By Ojoma Ochai
At the end of October 2021, I left my role as the Regional Director of the British Council’s Arts and Creative Economy Programme in Sub Saharan Africa to start a new adventure setting up a Creative Economy focused practice with CcHub. Our vision for the practice is to stimulate innovation and technology application in the African Creative Economy by running a range of projects and initiatives including ecosystem and community development activities, research and insight sharing, investment readiness programmes and investor advocacy.
With the benefit of reflection and rest over the holidays, I am more committed than ever to see through this vision which will result in more value capture and sector growth in the immediate and long term. So, 2022 will be dedicated to building.
Our focus in the Creative Economy Practice in 2022 aligns with our aspirations for the sector(s) as follows:
1. Ubuntu — fundamentally, a situation where, a stronger sense of our shared histories and destinies as Africans, stimulates more Intra-African cooperation. This needs to be a year that we make strategic choices as a continent and as individual countries, to collaboratively leverage our Creative Economies — for economic growth and COVID -19 recovery, but also to express our culture and identity and share our world views with each other and with well… the world!
2. More Tech Sector and Creative Economy collaboration. As a practice, we will leverage our experience and the talent and capacity across both industries to build and scale more technology-enabled business models in the Creative Economy. I am thinking of solutions for addressing information gaps, supply chain gaps and the whole range of monetization gaps we have across these sectors (among others). This area of work also requires a more sophisticated approach to Intellectual Property ownership, which we will support. This is a year to see us creating new IP in content yes, but also in hardware, software and innovation that will change our sectors fundamentally. Across this, we need to see more adoption and application of technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain (and NFTs) and even Extended Reality. In addition to the work through the practice, I will also champion and work on this through my role on the board of ₿Trust -the trust set up by Jack Dorsey and Jay Z to stimulate Bitcoin Development in Africa and beyond. .
3. More capital deployed into the Creative Economy in Africa. And more African Capital. If you say more money means more problems, well… I hope we attract billions of problems in our sector in 2022. We will work to attract the right type — not just debt (loans) but a more mixed model of capital inflow from friends, family to philanthropy, Angel and Impact Investing and Private Equity.
4. I hope 2022 is the year when we will start to see initiatives that support more academia — private sector collaboration to enhance the talent pipeline, share resources and infrastructure and generate useful research. We have inspiration from CcHub’s work in other sectors (e.g through the AfDB funded innovation hubs at the University of Ibadan and Jomo Kenyatta University, Nairobi) to build on.
5. More convening spaces across the continent where we can share and enjoy art and creativity again is needed. While it seems like everything has moved online, as a practice, we will make sure we don’t forget the joy (and the wine with strangers) that is only possible through in-person artistic and creative experiences.
6. More diversity in the skills mix working in our sectors — analysts, economic, business administrators and developers, people in marketing, HR, accounting and so on, to contribute to professionalizing the sector.
And let the people say AMEN.