African Online TV-Series: The Samaritans, An African City and more

With the advancement of broadband on the continent, we are now witnessing a cultural explosion when it comes to online video. On my list to watch (if dumsor will not take my Internet and computer battery away) are the following:

1. The Samaritans (Aid for Aid)

I am excited about this series as it targets an important sector in Africa that potentially is also a very funny sector – the ingenious  non-governmental sector full of strategy plans and targets that confuse all of us… Their website promises:

“The Samaritans is a new comedy TV series from Kenya, about an NGO (Non-Governmental organization), that does nothing.”

See the trailer here:


2. An African City

Out of Ghana, I am proud to say, the series An African City has caused ripple effects online with its 15 minute episodes, but I am still outside of the hype (16 000 people have watched the first episode) as I have sadly not had the time to watch it yet. It seems to be Sex And The City like with a short blurb from the FB page of the series suggesting it is about:

“Five beautiful, successful African females return to their home continent and confide in one another about love and life in ‘An African City’!


On a website called Reel African one can also see on demand already popular TV-series like Adam’s Apples and many more.  Where the first series discussed above has chased a pay-to-view system, An African City is pre-financed and free for the viewer and available on YouTube. Maybe when I have watched the first few episodes, I can find out from the creators how the two cost-recovery models are working.  I am however sure, the online medium will create new opportunities for the creative economy.

These are in conclusion very interesting times for online creativity on the continent. I wonder what is next for African Online TV!

If you know of more African online shows, please send your tips my way!

Hipsters in Ghana: Part 1

So, a Swedish friend of mine wrote an article about how politicians can learn from hipsters. For those of you who do not read Swedish, his argument was basically that even though hipsters might look silly and obsess over city farms, homemade bread and vintage clothing – they offer insights into sustainable living of the future. As I complimented hom on the interesting frame (learning from hipsters), he responded with a question: How is it with hipsters in Ghana?

Well, let’s back track and fist find a definition for hipsters. Urban Dictionary thinks it is:

 a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.

So, are there hipsters in Ghana?

Hipster collage

I guess that depends on who you ask. Candance (who recently moved to Ghana from the US) for instance recently commented that on Instagram that she was at a Ghanaian farmers’ market with NO HIPSTERS!

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 12.54.59 PM

But that might just have been due to language. That market likely wasn’t called a “farmers’ market”. And how will then hipsters know it’s a place for them?

But when used clothes are called “Vintage”  as well as when social media is discussed, hipsters do show up, also in Ghana. The indie scene in Ghana, in my humble opinion, is flourishing with TEDx events (read about TEDxOsu here from just this past weekend), AccraDotAlt’s TalkPartis (and check out these great hipster photos!) and Jungle Music Festival Asabaako where the Ghanaian hipster community discuss art, listen to local DJs play indie music and eat local foods. However, the best place to spot hipsters in Accra is at The Republic Bar, where local spirits blended into great cocktails meet nostalgic decor. Does it get more hipsterish?

Yes, the hipster scene in Ghana might be small, foreign inspired and sometimes elitist, but I think  – just like my Swedish friend – we can learn a thing or two from hipsters and their obsessions (for instance The Republic Bar manages to have the best AND cheapest cocktails in town as they use local ingredients).

What did I forget about the hipster scene in Ghana? I will gather your comments and write a follow up post as soon as my homemade bread has risen. 

Photo collage trying to prove my point with photos from Facebook groups for Vintage Gh and BloggingGhana.

 

Ghana’s Creative Economy and Its Challenges

Last month, I was moderating a talk on the Creative Economy in Ghana for the Adventurers in the Diaspora series follow them on Facebook to never miss their events!). What is the creative economy anyway? I did some research before accepting the job and came across a very inspiring 400 page report made in 2010 by the United Nation’s Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) PDF here.

Some highlights of the report, in my opinion, were its case studies including Nigeria’s Nollywood and the Africa Remix exhibit.

The report also offered 10 key messages for policy makers:

  • Whilst in 2008 there was a 12% reduction in world trade, exports of creative goods and services continue to grow at an average annual rate of 14% over the past 6 years, with the potential to become one of the most dynamic sectors of the world economy.
  • Growth is particularly apparent in ‘south-south’ trade: trade in creative good and services there grew at an average rate of 20% per annum over the same period, and the creative economy took an increasing market share of south-south trade.
  • The right mix of public policies and strategic choices are essential if the potential of the creative economy for economic development is to be achieved.  It is important, especially in developing countries, to develop a functioning ‘creative nexus’ to attract investors, build creative entrepreurial practices, and offer better IT access and infrastructure.
  • Policy strategies must recognise its multi-displinary nature – its economic, social, cultural and environmental linkages.
  • It is important for governments to review IP rules to avoid constraints and adapt to new realities.
  • The creative economy cuts across arts, business and connectivity, driving innovation and new business models. There should be a drive for better broadband infrastructure especially in the South. (my highlight)
  • The creative economy is both fragmented and socially inclusive. Pragmatic policy-making requires a better understanding of who the stakeholders in the creative economy are, how they relate to one another and how the creative sector relates to other economic sectors.
  • Policies for the creative economy also have to respond to demands from local communities for education, cultural identity and social inclusion, and environmental concerns.  An increasing number of municipalities are using the concept of creative cities to formulate urban development strategies and reinvigorate growth.
  • The firmness of the market for creative goods and services is an indicator of the importance of demand for ‘creative products’  in the post recession era, and should attract greater market share.
  • Every society is rooted in a creative economy, but each country is different, and needs to think about its particular strengths for development.  There is no one-size-fits-all policy.

The panelists Korkor Amartefio, Cultural practitioner, Dzifa Gomashie, Deputy Minister Nominee for Tourism, Culture and Arts, Odile Tevie, Nubuke Foundation and Zagba Oyortey, new director of  the Ghana National Museum, framed some issues for Ghana:

1. Little data

We do not know the size of the creative economy in Ghana. Not how much the arts market is worth, how much beads and traditional crafts add to GDP or what the growth of the music industry is. Room for much research! With this type of data, we could canvass for more of number two on this list!

2. Little Government support

Apparently, government has not yet discovered the creative economy as a potential future gold mine. It seems, we are to busy with galamsay small scale gold miners, maybe…MUSIGA ha sbeen supported with a house, we have national centers of culture around the country, but apart from those structures (of which some seem to be falling apart), government is not surrounding itself with Ghanaian culture, promoting Ghanaian artists on their travels nor collecting Ghanaian art.

3. Lack of cooperation/information

From the discussion, a problem can be to find a space for an event. A suggestion was made to create a list of possible venues, their cost and availability for cultural practitioners to use. At a different event last week about marketing for cultural organizations, the lack of information was again highlighted. Organizations need training on how to sell themselves, but also structures for promotion and information sharing.

4. Education

The creative economy is much related to education, however the UNCTAD report itself does not really make the connection as noted by Pascal. In Ghana, creativity is not necessarily celebrated and on all levels of the economy we can see the effects of the lack of creativity. All from the 10th person selling the same food stuff in the same place to the bank that does not brand itself for any particular customer group or the CEO who never promotes creativity.

5. Money for enforcement of new laws

Since last year, Ghana has a new set on Intellectual Property laws (remember the “kenta” shoe?). That is great, but how do we make sure those laws are enforced?

The cure for it all is ENGAGEMENT. I was happy when the National Museum’s Mr Oyortey mentioned this in his very first contribution for the evening. The institutions need to engage with their audience and their counterparts, we the public need to attend events, buy art and let the creative economy make all our lives more sustainable and more fun!

Photos by Naa Oyoo Quartey/Ganyobinaa.