Benedict Oramah, President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), has announced a $500 million envelope to support the production and trade of African cultural and creative products over the next two years.
Oramah told guests at the Creative Africa Exchange Weekend (CAX WKND) that was held in Kigali that the funds, would build on what the bank was already doing and would be accessible as lines of credit to banks, direct financing to operators and as guarantees.
He said that the creative economy was increasingly recognised as a significant sector and meaningful contributor to Africa's gross domestic product and that the cultural and creative industries catalysed economic growth by fostering more inclusive, connected and collaborative societies.
"Creative industries can be potent vehicles for more equitable, sustainable and inclusive growth strategies for African economies," stated Oramah.
He, however, noted that, while Africa had a deep pool of talent, it lacked the infrastructure and capacity to commercialise its creative talent and reap the vast fortunes lying in wait.
"Because of underinvestment in the creative and cultural industries, Africa is largely absent in the global market of ideas, values and aesthetics as conveyed through music, theatre, literature, film and television. African countries import overwhelmingly more creative goods than they export or trade amongst themselves," he noted.
He commended Egypt's "astronomical growth in creative exports over the last decade" and the Nollywood industry's increasing.
Oramah described the African market as the lowest hanging fruit for African creative products but noted that, until recently, "that market was fragmented and balkanised, such that a Senegalese knew more about creative products in France than in Ghana".
But today, change has come!" he said. With the African Continental Free Trade Agreement in force and trading starting in July, Africa would begin to break down the borders and a single market for creative products would emerge.
Rosemary Mbabazi, Minister of Youth and Culture of Rwanda, said the creative industry would enhance collaboration and cooperation among African countries. The government of Rwanda had envisioned the creative and cultural industries as a key part of its economic strategy.
On the sidelines of the event, Afreximbank signed a term sheet with Made In Africa Inc. (MIA) to provide the company with a $190-million facility to finance the acquisition of African Fabric Holdings BV, Netherlands, also known as Vlisco Group.
The facility, broken into two tranches, will also be used to provide working capital to Vlisco group following the acquisition.
Kanayo Awani, Managing Director of Afreximbank's Intra-African Trade Initiative, signed on behalf of the Bank, while Kojo Annan, Chairman and Founder of MIA, signed for the company during a ceremony held on the sidelines of the Creative Africa Exchange Weekend .
Vlisco Group designs, produces and distributes fashion fabrics, especially of the African wax print style, for the West and Central African market and African consumers in global metropolitan cities.
Its fabrics have grown into an essential part of African culture, receiving widespread attention from the art, design and fashion worlds.