The creative economy in Africa is diverse and fueled by the creativity and innovation of African artists, designers, and entrepreneurs who are using their talents and social media platforms to create new products and services that are in demand locally and globally.
The growing middle class is one of the key drivers of the creative economy in Africa and is increasingly interested in consuming cultural and creative products. In addition, the rise of digital technologies has made it easier for African artists and entrepreneurs to create, market, and distribute their products to a global audience.
Despite the potential of Africa’s creator economy, it faces several challenges, including a lack of infrastructure, limited access to finance, and a weak intellectual property regime. However, governments, international organisations, and the private sector are increasingly recognising the importance of the creator economy and are taking steps to support its growth and development.
According to Jobberman research, the creative sector currently employs an estimated 4.2 million Nigerians, making it the second-largest employer in the country with a potential to create an additional 2.7 million jobs by 2025.
Adeola Fadola, Film director and Creative Video Production consultant, 2brthrs Studios, in this interview with BusinessDay’s Anthony Udugba identifies the different players in Africa’s creator economy and what it means for the traditional media and African governments. He also discusses the numerous opportunities that players in the creator sector provide Nigerians and the relative appeal of traditional superstars vs social media influencers.
Who are the different players in Africa’s creator economy and how do they impact the public?
The people – distributors and aggregators, are the key players in Africa’s creator economy. First and foremost, the storytellers themselves, but players like Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, YouTube, Multichoice, FilmOne, Ebonylife, etc. have been very impactful in supporting creators over the years by providing funds, a platform and opportunities for African creators to thrive.
The players create opportunities for the public to be involved in the creator’s economy. The participants of this economy we have today are from the public. During Covid-19 lockdown, a lot of people took interest in content creation through TikTok, YouTube , Instagram, etc, and have become successful today because of the platforms’ impact. There seems to be a level playing ground now: you don’t need a godfather, or to pay someone to create. The access is very direct.
Can the content creators in the near future replace the actors and music artists in the hierarchy of celebrities in Nigeria ?
The content creation space in Nigeria is very special and diverse – just to mention a few, Fisayo Fosudo, Tayo Aina who focuses on YouTube, Layi, Justin UG, Korty, Dodos who’s a makeup influencer and Nora Awolowo, who worked on my most recent documentary project, Divided, which focuses on the differing interests and mindsets that seem to be struggling to come together to set a clear path for Nigeria.
While I acknowledge the influence they have, there is still a big attention gap from who most would be considered as core celebrities, the reach of movie and music stars transcends the art. They sell a lifestyle the content creators can only dream of.
The good thing however is that these content creators are diversifying, so to answer your question I don’t think they can replace the actors and music artists, but they can become superstars in their own right. Creators like Mr. Macaroni, Kiekie, Lasisi, Brother shaggy are already in that mix and are gradually becoming movie stars.
How would the rise in social media influencers affect traditional media advertising in the near future?
People always want to feel something and are moved by people who they feel see them. Our recent elections and 2020’s #ENDSARS movement was a huge example of this, everything superficial or extra sort of falls away and because social media influencers speak directly to audiences, and have created relationships with their followers, they excel in those moments and obviously brands can tap into that should they wish.
In my short film ‘Divided’, and in many other media that emerges in urgent moments, people that have connected directly to their audiences are who get profiled. That said, traditional media will always be relevant in a developing country like ours so I dont think social media influencers will completely take over traditional media.
I believe advertisers are still going to showcase their products in formats like TV, Radio etc. which targets a different sector of consumers . As long as there is a “Big brother” show, English Premier League, etc. brands will still opt for it for cross national reach. However I do feel the social media influencers will be the primary reach for low and middle scale campaigns and because of the trackable numbers they offer, clients will be more inclined to gear towards them. Traditional media will need to offer more to stay relevant
What does the growth of the creator economy mean for African governments and public office holders?
I believe it’s a great opportunity for the government to embrace an economy that will be relevant for a long time. It’s important that the government creates policies and an enabling environment for creators to thrive. Also, younger people trend towards holding the government accountable and being very loud about this. Governments have a chance to engage creators to act as social and media ambassadors for them and their messaging.
With a lot of political protests and movements in Africa in recent years, what role does social media, creativity and content creation play in the outcome of these newer protests?
I like this question. Earlier, I referred to Divided which is now streaming on Zikoko’s YouTube page. The main reason I created this documentary was for archival purposes. Some of my sources came from social media, being able to create and curate materials in record time has been a shapeshifting feature, and if you have a keen eye you’ll see social media features in many modern day documentaries and other forms of art.
Social media helps spread information and misinformation faster, it helps facilitate people, but most importantly it helps preserve history – from many different viewpoints.
Generally, as much as social media has helped improve social conversations It’s also important that we creatively utilize it as a tool for positive actions with the kind of content we put out there.
In the area of politics, have content creators done enough to change the political status quo in Nigeria? Do they have the power to really bring change?
Some work has been done, but not enough. Again, I reference “Divided” , which helped document a lot and serves as an evidence tool for some of the activities that took place. Our two most recent public moments were the recently concluded elections and the #ENDSARS movement.
Looking at both, creators made a lot of organic content that has racked up millions of views, and will live online forever. We can’t say what impact that content has had on the millions of viewers, but surely, an impact has been made.
It’s important we document moments like this consistently and remind leaders why we elected them. If we are able to implement this in more audio-visual formats (Movies, Podcasts, Documentaries, Skits etc) I think we can really push for real change and keep leaders on their toes.
After your work on your short film ‘Divided’ what else do you think you and other content creators can do to advocate for a new Nigeria?
As I mentioned earlier, creating more objectively conscious content to sensitize the youth and general public . I remember when we were filming the documentary and Kunle Afolayan mentioned that’s how he tries to contribute his part to society i.e using films to pass information. As content creators we need to adopt this as much as we can. Content is a powerful tool if we really do want to change the status quo.