Are entertainment startups an afterthought in Africa? – Ventures Africa

Tee Rasheed
6 Min Read

In our latest Bizhive, a digital series that explores innovative industry trends in Nigeria and on the continent, we focused on the entertainment industry in Africa. We covered various topics, such as how Editi Effiong’s movie, The Black Book, used a tech-startup-like fundraising. And how Anita Eboigbe is driving the necessary conversations about Made in Nigeria films. As if on cue, Sony Group and the International Finance Corporation have launched a $10 million innovation fund to invest in the African entertainment scene. The fund called Sony Innovation Fund: Africa, aims to support seed to early-stage startups in the entertainment industry in Africa, including startups in the gaming, music, movie, and content distribution sectors. However, despite these positive developments, there are not many homegrown entertainment startups. Are African innovators missing out on the opportunities in entertainment tech?
Africa’s entertainment space is explorable
Africa’s entertainment industry has huge potential to create jobs, generate revenue, and promote cultural diversity. UNESCO and the African Union Commission, report that Africa’s film and audiovisual industries could create over 20 million jobs and contribute $20 billion to the continent’s combined GDP. The entertainment industry is a promising sector with many opportunities for innovation and growth. Entertainment tech is a viable way to tap into the growing entertainment space. It encompasses the use of technology to create, distribute, and consume entertainment content and services, such as video-on-demand platforms, music streaming services, mobile gaming apps, and online ticketing systems. 
Some local stakeholders are already incorporating innovation in Africa’s entertainment scene. These startups are creating and delivering content and services that appeal to local and global audiences, while also solving some of the challenges and gaps that exist in the entertainment industry. Some of them are reviving and reimagining classic and iconic works of African entertainment. For example, Play Network, a Nigerian production company, known for remaking some of the old Nollywood movies that shaped the industry in the 1990s and 2000s, launched a game app based on one of the most popular comedy duos in Nigeria, Aki and Pawpaw.
The case for entertainment tech
However, according to a report by Disrupt Africa, only 2% of the total funding raised by African startups in 2020 went to entertainment startups. In 2022, a total of $59,820,000 was raised by African entertainment startups in 2022, making up 1.8 percent of the overall tally, an impressive 416 percent on $11,590,000 (0.5 percent of the total) in 2021. Most of the financing comes from individual investors who support specific projects rather than the companies behind them. Global streamers, Netflix, and Amazon have also invested significantly in the space, allowing them to dominate the entertainment space in Africa. This further shows an interest in Africa’s entertainment tech. However, these global players may not be able to cater to all or specific needs of entertainment consumers. 
A good example is Nigerian startup Filmmaker Mart, an Airbnb for the industry’s logistics. They aim to be a supermarket for everything you need to shoot your films, documentaries, and commercials in Africa. Other potential markets include leveraging data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to generate insights into consumer behavior, preferences, trends, and feedback for production companies. These insights can help entertainment creators and providers to optimize their content, marketing, pricing, and distribution strategies. Much like what Netflix currently does. The streamers use data to recommend personalized content to their users and produce original shows and movies based on user demand. 
Africa also has opportunities for immersive and interactive experiences for consumers using technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, 3D audio, haptic feedback, and gamification. These technologies can enhance the realism, engagement, and enjoyment of entertainment content across various genres and formats. According to a report by Newzoo and Carry1st, both prominent stakeholders in Africa’s gaming sector, the gaming market in Sub-Saharan Africa is set to surpass $1 billion by 2024, driven by the increasing adoption of smartphones and mobile internet. Similarly, video-on-demand subscriptions in Africa are projected to reach 13.94 million by 2027, up from 4.89 million at the end of 2021, with revenues tripling from $678 million to $2 billion in the same period. Moreover, there is also a market for co-creation and co-consumption of entertainment content by allowing users to interact, communicate, share, comment, rate, review, and remix content. Due to the increasing access to the internet and mobile devices in Africa. The continent had around 570 million internet users in 2022, a number that according, to Statista, more than doubled compared to 2015. 
PwC estimates that the entertainment and media industry in Africa will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10.9%, reaching $40.7 billion by 2024. Although the down scaling of indigenous streaming leaders like IrokoTv may seem discouraging, but the industry still faces many challenges and opportunities. Regardless of what aspect innovators explore, there is room for improvement and experimentation in the space. This might be the right time to prioritize entertainment tech in Africa.

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