“Africa has a tremendous cultural heritage and high levels of creativity, as we have seen in different disciplines such as in film, music, art, crafts, design and audio visuals,” Carolina Quintana from the creative economy programme at United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) told CNBC Africa on Tuesday.
“We believe that there is an untapped potential for using this creativity and talents of Africa in order to generate jobs and income, and generate development.”
Creative industries in the continent have the ability to drive transformation and can act as pervasive vehicles for social change.
“There is potential of these creative industries to create jobs [and] incomes if well harnessed. Partly that’s why we, the East African Community, are working hard to ensure that we invest in these industries to develop them into economic sectors which can contribute to economic growth in our region,” said Bernard Bakaye, head of culture and sports department of the East African Community.
Regional and continental policies however need to support creative industries in order for them to grow into viable economic sectors.
“We need to have the support of governments, this is very important. We need to support the arts through policy making from a national, local to city level. Secondly, despite all the talent and the creativity that is available in Africa, we still need to instil more business sense,” Quintana explained.
“In that context, I think that the associations, international organisations and the governments should be supporting entrepreneurship development skills and helping them in opening new markets.”
Conferences such as the African Creative Economy Conference, which is currently underway in Cape Town, brings across players from across the continent will allow insight on ideas and products, and create opportunities for collaboration.
The conference will also assist in creating easier market channels for African artists, as developing countries have difficulty in accessing the international platforms in their industry.
“Collaboration is coming into play. Our artists have realised that there is [a] need to cross-fertilise these products so that the consumers are able to appreciate these products and be able even to sustain the market,” said Bakaye.
“Gone are the days when they could do it alone and be able to sustain the market. The collaboration is what is helping them.”