African creatives in the emerging technologies industries of Extended Reality (XR), Animation, eSports, eGames and Films said the industry’s ecosystem in Nigeria and Africa is grossly underfunded.
The creatives who spoke at the Creation Africa forum, advocated the need for targeted funding of the industry’s variant ecosystem and the creation of a conducive environment necessary for it to thrive.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP, musician, filmmaker and founder of eSports platform, Contender, Sidney Esiri aka Dr Sid, noted that while Nigeria has a fast developing and influential creative space, it is quite behind in all aspects emerging technology, with funding as a major obstacle.
“Animation, gaming, eSports, XR, all these areas need different kinds of funding, partnerships and collaborations. Creation Africa forum is a good opportunity for us to get that,” said the creative entrepreneur on a quest to roll off his gaming platform and animation project.
Founder of Imisi 3D, a Nigerian XR organization, Judith Okonkwo, lamented the ‘critically under-resourced’ status of the XR ecosystem in Africa.
Okonkwo who in the past decade has been working with young African talents in the tech industry via Accelerating Talent, and the development of the XR ecosystem across the continent, reiterated the availability of abundance of talents therein, whilst stressing the need for Africa voices in shaping the forms these technologies take.
However, underfunding and the absence of a conducive environment to boost the XR ecosystem impacts what foundational efforts creative entrepreneurs have made at the grassroots.
“The more opportunities to support those who are currently doing work in the field, and actually create an environment that encourages more people to get involved with the technologies, the better for us,” said Okonkwo.
Similarly, they recommended attention should be paid to women, and women minorities, in the emerging technologies space such as eGames and eSports that are particularly, white-male dominated.
“We need to teach girls that gaming jobs are not just technical. That they can take up not just the technical jobs in the industry, but creative (and other parts) as well. We need to help women minorities to get more access to funding or financing to create their own studios or games. Nothing is made without money these days. Having these financial possibilities are helpful. Knowing that there are women who are creative, women who are making arts in the industry, we need to help them get into the space,” said Afrogameuse founder, Jennifer Lufau. The studio is poised to open, its first African office in Cote D’Ivoire.
“We always need women. And that is not something that needs to be justified. In all spaces and in all things, the value that women bring is incalculable, and that value is especially needed as we contemplate the technologies that will determine our future,” said Okonkwo.
Despite the challenges of the new technologies industry in Africa, some measure of hope arises with the appointment of the industry-friendly-experts as ministers in Nigeria, and the launch of Creation Africa forum by the French Government.
Dr Sid and Okonkwo are optimistic that the appointment of Bosun Tijani as Nigeria’s Minister of Communication and Digital Economy will positively impact the sector in Nigeria.
“I was a part of his policy planning session for the digital economy industry. The policies that he is putting together (yet to be released), addressing funding investment, changing mindset about digital economy and digital avenues that eSports, gaming development and animation, is going to improve Nigeria,” said Dr Sid.
On the impact of Creation Africa on the industry, both believe that it is an important platform for networking African creatives and their French counterparts, as well as an opportunity to swap expertise, partnerships and funding, and opening up new markets for Africa’s creative entrepreneurs.
“Entertainment, gaming and arts are all a collaborative space. So, this (forum) is a great opportunity to find people to collaborate with. I would like to see more opportunities and access to funding, because funding is a big issue in Nigeria and Africa,” said Dr Sid.
“The forum has provided a start, a valuable space for connecting. We must now find ways to translate this into the tangible – resources for the ecosystem, further opportunities for knowledge sharing, the development of mutually profitable business partnerships etc.,” said Okonkwo.
Held in Paris, France, October 6 to 8, 2023, the Creation Africa forum convened 323 African creatives from 34 countries to network, form partnerships and open up new markets for funding, collaborations for the development of Africa’s creative economy.