At the recently concluded Africa Union CEO Roundtable Conference, convened under the theme “Leveraging the African Union Agenda 2063 for Trade and Investments in Africa” – creative innovators took center stage as they displayed how and why they are critical in the sustainable development of the African continent.
This was elucidated during the ‘Investing in Non-traditional Sectors – Tourism, Creative Industry, and Fashion’ Session, on day 2 of the AU led the gathering at Expo 2020 Dubai.
The culture and creative economy are not seen as a traditionally invest worthy space, although it contributes more than 2.5 trillion dollars annually.
This is an industry that has potential in terms of revenue and job creation. A sector that employs the largest number of youth between the ages of 15-30 and when you look at the African continental youth dividend, this is a space we cannot keep on the sides any longer.
This Roundtable Conference was in line with Agenda 2063, which defines what African people aspire for by the year 2063, among which is their aspirations for an integrated continent of Transformed, Inclusive and Sustainable Economies.
When we speak of Trade and Investments in Africa, we must also be intentional in including the creative economy in such conversations, because this has been amongst our many leading exports. Music, for example, has been leading global charts for decades and this new generation has redefined the art of sound for the entire globe, rubber stamping the continent’s creative authority as a commodity.
So, art cannot be a sideshow anymore. We need to invest in it and empower the next generation in a space they are excelling at. This will help build the Africa we all want.
To see growth in the space, the narrative needs to change both local and international.
The usual conversations on the creative economy usually focus on the creation itself, but to grow the creative economy, we have to change the language and narrative around it.
We need to talk about it from an investment point of view because it is incredibly important for the African renaissance and cultural preservation as well as the build of Africa by Agenda 2063.
The current generation of young Africans is connected, tech optimistic, and entrepreneurial; which can boost even further the creative industry.
Africa is the world’s youngest continent with a median age of only 18 years old. The majority of them employ creative tools to empower and participate in the economic activities of member states, many of these within the culture and creative space.
Africa has at least 400 companies with annual revenues exceeding $1 billion, with another 700 firms generating over $500 million a year, in diverse sectors and are globally competitive.
As the tide turns, many of these economic giants will be replaced by creative organizations, led by our women and youth, and thus this conversation needs to have been a part of what would traditionally exclude creatives. This change in conference design, allows us to build a more inclusive and sustainable Africa for the future.
By Tylo Mil