First Edition of Digital Lab Africa to Showcase Wide Range of Content
4 November 2016
JOHANNESBURG — The future of African media arrives in Johannesburg this week, where a diverse slate of web series, mobile apps, online music platforms, and immersive VR content will be on display during the first edition of Digital Lab Africa.
A pan-African pitching competition initiated by the French Embassy and the French Institute in South Africa, the DLA will hand out awards in five content categories to projects currently in development, with an eye toward global distribution.
The goal, according to Frédéric Chambon, producer of the Digital Lab Africa and attaché for film and media at the French Embassy in South Africa, is “to create a springboard and an incubation platform for African talent in digital content and multimedia production.”
After its launch at the Discop Africa market in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in June, organizers received 522 submissions from more than 30 countries. For the competition this week, they selected 15 finalists from South Africa, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The projects being pitched in Johannesburg showcase a range of new-media content, including a VR mobile app focused on teaching science, a satirical transmedia web series about modern LGBT life, and an online music platform for African hip-hop artists.
“There is an ongoing revolution in film, TV, music and video-game content,” says Chambon, which is taking place “in Africa, like everywhere else.”
“The challenge is for producers and content providers to be able to be part of this revolution, and to benefit from this opportunity,” he says.
The DLA is organized in partnership with Discop Africa and urban music net TRACE, as well as a range of French and local partners, including ARTE, Lagardère studios, VR innovators Okio-Studio, video-game developers CCCP, and digital music distributors 1D Touch/Believe Digital.
The companies, says Chambon, will “give time, experience, mentorship and project development support” to the winners. While the €3,000 cash prize can offer material help to developers in many parts of Africa, Chambon says it’s more of “a symbolic push.”
“It’s not about money,” he says. “It’s about [finding] a way for us to give [creators] the capacity to transfer skills and knowledge with the best guys in town…[and] to produce their own content moving forward.”
Along with the cash prize, the winners will travel to France for an intensive one-month residency, where they’ll be working alongside mentors and taking part in digital hubs. In the final stage, the winners will be invited to benchmark multimedia events where they’ll be able to look for funding and distribution partners.
“At the end of the day, what we want is market-ready content that can find an audience and a distribution platform,” says Chambon.
Digital Lab Africa runs Nov. 2-4 in the Sandton Convention Center in Johannesburg.