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Lawil Karama
Lawil Karama

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Africa in Colors Summit

Africa in Colors Summit

For my Ambassadorship I was invited to a panel talk in Kigali at the Africa’s in colours event. The event is the first of its kind in Rwanda Kigali to stimulate the creative economy in the region and Africa as a whole.

The founder of Africa in Colors, AIC Raoul Rugamba and the founder of Forum for African Cultures and Diaspora, MOCA, Alain Bidjeck, the co-producers of AIC/MOCA summit and festival, explained that the main goal of this initiative is to rethink business doing in cultural & creative industry, facilitating market access, connectivity, and movement in African countries in collaboration with cultural and creative actors.

My reason for attending the Africa’s in Colors event was due to the invite I had received from Karl Carter founder and Ceo of Snake Nation which is a grantee of the Grant for the Web.
To join a talk about the creative economy and Web Monetization and the intersection of technology and how it can drive further adoption and sustainability to young creatives.

Since I am wearing an GFW Ambassador hat I decided to write down a couple of goals for this summit.

  1. Find project that could apply to the current which was announced on the 4th of may and ran till the 8th of July. Financial CFP
  2. Find projects that could apply to the "creative" CFP which will hopefully begin at the end of '22.
  3. Discover and understand the dynamics of the local creative and Tech scene.
  4. Network.
  5. Have Fun!!

While there wasn't much time left to find more potential grantees for the financial CFP at the time that I traveled to Rwanda I still felt like I wanted to give it a shot.

The summit officially started on the first of July and was till the third of July and the program was full of different activities scheduled throughout the day.

The organization provided panel talks and other activities for the attendees who came not only from Kigali but who where a very diverse to attend such as Labs & Masters classes of music, dance, visual arts, fashion, movie; to brings together artists, local and international experts for a unique collaboration between creation, sharing of experience and transmission of skills with the participants.

Furthermore there was a Think Tank hosted by the Rwanda Development board (Deputy CEO – Rwanda Development Board) with the theme “invest in creative industries”, Which was extremely inspirational for the attendees.

Think Thank

My experience

On the 29th of June I flew from Amsterdam Schiphol to Kigali.
Post covid Schiphol Airport has had a very tremulous time due to the 'loss' of personal and continues strikes of the remaining personal Which resulted in months off over crowdedness, long lines, delayed or canceled flights.

Which made me slightly more nervous because of my experience a month earlier where I had to run for my life through the airport to not miss my delayed flight.

What surprised me about my flight was that a I recognized a couple of the members of the South Sudanese Basket Ball team who where travelling to the same location for what I later learned to be the FIBA Qualifiers

I arrived in Kigali on the eve of the 29th of June after a 8hr flight. It was already dark but Luckily the hotel pickup was driving me to the Ubumwe Grand Hotel which is in the city center and near the Car free zone

Currently in Kigali are expanding the car free zones throughout the city which is quite remarkable because it changed the landscape of the city centre but also made it a lot more peaceful if you want to have an easy walk or you can rent a public bike through Gura Bike which is an Amazing initiative that rents out bikes, e-bikes and steps.

What was I immediately sensed is that in Kigali there is the general sense of hospitality, dignity and safety which is carried beautifully by the locals with results in an extremely warm welcoming.

On the 30th of June the conference started for the Sponsors, Stakeholders, Local and International press. Starting with a warm welcoming speech, The organisation gave everyone the time for a small speech following questions from the Industry Stakeholders and Press.

After the press conference everyone was free for some sightseeing but in the evening the summit had planned a mixer at The Raddison Blue
where a week before we arrived the CHOGM was held.

The program of the event

The summit started on the first of July with an introduction early in the morning. Where the dancers preformed one of my favourite traditional dances, "The Umushayayo" which is as far as I am aware one of its kind on the continent. I already was aware of the dance since it is taught and often preformed in the neighbouring country Uganda.

It was followed by Panel Talks about these topics

  • Structuring Creative Industries, policies, research and development.
  • Access to the African and Global market, mobility and integration for artists and entrepreneurs.
  • Access to finance in the creative sector
  • Empower creative industries and the value chain.
  • Labs and master classes Music, Fashion and Dance

The first talk I attended was,'Structuring Creative Industries, policies, research and development', Was as truly inspiring because of the awareness of the Stakeholders on the pathway forward, the investment and drive needed to elevate the creative economy on the continent and as a whole.

Art & Creativity 4 Change

There is still a lot of work to be done but the panel focussed on these points to strengthen the current industry on the continent.

  • Lack of Capital
  • Lack of Policy and Industry (adhering the IP rights or other legislations)
  • Lack of (Global) Market Access

The Panel tried to explain these topics by given examples of initiatives that focus on these barriers for participation by focussing on web3 technology as a solution to close the gap. Additionally by explaining how local governmental interventions in Kenya for example are able to support the creative economy.

While listening to the panelist there was a repeated mentioning of the Unesco conventions of 1980, 2005 and 2018 and the Cultural times which was published 2015 by EY and Unesco.
Which has been extremely influential in how agencies approach the creative industries on the continent.

However these reports are currently outdated and there are still many use cases to be tested and higher level interventions needed to further growth.

What I found insightful was the mentioning of the NFT market within the creative industries. One of the panelist asked the audience a couple of questions about NFT's.

  1. who is aware of the Technology.
  2. who has purchased anything with the Technology.
  3. who has created anything with the Technology.

the amount of hands that where raised where minimal not to say that the audience at the summit is a valid sample size. For me these little occurrences however small they are indicators of what type of growth is still needed.

The focus of the panelist on this specific technology made me realise that there is an extreme awareness of NFT's and the current capabilities and future potential it also made me realise that many stakeholders are not aware of other possibilities to monetise content on the web.

Which where spread out through the day in-between the talks they invited local artist to showcase their skills.

The day closed by the JAM Session at Hotel Onomo which I had skipped because on the 2nd July,I would be a panelist for the discussion on New Business Models in CCI's.

On the 2nd of July the summit continued with the following topics:

  • The Future of Creative Industries
  • Rethinking the film industry
  • New business models in CCIs
  • Labs and master classes.

New business models in CCIs Panel

The talk and the questions where different then I expected also because of the realisation that most of the attendees never heard of the Interledger Foundation, Grant for the web and our protocol. The questions where mostly surrounding NFT's and their capabilities.

When I mentioned the Interledger Protocol and the capabilities the mission of the foundation meaning financial inclusion the public stared at me with a certain confusion. I saw Industry stakeholders grabbing their phones and what I believed to quickly google the technology.

From the other talks I had attended I realised that the focus is on the most marketable technology and that is where the general populous will dive into.

For me personally the panel talk was similar as to what I Have been doing for the Financial CFP except for the fact that I had to simplify my wording which wasn't an easy task for me either.

The questions asked by host and artist Blick Bassy were related to every individual's specialty.

At the end of the talk we received questions from the public. One of them was related to what advice we have for young people in the creative industries to succeed in a country where the investment in this specific industry has been scarce.

The panel's answers differentiated slightly in advice nevertheless as in any profession a person needs to practice, trust themselves to hone their skills and hopefully belong to the small percentage that breaks through or has the opportunity to earn with their artwork.

My answer was a bit controversial because during other talks I heard similar questions asked to the panelist,'what advice can you give us as artist to participate in the creative industry. I remember starting out with a little critique about what I felt was a certain lack of confidence

Another question asked by the public was related to trust - since the summit was quite soon after the recent crash of the blockchain market, it was quite fitting yet it surprised me.

I was handed the mic and I paused to formulate the proper train of thought as well. Because the performance and trust created by the organisations in the Web 3 ecology is not always up to par. And a lot of trust and the future of projects, organisations and companies are diminished when we are not able to protect our users, members or participants of our networks and nodes.

While I was talking I realized I was rambling because this question entails our entire future and some very bad actors are creating reasons for the public to turn their backs on new forms of technology which could be extremely influential for our future.

After our panel talk we were all invited by the AIC to Attend a mini festival at the car free zone. The organisation invited local artist to preform but also International artist such as La Fouine a very well known French Musician

The organisation, attendees, panelist and visitors where then invited to club Envy in Kigali.

On the 3rd of July Which was the last day of the entire summit the labs and masterclasses came together in a performance. Where the participants combined Fashion, Music and Dance - this was done at L'Espace a beautiful space across from the Public library in Kigali

We arrived a bit early and the group slowly began the grow while the team of the summit had not arrived yet. We decided to have a drink with our little group of panelist and ended up at a beautiful coffee shop called KG Craft which host this amazing ceramics studio Kigali Pottery Collections.

After an hour or so the production team was ready and we slowly walked back to the venue where we where surprised by a beautiful 100 sqm space. The studio was divided in two sections one was painted completely white and functioned as a gallery the other space. The other section was setup as a small walk in theater.

The closing event of the summit started with a fashion show where la Maison Kiru'mono used Vlisco fabrics to create kimono type of design. A part of the models chosen to wear these designs also participated in the dance performance which was led by Mrs Deewin

I have to rephrase the sentence because the performance was created during the labs and the one they had showed us was created on the same day. Their idea started out as an ‘ internal’ experiment of all three of the lab departments to collaborate.

For me personally the performance was extremely beautiful not because the execution was perfect but because of the passion and determination I saw in the participants eyes.

There were hints of acknowledgement, passion, self respect and the delicacy that only a dance can bring to life and connect with the audience.

What I realized after attending the summit in Kigali, conversing with stakeholders is that in Rwanda many industries have been establishing and differentiating themselves from other regions of Africa.

For the past couple of years the city has been positioning itself as Tech hub with startups focussing on the service industries and more foreign investment flowing in to build centres such as the Norrsken many of these hubs provide workspaces with reliable internet, networking events and investments for these activities.
While remaining hesitant towards the creative sectors.

The creative sector is currently transforming through the interest and drive off the youth who are slowly changing the local cultural narrative that a career in the creative industry is sustainable. However the need for more intervention and intersection by the creative technology sector, local governments and other stakeholders is a must to truly let the industry flourish in the global south.

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