Joburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau and Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa
Joburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau and Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa at Discop Africa Joburg 2015. (Photo: City of Joburg)

With the continent's population expected to double in size over the next 35 years, authentic African film and television content is poised to come of age, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa told guests at Discop Africa Johannesburg 2015.

Addressing a gala dinner on 5 November, day two of the three-day African TV content market and exhibition, Minister Mthethwa said that Africa would soon be the world's fastest growing digital entertainment marketplace after China.

"There is rapidly growing advertising budgets and rising disposable income all across the continent," he said, adding: "Given Africa's digital switchover, Africa's television ecosystems present a wealth of opportunities for growth."

His observations were borne out both by the attendance figures for Discop Africa Joburg 2015, which spiked by 50%, and by the number of major deals and announcements - involving TV networks and production companies from Africa, China, the United States and Europe - that were made during the event.

This growth, Mthethwa said, made the creation and distribution of new African stories - and events such as Discop Africa, which brought together the people from Africa and around the world who were driving this work - more important than ever before.

African content 'popular, resilient, resonant'

Over 2 000 TV content producers, distributors and other industry players
Over 2 000 TV content producers, distributors and other industry players from across the globe were in attendance at Discop Africa Joburg 2015. (Photo: Discop Africa on Facebook)

"We have grown weary of news and stories that objectify us but do not empower us," he told the gathering at Joburg's Sandton Convention Centre. "This is why it is important that Discop Africa brings people together to tell a new story about the African continent.

"This is not to say that we want to view ourselves through rose-tinted spectacles … But what we do want is content that allows us to see the world from where we see it. Local content on the African continent has proven itself to be popular and resilient, and it resonates with audiences."

Regarding South Africa, the Minister noted that a recent study by his department estimated that the creative industries contributed R90.5-billion to the economy and created over 500 000 jobs in 2013.

"This demonstrates that the creative economy can become a significant force in the future," he said, adding that the government and industry were working together to promote the transformation of the sector, and in particular to increase "the spaces and platforms available to tell our own stories …

"While we have provincial commissions and local structures supporting film, including location and financial support, and film studios, we are looking at our community arts centres and other sites as additional spaces for film screenings and production hubs."

Joburg to position itself as African film hub

Six major collaborative deals were signed between South African and Chinese production companies
Six major collaborative deals were signed between South African and Chinese production companies at Discop Africa Joburg 2015. (Photo: Discop Africa on Facebook)

Joburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau, also addressing the gala dinner, said discussions were under way between the City of Johannesburg and the national Department of Arts and Culture on how to create new opportunities for the film sector to flourish further.

Mayor Tau said Johannesburg's infrastructure, fascinating visuals and other factors had seen the film and television industry going from strength to strength.

"Johannesburg's positioning as the epicentre of commercial activity and logistical interface between African countries makes Discop Africa an extremely valuable platform for growth in the industry," he said.

"As the City's leadership, we recognise that the film industry is important for our economic growth as well as our reputation as a world-class African city and business hub.

"There's Hollywood and Bollywood, and now there's Jollywood," he quipped.

Source: staff reporter

Contact the Gauteng Film Commission