Creating employment opportunities in music across Africa

The African Music Development Program (AMDP) developed by the International Music Council (ICM) aims to strengthen the music sector on the continent and contribute to youth employment.

With the support of various partners, including the International Fund for Cultural Diversity (IFCD), more than 95 young people benefited from field training with specialists. "One of the key components of this program was to facilitate knowledge sharing between the Global South countries and to create a program exchange between the renowned music festivals in Africa such as Sauti sa Busara in Zanzibar, the MTN Bushfire in Eswatini or Visa for Music in Morocco”, explains Silja Fischer, Secretary General of the IMC.

In the course of 18 months, more than thirty young people took part in an internship program at major cultural events and strengthened their skills in their area of specialization. Among these trainees, six young professionals, including three were women, were given an opportunity to participate in a long-term internship. "These extended internships were designed so that trainees could benefit from transversal experience in festivals and work with the different departments of the organization such as artistic direction, media, technical and logistics, administration and so on,” continues Silja Fischer.

The internship program not only opened the young people’s eyes to the potential of the music industry in Africa but also introduced them to working professionals from across the continent.

Formal education program

Another segment of the AMD Program was to professionalize the music industry by developing a curriculum or a university program through collaborations with academic institutions such as the Institut National Supérieur des Arts et de l’Action Culturelle (Côte d’Ivoire) and the Music Crossroads Academy (Malawi et Mozambique).

"The Music Crossroad Academy initially focused more on artistic trainings. With the AMDP, we have set up professional training courses for different professions within the music industry, such as sound engineering, concert management, artist management and royalties. Overtime, we noticed that many young people had not thought about these technical and managerial jobs and ended up pursuing a career outside the arts. They wanted to work in the creative sector, but did not realize that you did not have to become an artist – that there were a lot of jobs opportunities besides being an artist,” explains Luc Mayitoukou, one of trainers. "These trainings not only enrich the network but also offer job opportunities to the youths. In the past, foreigners were often hired for sound engineering jobs, but now we can count on young people trained on the continent with professoinal skills to be in charge of sound at a major festival."

These trainings create employment opportunities to the youths, contributing to the creative economy in Africa. According to the study "Culture in the world In Africa - First global panorama of the creative economy” published in 2015, the cultural and creative industries generate 2.4 million jobs in Africa. These figures will be updated to reflect the upward growth thanks to initiatives like AMDP and the support by the IFCD.

Three years after the end of the project, the training continues. A new training course was organized in Malawi in April 2019 with the support of the European Union.