The Challenges We Face

Many African leaders and the general population often refer to Africa’s youth as ‘digital’, but the reality is quite different. Digital literacy is still low.

The youth do not appreciate the importance of the connected economy and the opportunities that exist for them at the intersection of art, media and technology. While there has been much hype on the mobile revolution in Africa, it has long been established that certain populations face barriers to digital resources.

For example, a recent study by GSMA (Groupe Sociale Mobile Association) on digital inclusion showed that most women in Africa have mobile access, but their use of features is severely limited to only one or two social applications.

The creative industry faces barriers to entry and success from several different areas; for example, high costs of entry and poor intellectual property laws.

As a young, undeveloped industry, the sector needs broad policy, regulatory and financial support to provide lift off to the industry that will in turn generate momentum for the industry to develop and flourish.

The creative industry is fragmented and composed of small individual enterprises with limited financial results. Creative entrepreneurs lack the technological expertise and business savvy to exploit the current digital opportunities to become sustainable and scalable with many segments not represented in the mass media resulting in limited perspectives of issues which leads to ineffective problem solving. More voices mean better representation in community building and economic and social development to ignite and sustain creative passion that will encourage the youth to pursue opportunities in the digital economy.

ADMF seeks to expose communities to the digital economy by providing exciting and engaging events and hands-on forums where youth can explore digital media and creative technologies and receive mentoring and guidance from industry icons they recognize and respect.

ADMF works to promote access to digital education training for populations that may not otherwise have access. ADMF offers free or low-cost, high impact training in digital media education, career soft skills and entrepreneurship fundamentals. In particular, we offer support to initiatives that help women, the physically challenged, and the poor to get access to training, capital and influence to advance in the creative economy. Under this policy of inclusion, the Foundation has provided scholarships to various communities and also provided technical support to film festivals.

  • Full and partial scholarships were awarded to students at ADMI in the areas of film and television production and creative technologies.
  • Scholarships were given to women to attend the Digital Marketing Boot Camp in July 2015.
  • ADMI hosted a subsidized Lighting Workshop in partnership with ARRI group, an international manufacturer of professional motion picture cameras and lighting equipment.

We envisage offering many more scholarships and community classes, through ADMF, and through partnerships with founders, institutions, and community-based organizations, in our role as an enabler for young creatives from all backgrounds.

What is the role of the foundation in today’s creative industry?

The Africa Digital Media Foundation seeks to advance the growth of the creative economies in three ways: research, policy tracking and analysis, and advocacy. ADMF works to map the creative economy by locating creatives and assessing the capacity, talents, resources and needs. Further, the Foundation supports development of policies that increase the resources available to creatives operating in the digital economy. These objectives include:

  • Broadening internet access and the creation of a conducive investment climate for creative entrepreneurs.
  • Acting community benefited from heavily subsidized pricing at the Fearless Acting Techniques Workshop in August 2015. The Foundation provided the curriculum, faculty, equipment, premises and project management for a filmmaking certificate course for Slum Film Festival participants.

In partnership with FilmAid, ADMI will deliver a 7-week Film Production Certificate in Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps in Northern Kenya. FilmAid is committed to a participatory approach, teaching skills and involving local communities in the media making process.

We are currently planning a Sound Production Techniques Workshop in our brand new sound studio. The workshop will be offered to the community at subsidized rates.

ADMF closely followed the recently passed East Africa Creative Industries Bill. This Bill established the Culture and Creative Industries Council that will provide an environment conducive to the enhancement and stimulation of creativity and innovation in the industry. It is a significant first step towards a collective regional policy to support the creative economy.

The Foundation will support Kisumu County in fostering the local creative economy by mapping the existing creative activities in the county. This effort will identify, promote and support initiatives that have the largest impact on catalyzing the sector and creating employment.

The Foundation seeks to support entrepreneurs at the intersection of art and technology by helping them develop both technological and business expertise. This will provide the framework for successful businesses that create jobs and contribute to the economy.

We kicked off this initiative with a panel discussing the ingredients necessary for nurturing entrepreneurship. Saul Singer, co- author of “Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” was joined by: James Mworia, CEO of Centum Investment Group;

Daniel Ohonde, CEO of Real People; and Yaniv Gelnik of Kabla. The discussion was moderated by Laila Macharia, Vice Chair of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA).

In October 2015, we will enter the pilot phase of our Creative Media Accelerator. The goal of the accelerator is to identify promising creative media businesses, helping them exploit the latest digital technologies and practices that exist, from post-production studios to digital marketing, enabling them to become sustainable and scalable.

As a digital media organization, the Foundation – and the Institute – are uniquely placed to facilitate story-telling. While all stories are important, the Foundation prioritizes support to projects that give voice to populations that do not get much airtime. These include women, the poor, the disabled, and other marginalized populations.

As a digital media organization, the Foundation – and the Institute – are uniquely placed to facilitate story-telling. While all stories are important, the Foundation prioritizes support to projects that give voice to populations that do not get much airtime. These include women, the poor, the disabled, and other marginalized populations.

Under our filming sponsorships, technical media support is provided in the form of free or low cost film and television production services, including filming, editing and creation of products that can be aired on various media channels. Groups use these video recordings to spread their message and raise funds in support of their activities.

  • Wezesha Dada, through their “Wezesha Dada Inua Jamii” campaign, is mobilizing a petition for regional media to dedicate at least five more minutes every week on stories about women’s role in development.
  • Smiles for Miles is an organization in Kangangu, Murang’a that provides safe transport to women in labour who need emergency transport to the hospital. Because of Smiles for Miles, more women are able to deliver their babies safely resulting in fewer health complications and deaths in the community.
  • JAM mentors female bands by developing their confidence as musicians and performers; providing safe locations for them to rehearse and perform; and providing them with performing opportunities to build their experience and profile.