Digitalisation of the creative economy and wealth generation, By Inyene Ibanga

Digitalisation of the creative economy and wealth generation, By Inyene Ibanga

As the Nigerian government and key stakeholders take steps to inject more investment into the creative economy – movie, music, telecoms, publishing, gaming and information services, and others – the creative and information industry is likely to maintain its position as the most valuable sector outside oil and gas industry.

The creative economy and the digital economy are among the prominent drivers of innovation in the global economy and society. Though the creative economy predates the digital economy, the two are now inseparable and largely dependent on each other.

Technology has given a new direction to the interaction of human creativity, ideas, and knowledge. This relationship drives knowledge-based economic activities, upon which the creative economy thrives.

Most pre-digital technology era creative industries, such as film, publishing, music, and photography, have been transformed by the power of digital technology. This has opened up newer possibilities for building businesses, raising investments, and marketing.

With the emergence of digital technology, most governments are beginning to realise the significance of the creative economy to the generation of business opportunities for impacting lives positively and growing the general economy.

It is creating new sectors of social and cultural enterprises in many developing countries, where creativity and talent flourish. These countries are exploring artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, and blockchain technologies to develop and expand their creative industry to fulfill its earning potential through digitalisation.

The creative economy is a rapidly growing sector of the global economy that is generating income, creating jobs, and boosting export earnings.

Concerned with the generation and exploitation of knowledge and information, the creative economy gives new life to production, services, commerce, and entertainment. It is a new form of economy that integrates digital technologies, cultural, and creative industries/sectors.

Notable areas of the creative economy include fashion, film, TV, video, and radio, advertising and marketing, architecture, crafts, and design (exhibition, games, graphic, industrial, interior, landscape, product, textiles, and theatre).

Others are music, journalism, performing and visual arts, photography, IT, software and computer services, publishing, museums, galleries, and libraries.

According to UNESCO estimates from 2013, global creative industries were reported to have generated US$2.25 trillion in revenue and employed 29.5 million people worldwide. Pre-crisis forecasts indicated that the creative economy could represent 10 per cent of global GDP before 2030.

Digitalisation has been a game-changer for the creative economy, disrupting the entire creative value chain and altering the way we communicate, create and work.

Consequently, digitalisation has led to the development of a more complex ecosystem with new large tech players, such as Google, Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify, dominating the market. The number of people that subscribe to streaming services has doubled over the last year.

Museums, exhibitions, concerts, and theatres are being offered online. As a result of lockdowns and physical distancing, festivals have also created hybrid alternatives, including innovative drive-in outdoor screening venues for people to enjoy.

The 2020 Amman International Film Festival; DGTL Amsterdam; Jamaica’s Reggae Month; 36th Jazz Plaza Festival; and many others were celebrated online with streaming across various cities of the world.

According to UNESCO estimates from 2013, global creative industries were reported to have generated US$2.25 trillion in revenue and employed 29.5 million people worldwide. Pre-crisis forecasts indicated that the creative economy could represent 10 per cent of global GDP before 2030.

The unique structure of the creative economy, which relies on networks of small and medium-sized enterprises, freelance and gig workers, and largely young people, has catalysed local sustainable development.

Nigeria is beginning to launch platforms aimed at encouraging the flow of investment into the digital and creative sector, to generate wealth out of the huge potential that abounds in the creative economy.

In acknowledgment of this reality, President Muhammadu Buhari approved a $600 million investment programme in the Digital and Creative Enterprises (iDICE) to support young tech entrepreneurs and promote investment in Nigeria’s digital and creative industries.

In furtherance of its commitment to support the startup ecosystem, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has unveiled 30 digitally-enabled startups selected to participate in a virtual boot camp of the Bridge MassChallenge Nigeria (B2MC Nigeria) between January 24 and February 18, 2022.

The initiative, which is part of efforts by the Federal Government to create more sustainable jobs for the youthful population, targets more than 68 million Nigerians aged 15 to 35 years, who are recognised as leaders of innovative, early-stage, technology-enabled start-ups or as leaders of creative sector micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

Buhari said that the iDICE initiative, supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB), was in recognition of the youths as Nigeria’s most strategic asset, as such, “investing in them is investing in the economic strength and development of our nation.”

“This is why I recently approved the investing in Digital and Creative Enterprises iDICE, an over 600 million dollars programme supported by the AfDB which will support young tech and creative sector entrepreneurs through the provision of finance, skills development, and infrastructure”, the President pointed out.

In a related development, the board of the AfDB has approved the sum of $170 million to finance Nigeria’s i-DICE programme to stimulate investment in digital and creative industries.

ADB President, Akinwunmi Adesina, believes that the investment in iDICE programme will also support the digital and creative startups through enterprise support organisations, including innovation hubs, accelerators, venture capital, and private equity firms.

Considering the positive impact of tech-enabled enterprises across all economic growth sectors, Adesina predicts that bank financing of iDICE will further consolidate Nigeria’s position as Africa’s leading digital creative economy start-up investment destination and youth entrepreneurship hub.

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In furtherance of its commitment to support the startup ecosystem, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has unveiled 30 digitally-enabled startups selected to participate in a virtual boot camp of the Bridge MassChallenge Nigeria (B2MC Nigeria) between January 24 and February 18, 2022.

As the Nigerian government and key stakeholders take steps to inject more investment into the creative economy – movie, music, telecoms, publishing, gaming and information services, and others – the creative and information industry is likely to maintain its position as the most valuable sector outside oil and gas industry.

Inyene Ibanga writes from Wuye District, Abuja; email: [email protected]

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