Sat. May 18th, 2024

Welcome to Foreign Policy’s Africa Brief. The significant events this week include the assassination of Chad’s opposition leader, the unveiling of a controversial Chinese-built stadium in Kenya, and the imposition of sanctions on Zimbabwe by Washington. To receive Africa Brief directly in your inbox every Wednesday, please subscribe here.

U.S. Investments Propel African Music’s Global Dominance

Universal Music Group recently announced its acquisition of a majority stake in Mavin Global, the record label responsible for the viral hit song “Calm Down” by Nigerian artist Rema. The rise of Nigerian and South African music genres, Afrobeats and Amapiano, has captured the attention of an international audience, prompting this strategic investment. Rema’s track has broken records as the most successful song by an African artist in terms of streams and views, achieving over 1 billion streams on Spotify, becoming the most-watched music video by an African artist on YouTube, and reaching the number 3 spot on the Billboard 100 for a record-breaking 57 weeks.

Afrobeats music has seen a surge in popularity, with over 13 billion streams on Spotify in 2022, marking a nearly 500 percent increase from 2017. Mavin, home to several of Nigeria’s top music stars including Ayra Starr, Ladipoe, Crayon, and Rema, is set to continue operations in Lagos under the leadership of CEO Don Jazzy and COO Tega Oghenejobo following Universal’s investment. The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of 2024, pending regulatory approval.

Africa boasts the fastest-growing music market globally, yet the continent’s creative exports are undervalued. Limited internet access has hindered the growth of the creative economy, with approximately 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lacking electricity. Despite initial hesitancy to recognize the impact of African music, the support from U.S. companies could solidify the continent’s music industry as a global force for years to come.

In recent years, major global music labels have shifted their focus to Africa, recognizing the wealth of talent in the region. As competition between the U.S. and China intensifies, American investments in Africa’s creative industries are crucial. China, in particular, has made substantial investments in digital entertainment and internet infrastructure across Africa, including partnerships with leading tech companies and music streaming platforms.

While China and South Korea seek to expand their influence in Africa’s music industry, U.S. initiatives like Prosper Africa are working to attract American investors to bolster the continent’s creative sector. By investing in African talent and providing opportunities for growth, the United States can play a vital role in shaping the future of the global music industry.

Events Across Africa:

– Swedish-East African Chamber of Commerce Business and Investment Forum in Kampala, Uganda from March 6 to March 7.
– Global Trade Review in Cape Town, South Africa from March 7 to March 8.
– Finance and foreign ministers meeting of the Southern African Development Community in Luanda, Angola from March 10 to March 11.

In other news:

– The opposition leader of Chad, Yaya Dillo, was killed in a confrontation with security forces, sparking controversy and allegations of government involvement.
– The United States imposed sanctions on Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and several officials for corruption and human rights violations.
– Kenya and Haiti signed an agreement for the deployment of 1,000 Kenyan police officers to Port-au-Prince to address security challenges, following a court ruling on the deployment’s legality earlier this year.

Stay informed with Foreign Policy’s Africa Brief for the latest updates on key developments across the continent.

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