Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct, founded by Wits University has launched a Digital Content Hub, an incubator of innovative and creative audio-visual content, in partnership with Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS).
Established in 2016 in the vibrant inner-city district of Braamfontein, Johannesburg, Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct incubates digital entrepreneurs and grows the skills pipeline for the digital economy through collaboration with academia, corporates, government and entrepreneurs.
A three-year EUR 950 000 (R 14,500,000) grant from AFD will enable Tshimologong to expand its activities to incorporate audiovisual content creation (animation, virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, holograms, 360° video, web content, video games, applications, web series and music). This Digital Content Hub will be based at the Precinct in Braamfontein and managed by Tshimologong in collaboration with key players in the multimedia and cultural and creative industries sector in France.
Tshimologong Precinct, CEO, Lesley Williams says that this level of funding and commitment to South Africa is important: “We need this kind of partnership for much needed skills development in the country. This partnership will further create market access between French companies and South African startups, driving investment opportunities for digital content businesses. It is a win-win for all involved and Tshimologong is excited to work with both the AFD and IFAS.”
This is the first investment by AFD in the area of digital innovation in Southern Africa and reflects the organisation’s new focus on financing cultural, creative and tech industries as key players in local economic development.
“The cultural and creative industries are capitalising on the tremendous momentum of digital innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa. From fashion to visual arts, from film to music – culture creates jobs, stimulates the economy, and enables inclusive and sustainable growth, while helping to better address issues of education, citizenship and the environment.
AFD, by financing the Digital Content Hub, is proud to be associated with Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct, and in doing so, it puts innovation and creative industries in the heart of its mission in South Africa”, said Martha Stein-Sochas, AFD Southern Africa regional director.
The idea of establishing a Digital Content Hub was born from an existing collaboration between Tshimologong and Digital Lab Africa, an initiative launched by IFAS in 2016 to support African start-ups creating multimedia content to realise their projects with the support of French and African leading companies (studios, producers, broadcasters, distributors, experts). Tshimologong and IFAS have thus joined forces to integrate the existing Digital Lab Africa system within a new Digital Content Hub physical incubator project.
“The Digital Content Hub ensures the longevity of the Digital Lab Africa and its capacity to develop in Tshimologong, the prestigious South African innovation cluster. The positioning of a Franco-South African partnership in the heart of Johannesburg is an asset for the development of ICT in Africa while fostering opportunities to collaborate between our two markets and enhancing French expertise. It is fully in keeping with the Embassy’s innovation strategy, which favours partnerships between French and South African ecosystems”, said ambassador of France to South Africa, H.E. Mr. Christophe Farnaud.
Access to digital technologies is spreading fast in Africa where most people access the internet and digital content on their mobile phones. In this context, the intersection between multimedia and digital technologies is generating unprecedented opportunities for creating fresh, local content for the African market. It is estimated that by 2022, there will be more than 36 million pay TV subscribers in Africa and that there will be a strong migration of content toward digital and mobile operators with video-on-demand platforms such as Iroko, TRACE Play, ShowMax taking the lead.
The new content incubator project will include:
- Incorporation of training modules focused on content development in Tshimologong’s Skills Development Academy; French institutions will support Tshimologong in developing new curricula, training trainers and arranging exchanges of staff and students between France and South Africa;
- Introduction of a two-year skills development programme focused on gaming and animation in order to develop a skills pipeline for the creative and digital economy;
- Integration of Digital Labs Africa into Tshimologong’s existing start-up incubation programme.
By 2021, Tshimologong is expected to have fully incorporated digital content development into its activities in a self-sustainable manner.
Finally, Tshimologong is broadening its current partnership base to include South African and French companies with a view to fostering expertise exchange, skills transfer and business opportunities for French and African business.