Unleashing African Creativity: The Rise of the Creator Economy in Africa with Lelo Ndlovu WakaGatsheni

Explore the potential of the creator economy in Africa and how it can empower African creators, drive economic growth, and showcase diverse talents and stories to the world. Learn about the challenges, strategies, and initiatives to build a new media empire in Africa.


4/15/202310 min read

The Rise of the Creator Economy in Africa
The Rise of the Creator Economy in Africa

The emergence of the creator economy has revolutionized the way content is produced, distributed, and consumed across the globe. Africa, with its rich cultural heritage and diverse populations, has witnessed the rapid growth of the creator economy in recent years. Content creators, also known as influencers, are leveraging digital technology and social media platforms to build a new media empire in Africa, creating economic opportunities, amplifying African voices, and fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. However, the creator economy in Africa also faces challenges such as limited access to technology, payment issues, copyright concerns, and cultural barriers. Despite these challenges, initiatives and solutions are being implemented to overcome them and create a supportive ecosystem for African creators. The future of the creator economy in Africa holds immense potential for growth, collaboration, and sustainable development, promising a bright future for African creators. Creators today have the opportunity to start online businesses with ease as they have one much needed essential item: Traffic

The Growth of the Creator Economy in Africa

Africa, with its young and dynamic population, has embraced the digital revolution, which has paved the way for the rise of the creator economy in the continent. Digital technology, including smartphones and internet connectivity, has become more accessible and affordable, allowing content creators in Africa to produce and distribute content with a lot more ease. Social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter have become powerful tools for African creators to showcase their talent, connect with their audiences, and gain global recognition.

The role of social media platforms in empowering African creators cannot be overstated. These platforms provide creators with a direct avenue to reach their audiences and monetize their content through brand partnerships, sponsorships, and product sales. African creators, from various fields such as music, fashion, art, comedy, and entertainment, have gained a significant following and have become influential voices in their respective niches. They have used their platforms to share their stories, cultures, and perspectives, amplifying African voices on the global stage and challenging the dominant narratives about Africa.

Examples of successful African creators abound, showcasing the immense potential of the creator economy in Africa. For instance, Nigerian comedian Mark Angel, known for his humorous skits on YouTube, has gained millions of followers and has become a renowned name in the comedy industry. Ghanaian Travel Blogger Wode Maya has risen to prominence through his travel diaries on the continent. Kenyan photographer Mutua Matheka has captured stunning images of African landscapes, gaining recognition for his work and promoting tourism in Africa. These examples highlight the power of the creator economy in Africa to create economic opportunities and promote African talent on a global scale.

Another such creator is Lelo Ndlovu WakaGatsheni, a popular South African entertainment blogger and podcaster. With her siren voice, & her popular catchphrases “Hello, Mzansi! ”, “I will be bringing you this tea hot, just like the way you like it “, and “She, unfortunately, got herself caught up in a messy issue, of course, she did” have captured the heart of close to 130000 people on YouTube with both her channels E-News Mzansi & The Lelo N Podcast.

Something that in 2020, when she first launched her channel as she sat at home because of the lockdown, and couldn’t continue running her direct marketing business, she probably wouldn't have imagined that she would grow as quickly as she did.

Lelo who is a luxury real estate agent, once revealed in a video that she initially disliked her voice as a young child. A calmly spoken Lelo mentions that when she initially launched her channel, E-News Mzansi, She would use an app to do the voiceovers to sound like a man. The intricacies of running her channel that way would eventually get tiring, so she decided to eventually use her voice, which was well received.

One to avoid drama, she often chooses to not cover certain stories as she wants her platform to not bash others, but also educate and influence her audience positively. 

Known for her analytical appraisal of social situations, and tackling them head-ons, such as the gruesome murder of the late rapper  Kiernan Forbes, known as AKA,  as well as, how she covered South African own Bonnie and Clyde story: Dr. Nandipha Magudumana and Thabo Bester. Lelo Ndlovu WakaGatsheni has fast risen to the forefront of South African Creators to listen to.

The Advantages of the Creator Economy in Africa

The growth of the creator economy in Africa comes with numerous advantages that have the potential to transform the continent's economic and social landscape.

Economic Opportunities for African Creators

One of the key advantages of the creator economy in Africa is the economic opportunities it creates for African creators. Content creators can monetize their content through various means such as brand partnerships, sponsored content, advertising, and merchandise sales. This provides a new source of income for African creators, who may come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The creator economy has the potential to empower African creators economically and improve their livelihoods, providing them with a means to support themselves and their families.

Empowerment of Marginalized Communities

The creator economy has the potential to empower marginalized communities in Africa. It provides a platform for creators from diverse backgrounds, including women, LGBTQ+ individuals, people with disabilities, and ethnic minorities, to share their stories and perspectives. This empowers these marginalized communities, giving them a voice and visibility in the media landscape, which has historically been dominated by a few voices. The creator economy can contribute to inclusivity and diversity in the media representation of Africa, promoting social empowerment and equality.

Amplification of African Voices on the Global Stage

The creator economy has provided African creators with a global platform to showcase their talent and amplify African voices. Through social media platforms, African creators can connect with audiences from all over the world, breaking down geographical barriers and reaching a global audience. This has the potential to challenge the dominant narratives about Africa and promote African culture, creativity, and innovation on a global scale. The creator economy can serve as a powerful tool to reshape the perception of Africa and elevate African voices to the global stage.

Creation of Job Opportunities and Economic Growth

The creator economy has the potential to create job opportunities and contribute to economic growth in Africa. As the creator economy grows, it creates a demand for various services such as content production, marketing, branding, and technology support. This can eventually lead to the creation of job opportunities for individuals with diverse skill sets, contributing to economic growth and development, something that is much needed on the continent. Moreover, the creator economy has the potential to stimulate entrepreneurship, with African creators venturing into new business models, creating startups, and driving innovation in the media and creative industries. This can foster economic growth and promote a culture of entrepreneurship in Africa.

Related Article: Empower Your Passion: Step-by-Step Guide to Launching Your Online Business as a Content Creator

Fostering Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Africa

The creator economy encourages innovation and entrepreneurship among African creators. African creators are often driven by their unique cultural perspectives, experiences, and challenges, leading to the creation of innovative and original content. The creator economy provides a platform for African creators to showcase their creativity and innovation, leading to the development of new business models, products, and services. Moreover, the creator economy encourages creators to develop entrepreneurial skills, such as branding, marketing, and business management, to monetize their content and build successful businesses. This fosters a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa, driving economic growth and development.

The Challenges of the Creator Economy in Africa

Problems facing the creator economy in Africa are limited access to technology and internet connectivity. Many African countries still face infrastructural challenges, including a lack of reliable internet connectivity in rural areas, limited access to smartphones and computers, and high data costs. This limits the ability of African creators to create and distribute content online, hindering their participation in the global creator economy at the scale that it would like to play a role in. Bridging the digital divide and improving access to technology and internet connectivity is crucial to unlocking the full potential of the creator economy in Africa.

Lack of Payment Infrastructure and Monetization Opportunities

Another challenge faced by African creators in the creator economy is the lack of payment infrastructure and monetization opportunities. Many African countries lack reliable online payment systems, making it difficult for creators to monetize their content and receive payments from international platforms. With popular platforms such as PayPal often making it difficult for African Creators to access funds, many are often limited in their ability to monetize. This does create barriers for African creators to generate income from their content and build sustainable businesses. Developing robust payment infrastructure, or perhaps the likes of companies such as Klasha, Flutterwave, Paystack, and other payment platforms getting involved in creating more monetization opportunities tailored to the African context can help address this challenge and enable creators to fully participate in the creator economy.

Limited Access to Education and Skills Development

Access to education and skills development is another challenge faced by African creators in the creator economy. Because of the infancy of this economy, many creators lack formal education and training in content creation, marketing, branding, and entrepreneurship, which are needed skills to create a sustainable creator business model. Content creators have the ability to monetize through digital products, subscriptions, merchandising, corporate sponsorships, UGC content, affiliate marketing, offering services, along with platform monetization. However, not many creators know how to leverage these monetization routes. This can hinder their ability to create high-quality content, effectively market their work, and build successful businesses off of the popularity that they gain online, and can leave them vulnerable to exploitative practices by brands. Providing access to education and skills development programs specifically tailored for creators in Africa can help bridge this gap and equip African creators with the necessary knowledge and skills to thrive in the creator economy.

Related Article: Corporate Sponsorships for Creators and Influencers, including Online Communities: Unlocking Opportunities for Growth

Cultural Stereotypes and Bias

Cultural stereotypes and bias also pose challenges for African creators in the creator economy. Many African creators face prejudice and discrimination based on their race, ethnicity, and cultural background. This can limit their opportunities for visibility, growth, and monetization, perpetuating unequal power dynamics in the creator economy. Addressing cultural stereotypes and bias, promoting diversity, inclusivity, and representation in the creator economy, and creating a level playing field for all creators regardless of their background is essential for the growth of the creator economy on the African continent. 

Collaboration and Mentorship Opportunities

Collaboration and mentorship opportunities are essential for the growth of the creator economy in Africa. Many African creators face challenges in finding collaborators, mentors, and networks that can provide guidance, support, and exposure for their work. Collaboration and mentorship opportunities can help creators learn from each other, gain new perspectives, and expand their networks, leading to the creation of new content, partnerships, and business opportunities. 

When asked what were her prediction for the creator’s economy on the African continent, and South Africa in particular, Lelo says:

“ If you look at creators that are in Nigeria, the simplest creators have the most following, those creators have formed a network with their viewers. If you come to think of it, it is the same viewers that are watching our content. Those creators have done so well in working with each other. South African Creators however are often on platforms trying to compete with each other, and they don’t see the bigger picture. There are over 1,5 million YouTube channels worldwide, and South Africa and Africa don’t even have a big portion of that. There is a whole lot of space for everyone. Creators have to work together and collaborate. Even if you look at American creators, they understand the power of collaboration”

Lelo is adamant that to unlock the true potential of content creation in Africa, creators must come together and collaborate. By working as a cohesive unit, creators can tap into each other's strengths, leverage their unique perspectives, and collectively create content that resonates with audiences. Collaboration can lead to cross-promotion, the pooling of resources, and the sharing of valuable insights and expertise. By collaborating, African creators can not only enhance their own success but also elevate the African content creation scene as a whole. It's time for African creators to recognize the value of collaboration and work together to make their mark in the global content creation landscape.

For this community to thrive and reach its full potential, it requires the support of its big brother- The African Tech Start-up space.

The African Tech ecosystem has been rapidly evolving, with a burgeoning start-up scene that has gained recognition on the global stage. These tech start-ups have been disrupting traditional industries and driving innovation across the continent. To ensure that the African Creator community can fully capitalize on the opportunities presented by the creator economy, it is crucial for the African Tech ecosystem to play an active role in supporting their growth and development.

Furthermore, the African Tech ecosystem can also facilitate collaboration between creators and tech start-ups, creating synergies that can benefit both parties. For example, collaborations between creators and tech start-ups can result in the development of innovative content creation tools, digital marketing solutions, and e-commerce platforms tailored to the African market. These collaborations can drive growth in the creator economy and contribute to the overall development of the African tech ecosystem.

The burgeoning African Creator community presents immense potential for the growth of the Tech space in Africa. However, to fully capitalize on this potential, the African Tech ecosystem must actively support the growth and development of African creators. This involves providing access to technology tools and platforms, facilitating collaborations between creators and tech start-ups, and creating an enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship in the creator economy. With the involvement of the African Tech ecosystem, the African Creator community can thrive and contribute to the economic growth and development of the continent.

In conclusion, the creator economy presents a tremendous opportunity for Africa to build a new media empire and empower its creators to build sustainable businesses from the brand equity that they are creating. Empowering creators to tell their own stories, and highlighting the real Africa will play an important role in reshaping “Brand Africa” which over the years has been tinted by negative press, only painting it as a poverty-stricken, war-torn, and corrupt continent However, there are several challenges that need to be addressed to unlock the full potential of the creator economy in Africa. These challenges include limited access to technology and internet connectivity, lack of payment infrastructure and monetization opportunities, access to education and skills development, cultural stereotypes and bias,  support from governments with policy and regulatory frameworks that protect creators, and collaboration and mentorship opportunities.

To overcome these challenges and build a thriving creator economy in Africa, it is essential to bridge the digital divide, develop robust payment infrastructure, strengthen intellectual property rights protection, provide access to education and skills development programs, promote diversity, inclusivity, and representation, develop supportive policy and regulatory frameworks, and foster collaboration and mentorship among African creators. By addressing these challenges and creating an enabling environment for creators, Africa can leverage the power of the creator economy to drive economic growth, empower its creators, and create a new media empire that amplifies African voices and stories to the world.

 Lelo Ndlovu WakaGatsheni
 Lelo Ndlovu WakaGatsheni
About The Contributor
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Tanya Kabuya is the founder of Wizz Digital, a South Africa & Nigeria-based marketing strategy consultancy that assists Tech Startups & consulting businesses to grow their audiences, attract clients, and cultivate brand recognition through social media by deploying the Content Marketing Ecosystem Playbook, our proprietary Framework. Find out more

Tanya Kabuya
Tanya Kabuya