Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) announced a $500-million envelope to support the production and trade of African cultural and creative products over the next two years at the Creative Africa Exchange Weekend held in Kigali on the 17th of January 2020. 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.
“Creative industries can be potent vehicles for more equitable, sustainable and inclusive growth strategies for African economies,” stated President Oramah, “Because of underinvestment 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 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”. He declared “change has come!” and he showed his contribution with the $500 million pledge.
Other CAX WKND speakers, such as Dr. Ramson Owan, Managing Director of AITEO, stressed the need to focus on the commercial side of Africa’s creative talents and to begin to monetise them.
Rosemary Mbabazi, Minister of Youth and Culture of Rwanda, 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.