Made in Africa…A Look At The Continent’s Animation Sector

Digital Creatives

June 2, 2020, 8 a.m.

Africa is naturally rich in colour, culture, tradition and folklore spanning decades. This rich heritage has been handed down from generation to generation. Over the years we have told our stories through songs, folklores and theatre performances. In the 21st century, everything keeps evolving due to rapid advancement in technology. In view of this, animation proves to be one of the strongest forces in conveying our stories to audiences across the world. Unfortunately, Africa has not made much progress in advancing its animation sector as compared to that of the western world.

African stories have the prospect to reach a wider audience when transformed into animation with sufficient effort and resources. The Black Panther movie, Madagascar and The Lion King became massive hits when they were released globally. These three have strong African themes running through the storyline and setting even though they were produced in the western world.

They increased the interest in Africa-centered stories and content all over the world. South Africa is currently the leading producer of animated movies on the continent, even though they are not yet on the same level as the western countries.

Animators in Africa face different technical challenges depending on the technological advancement of the countries involved.

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Funding tends to be a major problem encountered by most animation producers and reflects in the quality of animations produced. Producing animated movies is expensive- ranging from the human resource, duration, to the equipment and software to be used. Investors are unwilling to invest their money to support the industry in Africa due to the fact that existing productions have been able to penetrate neither the local nor the international market. Most of the productions are usually done on a very low budget due to low or no sponsorships.

Africans are heavy consumers of foreign content while giving little attention to their own. From childhood to adulthood, children become used to the idea of foreign superheroes, perfect princess characters and other western elements portrayed in foreign animated movies. This has created uncertainty on the reception of African animated movies if produced and released for commercial purposes.

Also, animation is a highly specialized skill that requires training to master the technique. The technical knowledge and learning avenues to master the art of producing animation is inadequate in Africa. Majority of the animators move to other western countries to receive training before practising here. Others also prefer to stay and work abroad since there are lots of opportunities and a ready market after their studies. Due to this, getting access to skilled animators is difficult, since a few well-trained animators reside in their home countries in Africa.

Animation can be a powerful tool in telling and selling African stories. Apart from global recognition, having access to logistics may go a long way into creating employment opportunities, as well as generating income. It is high time all relevant stakeholders including governments, stakeholders, investors and other relevant parties put in more effort to develop the industry and make it more attractive.

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Dorcas Benewaa Author

Dorcas is an upcoming journalist. She loves the creative arts and loves to write about startups, digital arts and issues in the tech sector.