Cheryl Ankrah-NewtonBy Cheryl Ankrah-Newton|May 31, 2022|6 Minutes|In Opinion


Why bet on a creative?

Whether it is music, film, or art, Africa has had a colorful and thriving culture at its core since the very beginning.

Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry, alone accounted for 1.4 percent ($7.2bn) of Nigeria’s GDP in 2016. Moreover, Africa’s cultural goods sector is estimated to employ about half a million people and is expected to contribute $4.2 billion to the continent’s revenue.

Despite these significant numbers, only 1.1 percent of the total African start-up investment was received by the cultural and creative industries in 2019.

While 2020 saw an investment boost in the entertainment industry, the creative sector as a whole still lagged behind most other sectors, securing only 2% of the total funding. Developing Africa’s creative sector could lead to job creation in many other sectors, with the most significant one being retail.

While Africa’s retail sector was already considered challenged, the pandemic further exacerbated the difficulties in its path.

Recognizing African designers and investing in their talent can be monumental in creating millions of jobs in the retail sector alone. A great example in this realm is the African designer Kenneth Ize Kenneth used his collaboration with the French conglomerate LVMH to bring Africa to the forefront of the fashion world by embedding Africa’s rich cultural history into his designs.

Another great example is the Ghanaian streetwear brand Free the Youth which has had a significant global impact with its revolutionary designs, gradually building an empire and serving fellow Africa.

Investing in fashion pioneers like these can take Africa’s retail and manufacturing economy to the next level by continuing to increase Africa’s global demand, create local jobs, and decrease poverty levels. Additionally, Africa’s entertainment industry – such as film and music – can bring more exposure to its cultural heritage. This could garner increased interest from foreign investors in our local property development and further boost Africa’s economic future.

All of this combines to make for a compelling argument in favor of increasing the African creative industry’s overall funding. One of the biggest reasons why investors hesitate to fund the creative industry is due to its complex value chain.

For instance, from production to the distribution of a film, there are a plethora of steps involved in the entire process of film-making. Now, the plus side is that this array of activities in the middle produces ample employment opportunities.

However, this factor also contributes to the industry’s vulnerability. With all the different teams involved, one team’s underperformance can endanger the entire production and so, for investors, it is risky business.

Moreover, creative industries are highly localized. This means Africa’s value chain would differ from that of other places. This further adds to the complexity associated with understanding the whole creative process. If investors understand the complexities associated with the African creative industry’s value chains, this can bring in sizeable funding to this sector.

Protecting our young creatives is crucial to the well-being of Africa’s economic future and to helping the vulnerable working population. It is imperative to search for a profitable model that capitalizes on the innovation such a large amount of young workforce has to offer.

This is why the creative sector is important. The cultural and creative industries of Africa are amongst the largest employers of the youth. They also act as an important export market by lending a hand in retail, film, music, etc., further contributing to Africa’s global influence.

Not just that, most of the cultural and creative industries are essentially immune to recessions as they depend on local talent and demands. This means that the stronger they are, the more stable the economic conditions will be for the continent.


Africa’s creative sector has long suffered from underinvestment, largely due to risk-averse banking.

Many potential investors shy away from investing in Africa’s ever-growing creative industry due to a lack of knowledge and disconnect with the elements involved in the African creative value chain.

Therefore, more awareness needs to be targeted towards this area to ease investors into funding this sector. Another factor that sets the entertainment industry back is the increasingly high data costs.

With COVID-19, online entertainment has never been more in-demand. But the high data costs by internet providers are proving to be a wedge between consumers and creative African professionals With such a clear demand for digital content, data costs should decrease to benefit both the consumer and the artist.

There is no lack of innovation in a continent as diverse as Africa. Each country in this vast continent has something unique to offer in terms of art and culture.

With a rapid-growing youth that is set on driving change throughout the whole continent, investors have a golden opportunity to fund Africa’s creative industry. More investment into the creative sector can further boost other areas of the economy as well, including two of the most important contributing factors to any continent’s economic growth: retail and property development!