The successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has been identified as critical in boosting regional cooperation in the creative economy and the cultural industry in Africa.
International law and finance expert, Dr Jennifer Douglas, who spoke on the theme: “The Creative Economy: Strategies for Advancing the Industry in Africa,” in an event on the sidelines of the African Union meeting, held February 21, 2023, said the AFCTA encourages regional cross-pollination and gives the opportunity to promote regional collaboration in the creative industry through co-production and joint projects.
She said AFCTA encourages each country to build its own domestic market, then adopt the AfCFTA to create one huge “domestic market” for creatives across the continent.
With the expected increase in trade, a huge single African market for creative products should emerge, she added.
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Douglas, who is the founder of the Gede Foundation, said the core problem remains that the seduction of the creative industry has yet to embed the same way traditional industries, business and entrepreneurship have dominated the economy, even though, the creative economy across Africa and the Middle East generated $58 billion dollars in 2013.
A survey by Africa Filter Organisation on the creative industry, in 2022, found some 48% of African youths ages 18 – 35 years believe a traditional career in sports, for example, is more lucrative than a career in the creative industry. The report also found that 78% of youths in that age range spent little or no money on arts and on cultural past-time.
“But, the good news is that 82% (up to 97% in Nigeria and Kenya) of those interviewed admired the creative industry. The stats are important as youths are the propellers of the creative sector. How can we channel the 82% admiration to concrete action? First, address the core challenges,” she said.
The Royal Society of Arts, England fellow, stated that with accelerators, “we can copy from the equity market to build creative accelerators/incubators. When something works well in one sector, why not clone it for another sector? Then we can tweak it for the real-life needs of creatives. Build exchanges for art auctions and platforms for policy advocacy. Build incentives for innovation that emerge from the incubators”.
African nations currently trade only about 15 per cent of their goods and services with each other, and the AfCFTA aims to boost that by 60 per cent by 2034 with the elimination of almost all tariffs.