The increased availability of ICTs in Africa provides opportuities for their adoption in the process of art creation and in the marketing of unique handcrafted products to large audiences. The increased opportunities for cultural exchange and for export of digital content raise questions regarding the licensing of art products and their copyright.
At the Africa Gathering which took place in London on April, 25th 2009, Martin Konzett from ICT4D.at (Austria) presented the trailer for the upcoming film release “Hello Africa”. The movie is a documentary which sets out to illustrate the ongoing phenomenon of constantly increasing mobile phone use in Africa in general, and Zanzibar in particular. The film documents how the mobile boom is changing traditional attitudes, cultural values and social patterns.
The documentary captures contemporary, everyday life in Africa. It presents the lifestyles of African people, the concepts used in their popular culture, their habits, opinions and activities in the context of mobile technology use. “Hello Africa” portraits individuals from various social groups: students, rappers, teachers, athletes, vendors, watchmen and many more. The forthcoming release date for the documentary is May, 8th 2009. The interest in “Hello Africa” even prior to its release is an example of the opportunities offered by ICTs for cultural exchange between Africa and the rest of the world. The film will be licensed under a Creative Commons license BY-SA. This means that all of the raw material as well as the final edit of the film will be available for anyone to copy, share, remix and sample under the license condition.
The increased opportunities for cultural exchange and for export of digital content prompted the International Trade Centre (ITC) to published in February 2009 the technical report “Trade in Sounds”. The report considers the potential of digital content, particularly music, to generate export revenues for developing countries and to encourage the online distribution of music from developing countries. The report uses the OECD definition of digital content as the “digital delivery of content, specifically, scientific publishing, music, on-line computer games, mobile content, user-created content and public sector information and content”.
“Trade in Sounds” presents ITC’s findings on the topic of international trade in digital music. The subject matter is introduced by a chapter on market trends and challenges. The report continues by overviewing methods and techniques which can be used successfully for the distribution of digital content via the electronic channel. Because of its commercial character and its impact on music trade, traditional copyright, rather than Creative Commons licensing, is enphasised in the report. “Trade in Sounds” includes detailed case studies of the existing opportunities for export of digital music content by the music industries in Brazil, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Senegal, Serbia and Tajikistan.
Another recent initiative aimed at an increase in the exchange of visual art products between West Africa and the rest of the world is the project Kachile led by Ulf Richter in the Ivory Coast. Kachile seeks to create digital opportunities for artists in West Africa by enabling them to sell products in the following categories: accessoires, african art, ceramics, fashion, furniture, jewlery, music, textiles, toys, etc. The categories in the Kachile marketplace are still in the process of being populated. Nonetheless, the project carries the promise of creating an electronic marketplace for African products of visual art and music.