How music can boost African economies and increase regional integration

Before there was jazz, soul, R&B, rock, or hip hop, there was African drumming. All 8 billion of us on this planet have our ancestral roots in the African continent, and so do many of the most commonly used sounds and rhythms that move us.

Music from the African continent continues to rise to the top, growing rapidly in prominence and popularity. Afrobeats now one of the continent’s biggest cultural exportsand its instantly recognizable sounds that are often heard on street corners, malls, stadiums, runways and corporate venues around the world.

As a mixture of West African music, jazz, and funk Sung in English, West African, and pidgin languages ​​that originated in Nigeria in the 1990s and early 2000s, Afrobeats has become one of the defining music genres across Africa and around the world. It follows in the footsteps of African music from earlier times, such as the highlife of Ghana and Nigeria in the 1950s and the soukous of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). in the 1960s.

These and other types of African music have become popular in recent decades, gaining a wider audience through the efforts of African musicians. In the process, these musicians helped promote regional and cultural integration by influencing musical styles across the continent.

Through new models of collaboration, continent-wide inspiration and motivation, and using digital platforms, African music can drive economic growth and integration on the continent.

African music is moving around the world

Legendary players like ET Mensah, George Darkoand the Oriental Brothers International Band have been key drivers in expanding the reach of highlife music. Similarly, the popularity of soukous has been driven by famous artists, including Kanda Bongo Man, M’bilia Beland of course, dynamic Papa Wemba. The unforgettable Manu Dibango is credited with making makossa popular around the world. And Fela Kuti was at the forefront of Afrobeat music with its strong demands for economic and social justice.

Moving on for a few generations, famous artists like Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, and Yemi Alade increased the popularity and recognition of Afrobeats across Africa and the rest of the world. Afrobeats and other emerging music forms from Africa, such as Amapiano, are gaining popularity and can serve as examples of economic and cultural integration on the continent.

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PianosThe Zulu word ‘ipiano’ is a type of music that from the townships of Johannesburg and Pretoria in South Africa in 2012. It combines the influences of country music with jazz and house music. It is increasing overstepping boundaries and entering Africa and the rest of the world, led by well-known artists such as Scorpion Kings, DBM Gogo, and Lady Du.

Amapiano songs are now live on social media and collect over a billion rivers so far on platforms including Spotify and Apple Music. It has even influenced the music powerhouse in Nigeria, where several artists have recorded hit songs using Amapiano influences. This development of Amapiano is helping to grow the music industry in South Africa, whose revenue by 2022 is estimated at 2 billion South African dollars (Rs. 117 million.)

Collaboration and cooperation in African music

The cultural impact of emerging African music genres such as Amapiano has the potential to achieve significant economic impact. Afreximbank’s latest report (pdf) shows that music contributes only 0.1% of the GDP of the entire African continent. Afreximbank’s report found that while African musicians are improving their reputation around the world, they are “not sufficiently recognized and represented in the global market.”

While the contribution of music and other aspects of the cultural economy to the GDP of many African countries is low, especially compared to other regions of the world, there are signs that this may be starting to change.

There are potential opportunities for the expansion of the music industry in the region through the use of new collaborative models to secure support from the private sector and the government. Collaboration with other sectors, including tourism, fashion, and games, can generate additional benefits for the wider cultural economy in Africa. This, can facilitate the growth of employment in music sector, creating job opportunities for the youth. While musicians and the private sector drive much of this work, regional governments also have an important role to play in growing the music industry in African countries in general.

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Other recent examples of this type of government-led cooperation come from Morocco and Zimbabwe. In Morocco, the city of Essaouira is known for its music festivals, architecture, history and beaches. The promotion of Essaouira as a place of music and tourism is the result of a partnership between local and international agencies – led by the Moroccan government and the United Nations Organization for Science and Culture (Unesco), which designated Essaouira the City of Musical Arts in 2019 and the Creative Tourism Network.

As early as 2022, Zimbabwe was founded a five-year music planaimed at ensuring a sustainable music industry in the country as part of plans to improve the visibility and economic standing of Zimbabwe’s culture.

Equally important is the need for strategies to advocate, promote, and grow the African music industry. For example, after a successful lobbying campaign, Congo’s rumba was it is included in the UNESCO heritage list December 2021. Zanzibar, twenty years The sound of Busara The festival has been a platform to develop new artists and preserve diverse musical styles, and an event committed to promoting women and upcoming artists.

Well-planned regional events will also be important in driving cultural and economic impact. For example, the contribution of the collaboration of Senegal, will host the eighth edition of the best music awards ceremony in Africa, the All-Africa Music Awards (Afrima), in January 2023. This event involves collaboration between the private sector and the government, and the people of Senegal. President Macky Sall I promise a lot of support at the awards, citing Afrima’s role in engaging youth in the cultural economy and promoting tourism.

Digitization of music

A diverse range of artists from across the region are now using digital to reach new audiences and markets. Part of the success of genres like Amapiano can be attributed to distribution and social media platforms. Digital technologies, including mobile platforms and e-commerce, provide another potential area for the music industry to contribute to further economic and cultural integration in the African region.

With mobile phone subscriptions on 46% of Africa’s population is in sub-Saharan Africaand internet connection over 50% of countries including Egypt (at 71%) and Ghana (at 53%), musicians have the main digital platform through the use of mobile phones for the distribution of their music.

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According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), one of the legacies of the covid-19 pandemic was the rapidity of the country. changes in e-commerce and digital platforms in cultural economic activities including music. Estimates are that revenue from digital music streaming in Africa is going up growing to $500 million annually by 2025from 100 million dollars in 2017.

The way forward for African music

Different music genres have historically been at the forefront of cultural and economic integration around the world, and Africa is no exception. While platforms such as Spotify, iTunes, and TikTok are popular for streaming music from African artists, questions are being raised about the economic divisions of each channel hosted by the artists.

Right here it is an opportunity for musicians, artists, the private sector, and governments to drive economic growth in the African music sector. Investing in African-led and local media platforms can address barriers around earnings.

In addition, new funding programs from agencies such as the African Development Bank (AfDB) and governments can stimulate economic activity and create jobs in the music industry. And as a medium-term intervention, governments can work together through platforms like the African Union to pledge funding and other interventions to increase the contribution of music to the region’s GDP.

From the time that first song was played until now, various music genres on the African continent have helped to entertain and inspire the world. They have served as a marching band for social change while gaining great popularity at home and abroad. And with the right partnerships and investments, the impact of a growing and stronger music sector will reverberate across the African continent.

In the years to come, these initiatives will strengthen the foundation for integration and prosperity and serve as a guide for other sectors of the cultural economy in Africa.


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