Creating employment in Africa’s creative industry through technology

Ogunro

Africa’s contribution to the creative industry is significant when looking at it through the lens of cultural expansion and recent global adoption. However, although we are rich in talent, we are poor in infrastructure.

The continent 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.

The WHO, PWC, UNCTAD and the Millennium Development Goals have all cited the potential the creative industries contribute to Africa’s economic growth. They state some of the key drivers of job creation are: design, music, film and television, 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. By virtue of underinvestment and lack of infrastructure, majority of the creative work force are freelancers, who are grossly underpaid in comparison to their foreign counterparts.

The results of this fragmented industry has molded majority of the creatives to working for daily fees, rather than salaries, to hustle as freelance creatives instead of being represented by creative agencies: It’s harder to thrive in an unregulated industry.

To tackle unemployment across the creative and other industries, we must ask ourselves which jobs must be created, for who and why. We need to gather data about youth unemployment, analyse where we have the most unmet needs and adapt the insight gathered with a clear strategy of implementation.

For Africa’s creative aesthetics, values and world views to be exported globally and to increase its market share and visibility in the world’s creative economy there will need to be greater vision, political will, access to capital and business expertise.

Until then, is there a role technology could play to close the unemployment gap in the creative sector across Africa?

Now is the time where the frustrations of the disjointed creative industry, is forcing creatives to build disruptive technologies as a solution. We must consider the benefits of looking to digital tools for unemployment solutions.

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 2015 to 636 million in 2022.”

Statistics in Nigeria, show that more jobs are being created in the entertainment sector and majority of these jobs are performed by freelance creatives between the ages of 18-40 years old; the median age group of the digitally engaged.

Disruptive technology such as BookingsAfrica.com has harnessed this data and created an online marketplace that allows talented and skilled creatives upload their profile, their availability, work portfolio, services and prices.

For the first time, African creatives 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 creatives 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, the invention of disruptive business models is bound to win customers over with innovative thinking.

In order to tackle the issues the creative industry faces, we must consider the correlation between the rising number of youth and the rising numbers of the digitally engaged. This is imperative because African youth is projected to become the largest consumer base globally.

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 such as BookingsAfrica.com, whose mission is to become the largest employer of freelance creatives across Africa.

In order to meet some of Africa’s vast needs and unfulfilled demands within the creative industry, entrepreneurship, innovation and a mind set which views Africa through a lens of its potential will go far in tackling the unemployment issues across the continent.

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