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African Firms Race to Use AI to Cut Marketing and Advertising Budgets ahead of a Difficult 2024

Businesses are increasingly using AI-generated images, models and voices for their advertising campaigns across TV and digital platforms, lowering their advertising budgets. Ad spending in sub-Saharan Africa fell by 11.6% in 2023, according to the World Advertising Research Centre (WARC), though a slight rebound this year is expected to be driven by a 6.1% increase in South Africa. Safaricom, East Africa’s leading telecommunications company and Kenya’s biggest advertiser, unveiled what it claimed to be Africa’s first AI-generated TV ad in August, and has since rolled out other AI-driven campaigns on different platforms. Many professionals in Kenya’s creative industries are justifiably worried about the long term impact of AI, particularly as corporate contracts are among the most important income streams for the likes of designers, models, photographers, copy writers and more. Irari predicted that many small ad agencies ‘would die’ as businesses moved their creative work in-house, supported by AI, and focused more on brand storytelling and partnerships with content creators.