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2021
African Union Commission Department of Information and Communication
Addis Ababa
Africa
AU ECHO ; 2021

The culture and creative industries (CCIs) generate annual global revenues of up to US$2,250 billion dollars and exports in excess of US$250 billion. This sector currently provides nearly 30 million jobs worldwide and employs more people aged 15 to 29 than any other sector and contributes up to 10% of GDP in some countries. In Africa, CCIs are driving the new economy as young Africans tap into their unlimited natural resource and their creativity, to create employment and generate revenue in sectors traditionally perceived as “not stable” employment options. From film, theatre, music, gaming, fashion, literature and art, the creative economy is gradually gaining importance as a sector that must be taken seriously and which at a policy level, decisions must be made to invest in, nurture, protect and grow the sectors. Even with the Covid-19 pandemic, CCIs in Africa have embraced digital media as lockdowns and restrictions on travel took hold; innovation has become a key for survival in the sector due to increased digitisation, highlighting the nexus between technology and economic development. The potential of CCIs in Africa has garnered international attention and investment with international music labels such as Sony, Warner and Universal Music as well as music platforms like Apple Music increasing their presence on the continent and Netflix the world’s largest subscription streaming service is actively supporting content creation on the continent. At a continental level, Multichoice Africa / DSTV continues to invest in the production of local content and leads the way in establishing regional production hubs to support the development of educational, news and entertainment content produced by African talent for African markets and the world. In this edition of the AU Echo in line with the African Union Theme of the Year 2021 on Arts, Culture and Heritage we focus on the cultural and creative industries. This vast sector has great potential and it is telling that African Governments will step up their efforts in the year 2021 to support the CCIs. From continental treaties such as the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance and The African Union (AU) Plan of Action on Cultural and Creative Industries, as well as national development plans on CCIs, 2021 will be a year for rallying support behind a sector which by virtue of its linkages to social, cultural, economic and political issues is at the bedrock of the development of African society and the future envisaged in Africa’s Agenda 2063. As we begin a new year that comes about as we try to adjust to the new normal under Covid-19, we also celebrate African musicians who have always been on the forefront of championing causes that unite and elevate African pride and the spirit of pan-Africanism. Using the powerful tools of their voices, hands and words they have always been at the forefront urging Africans on the continent and in the diaspora to face up to our circumstances and overcome. African musicians have been at the centre of the clarion call to unite and fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Through virtual concerts, they continued to play their role as advocates for action and Africa and Africans….

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