Advertising has become more personalized than ever, as technology allows for greater targeting and measurement of ad campaigns. And yet advertisers have, at large, overlooked an entire continent of creators and consumers — the African continent.
Proof of potential and appetite
Africa is one of the most significant emerging digital markets in the world. Since 2020, the continent has seen an acceleration in its startup and investment rollout. In 2022, Africa was the continent homing the largest number of fintech startups in the world, and it received a total of $63.8 billion in investments. Despite structural hurdles, the African market has seen continuous economic growth, and this growth is technology-driven.
Not yet on the global map
Still, the continent only represents 1% of the global ad market and 0.47% of global investments. Brands, international agencies, and international platforms have either discarded the market as a no-investment zone, or had a zero-commitment approach to catering their actions. This resulted in lack of data, misrepresentation, and a general lack of quality and self promotion.
Despite this striking lack of investment in the past, Africa is now emerging as a place of infinite opportunities for all seekers of creativity. With 60% of the population under 24 years old, the rising advertising market is young and diverse. This market is rapidly growing, powered by the advances in technologies of all forms in African societies that are now reaching a growing middle class. The rise of local advertising agencies is coinciding with the increasing importance of home-grown champions.
The foundations of African creativity
Although the space needs to work on its standards to impose its voices in the global advertisement chorus, it should not result in the continent losing its characteristics and westernizing its identity. Creativity in Africa is a mosaic of 100,000 years of culture it hosts and has generated for the world. It navigates through the complexity of hyper-localization, a contemporary past, regional and international present, and multilayered futures.
In a world of leaders glorifying uniformity, Africa is standing up to the great challenge of building its power with cultural ownership at the center of it. With historical radiations in the world’s art, science, and spirituality sectors, Africans are now on a mission to build pride, authenticity, modernism, value and intellectual property.
Some key aspects of creativity in Africa include:
- A strong tradition of storytelling, which is expressed in the many different forms of craft, literature, and music across the continent.
- A rich cultural heritage, reflected in symbolism, language, customs, imagery, fashion, iconography, and more.
- A focus on social and political issues, as African creators often use their work as a way to comment on and raise awareness of important issues facing the continent.
- A growing appreciation for African creativity, as the world is increasingly recognizing and valuing the unique perspectives and voices of African artists, designers, and musicians. Lagos Fashion Week, for example, has nothing to envy from the European shows. Designers like Christie Brown or Maki.oh are pushing a new narrative that transcends modernity and tradition to give a new meaning to high fashion.
- A growing number of African creators are using digital technologies to create new forms of art, music, and design, and to reach new audiences. It’s also a medium used to discover the continent in the light of its inhabitants. Charity Ekezie is an award-winning TikToker. With now 2.2 million followers, she uses her platform to deconstruct stereotypes and reveal the potential of the continent with humor.
- A rising number of African creatives are pushing the boundaries of their mediums and challenging the status quo, which makes African creativity exciting and full of potential. This is the case with Rwandan designer Moses Turahirwa and founder of Moshion who challenges gender status through his art: “Young men get pressured to conform to some kind of mold, even if it doesn’t align with who they are. […] Such things truly touch my heart because this is what prevents people from living their authentic selves. And this is what I try to express through my craft.”
- The growth of animation and production studios like Guezshow in Rwanda or komotion studios in Nigeria, on par with some of the best industry practices; the initiatives of individuals such as Guinean Serge Abraham Thaddée in game development, and Nigerian Dominic Onyekachi in digital novels publishing, are all at the forefront of development and creation of African narratives.
An opportunity for the diaspora
A lot like during the independence movements of the 60’s, there is an exceptional dynamic to welcome the diaspora in the narrative — from experience, expertise, stories, soul-searching, values, and (re)defining what success means and looks like. Then, the challenge is to catalyze creativity to be profitable and dignifying for the countries and the people.
But beware, as in all cultural things, it is easy to come with your own bias and narrowed tropes. Although you are rich from your amazing journey, it is your duty to not reproduce imperialist and exploitative mindsets.
ORCHID as an ally
In its pursuit for spaces of experimentation, ambition and empowerment, Orchid is leveraging its understanding of the makers & thinkers dichotomy, pushing it to both incubate internal initiatives and be a catalyst for partners and clients.
In Africa, Orchid sees the extent of all possible, the appetite for quality and the need for genuine and benevolent understanding.
- Partnering or co-creating with locals
- Diving in and embracing their specificity and uniqueness
- Challenging with bold ideas and approaches
- Feeding the strength and pride
Orchid will seek holistic wins and long-term commitments where it envisions the future to be.