Africa's creative jungle

Food for thought

Africa’s largest economic hub is powered by more than finance. A spreading arts scene is part of a creative economy that increasingly defines the Big Apple.

Lagos city has high taxes, a high cost of living, infernal traffic and a persistent parking crisis. And all this leads to love or hate this city.

If you follow the thread of the conversations or stories told on social media, you can easily see how the people of Lagos experience the above mentioned problems on a daily basis. However, what you can also pick in those conversations is that arts are a major factor, like a pleasant climate and good schools that make a city attractive to the well-educated professionals who give a place a competitive advantage. But what people sometimes forget is that in Lagos, culture isn’t just a lure to bring in the real producers of wealth. It’s a giant money making enterprise in itself, one of the biggest employers in the city. What software is to Silicon Valley, what vineyards are to Bordeaux, the arts are to Lagos: a mighty generator, even if not the largest one, of commerce. People’s conversations of Lagos in the global economy immediately focus on its financial sector. But that’s not the whole story.

A recently published research inside #FEEDUNIVERSITY issued a study of the city’s cultural sector which it defined broadly to include art, design, music, theatre and dance as well as TV and film production, architecture, publishing, fashion and even advertising. It found that taken together those professions were second only to financial services as an economic force, employing (statistics) or more than 12% of Lagos city workforce.

Granted by some estimates in a report on Lagos, finance employs 8 percent of Lagosians. But it is the cultural workforce, not the keepers of the counting houses, that defines the city’s image, not only to itself but to the international community. What draws so many people to Lagos City is a fantasy of creative ferment, with themselves at the centre, or thereabouts. Of-course, there will always be those who dream of moving there so that they can do exciting new things with municipal-bond financing or start their own hedge fund, but those people will never have what they dream of and deserve.

Mondo Internazionale Nigeria

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