From film to fashion, games to software, music to media, advertising to architecture, Zimbabwe’s creative sector is one of the country’s most important industries, driving economic growth and supporting jobs across the country. The economic value of the sector is yet to be determined as there has been no economic study done yet. A gap the CEOZ Portal seeks to fill.
Beyond Zimbabwe’s boarders, Zimbabwean creativity inspires the world with its diverse and proudly Zimbabwean creativity. The country needs to economically determine who or which are the country’s torchbearers or trendsetters in the following creative industries sub sectors: advertising and marketing, architecture, crafts, design and fashion, film, TV, video, radio and photography, IT, software and computer services, museums, libraries and galleries, music, visual, and performing arts, publishing? These will serve as examples of companies and individuals that have won Zimbabwe an international reputation for creativity, inspiration and resourcefulness. Regrettably with such a rich and diverse creative heritage the total value of services exported by the creative industries are yet to be distinctly quantified as a percentage of the country’s exports earnings. Statistics on trade in cultural or creative products is a key component to assess the local creative economy.
Zimbabwe needs to demonstrate more commitment to its role and place in the global creative economy. The creative sector faces intense competition, not only from traditional competitors like South Africa and Nigeria, but from new sector rivals in fast growth economies whose governments also support the development of their creative industries.
To meet this challenge more Zimbabwe creative industries, need to be invigorated and supported to gain export competitiveness. There are no publicly known statistics of the number and specialties of creative industries in Zimbabwe that are active on the export market. However, indications from the arts and culture sub sector are clear that far fewer actively export than could do so. Therefore by 2021 the CEOZ Portal hopes to have worked with economic ministries to remedy this state of affairs. The weakest link currently is holistic data collection across all the sub sectors making the local creative industries. Such data is needed to accurately track and measure progress. Barriers to international business will also need to be identified and tackled.
There is need to highlight creative industries in current government efforts around easy of doing business in Zimbabwe to improve the country’s reputation as one of the most attractive places for inward investment into the creative sector. Zimbabwe can create everything from global companies with investments in creative industries such as Econet’s Kwese TV. With the competition for inward investment escalating Zimbabwe take steps to ensure it restores inward investor confidence to attract investment.
The creative industries need to engage government with clear proposals on how government can aid easy of doing business for creatives. The arts and culture based creative industries are the most vulnerable and could do with corporation tax reliefs for film, TV, theatre, visual arts and dance for example. Further, the arts and culture sub sector and Creative businesses in general often face significant ‘barriers to entry’ to international markets, due to lack of protection for intellectual property, difficulties accessing local knowledge and the challenge of breaking into global supply chains.
Where do we want to get to?
Exports and inward investment are fundamental to the long-term sustainability and success of Zimbabwean creative industries. Industry should engage government in seeking a transformation in Zimbabwe’s export performance with an overarching proactive objective towards creative industries.
Making it happen: It is recommended that Government, industry and investors should consider the following:
- Agreed on at least three priority high-growth markets that would benefit from a strategic alliance approach over the next five years.
- To work together to create international consortia in the chosen markets to build a more supportive business environment, strengthen relationships and deliver commercial goals.
- Government ministers to undertake top-level ‘government to government’ discussions in relevant international forums to reduce trade barriers and to improve the regulatory environment for creative industries.
- Work with the National Intellectual Property Office and motivate for Intellectual Property attachés overseas to address IP and piracy issues which affect the local creative sector in certain markets.
- Identify five target twin-cities where world class clusters offer the potential to generate significant business for Zimbabwean creative industries.
- Work with Zimbabwean multinational businesses in key international clusters and consider how working together may support the ambitions of creative business supply chains and other companies new to the relevant market.
- Deliver a series of bespoke events, learning opportunities and access to resources to enable the creative sector to win international business.
- Improve awareness among creative companies of the tendering processes for major global projects to build key relationships.
- Identify major cultural, entertainment and themed attraction projects around the world and focus on cultivating opportunities arising from them for the creative industries.
- Use trade missions to facilitate the building of consortia and include relevant businesses from across the creative industries to address the specific requirements of major global projects.
- Focus on creative economy sub-sectors with the greatest potential to drive Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) business and match to the top three priority markets for that sub-sector, helping build coherent and strategic plans to deliver increased inward investment.
- Develop benefit‐led propositions to make a compelling commercial case to potential inward investors – matched to market opportunities. These propositions will articulate the business environment, revenue potential and supply chain landscape; and will form the core of targeted communications amongst all concerned.
- Develop propositions for creative hubs - centres of excellence with demonstrable international strengths and actively promote these internationally.
- Raise the profile of the industry-led site www.creativeeconomyoutlookzim.org
Delivering on aspirations on exports, will also require an improvement in the collection of data about creative sector exports, as this data is currently fragmented and incomplete: for example, estimates of the value of creative content exports are not currently collected. Government and industry will need to work closely together to address this issue.
How will we get there?
The CEOZ Portal focuses on areas where industry and government can work together. This will include encouraging new companies to export; supporting existing exporters to expand their international work; and focusing on ambitious and challenging projects which have the capacity to deliver the big wins.
What can government do – doing better business together
To increase creative exports more companies will need to be encouraged to export. Through its existing relationships with the Industry Peer Review Forum and trade associations, the CEOZ Portal will take a lead on delivering this goal. It will also develop new relationships with private sector intermediaries such as banks and professional service organisations to ensure export support penetrates the whole sector. To deliver an improved programme of engagement with creative businesses government will need to work with a wide range of trade associations, industry bodies and other business multipliers to help them to step up their export or investment offer to creative companies and help more companies access government support.
The CEOZ Portal is investigating current uptake and future opportunities presented by the European Film Market, the Frankfurt Book Fair, London Fashion Week, London Design Festival and Sheffield Doc Fest, and how Zimbabwe diplomatic missions in the respective countries may facilitate access or scaling up in those markets. The local music sector has great potential if supposed. The CEOZ Portal is studying the Music Export Growth Scheme in the UK with the view to pick best practices to recommend locally.
The CEOZ Portal recommends that government should include:
- Working with industry to create a creative industries cross-sector communications plan
- Making support and services for small and mid-sized creative businesses more accessible and effective
- Generating more up-to-date data about targets and better market intelligence
- Improving co-ordination between public bodies and agencies including working effectively with the devolved administrations and their agencies
- Supporting trade associations and other partners in delivering for business
- Establishing new relationships with other intermediaries to reach small new-to-export creative companies
- Consider how leveraging existing and potential Trade and Investment opportunities to open opportunities in creative sectors
- Leveraging Zimbabwe foreign missions to communicate the value and capability of the creative industries worldwide.
What can industry do?
Delivering on the aspirations proffered by the CEOZ Portal will require the industry and government to collaborate closely in several areas. For instance, industry can play a proactive role in communicating the benefits of internationalisation to local creative business. A sector-wide communication plan should be agreed, which will highlight opportunities, provide information and signpost sources of support. Trade associations and industry bodies will have a critical role in raising awareness of these, and in using their networks to engage harder-to-reach businesses.
Export levels must also be measured if they are to be managed and government and industry will need to work together to improve creative industries segregated data in this area if progress is to be accurately recorded. This will require each sub-sector to develop export targets and a robust process for counting and tracking export levels. Industry can also take the lead on sharing best practice in export development across the creative sector.