Performance art in South Africa is burgeoning.(Image: African Creative Economy Conference)MEDIA CONTACTS • Kim Peters Congress Secretariat+27 21 674 0013.• Judy Bryant Media Liaison, Judy Bryant Communications+27 83 286 7168.Lorraine KearneyThe creative industries are among the most rapidly expanding sectors across the globe. According to the United Nation’s (UN) Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), the sector has a growth rate of 13.9% in Africa, beaten only by the Middle East, where the rate is 17.6%. By contrast, North and Central America post a growth rate of just 4.3%.And in 2011, the world export of creative goods reached $441-billion (R4405-billion). These figures were bandied about at the African Creative Economy Conference (ACEC), being held at the Cape Town City Hall from 7 to 10 October. The second day of the conference was given over to discussions on culture and sustainable development, with particular reference to the Millennium Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Framework.The ACEC intention is to unlock the continent’s creative industries’ potential and leapfrog into emerging high-growth sectors of the world economy, say the organisers. Africa’s share of the global creative economy is currently less than 1%, and in 2011 its arts exports was just $2.2-billion (R219-billion). North Africa has the best performance in terms of exports, led by Egypt, followed by southern Africa, led by South Africa. These exports are predominantly design, followed by arts and crafts, and publishing.“Culture has huge potential for growth and jobs,” said Nils Jansons, the deputy head of the European Union (EU) delegation to South Africa. “It is the beginning and end of development. It is important to social fabric and it enhances self-esteem, improves dialogue and a sense of community and belonging. It helps fight fanaticism and xenophobia.”It could contribute, he emphasised, to poverty reduction. The EU promoted the conservation of cultural diversity and had earmarked $200-million (R2-billion) for arts and freedom of expression in Africa. In South Africa, in particular, it was working on research with Arterial Network on gathering data on trade in cultural goods and services.Millennium Development GoalsThe euro zone promoted culture as a contributor to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and in the post-2015 framework it wanted to include culture as necessary for good governance and building growing, inclusive and sustainable societies.Carolina Quintana, the networking and partnerships officer at Unctad, pointed out that post-2015 the world needed a new people – and a planet-sensitive agenda. “We must design new products, adapt what exists, improve eco-efficiencies. The creative industries are well-placed to be a part of this as some of the most dynamic sectors in the global economy.”The United Nation’s Conference on Trade and Development was actively promoting the creative economy, particularly in Africa, as it had high levels of talent and creativity that could be tapped for economic growth, poverty reduction, economic diversity and job creation. Driving this growth were global demand, technology and tourism. However, Quintana and several other speakers pointed out that a crucial element for the creative economy to flourish was the protection of intellectual property rights.Also key to driving the creative economy were intellectual property rights and technology, and the protection and promotion of cultural diversity, said Rochelle Roca Hachem, a programme officer in the section on the diversity of cultural expressions at Unesco, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which had seven internationally binding cultural agreements. The most important of these was the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. There were 172 parties to this, 70% of which were in Africa.Promoting growthThe UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization had two tracks for promoting the creative economy worldwide: funding and technical assistance, which included a ‘train the trainer’ programme, through which 32 people from 25 African countries were being trained and will help their own and other countries with policy development.Its International Fund for Cultural Diversity had 61 beneficiaries in 40 developing countries to bring change through capacity building, business models, partnership and policy development. The organisation’s goals were to strengthen governance for culture in developing countries and establish legal and institutional frameworks and policies for national cultural sectors.The third Unesco creative economy report, Widening Development Pathways, would be published on 14 November in Paris. It would focus on the creative economy at a local level, specifically in developing nations, and at how the creative economy could be practically promoted on the ground.In addition to money, the creative industries promote diversity, esteem, community, social cohesion, identity, individuality and the possibility for exchange. But the obstacles to its growth include lack of capital, entrepreneurial skills and infrastructure.Voice of dissent“The African creative economy does not exist,” said Christiaan de Beukelaer, a PhD researcher from the United Kingdom’s University of Leeds. “This is not because there is no cultural production, but because there is no conceptual clarity.” De Beukelaer’s research focuses primarily on the role of culture and cultural industries in international development. He has spent the past eight months in West Africa researching in the field.There was universal agreement on the growth potential of the creative economy, but some dissent on the necessary preconditions to drive it in Africa. De Beukelaer said it was difficult to create a cultural capital. Cities that had traditionally been strong in the sector retained these positions. “If there was consensus on what these preconditions were, we would be implementing them, not talking about them,” he said.For Jansons, it was more an issue of access to financial resources and the right, flexible education. Hachem echoed his words, speaking about the importance of arts education, access to finance, and better infrastructure. “But in Africa, there are such vast differences between places that there is not one single answer.”Links with science, technology and innovation were crucial. Culture was the source of creativity and innovation, she said. Quintana added that the creative economy was a process in the making. Africa had assets in terms of high levels of talent and creativity. It needed to harness technology to get this to a wider market. In its favour was its young population: young people would be more influenced by technology and so were important in developing a creative economy on the continent.The conferenceThe ACEC brings together some of the continent’s leading thinkers, academics, cultural producers, and experts in music, dance, theatre, visual arts, heritage and museums, design, fashion, craft, festivals and cultural events, film, literature, and stand-up comedy. It also attracts entrepreneurs, politicians and funders whose interests lie in expanding the creative economies across the continent. The conference focuses on the creative industries not just as economic drivers, but also considers how the creative sectors can eradicate poverty. The conference takes place each year in a different city. In 2013, more than 300 delegates from about 40 countries participated in Cape Town, South Africa.
Chief economist Chris Hart said South Africa had not had a great start to the year: the price of petrol had gone up, the rand had declined, interest rates were up, trade unions with political ambitions were fighting employers and not working together with them to find solutions. All of these factors were not good for investors. (Image: Ray Maota)• Sandisiwe GugusheCommunications: Brand South Africa+27 11 482 0133Ray MaotaSouth Africa and Sweden have long-standing political and development connections, and linking up to find ways to monitor South Africa’s export competitiveness is the latest venture in the nations’ partnership.Brand South Africa, custodian of South Africa’s image, and Business Sweden discussed designing an export competitive index for South Africa at a networking session held at The Michelangelo in Sandton on 10 February.At the inaugural Brand South Africa Competitiveness Forum held in 2013, it was established that a Country Performance Tracking Index was needed to enable South Africa to track and respond to key challenges within its economy and society. At the networking meeting this week, economists Mauro Gozzo from Sweden and Chris Hart from South Africa spoke about the state of exports in their respective countries, and how to improve the sector.Dr Petrus de Kock, the research manager at Brand South Africa, also spoke about how Brand South Africa tried to aid South African exports. Olov Hemstrom, the Swedish trade minister, said: “We from Business Sweden are working a lot to help the export development in South Africa. We have an industrial school in Temba and are working closely with the Department of Trade and Industry as well as Seta.”The panel consisting of Hart, Brand South Africa research manager Dr Petrus De Kock and Swedish economist Mauro Gozzo discussed ways to improve South Africa’s export competitiveness. (Image: Ray Maota)Exports are crucialSweden’s economy is faring better than that of many of its peers: the nation has low public debt and a current account surplus, and since the early 1990s its growth rate has outpaced that of other members of the European Union-15 and the United States, according to the McKinsey Report, produced by the global management consultancy firm. The firm works with its clients to apply its understanding of market and industry forces to develop long-term macroeconomic perspectives.“Sweden has an export driven economy as 50% of our gross domestic product comes from exports. And of this 50%, about 20 % comes from just three companies,” said Gozzo. He also said that Sweden’s economy had been rising better than that of North America.“If you have a lot of cyclical exports, your economy will be hard hit at bad times, just like Sweden was in 2009. Our recovery was quick though and by 2011 we were back to normal.” Gozzo said that consumer credit was important in emerging markets.Sweden’s economic growth mainly reflects productivity gains in the areas most exposed to international competition: manufacturing, and business and financial services, which together account for only about one-third of the nation’s economy. In its two other main components – the public sector and local services – economic growth has been much slower, at a pace comparable to that of the rest of the EU-15.The EU-15 refers to those member countries of the European Union prior to the accession of 10 candidate countries on 1 May 2004. They are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.“Sweden would never have had such a stable economy had IT and telecoms companies never boosted the Swedish economy,” said Gozzo, talking about major companies such as Ericsson.South Africa’s weaknessesHart said South Africa had not had a great start to the year: the price of petrol had gone up; the rand had declined; interest rates were up; trade unions with political ambitions were fighting employers and not working together with them to find solutions. All of these factors were not good for investors.“All this does not mean doom and gloom; we are part of the fragile five. These are countries with huge twin deficit markets in emerging markets and include Brazil, India, Turkey, Indonesia and South Africa,” said Hart. South Africa was a triple deficit country as even households had deficit.“The reason why South Africa is part of the fragile five is the current account deficit because our production has fallen off due to labour unrest.”The way forward“Boosting competition and promoting deeper regional trade integration are critical for restarting South Africa’s export engine to bolster growth, which would help create jobs and reduce poverty,” Gozzo explained.About Brand South Africa’s involvement, De Kock said its job was to give South Africa an endearing image to the rest of the world to boost investments.Hart added: “South Africa has identified the exports sector as an engine for higher, more inclusive and job-intensive growth with the [National Development Plan], aiming for export volume growth of 6% a year in order to achieve an annual increase in real gross domestic product growth of about 5.5%.”
Bangladesh cricketer Shakib Al Hassan has been ranked the best all-rounder in one-day internationals (ODI) once again.The latest ranking means he is now on top of the pack in all three formats of the game. The southpaw had topped the all-rounder rankings for Test, ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals just ahead of the World Cup earlier this year.But an ordinary showing in Bangladesh’s campaign in the game’s showcase event in Australia and New Zealand saw him slip down the ladder, reports bdnews24.com.In the latest International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings, released after the Bangladesh-India series, Shakib pipped Sri Lanka’s Tillakaratne Dilshan to the top spot. He now has 408 points to Dilshan’s 404. Behind them is Dilshan’s compatriot Angelo Mathews with 308.Shakib scored 123 runs at an average of 61.50 runs including two half-centuries during the three-match ODI series against India. The ace cricketer took three wickets for 99 runs in the just concluded series which Bangladesh won 2-1.