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Stakeholders chart way for creative, cultural industries

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Balonwu


2020, no doubt, will remain memorable in the minds of many because of the haunting experience it left behind. It was one tough year for the creative economy in the world over.

As a result of its negative impact and the huge economic losses many suffered, particularly in Africa, Dr. Nkiru Balonwu, founder of the Africa Soft Power (ASP) project, leveraged her platform to examine how creatives could, through their creativity, improve the economy.

Held from May 5 to 25, the virtual summit attracted over 80 stakeholders in the industry. The sessions were insightful and highly engaging, as they looked at broader spectrum of issues from creative power, knowledge economy to performances and how these assets could strengthen ties among countries within the African continent, diaspora community and the wider world.

Apart from harping on the progressive movement of Africa’s Creative and Cultural industries (CCIs), the summit also drew attention to May 5 and May 25, saying it was not a coincidence that the event began on May 5, which is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recognised date as Africa’s World Heritage Day, while May 25 is the anniversary of African Union (AU), formerly the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

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With the theme, The Bridge: The Past, The Present, The Future, the convener, Balonwu noted that two days in one month were not enough to honour and engage the rich history, culture and legacy of Africa, Africans and African descendants in the Diaspora, stressing it is time to take this bold step to further establish the celebration of Africa’s rich history, culture, and dynamic contemporary industries within wider global conversations.

According to the convener, this year’s Grammy Award successes of Wizkid and Burna Boy show that Africa has come of age and it is time for Africans to take their place in the global space.

She said: “The global reach of these artistes and the inspiration that they bring is not only to Africa and its Diaspora community, but also to young people around the world. It highlights the growing influence of African creativity globally. The creative and cultural sectors can be a strong catalyst for investment, employment and future economic growth across the continent and beyond.”

Speaking on the theme, the co-convener, Obi Asika, said the bridge is all about connecting and enabling Africa and the global black people in the Diaspora to engage, build and develop together, a more progressive future — a more connecting future that will benefit world.

Openning the session with, African Now: Defining The Future, French diplomat, Ambassador Rama Yade, called for African leaders to put the right infrastructure in place and to also encourage synergy among the youths and the creative in the continent.

The French diplomat disclosed that the future is very bright for African countries to key in and to attract foreign investors in the creatives and cultural industries (CCI). She urged creatives across the African continent to partner their contemporaries in other climes across the globe to enhance their performances and make themselves more marketable.

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Speaking on, Stirring The Pot: The Globalisation Of African Cuisine And The Stories Within The Flavours,’ Siba Mtongana, celebrity chef and founder, The Siba Co.; Marc Kwesi Farell, founder and CEO, Ten-To-One Rum, dwelt on the need to properly package and showcase the diverse African cuisines, adding that people are now more sensitive of what goes into their stomach and as such it would be proper for experts in the area to tell the nutritional values of the cuisines and how to preserve them without losing their health values.

Expounding on the ‘Intersections Between Finance, Technology and Creativity,’ Susan Chapman-Hughes, former global team leader of EVP/GM, Global Digital Capabilities, said, building connections between Africa and the global black community are critical for the Diaspora to be on the cutting edge of digital transformation as it will ensure competitiveness and connection for generations to come.

Corroborating her views, Tenu Awoonor of Blu Penguin and other speakers called for proper funding of the sector, adding that such leverage will further boost the sector and engage more youths, while further opening the African economy to the world.

They highlighted how Africa’s youths are taking decisive steps in different fields and becoming global leaders and also making the voice of the people to be heard across the globe.

The speakers also urged youths not to only depend on government for all their needs, saying they should think outside the box and go beyond talks to securing a future for Africa and its people in the global economic and cultural space. They called on the African youths, including those in the Diaspora to explore tangible strategies and new initiatives to accelerate economic growth, while retelling the African story on the world stage.

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Rounding off the summit with, Black Is King: Of Culture And Rhythm, the session had a generous doses of films, music, fashion, artworks and other theatrics produced by Africans and on Africans.

Commenting on the segment, Yofi Grant, CEO, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, observed that music, art, film, fashion and all other forms of creative expression have one thing in common — the ability to effectively connect and involve people through narrative and the African continent is no stranger to this phenomenon.

He noted that ASP has optimally created the platform for thought provoking and insightful conversations aimed at transforming the African creative industry, spanning the music, arts, movie and fashion industries.

Speaking on the sub-section: Africa Is Not Next, Africa Is Now, Dr. Uzodinma Iweala, CEO, The Africa Centre, Harlem community, New York City, noted that at a time where African voices on the continent and throughout the Diaspora continue to push the dialogue about what is possible for Africa and its people forward, there is no better moment than now for all Africans, including those in the Diaspora to turn their attention towards one another in a manner that will benefit.

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