The mapping intermediaries initiative was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (GIZ) with the Wits University Digital Arts Department, in partnership with Fak’ugesi Festival.
Intermediaries are like the sticky glue between creators and audiences. They make sure people get to see all their beautiful work as well as support creatives to get work out to the world. They include publishers, festivals, mobile aggregators, incubators, investors and so many more.
The aim of the research is to understand the landscape of intermediaries in the Digital Creative Industries in Africa with a special focus on Animation, Gaming and Immersive Media. In the process of doing the research, they are also building a huge network of intermediaries. The process started in 2021 during the online Pan-African Bootcamp for intermediaries, DigiIntermediaries Bootcamp.
The following are some key findings from the Bootcamp and research:
- Without intermediaries working to support the digital creative industry, its respective sectors in Africa will not thrive. It is therefore important that we improve the quality and marketability of content in addition to finding ways to aggregate and build digital platforms to secure copyright and collections infrastructure.
- There’s an infancy of intermediary roles on the continent. Individuals are acting to fill gaps and taking on multiple roles to meet needs, rather than engaging as career intermediaries.
- Value chains are not well understood and have gaps. There’s need for a full understanding and optimisation of the value chains for each sector. For instance, the best mobile games for African audiences are ‘Free to play’ which monetise through ads, yet no local advertisers are listing ads on games in Africa.
This data was gathered in two ways. One way was through a questionnaire where they got 126 responses then extended that by snowball sampling which added 93 more responses to the total. The snowball sampling entailed asking the research participants to recommend 2 other people that they could gather more data from.
The second way was through one on one interviews which happened online. They wanted to do 50 but so far they have done 20. They balanced people across different countries, sectors, intermediary roles, genders and ages.
The interim insights from the ongoing research so far are as follows:
- 28% of the research participants don’t work in any of the 3 primary sectors. They either operate on specified primary sectors and report dominantly as one of the following roles, cultural programming, digital content promotion, education & training, incubators & accelerators, government industry support, business development, 4iR and digital sector support and finally cultural diplomacy. They support the sector but not specifically in gaming, animation or immersive media.
- When they looked at the sub sectors they found out that 54% of people in the video games industry tend to stay within the industry as much as possible. In gaming it is very specific in terms of production and distribution and so different from animation and immersive media. Therefore one of the reasons they are unlikely to go outside of those frameworks. 33% of the gaming respondents also work in immersive because of immersive gaming and 14% in animation. 47% of animation only work in the animation sector, 31% in games and 22% in immersive. While in immersive 39% worked entirely in immersive while 32% also worked in animation and 29% in gaming. Immersive is still a new sector and there are not a lot of producers in that sector because the market is not quiet ready.
- Role diversity was very interesting to the researchers. They realised that most people were not aware that they were intermediaries. Most intermediaries co-identify as ‘content producers’ and a vast majority identify as filling more than 4 intermediary roles. There were very few publishers, distributors or aggregators even in the co-identification of roles. They also saw a lot of professional training coming up. Some initial concerns were content and talent aggregators in animation are really low.
- 77% of the respondents said that they do not receive government support, while 23% said that they did. The biggest percentage of those who do being South Africa 60% followed by Kenya 9% and then Senegal 6%. People don’t seem to understand the link between industry groups and professional bodies in engaging and working with governments. 56% of the respondents were non-registered professional networks and in professional networks via an incubator or grant.
- Intermediary journey showed that no one really trained for the role. People mostly fell into these roles out of need or a passion to see the industry grow. The following is an ongoing list of the skills that are missing for intermediaries, organisational communication & sharing information, ability to perform research in a sector on a context, business intelligence, good teams, partnership & co-production development, the value of good contracts, network building, finance management and relationship between technical infrastructure and talent.
- IP management and copyright claims are not managed. It’s too hard and complicated to the research respondents depending on their respective legal environments. However, those who are looking into it have a lot of support, they have lawyers looking into them.
- Policy and strategic framework awareness is also very low. People do not know what the governments are doing to help them and how they can get involved in that.
A full report is underway. The written report will also contextualise recent industry reports and actions.
The findings were also followed up by the launch of the intermediaries platform. In a bid to address the key challenge of communication that was identified the team created a creative way to describe the role of intermediaries and how important they are in making the industry work.
They created two characters, Maya, from Fakugesi and Kwazi from the intermediaries platform who engage in an interesting dialogue on what an intermediary is.
The platform will set up a support team for intermediaries. The intermediaries will submit their profiles on the platform and the support team will guide them through their profile creation.
This will eventually help to form better connections with the creators because starting with intermediaries will help in the understanding of the value chain network and how it works.
It will show how different intermediary networks merge and connect with each other. It will also help identify which connections are missing in the region so that people can come in and fill in the gaps. Supported intermediary applications are now open.
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