Growing digital content creation in Africa

16 June 2015

There are indications that the digital content industry offers significant economic and cultural benefits to the African economy. While Africa is currently a small player within the global digital industry, it has the potential to grow. 

For example, just the digital multimedia games development sector is worth around US$20 billion globally. In South Africa, PWC has estimated that “the South African entertainment and media (E&M) market will generate estimated overall revenues of R175.4 billion in 2017, having increased from R104.8 billion in 2012 – a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.9%. Internet will remain the major force behind the growth in E&M revenues”. In 2012, World Wide Worx stated that the South African digital economy currently stands at approximately R59 billion or 2 percent of South Africa’s GDP (Agriculture contributes 2,1 percent to SA’s GDP – to give a sense of perspective). The digital economy is growing significantly. E-commerce is growing at 30 percent a year and the potential for expansion is great when one considers that more people are coming online as a result of the increase in the use of smartphones and cheaper broadband rates. In South Africa, as broadband becomes more prevalent and TV’s gain more intelligence, the switch from Analogue to Digital TV broadcasting will create significant opportunities for creativity and innovation. TVs are already capable of connecting to the internet. Jobs in the ICT industry will open up for young people and the Internet will be the starting point on this path forward. 

Additionally, Africa is the fastest growing continent in the world. Initiatives like the Rockefeller Foundation Digital Jobs for Africa (DJA) recognise that as Africa’s economic growth continues, the digital economy will have a net positive impact on jobs and income generation, particularly for youth. 

However, despite its size and potential, the digital content industry remains poorly defined and with few acceptable national or international standards for its measurement. This lack of benchmarking or clear definition for the industry poses a challenge to policy makers seeking to assist the growth of the industry.

Smart African cities and regions are positioning themselves to play a leading role in the growth of the digital economy on the continent. African Ideas is there to guide these cities and regions with effective strategies and implementation plans. 

Example Project: Western Cape
The Western Cape Government (WCG) has adopted an aggressive telecommunications strategy that proposes making broadband Internet services accessible and affordable to every household in the Western Cape by 2020. To turn this strategy into reality, the WCG has embarked upon various initiatives in the broadband space, addressing various aspects of the value chain. 

The digital content industry is clearly a very important part of this value chain and the development of a vibrant and innovative e-content cluster, is one of the priorities identified by the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT). 

African Ideas, is advising and guiding DEDAT in this process. In keeping with African Ideas human centred design thinking philosophy, where the people who face particular problems on a daily basis are the ones who hold the key to their answer, DEDAT is embarking upon a consultative and collaborative approach in this project.

The digital content field encompasses a wide range of industry sub-sectors either directly or indirectly. These include highly creative sectors such as those engaged in multimedia games development, digital Film and TV, music and visual arts, publishing, graphic design and advertising and marketing agencies. However, it can also include the more technical fields such  as industrial designers, structural engineers, architects,  sound  engineers,  those engaged in the spatial sciences (e.g. surveyors and map makers), and training and education services sectors.

The process of consultation and collaboration, guided and facilitated by African Ideas, encompasses this wide range of diverse stakeholders. Emerging from this process will be a practical strategy, roadmap and key initiatives guided by the actual needs of the industry. This is an innovative project that aims to move away from old style, bureaucratic, top down government planning to a more agile, human centred design thinking based approach.

As part of this initiative, African Ideas is hosting an online discussion on behalf of the Western Cape Government. You can link to this discussion here or by clicking on the logo below.

We are a strategy and innovation company focused on Africa. Our services focus on strategic planning, research and disruptive innovation especially related to the impact of digitisation across society.