the rise of streaming services, African creative producers can access a global audience, overcoming the historic obstacles of distribution.

With the introduction of the Creat App later this year, we look to assemble an array of offerings such as eBooks, artists, creative artisans, developers, and so on, projecting the faces behind these assets to the world on something like a Jumia for creatives.

Platforms like iROKOtv, a Nollywood movie streaming service, with viewership in 178 countries, and Netflix’s investments in African content have been game-changers, with Nigerian blockbusters like Lionheart, The Wedding Party, and Chief Daddy streaming on the global platform.

Music, possibly Africa’s biggest creative export, is also enjoying an international moment. Beyoncé’s latest album, “Lion King,” featuring 10 African artists, further invigorated the international appetite for African music. And what do you know, investors are paying attention.

In 2018, TPG Growth, a multibillion-dollar US investment fund platform, acquired a majority stake in TRACE, Africa’s leading media and entertainment company. In 2019, Universal Music Group opened a Lagos office as it searches for more local record deals.

There has never been a brighter moment for Africa’s creative industries than now. The international success of Nollywood, increasing collaboration between African and American artists, and growing recognition of African art underscore the need to take Africa’s creative industries seriously. If properly financed, creative industries can take off and generate immense job opportunities.

Through a continued focus on and contribution to the promotion of arts, culture, and heritage through creative expressions, the African people, international organizations and partners can help ensure the creation of an environment that advances community cohesion and resilience; respects diversity and parity, social inclusion, human rights and democracy; and fosters sustainable development and lasting peace. Ultimately, creativity supports life and peace.

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The time is ripe for investors to acknowledge the dynamism and profitability of the creative economy and we’re here to serve it, tastefully.

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