Africa Soft Power Tracker
Welcome to the Africa Soft Power Tracker! Here, we’ll be staying up-to-date with the latest developments across the African creative, tech, and cultural industries, as they impact the continent and around the world. Got a tory to share? You can contact us directly at email@example.com
August so far…
Aug 21st: Somalia’s progress towards joining the East African Community (EAC) is marked by negotiations scheduled from August 22 to September 5, 2023. Business insider africa reported here that the EAC conducted a verification mission after Somalia’s 2012 application, with a report approved in June 2023. Discussions aim to align Somalia’s regulations with EAC integration pillars. Dr. Abdusalam Omer, Presidential Special Envoy, highlighted the benefits of regional integration for countering terrorism and economic growth. With connectivity to the Middle East and diaspora presence, Somalia’s EAC membership promises mutual gains. The EAC Summit’s approval and Somalia’s ratification are required for full membership.
Aug 21st: According to Nairametrics Nigeria, Algeria, and Egypt are projected to lead the African natural gas and LNG supply market between 2023 and 2027, comprising 80% of the total African gas output. Africa’s short-term gas supply will rise from 25.5 Bcf/d in 2023 to over 27 Bcf/d in 2024, remaining steady until 2027. Algeria’s output will grow from 10 Bcf/d to 11 Bcf/d, Egypt will maintain 6.25 Bcf/d, and Nigeria will fluctuate between 4.5 Bcf/d and 5.5 Bcf/d. The African Energy Chamber emphasizes the need for effective gas monetization, including Nigeria’s “Decade of Gas” policy, which has progressed at 5% instead of the set 85% benchmark.
Aug 18th: In a 2022–2023 Africa PR and Communications report, it’s noted that AI is viewed by a majority of professionals in the industry as a transformative force over the next decade. The report highlights that AI is already being used for media monitoring, sentiment analysis, and combating fake news. African PR professionals were interviewed to gather their insights on the impact of AI in their field and its future role. Overall, African PR professionals recognize AI’s potential to enhance their industry but emphasize the continuing importance of human input and emotional intelligence in their field. You can find the full article here.
Aug 8th: African teams shine at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup with Nigeria, South Africa, Morocco, and Zambia representing the continent. Sportingnews.com gave insight on Nigeria and South Africa’s progress to Round of 16, showcasing strong performances. Morocco marks historic debut, reaching Round of 16; first Arab team in women’s tournament and Zambia’s landlocked nation breaks new ground albeit being knocked out in the group stage. The excellence of African teams at the world cup is proof of development in African sports as a whole.
Aug 3rd: According to a report from africanews. Niger’s ruling junta and civil society groups have rallied citizens in the capital to safeguard national freedom and resist foreign involvement. The M62 civil society group, led by Mahaman Sanoussi, seeks the immediate departure of foreign forces. Amid anti-French sentiment, protests align with the nation’s Independence Day. The coup’s condemnation jeopardizes Niger’s role against regional terrorism. General Abdourahmane Tchiani urges preparedness for challenges ahead and rejects ECOWAS sanctions. Speculation arises about potential French military ousting. Ousted President Mohamed Bazoum’s release deadline sets tensions with ECOWAS.
July 28th African cities shine in IMD Smart City Index 2023‘s top 200, leading urban tech-driven sustainability. Cairo, Egypt (108), pioneers historic-tech synergy. Algiers, Algeria (123), balances nature and tech. Cape Town, South Africa (125), fuses modernity with nature. Rabat, Morocco (126), merges tradition with tech. Nairobi, Kenya (131), pulses with innovation. Lagos (132) and Abuja (133), Nigeria, embrace digital prowess. Tunis, Tunisia (137), weaves heritage-innovation. Accra, Ghana (138), empowers through cutting-edge tech.
July 18th African Queens from Morocco, Zambia, Nigeria, and South Africa to represent Africa in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup hosted by Australia and New Zealand. Nigeria faces Canada first, while Zambia debuts against Japan. South Africa aims to surpass the group stage. Morocco’s Lionesses enter a challenging Group H alongside Germany, South Korea, and Colombia. African teams gear up for historic participation in global football events.
July 15th As per The Verge, Disney Plus’ “Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire,” from the South African studio Triggerfish, draws inspiration from Marvel’s Black Panther and appeals to global audiences. The anthology, featuring 10 unique episodes, presents culturally rich short films envisioning Africa’s potential futures. It prioritizes African cultures and perspectives authentically, distinct from Hollywood norms. Like “Star Wars: Visions,” it offers culturally specific narratives, showcasing diverse voices. By emphasizing African realities, Disney nurtures fresh talents and invites a global audience to value varied viewpoints. The series underscores Disney’s remarkable global animation.
July 12th Nigerian-American designer Victoria Adesanmi’s Barbie Malibu DreamHouse creation, featured in an upcoming Barbie film, highlights Black designers’ capabilities. Blackenterpise wrote further about Adesanmi’s work which was flaunted in Architectural Digest, showcasing her journey in interior design. She’s worked with stars like Beyoncé and Kanye West, focusing on reimagining objects and storytelling. The DreamHouse is listed on Airbnb for stays in July, reflecting Barbie’s signature pink “Kenergy.” Adesanmi’s efforts and dedication led her to collaborate with the Barbie team.
July 9th Burna Boy does it again!! The Nigerian superstar achieves a historic milestone, becoming the first African artist to sell out a U.S. stadium. Mesmerizing 41,800 fans at Citi Field, he performed hits from albums like ‘Twice As Tall’ and ‘African Giant,’ with surprise guest Dave! Reflecting his global influence and growth, Burna Boy took to instagram to write about his journey from smaller venues to being celebrated at Madison Square Garden. You can read more about it here.
Jun 26th: The Tony Elumelu Foundation recognizes Africa’s creative industry as a driving force for economic growth, cultural exchange, and social transformation, as stated in a recent publication. The foundation’s commitment is to enable African entrepreneurs to address challenges by providing seed capital, training, mentoring, and networking. It supports cultural exchange through initiatives that preserve heritage and promote understanding. Michel Nkuindja, founder of Michel Nkuindja and Chioma Ogbudimkpa Founder, Redbutton NG are two of many entrepreneurs recognized in the publication.
Jun 23rd: African Development Bank (AfDB) was proud to report that its solution; enabling affluent nations to reassign a portion of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) to low-income countries through multilateral development banks, was applauded by world leaders at the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact. The technical approach maintains SDRs’ asset reserve status and has the potential to unlock significant funding for Africa. AfDB and the Inter-American Development Bank spearheaded calls for SDR reallocation via multilateral banks to address challenges like climate change. Discussions emphasized equitable financing, climate resilience, and partnerships with regional development banks, with a focus on advancing Africa’s development.
Jun 21st: Business day reported here that Bill Gates, During a discussion at the ‘Advancing Africa: Unleashing the Power of Youth in Science and Innovation,’ event, commended Nigerian youth and partners for their collaborations with the Gates Foundation over the past decade. Gates advocated for the prioritization of equity in science, innovation, funding, and implementation to ensure widespread benefits. He also emphasized the importance of cross-sector collaboration among Nigerian youth and urged leaders to fulfill commitments for an improved quality of life in the country.
Jun 2nd: Kenyan President, William Ruto, has pledged his support for the country’s creative industries, as reported here by ZAWYA. He said that the government has initiated a programme under the Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture to grow the arts industry, emphasising: “We would want to see the arts grow so that they can also contribute productively to our growth.” Crucially, the programme has been designed to see students leave secondary school armed with knowledge – both theory and skill – in the arts.
Jun 2nd: During ASP’s own hugely successful summit, which you can read more about here, the inaugural Africa Soft Power Summit Awards took place, showcasing some of the finest creative and innovative talents from across the continent and beyond. Amongst the recipients, the country of Rwanda itself was recognised, for services to the continent’s travel and tourism sectors: “Rwanda is a great example of the level of change that having a clear plan and developing a dedicated strategy for African success can bring,” said Dr Nkiru Balonwu, Founder & Creative Director, ASP.
Jun 1st: Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President of Ghana and Head of the country’s Economic Management Team, pens an article for the Guardian titled, ‘Africa will be transformed by the potential of AI and data – if we can get investment’. In it, he says: “Africans have a goldmine at our fingertips. A rapidly growing population of 1.4 billion people, 70% under the age of 30, combined with huge growth in AI investments, creates a potent recipe for Africa. We will not sit back and wait for the rest of the world to reap our rewards.”
Jun 1st: The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has approved an equity investment of $20 million in the Africa50 Infrastructure Acceleration Fund, in support of its target to mobilize private capital for infrastructure across the continent. The Africa50 Infrastructure Acceleration Fund I is a pan-African infrastructure private equity fund that is mobilizing up to $500 million for investment and value creation in strategic infrastructure sectors. These include power, energy, digital and social infrastructure, transportation, logistics, and water and sanitation.
May 31st: The first edition of Gitex Africa has been launched in Marrakech, Morocco, bringing together 900 companies and 250 lecturers from 95 countries, to exchange views on the digital economy. The event was held under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, under the authority of the Moroccan Ministry of Digital Transition and Administration Reform and hosted by Digital Development Agency (ADD).
May 31st: The UK’s Telegraph newspaper runs an article titled ‘Corruption, pollution and exploitation: the fallout from China’s push into Africa’, which examines the growing influence of China on the continent. ‘Even Sierra Leone’s national stadium, based in the centre of the capital, was built by the Chinese,’ writes Deputy Editor of Global Health Security, Samuel Lovett, ‘while Mandarin is being taught in the classrooms of primary and secondary schools across the country.’
May 29th: Disrupt Africa reports that 12 African start-ups have been selected to pitch for investment opportunities at Africa Tech Summit London at the London Stock Exchange on June 23. Africa Tech Summit (ATS) is a leading African tech conference series providing insight and networking with the African tech ecosystem in Nairobi, London and Ghana. ATS London is its 15th live summit, and brings together tech leaders, MNOs, banks, investors, entrepreneurs, governments, trade bodies, media and leading ventures to drive investment and growth in African tech.
May 24th: Africanews reports on the recent MOCA festival, which was held in Rabat, Morocco, to promote Africa’s cultural industries. The article notes that Africa makes up only 1% of the world’s Cultural & Creative Industries, and the eighth incarnation of the festival sought to help change that. In total, 46 countries were represented at the festival in Rabat, which is currently the African Capital of Culture.
May 23rd: The Africa Investment Forum presented four renewable energy and sustainability projects worth nearly $1.5 billion to investors on the sidelines of the African Development Bank Group’s 2023 Annual Meetings. The curated projects, which are drawn from all of Africa’s regions, are sourced from the Africa Investment Forum’s pipeline. They reflect gathering urgency in Africa, the world’s most vulnerable region to climate change, to accelerate climate action, including closing financing gaps by securing an ever-increasing share of global capital for the continent.
May 11th: Dr Alastair McPhail CMG OBE, former Ambassador to Ethiopia, has been appointed Envoy for the 2024 UK-African Investment Summit. Over the coming months, Dr McPhail will engage with governments and organisations invited to the summit to listen to their expectations, build partnerships, and start to make mutually beneficial opportunities for the UK and African partners a reality. The official Twitter channel for the summit has also launched, which will be the source for information and updates about the Summit, as well as showcase UK-African partnerships.
Apr 22nd: International Breweries Plc – Nigeria’s first solar powered brewery, has launched Beerkathon, a new initiative aimed at encouraging inclusion in the tech industry. The event invited females aged 18yrs+ to provide creative solutions to business-specific issues. “We believe that supporting and empowering women in technology is the right thing to do and makes good business sense,” said Michael Odutayo, People Director for International Breweries. “We recognise that our company’s success depends on the talent and diversity of our workforce, and we are committed to creating an inclusive and supportive environment for everyone.”
Apr 22nd: This Day reports that tech entrepreneurs are gearing up for GITEX Africa, a dedicated tech event that tech event that connects tech titans, governments, SMEs, start-ups, coders, investors, and academia. Included in the convening will be an International Business Hub, hosted by WorkSmart for Events Management. Commenting on the event, Chief Executive Officer of WorkSmart, Ahmed AlHujairy said: “This ambitious event takes place at the same time as Africa is experiencing a sharp rise in its economy, society, and a variety of other sectors. This global forum is poised to bring together nearly 5,000 exhibitors from 90 countries, paving the way for ground-breaking advancements in the technology industry.”
Apr 21st: Named by the UN as World Creativity & Innovation Day, April 21st has been designated to raise awareness of the role of creativity and innovation in all aspects of human development. In an article published here in Modern Ghana, Dr Angela Lusigi looks at some of the ways in which we can accelerate creativity and innovation in Africa. “Critical thinking, problem-solving, and valuing creativity are crucial in unlocking the potential of African students to solve 21st century development challenges. While more students across Africa have access to education at all levels, many students still face challenges in harnessing their creativity and innovation.”
Apr 20th: The Cultural Vibrancy Index for Africa (CVIA) will launch at the iHub in Nairobi, Kenya this week, to provide a comprehensive database that maps the cultural landscape in Africa. Developed by the Creative Economy Practice at CcHUB in Nigeria, in partnership with Africa No Filter and the British Council, the data will highlight the cultural infrastructure, institutions, events, organisations, policies and initiatives that support the creative economy.
Apr 18th: WIRED publish an articled titled ‘A Peter Thiel–Backed Startup City Wants to Be Africa’s Delaware’, in which Laurie Clarke and Nelson C.J. report on developments surrounding the 150km2 patch of land along the Gulf of Guinea coast, established in 2009 as a business-friendly spot for companies to set up in: “So far, the projects in the free zone have been industrial, with an oil refinery, garment factories, and other manufacturing facilities looming over the scrubland. But a new project has its ambitions first and foremost in the cloud: a virtual startup city that will transform into a physical one when it lays its first bricks later this year.”
Apr 15th: Stan Getui, Director at Luminate, Africa pens an article for allAfrica titled, ‘Inclusion and Innovation Key to African Media Sustainability’, in which he examines key themes within the African media landscape, including security, podcasting, big data, and business models. ‘Media can transform the future of our societies,’ he writes. ‘With shared knowledge, and strategic resourcing, the next decade in the media industry calls for robust collaboration.’
Apr 11th: The BBC has in recent weeks been publishing a series of guides on the media landscapes of African countries, advising on the macro state of press freedom therein as well as publishing lists of top radio, television, and press outlets. This week, guides on the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Republic of Congo have been published.
Apr 9th: Ghana Web says that Nigerian entrepreneur Ikenna Nzewi is set to revolutionise the agri-tech industry across Africa. His start-up, Releaf, which was founded in 2017, enables decentralised purchasing and processing of raw crops, and has helped establish smaller factories in close proximity to smallholder farmers, providing FMCG manufacturers with easy access to high-quality raw materials.
Apr 5th: Equator, a climate tech VC firm with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa, has reached an initial close on its first fund, with $40 million in commitments. Partners include BII, the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP), the Shell Foundation and impact investor DOEN Participaties, according to the company’s statement and reported here by TechCrunch.
Apr 4th: Africa is set to see a rise in adventure tourism, according to a panel of experts who spoke at WTM Africa. ‘One untapped opportunity is sustainable cruise travel,’ writes Travel Daily News writer, Tatiana Rokou. ‘With smaller cruise ships venturing into lesser-known towns, the concept of explorer cruising has gained momentum. This approach not only ensures that the cruise itself is environmentally responsible, but also supports local communities and economies by visiting smaller towns and promoting cultural exchange.’
Apr 4th: Zawya reports that Africa Tech Summit has announced the final shortlist of start-ups who will pitch live to investors, corporate and media at the next event in Nairobi in early 2024. More than 250 entries from 20+ African countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Zambia, Mali, South Africa, and Benin, were submitted, and have been whittled down to the final 14, which can be viewed here.
Apr 4th: Despite a recent influx of investment into African tech, new data from Disrupt Africa shows that this trend could now be slowing down, as the region follows suit with the wider media tech sectors around the world. According to a report highlighted here by Business Insider Africa, tech start-ups raised 57.2% less capital in Q1 2023 than in the same period last year. Despite this trend, Disrupt Africa says that the continent can ride out global cash crunch via ‘efficient growth’.
Mar 26th: US Vice President, Kamala Harris, has begun a 9-day trip across the continent, beginning in Ghana before moving onto Tanzania and Zambia. The visit comes as the US looks to build upon last year’s US-Africa Leaders Summit and strengthen ties further with Africa, amid growing competition for the continent’s affections from Russia and China.
Mar 26th: UNESCO has partnered with Netflix to launch African Folktales Reimagined, an anthology of six short films that will be available for global streaming from March 29th. The programming has been launched as part of Netflix’s partnership with UNESCO to support the next generation of African storytellers. Young filmmakers were given resources, including a $90,000 budget and creative guidance to help bring their stories to life.
Mar 24th: The Huawei Intelligent Finance Summit for Africa 2023 has taken place in South Africa, with the China-led company calling for “increased co-operation between the technology and banking industries to facilitate innovation in financial services across Africa.” As Kamala Harris prepares to take to Africa to try to win hearts and minds through greater US collaboration, it’s clear that China still has strong interests in the continent.
Mar 20th: The BBC runs an article titled ‘Seven striking images by Africa’s new creative wave’, in which it looks at the works of emerging African and diaspora artists, including the likes of Ismail Zaidy, Prince Gyasi, and Thandiwe Muriu. ‘With the art of the continent and its diaspora increasingly in the spotlight, an exciting new cohort of Gen-Z and young Millennial image-makers is emerging,’ says the Precious Adesina-penned piece.
Mar 20th: Meta’s legal woes on the continent appear to be growing, with a third lawsuit now raised in Kenya as moderators claim illegal sacking and blacklisting. According to TechCrunch, 43 content moderators have alleged “unlawful termination” by Meta and its partners in the region, and have also raised blacklisting charges.
Mar 14th: The African Development Bank (AfDB) and partners lave launched a $618m fund aimed at Nigeria’s digital and creative industries. The Digital and Creative Enterprises (iDICE) programme is estimated to create around 6 million jobs, funding more than 200 technology and creative start-ups and providing non-financial services to about 450 digital technology, small and medium enterprises.
Mar 13th: The World Bank has published a report looking at Technological Transformation for Jobs on the continent. The study states that ‘Generating good jobs is essential for the more than 22 million Africans joining the workforce each year,’ and looks at the importance of internet penetration and other factors in helping young people into employment.
Mar 11th: The FT runs an article looking at the current global spotlight on West African art as the Benin Bronzes take centre stage in the restitution discussion. ‘Nigerian arts and culture are thriving,’ writes Aindrea Emelife, ‘Despite a global economic downturn, an unstable currency, inflation and political turbulence, creative expression flourishes through the power and sophistication of our ancient kingdoms, and our post-independence freedoms.’
- Mar 9th: SAP Africa today released a new report titled ‘Africa’s Tech Skills Scarcity Revealed‘, which highlights the specific challenges and opportunities for African organisations seeking greater tech skills availability. The report found that four in five organisations surveyed reported some negative effect from a lack of tech skills, with 41% reporting that employees are leaving due to the pressures they experience as a result of understaffing. The research was conducted among organisations in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa in the fourth quarter of 2022.
- Mar 9th: Bellafricana has opened its community as a free platform to support creative entrepreneurs in the fashion, arts and craft, beauty, home and living, food produce and snacks sectors. Bellafricana.com is a leading community for African-owned creative businesses with a growing network of over 20,000 creative entrepreneurs, as ThisDay reports here.
- Mar 9th: B2B publishing and events business Informa has further strengthened its presence in global markets, with the acquisition of Tarsus. The latter has built a strong presence in the regions of Asia, China, the Middle East and the Americas, which Informa says will allow it to expand its service even further in these markets.
- Mar 8th: The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) says that travel in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is recovering more rapidly than in any other region. According to the organisations most recent Business Travel Index Outlook, and reported here by eTurboNews, MEA business travel achieved 86% of its 2019 levels during 2022, outperforming the recovery in Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe.
- Mar 8th: UK actor, Idris Elba, who recently met with the Presidents of both Ghana and Tanzania to lay out potential plans for new film studios, says that it is critical for African countries to thrive as creative hubs: “Its stories have been misunderstood, mis-told. The narrative could do with a shift. What I’m doing as an actor, I’m a link in the chain, creating facilitation around the industry and offering people the chance to tell those stories,” he told ITV.
- Mar 8th: Spain has expressed interest in investing in Nigerian music, according to Arise News. Speaking at VIS A VIS, a flagship meeting between the African music industry and Spanish music producers aimed at the internationalisation of African music, Juan Sell, the Spanish Government’s Ambassador to Nigeria, expressed willingness for further investment in the sector following previous collaborations. The Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Authority, Folorunsho Coker, said: “This project will open up the potentials in the creative industry in Nigeria.”
- Mar 2nd: TechCrunch runs a story titled ‘Big Tech on notice as regulators in Africa group to investigate their market conduct’. Africa Contributor, Annie Njanja, says that numerous competition watchdogs on the continent plan to collectively interrogate big tech firms, following a decision by the regulators from Kenya, Egypt, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Morocco, Gambia and Zambia last month to set up a working group for collaboration over concerns related to competition and consumer welfare in Africa.
- Feb 27th: IFC and Viva Technology today announced the second edition of the AfricaTech Awards, an initiative to spotlight Africa-focused companies with innovative solutions addressing key development challenges linked to climate change, health care, and financial inclusion. Founders are invited to apply for the awards in three categories – climate tech, fintech, and health tech. All the details here.
- Feb 23rd: African Business publishes an article titled ‘Africa’s media and entertainment industry at a crossroads’, examining the growing – and changing – nature of the continent’s CCI sectors. “The entertainment sector in Africa is still very much emerging and we have barely scratched the surface of what can be achieved by investing in African creativity,” says Marie Lora-Mungai, Founder of Restless Global, a strategic advisory firm specialised in the African creative and sport sectors. “The tech giants “know that their next billion users will come from Africa, which is why they are all investing heavily in the continent’s internet infrastructure”.
- Feb 20th: Zambia has in recent months and years focussed its growth efforts on becoming a regional hub in Southern Africa. It is now introducing a new form of technology to help regulate cryptocurrency in the country, in a move that it hopes will help to bolster its digital economy and attract further investment.
- Feb 20th: Dentsu Africa has teamed up with Moving Walls – a global outdoor advertising technology provider. Together, the two will launch a full-stack Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising technology platform across multiple countries, as outdoor advertising on the continent continues to see strong investment compared with other parts of the world.
- Feb 19th: The 36th African Union summit has taken place, convening heads of state and government officials from the 55 AU member states in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. High on the agenda was the consideration of ‘Unlocking Africa’s creative capital’ and ahead of the event, Michelle Mendi Muita, Regional Communications Specialist for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said: “The depth of artistic talent is rich across the continent, but there needs to be investment in mentorship, business and skills training, and connecting them to international partnerships that could increase their visibility globally.”
- Feb 19th: The Art Newspaper reports on Investec’s Cape Town Art Fair, and emphasises the growing global demand for African artists. ‘Key collectors were spotted,’ writes Journalst Riah Pryor, ‘including Paul and Nicola Harris of the Click Foundation and there was representation from international institutions among the VIP crowds—including rumours of key staff members from Art Basel, the Museum MMK für Moderne Kunst and Liverpool Biennale.’
- Feb 18th: In a recent speech delivered at the 2nd edition of the Black History Festival 2023 in Columbus, Ohio and reported here by MyJoyOnline, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Digital Center, Kwadwo Baah Agyemang says that ICT strategies adopted by the NPP government have made Ghana a conducive place to invest. “Ghana’s investment climate favourably provides for enabling environment that is suitable for investment in ICT, especially with several companies around the world rushing to set up their business in Ghana. I want to entreat you all diasporans, other nationals and organisations to come to Ghana and invest in the land of golden opportunities,” he said.
- Feb 15th: BellaNaija publishes a piece looking at six key takeaways from its panel at Africa NXT 2023, which took place earlier this week. In it, the publication discusses its session on ‘The Role of Creative Media In Advancing Africa’s Creative Industry’ and looks at themes around collaboration, cultural heritage, African brands and more.
- Feb 14th: UNESCO will provide a total of $900,000 from its International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD) to 11 projects that advance the global creative economy in 2023, it has announced in a press release. This year’s African beneficiaries include Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and Tunisia, and you can find out more about the individual projects here.
- Feb 7th: French investor Partech has seen its second AfricaTech LP vehicle achieve €245 million in funding, surpassing expectations. Investors include the likes of South Suez Capital, KfW, European Investment Bank, World Bank’s IFC, British International Investment, and more. The fund intends to invest $1 million to $15 million per initial funding ticket, partnering with start-ups anywhere from seed to growth stage.
- Feb 7th: Funmi Modupe, the principal consultant of Schoolingyonda, has told Business Day that Nigeria and other West African countries need to inject more dance, fashion, and music into their education programmes to increase education tourism in the region. “Restructuring the arts with a good blend of traditional and contemporary dance will spark positive global attention,” Modupe said.
- Feb 7th: ASP’s own Africa Soft Power Summit launch event took place in Lagos over the weekend, and it’s covered here in The Guardian Nigeria. We were delighted to invite a range of partners and delegates to the Sunday evening mixer, which focussed firmly on collaboration and leveraging the continent’s creative and cultural industries (CCI) to propel Africa forward, both domestically and on the world stage.
- Feb 6th: This year’s Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) Challenge is now open for entries, offering entrants the opportunity to win €450,000. The challenge is open to entrepreneurs working across Africa’s creative, cultural and tech industries, as part of the group’s wider objective to leverage the continent’s creative and cultural industries to create future growth.
- Feb 6th: Naomi Campbell took to the runway for Arise Fashion Week in Lagos last week, helping to showcase the latest creations from African designers. The event began originally as a music and fashion festival, organised by ThisDay, and has become a highlight of the global fashion calendar.
- Feb 6th: New research from Disrupt Africa shows that investment into the African tech start-up ecosystem passed the $3 billion mark for the first time last year. In total, In 633 startups raised a combined US$3,333,071,000 during the course of the year, despite a macro-level global downturn in investments at large.
- Feb 3rd: The US-Africa Business Summit will be held in Gaborone, Botswana, from July 11th – 14th, the Corporate Council on Africa has announced. H.E. Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana, reiterated his Government’s commitment to hosting what wil be the 15th incarnation of the US-Africa Business Summit (USABS) this year, noting that key cabinet officials are ready to mobilise their ministries and work collaboratively with CCA and the private sector to organize a highly successful Summit.
- Feb 2nd: Variety runs an article titled ‘Fighting Off Global Rivals Like Netflix, African SVODs Tout Tailor-Made Local Strategies’, looking at the continent’s self-made streaming landscape. Speaking at the JBX Content Market event alongside the Joburg Film Festival, Lala Tuku – Head of Local Productions at South African pubcaster SABC, said: “our focus is making sure that we are telling our own stories in our own languages for people to see themselves.”
- Feb 1st: Atalayar has published an article titled ‘Morocco enjoys Africa’s second most exuberant cultural heritage’. The piece comes on the back of FITUR – the International Tourism Trade Fair, which took place in Madrid last month and included participation from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). The ranking comes from USNews, which identifies Morocco as the second richest country in terms of culture across the Middle East and Africa, behind only Egypt.
- Feb 1st: Black History Month (US leg) is now officially upon us. In the States, it’s also known as African-American history month, and artists of this background enjoyed a raft of success at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards, hosted in LA on Feb 5th. Of course more broadly, there are numerous guides and explainers out there as to how you can take part in the festivities, and this one from Amazon provides a good starting point.
- Jan 30th: Tech buyout fund Convergence Partners has raised a further $296m, for a fund that will focus on African tech assets. The injection reportedly brings the total amount of funds being managed by the firm up to $600m, and investments will be made largely in the infrastructural side of African tech, including datacentres and undersea cables.
- Jan 21st: African Business publishes the full list of winners from the 8th All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA), which features artists such as Burna Boy and Dadju. The event took place in Dakar, Senegal and streamed live on YouTube. The Google-owned video-streaming platform partnered with AFRIMA to help deliver workshop sessions to African creatives at the Africa Music Business Summit and will also partner on a special incubator programme dubbed AFRIMA Creative Academy, which aims to empower one million African (and diaspora) artists in the music and creative industry in the next five years.
- Jan 20th: Cassava Technologies has started work on a new 15MW data centre in Nairobi. Hardy Pemhiwa, Group President & CEO for the company, said: “Our decision to increase our investment in our data centres in Kenya is in recognition of the position the country now occupies as a leader in the adoption of digital technologies in Africa.”
- Jan 20th: Moroccan capital, Rabat, which has been named African Capital of Culture for 2022 & 2023 by United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa), will host a special convening on January 24th to mark the World Day of African and Afro-descendant Culture (JMCA). It is the first time that activities related to the official commemoration of the JMCA will be held in North Africa, and the day’s proceedings will begin with an inaugural lecture by Professor Célestin Monga of Harvard University (US) whose subject is: ‘History of Africa, History of Humanity’.
- Jan 20th: ‘Even as VC funding dries up across the world, development finance institutions (DFIs) are looking to African startups to deploy their dry powder,’ states an article published today by TechCrunch. Reporter Annie Njanja says that British International Investment (BII) – a DFI from the UK – will deploy US$500 million into start-ups by the end of 2026, and half of that amount has been earmarked for African tech companies.
- Jan 19th: TechCabal asks ‘Can African fintech startups build global solutions?’ and says that financial technology companies in Africa are the centrepiece of the continent’s start-up ecosystem. ‘The reality is: for Africa to build for the world, it must first build for itself and tackle domestic problems with world-class solutions,” writes TechCabal Reporter Caleb Nnamani. ‘Our logistics system operates far below efficiency, intra-continent supply chains are fragmented, and except for the few fintechs connecting Africa through payments, cross-border payments in Africa is onerous, expensive, and complex.
- Jan 19th: An article published from the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos says ‘social entrepreneurs can drive an inclusive “Africa’s century”’. The article looks at new initiative, Africa Forward, which calls for strategic shift on the continent based on 5 key pillars: narrative shift, ecosystem development, finding, job creation and career counselling, training & capacity development.
- Jan 19th: Forbes has unveiled its 50 Over 50 list for 2023, for women across Europe, Middle East and Africa. Names from the continent include Zimbabwean Author & Filmmaker, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nigerian Textile Artist, Nike Davies-Okundaye, and Egyptian Jewellery Designer, Azza Fahmy, amongst others.
- Jan 18th: The Dikan Center, a new visual education space in Accra, which hosts Africa’s first photo library, and has a photo studio and classroom space for workshops as well as exhibitions and shows, is now open. “We are determined never to leave behind any person, idea, history, culture and concept and facility necessary in reimagining and firming the place of visual education in building a modernised African economy,” said Dikan Center Founder Paul Ninson.
- Jan 18th: Rama Yade, Senior Director of the Africa Center & Senior Fellow for the Europe Center, provides a useful summary for the Atlantic Council, on ‘how President Biden can build on the promise of his Africa summit’, and how African geopolitical relationships have developed over the past year more generally. In it, she looks at the $50bn investment the administration has pledged to the continent over the next 3yrs, Africa’s changing relationship with China & Russia, and US plans to strengthen relationships with existing organisations such as ProsperAfrica, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the US Export-Import Bank, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and the Development Finance Corporation.
- Jan 18th: In South Africa, real estate sector start-up Flow has secured US$4.5 million in pre-Series A funding. The platform connects directly with real estate websites to create automated advertising for them across social media platforms. The two founders had previously built an ad-tech and performance marketing company, which they sold to Publicis in 2015.
- Jan 18th: ZAWYA publishes an update from the International Trade Centre, which says that African start-ups ‘wooed investors, networked and showcased their products at two of the world’s biggest tech gatherings in Europe’. The events in question are Web Summit in Lisbon and Slush in Helsinki, which African entrepreneurs – amongst others – attended to secure funding. ‘For African tech startups, finding investors means getting into the spaces where venture capitalists gather,’ says the piece.
- Jan 17th: Atalayar reports on the recent meeting between the Madrid Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Forum, and West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA). In an article titled ‘West Africa: a great opportunity for investment in tourism’, the publication says that the member UEMOA states of Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo are currently collaborating with the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), and view the sector as a key way to leverage Africa’s existing creative and cultural assets to help boost economic growth.
- Jan 17th: MyJoyOnline reveals the 126 nominees shortlisted from 24 countries in the Forty Under 40 Africa Awards 2023, along with the individuals on the judging panel. Organised by Xodus Communications Limited and being hosted by South African law firm, Black White Attorneys, the event is due to take place on March 25th at the Leonardo Hotel in South Africa, and celebrate leading Africans from across industry sectors.
- Jan 17th: South African mobile gaming and web3 start-up, Carry1st has raised $27M in the latest funding round led by BITKRAFT Ventures, a gaming focussed VC firm with participation from American VC Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) (recently backed Asimov, Flow) TTV Capital, Alumni Ventures, Lateral Capital, Kepple Ventures, and Konvoy.
- Jan 16th: Ventures Africa reports on 5 platforms ‘helping shape the creative industries in Africa’. These include Empawa Africa – an African talent incubation enterprise, New comma – a social media platform reimagining Africa’s talent directory by creating an ecosystem where creatives can connect, create, learn and earn, Selar – an e–commerce tool for creator, Wowzi – an online marketplace that “democratizes” influence, and Ananse Africa – a marketplace for authentically African, independent artisans, and brands to sell their stories locally and in international markets.
- Jan 16th: ZAWYA reports on new African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) developments, after nine young mentees presented their final ‘Youth for AfCFTA Mentorship Programme’ assignments. Mentee, Ms. Jessica Debby Ndjadila, said that Africa’s youth understood the enablers of the free trade area such as IT, supply chain management, and fintech, and that “African governments should prioritize intellectual property rights protection,” calling for fiscal policies to drive entrepreneurs into content distribution and the democratization of access to broadband connectivity.
- Jan 15th: Mail & Guardian writer, Mary Corrigall, pens an article asking, ‘What is pulling the plug on digital arts in South Africa?’ In it, she explains that despite there being 60 animation studios and 49 gaming ones in the country, only a handful are generating their own intellectual property and there is little local investment in these digital arts sectors.
- Jan 9th: How we made it in Africa runs a story titled, ‘Dakar establishing itself as a global destination for the creative industries’, which explores how the city is playing a key role in putting African creativity and culture on the map, as one of the 22 global UNESCO Creative Cities of Media Arts, and off the back of a three day Senegalese Chanel Métiers d’Art show in December. Interestingly, the story is written by Bird Story Agency, a company supported by #AfricaNoFilter, designed to shift narratives about and in Africa, away from dangerous stereotypes. The story has also subsequently appeared in Quartz Africa.
- Jan 8th: This Day reports on the British Council Creative Economy Showcase Programme, which runs from last November through to March 2023 and aims to stimulate links among Nigerian creatives by providing them access to the British Council exhibition spaces in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Lagos and Kano states. The four curators appointed to review performance submissions in each state are: Creative Arts and Visual Imagery Centre (CAVIC) in Abuja, TASCK in Lagos, StartUp South in Port Harcourt and StartUp Kano in Kano. ‘The creative industries are receiving attention as a future link to economic prosperity,’ says the article.
- Jan 5th: Emerging technology company, TV Anywhere (TVA), has partnered with MTN and Target Media to launch South Sudan’s first mobile television platform – MTN TV+. Users will be able to access live television broadcasts from both local and international television stations as well as Video on Demand (VOD) Content on smartphones and other smart devices like tablets and smart TVs.