The rise of the internet, and all things digital that ensued, are responsible for the deep transformation undergone by society over the last couple of decades. The internet has revolutionised the way we communicate, research, learn and even the way we interact with the world around us. As a result, streaming services such as Netflix, Spotify or even YouTube, have shifted completely how people watch entertainment and have facilitated the consumption of more international content on a global scale.
In Africa, entertainment streaming is burgeoning as a result of increasing smartphones adoption and better internet penetration across the continent. Similarly to the rest of the world, market consumption has also evolved on the continent, particularly amongst African youth as most are consuming visual content on mobile devices, rather than on television. Digital consumption represents an new and innovative approach to spotlighting and sharing curated pan-African content, without having to go through the hassle of traditional distribution channels.
Considering the multitude of stories, local talents and the wealth of the continent’s storytelling traditions, seizing the opportunity the increase of digital consumption in Africa and globally gives us the perfect occasion to share a new narrative both regionally and internationally. For far too long, local talents and productions have been eclipsed by bigger international players, and were, thus, effectively kept from achieving much needed visibility. However, this must end now and offering African talents with platforms to showcase their work is the best way to do it.
In the past couple of years, subscription video-on-demand streaming services (SVOD) have become increasingly popular on the continent, with giants such as Netflix and Amazon Prime casting their nets at African consumers. The continent’s population represents a particularly appealing, yet vastly untapped audience for these streaming giants. African subscriptions are expected to swell from 3.9 million in 2020, to 13 million by 2025, according to numbers by Digital TV Research, a London-based industry forecaster.
“For far too long, local talents and productions have been eclipsed by bigger international players, and were, thus, effectively kept from achieving much needed visibility. However, this must end now and offering African talents with platforms to showcase their work is the best way to do it.”
– Dr Yaya Moussa
Although digital consumptions through streaming services, especially video on demand services, represent a huge opportunity for Pan-African content distribution, there are several challenges hampering the growth and accessibility of those services. Video streaming remains costly for the average person in Africa, with internet costs ranging amongst the highest in the world, most consumers simply cannot afford SVOD. In turn, the lack of affordability leads to high levels of piracy, which effectively defies the purpose of supporting African content creators and enabling them to live off their talent. Finally, even for those able to afford high internet costs, poor connectivity and low internet speed remain major obstacles to a smooth consumer experience.
Streaming services need to adapt to their consumer’s need and challenges, partnering with leading mobile operators across the African market could be a solution to the internet access challenge. By working closely with operators to create and offer affordable video date bundles, streaming services might effectively turn a challenge into an opportunity. Also, offering daily, weekly, bi-weekly and monthly subscription options to suit everyone’s pocket could also be an alternative solution to affordability issues faced by most on the continent. The African market is like no other, for SVOD to be successful in such a market they will need to come up with innovative solutions tailored to the continent’s specific set of challenges.
Despite the challenges of a nascent streaming market in Africa, I believe we are witnessing the genesis of something which will impact profoundly the world’s perception of Africa and its interaction with the continent. I have spoken previously on how culture has been used as soft power for centuries and how it has shaped our vision of the people around us. As a pan-Africanism enthusiast, I am deeply committed to ensuring that the voices from the continent are heard, both inside and outside Africa. This commitment led me to establish Africa Prime, a video streaming platform (SVOD) curating pan-African content for an international audience. African stories and storytellers deserve to be heard, and we must give them platforms to do just so.