The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has offered a $500-million envelope to support the production and trade of African cultural and creative products over the next two years.

At the continent’s first event dedicated to promoting exchange within the creative and cultural industry- Creative Africa Exchange Weekend, in Kigali, the bank’s President, Prof. Benedict Oramah, said.

Oramah told guests that the funds, which would build on what the bank was already doing, would be accessible as lines of credit to banks, direct financing to operators and as guarantees.

He said that the creative economy was increasingly recognised as a significant sector and meaningful contributor to Africa’s gross domestic product, while the cultural and creative industries catalysed economic growth by fostering more inclusive, connected and collaborative societies.

“Creative industries can be potent vehicles for more equitable, sustainable and inclusive growth strategies for African economies,” he said.

He, however, noted that, while Africa had a deep pool of talent, it lacked the infrastructure and capacity to commercialise its creative talent and reap the vast fortunes lying in wait.

“Because of under-investment in the creative and cultural industries, Africa is largely absent in the global market of ideas, values and aesthetics as conveyed through music, theatre, literature, film and television.

“African countries import overwhelmingly more creative goods than they export or trade amongst themselves,” he noted.

He commended Egypt’s “astronomical growth in creative exports over the last decade” and the Nollywood industry’s increasing importance, which had prompted the Nigerian government, in its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, to forecast export revenues of $1billion from the segment by 2020.

He described the African market as the lowest hanging fruit for African creative products but noted that, until recently, “that market was fragmented and balkanized, such that a Senegalese knew more about creative products in France than in Ghana”.

The Managing Director of AITEO, Dr. Ramson Owan, stressed the need to focus on the commercial side of Africa’s creative talents and to begin to monetise them.

Minister of Youth and Culture of Rwanda, Rosemary Mbabazi, said that the creative industry would enhance collaboration and cooperation among African countries.

The government of Rwanda had envisioned the creative and cultural industries as a key part of its economic strategy.

source: Guardian

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