By Judy Bryant Communications
Published October 7, 2013
A three-day conference on African Creative Economy has challenged policymakers and practitioners to help fulfill the African Dream through creative and cultural sectors.
â€œIt is impossible to gainsay the value of Africaâ€™s creative industries when it comes to jump-starting the continentâ€™s political and economic development. Like a phoenix, Africa is rising from over a century of colonialism followed by phantom liberation to become, potentially, the engine of the planetâ€™s growth until the end of this century and beyond. The continentâ€™s cultural and artistic communities have an instrumental role to play in making the African dream a reality.â€
This was the message delivered by Dr Israel Kodiaga during his opening address at the launch of the African Creative Economy Conference 2013, which runs at Cape Townâ€™s City Hall October 6-9, 2013. Dr Kodiaga, Director of Programmes, Research and Strategic Development at African Centre of International Studies in Kenya, is one of the speakers at the conference; the biggest event of its type ever held on the continent.
Attracting around 400 delegates from more than 40 countries in Africa and beyond, this is the third African Creative Economy Conference organised by the ARTerial Network that describes itself as a dynamic grouping of individuals, non-government organisations, donors, businesses, festivals and institutions dedicated to building Africaâ€™s creative and cultural sector.
The conference implementing agency is the Cape Craft & Design Institute.
Previous conferences in Nairobi (2011) and Dakar (2012) are said to have played a leading role in creating markets and raising the profile of Africaâ€™s artistic and cultural industries regionally and internationally. The aim of this yearâ€™s conference is to focus attention on how the continentâ€™s creative industries can play a meaningful role in accelerating Africaâ€™s economic growth, while building democracy and human rights.
Commenting on the conference format, Korkor Amarteifio, Chairperson, ARTerial Network, said: â€œThis will be a conference with a difference. Delegates will be invited to share ideas and research through formal and informal presentations. At the same time, there will be a strong emphasis on the arts in practice. Among other areas, our programme will celebrate African talent in film, literature, theatre, music, fashion, food, craft â€“ and much more.â€
Meanwhile, Dr Kodiaga concluded his opening address by laying down a challenge to his audience. While acknowledging that Africa still faces enormous obstacles when it comes to resolving the problems of its past, its future has never looked brighter.
â€œBut Africaâ€™s musicians, thespians, satirists, sculptors and other creative individuals must now lead from the front in the push to place Africa in its rightful place among the community of nations.â€
The conference is running in parallel with the African Creative Market, a programme of film screenings, music events, dance performances, book discussions, art shows and craft exhibitions at venues in Langa and in central Cape Townâ€™s design and innovation district.
Nearly 30 speakers and panellists include Stephen Chifunyise, UNESCO Technical Expert on cultural policy, Zimbabwe; Dr Dauoada Cisse, Research Fellow at the Centre for Chinese Studies, University of Stellenbosch; and Bernard Bakaye, a culture policy expert and head of the Culture and Sports department of the East African Community.
Creative entrepreneurs sharing their success stories include Senegalese rap musician Didier Awadi, Moroccan theatre-maker and playwright Jaouad Essounani, DRC-born, SA-based film-maker Johnny Muteba, CEO of Mobi Changa in Kenya (mobile fund-raising technology) Kyai Mullei, Lagos Fashion and Design Week founder Omoyemi Akerele, South African social entrepreneur Patrick Schofield and Kenyan musician Suzanna Owiyo.
A round table of international funders includes Anne-Lise Langoy, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Idriss Nor, Doen Foundation; Jasper Walgrave, Pro Helvetia; Dr Noha El-Mikawy, Ford Foundation; and Dr Katharina von Ruckteschell, Goethe Institute, Sub-Saharan Africa.
Researchers engaged by Arterial Network will also present their â€œAfrica in Numbersâ€ findings, which will include up-to-date indicators on economies and the creative industries; development (health, education/literacy, etc.); democracy (governance and human rights); and corruption and transparency.