The African entertainment scene is rapidly evolving, thanks to a number of innovative platforms that are changing the way people consume and create content. The most popular way we’ve seen this happen is the takeover of streaming services in recent years. For example, since entering the Nigerian Nollywood market in 2016, Netflix has committed $23.6 million to more than 250 locally-produced, co-produced, and commissioned video content. Similarly, music streaming services like Boomplay and Spotify have enabled millions of users to access a diverse range of music genres and artists from across the continent. According to Statista, the number of users in the music streaming market in Africa is projected to reach 58.5 million by 2027. The rise of these innovative platforms is having a major impact on Africa’s entertainment scene. Entertainment technology has greatly impacted how we consume entertainment. These companies are using technology to create new and exciting forms of entertainment that are tailored to African audiences. They are also helping to break down the barriers that have traditionally prevented African talent from reaching a global audience. Here are the African platforms leading innovation in entertainment.
If there is an African film production company that has always aimed ahead of its time, it would be Anthill Studios. Anthill Studios is a fully integrated, broad-based media production company in Nigeria and a leader in the creation and production of all forms of entertainment. The company was founded in 2016 by Niyi Akinmolayan, a filmmaker and entrepreneur, who wanted to create a platform for African animators to express their creativity and skills. Since then, the company has made strides in introducing streaming services to the African audience, as well as strides in Africa’s Animation scene.
In 2022, they struck a multiyear deal with Amazon Prime, making them the second Nigerian studio to secure a major new movie output agreement with the global streamer. Their animation studio produces high-quality 3D animated content for various platforms and purposes. Anthill Studio has produced several animated projects, such as Plaything, Malika, Frogeck, and Ratnik. Anthill Studio also offers training and mentorship programs for aspiring animators in Nigeria and across Africa.
If you grew up watching Nigerian movies, you will either appreciate or devalue what Play Network is trying to do in the industry. The production company is known for reviving some of the classic Nollywood movies that shaped the industry in the 1990s and early 2000s. Play Network has produced several successful movies, such as Living in Bondage: Breaking Free, Rattlesnake: The Ahanna Story, and Nneka the Pretty Serpent. However, their latest and most innovative experiment so far is the launching of Aki and Pawpaw Epic Run, the first Nollywood game app. The game is based on iconic Nigerian actors, Osita Iheme and Chinedu Ikedieze popularly called Aki and Pawpaw. The game is set in different parts of Nigeria as images show local buses used in the Western and Northern parts of the country on the game. It also incorporates pidgin English in conversation and background sound effects as well as local soundtracks in the game’s score.
Africa’s gaming market is expected to reach $1.92 billion in 2023 and grow at a CAGR of 11.62% to reach $3.33 billion by 2028. And platforms like Carry1st are focused on unlocking this demand in the African market. Carry1st is a pan-African mobile gaming platform that develops and publishes games for the African market. The startup was founded in 2018 by Cordel Robbin-Coker, Lucy Hoffman, and Tinotenda Mundangepfupfu, who wanted to create a platform for African gamers to access and enjoy quality games that are relevant and engaging. Since then, Carry1st has developed and published several games, such as Carry1st Trivia, Hyper!, and Gebeta.
Carry1st also partners with global game developers and publishers, such as CrazyLabs and Raketspel, to localize and distribute their games in Africa. Last year, Carry1st raised $20 million in funding from marquee investors for its mobile game publishing platform. “The No. 1 thing we want to do with the funding is to expand our content portfolio,” said founder Cordel Robbin-Coker, in an interview with GamesBeat. “We have seven games licensed right now. We’re looking to be really aggressive about sourcing additional globally successful titles on the free-to-play side.”
Kugali is a visual storytelling brand using comics, graphic novels, augmented reality, and animation to create incredible, engaging experiences. Kugali operates via its website, a podcast, a magazine, and an app that features original and curated content from across the continent. Kugali also uses AR to add interactivity and immersion to their stories. Founded in 2017 by three friends from Nigeria and Uganda, who wanted to create a space for African stories and characters that are often underrepresented in mainstream media, Kugali initially promoted itself as an entertainment and animation company.
Kugali made its first big move by launching a crowdfunding campaign for its first anthology. The project, which featured sci-fi and fantasy stories from creators all over the continent, was a massive success. It raised over £20,000 on Kickstarter and gave Kugali the momentum it needed to expand its company in other areas including creating a mobile app for their comics-making them more accessible and exploring the AR digital space.
In 2020, Kugali announced a collaboration with Disney Animation Studios for a new animated series called Iwájú, to be released this year. The series, whose title closely translates to “The Future” in Yoruba, is set in a futuristic Lagos.
In 2015, Lucrezia Bisignani, founded Kukua to use technology to improve literacy and numeracy skills among African children. They do this by creating games and animated content that resonate with the African child. Kukua’s flagship product is Super Sema, the first African animated superhero franchise. The main character, Sema, is a superhero girl who uses her powers to solve problems in her community. Sema is featured in a mobile game, a TV show, and a book series. Despite the demand for such content, securing funding for Kukua’s first project wasn’t easy as investors were unconvinced of its global appeal. Then the success of black panther happened and everyone wanted a piece of diverse content. In 2018, Kukua raised $2.5 million in seed, followed by a $6 million round last year.