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Africa’s Arts and Culture Scene During the Pandemic

Like all economic sectors, cultural and creative industries globally have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically by the measures adopted by governments to limit the spread of the virus. According to Ernst & Young, the most lucrative of these industries in Africa are music, visual arts and movies. However, the low internet penetration holds back the rise of a promising sector such as online gaming. This in contrast with the high potential of the market. Financial losses (turnover) in the cultural and creative industries in Africa during the second quarter of 2020 vary significantly from one country to another. Figures range between US$134,360 for Uganda and US$1.49 billion for South Africa, respectively 0.002% and 1.7% as contributions to GDP. The combined turnover during the lockdown period of the six countries in which the online surveys were done comes to a total of US$1.5 billion. The most affected subsector within the cultural industries in Africa was the performing arts – such as live music, dance, theatre and events. This is explained by the ban on gatherings in these countries due to the pandemic. The content subsector – audio-visuals, cinema, visual arts – came second. The studies also shed light on the most profitable subsectors during this period. Digital media, online gaming, music and audio-visual content were able to be resilient. Their value chains – from creation to consumption – don’t require a high level of mandatory face-to-face interaction and effective use can be made of online tools.