Africa’s creative and cultural industries fly high at the IATF 2021 Creative Africa Nexus Summit

Categories: Press Releases


Durban, 24 December 2021 – The Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX) Summit and Live Theatre Programme that took place over 5 days at the second Intra-African Trade Fair 2021 (IATF 2021) holding between 15-21 November 2021 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa was a historical milestone for Africa’s creative and cultural industries.

Organised by African Export Import Bank as part of the deployment of its creative and cultural industries strategy in Africa, dubbed the “Creative Africa Nexus”, CANEX at IATF2021 was the largest gathering of African creatives and their financial, business, policy and governmental counterparts in recent memory.

CANEX at IATF 2021 featured 120 speakers, 3 art installations, 2 fashion shows, 22 performances, over 100 exhibiting companies, and over 1,000 delegates in 5 days of intense programming. Several deals and contracts specific to the creative and cultural sector in Africa and the Diaspora were generated, including a US$50 million deal between AAA Entertainment (South Africa) and Nigeria’s Silverbird Group, supported by Afreximbank’s Film Financing Facility.

The CANEX Summit was officially opened on 19 November by the South African Minister of Arts & Culture, Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who was also joined by the President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict O. Oramah, H.E. Albert M. Muchanga, AU Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining, and the star of Bob Hearts Abishola (American Sitcom TV Series) Ms. Folake Olowofoyeku.

Over the course of 5 days, experts and practitioners in diverse fields from film, fashion, music, intellectual property, finance, and digital technologies took part in a range of conversations. The continent’s best talent was well reflected by well-known and respected thought leaders such as Alex Okosi, Managing Director, Emerging Markets, YouTube EMEA; Moses Babatope, Co-founder, Filmhouse Group and Managing Director, FilmOne Entertainment, (Nigeria); Kanayo Awani, Managing Director, Intra-African Trade Initiative, Afreximbank; Oscar Mdlongwa, Founder, Kalawa Jazmee (South Africa); Addy Awofisayo, Head of Music, Sub-Saharan Africa at YouTube, (Nigeria); Mr Eazi, emPawa Africa, Africa Music Fund (Nigeria); Brian Afande, Co-Founder, BlackRhino VR (Kenya); Sarah Hassan, Producer, Actress, (Kenya); Kibonen Nfi, Creative Director, KIBONEN and CEO, Cameroon Clothing Company (Cameroon); Armando Cabral, Fashion Designer (Guinea Bissau / Portugal), amongst many others.

The African diaspora was also well-represented by the legendary multi-Grammy winning producer, Gordon “The Commissioner” Williams, Grammy winner Vincent Berry II and star of Bob Hearts Abishola Folake Olowofoyeku.

Live performances from African super-stars such as Mr. Eazi, Oskido, Sauti Sol, Busiswa, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Seun Kuti, Lebo Mashile, Ami Faku, Dike Chukwumerije and others ensured that the event was a true reflection of African talent.

Sidebar programmes such as the African Film Policy Roundtable also saw the largest and most important gathering of film policy makers and practitioners from across the continent that has taken place to date, with official representatives from film commissions of Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, and Namibia. The CANEX Music Factory saw 2 songs recorded on-site at a mobile recording studio by the Grammy winning producer and composer Vincent Berry II, and a series of masterclasses provided in-depth insights into access to finance, augmented reality, and film distribution.

Beyond the numbers, CANEX was a week of powerful words, passionate musical expression, dance, poetry, visual art and craft installations, films and fashion. The first CANEX at IATF can undoubtedly be declared a resounding success.

Afreximbank President Professor Benedict Oramah said that the success of CANEX is proof that the time has come for the creative industries in Africa to drive economic transformation on the continent and contribute to the success of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

“At Afreximbak we are proud to have created the CANEX platform as a way to not only showcase the creative talent of Africa, but also as a tangible roadmap for interventions that will support various creative sectors as they scale-up for Pan-African and global trade and investment. We thank the African Union Commission and the AfCFTA Secretariat, the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government as well as our other partners, sponsors, exhibitors, buyers and performers for their strong collaboration and for ensuring the success of this event.” said Prof. Oramah.

H.E Ambassador Albert Muchanga, AU Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining, said that “the success of CANEX at the Intra-African Trade Fair sees a fitting end to ‘The AU Year of the Arts, Culture And Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want’. The African Union, along with its partners including Afreximbank realise the vast potential of Africa’s creative and cultural sectors to drive African growth and prosperity. Seeing the diverse array of talented creative talent on display at CANEX at IATF2021 has only strengthened our commitment to the further support of these essential sectors.”

Afreximbank announced at the closing of the CANEX Summit in Durban that the next CANEX event is scheduled for 2022. The CANEX Weekend will take place in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, as a prelude to the next CANEX Summit at IATF 2023.

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