Africa’s creative sector takes centre stage
Dr Israel Kodiaga, Director of Programmes, Research and Strategic Development at the African Centre of International Studies in Kenya, has urged artistes and creative individuals to help Africa attain its rightful place in the world. Speaking at the just-ended African Creative Conference in the South African city of Cape Town, Dr Kodiaga said seven areas had been identified as key to transforming Africa into the world’s economic powerhouse.
These he enumerated as cities, stability, trade, people, education, mobile telephony and agricultural land, adding that the creative sector had critical links with all the areas.
‘If the creative sector wants to play a meaningful role in Africa’s economic development, it must critically understand the challenges, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of each African country in the context of new global realities,’ he cautioned.
While acknowledging that Africa still faced enormous obstacles in resolving the problems of its past, he appreciated that its future looked brighter.
He hoped that the conference would ultimately lead to the production of knowledge informed by what is relevant to the social realities in Africa.
Christiaan de Beukelaer, a teaching assistant and Phd researcher at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, noted that the African creative economy as understood by the British Council, UNESCO or UNCTAD, had no context that could be related specifically to African countries.
‘The concept of a creative industry, creative economy or cultural industries has been imported from Europe and used to label what cultural producers in Africa have not yet defined for themselves,’ said Beukelaer, who spent several months in Ghana conducting research on the creative economy early this year.
He said by including this idea in a debate about boosting the creative economy, it was necessary to ask and answer questions such as ‘who should be creating the definition of the creative economy in the African context’ and ‘who should be defining the strategy framework for developing an African creative economy’.
Hosted by Arterial Network and implemented by the Cape Craft and Design Institute, the conference was aimed at focusing attention on how the creative industries could help accelerate Africa’s economic growth, while building democracy and human rights.
By John Owoo, Cape Town, South Africa
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