East Africa is abuzz with excitement as Kenya prepares to host government dignitaries, the academic community, students and guests for the fifth edition of the prestigious DStv Eutelsat Star Awards. The winning poster and essay entrants from 18 African countries will be revealed on 9 February at an awards ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya. This year’s edition of the DStv Eutelsat Star Awards received a record 1959 entries, almost doubling entries in 2014 and showing the increasing interest in this unique event.
Since it was set up in 2011 by MultiChoice Africa and Eutelsat, the DStv Eutelsat Star Awards has attracted the interest of over 5000 students across the continent and more than met its goal to invigorate a passion for science and technology in secondary school. ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Paolo Nespoli is presiding over the Awards as Jury Chairman for the third year in a row, assisted by an international panel of skilled industry experts: Ronke Bello, CEO at Innovative Technology Literacy Services Ltd, Nigeria; Dr Jane Munga, Policy Advisor, Kenyan Ministry of Information, Communication, Technology and Research; Dr. Perkins Muredzi, Dean of School of Industrial Sciences and Technology, Harare Institute of Technology (HIT); Melt Loubser, GM: Broadcast Technology, MultiChoice Africa and Rodney Benn, Regional Director, Eutelsat.
Nespoli has an illustrious career spanning stints at the European Astronaut Centre (ESA/EAC) and NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston before being selected by the Italian Space Agency to fly as an ESA astronaut. Besides crewing on the 2007 Discovery shuttle mission, Nespoli spent over five months in space aboard the International Space Station (ISS) where he was responsible for a range of science and technology experiments and educational activities. He is preparing a third trip into space in 2017 to the International Space Station where he will spend five-months. Students in Nairobi will this year have the opportunity to meet him during an outreach event where he will share his adventures in space.
The DStv Eutelsat Star Awards has uncovered a wealth of talent from the East African region, with six winners since the awards were set up 2011.
Our fundamentals are weak: Lessons from the Global Citizen Festival
Event organization is an arduous and complex terrain. From conceptualization to the composition of a team, to resource mobilization, to marketing, to delivery, it is such a mammoth task which requires grit. Some people presume event organization as an easy task until they have first-hand experience. Unfortunately, the smooth ecosystem in Ghana to facilitate event organization is virtually non-existent. While industry players and ‘ordinary’ citizens strive to see a miraculous change in new event organizations, a new yardstick has been created – the Global Citizen Festival.
What is this new yardstick?
Over the weekend, the Global Citizen Festival (GCF) came off as one of (if not) the best-produced entertainment event in Ghana. Everything was perfect, from the artist lineup, promotions, performances, light, sound, set up, audience control, extra support for attendees (charging ports, free refillable water stations), and live stream. In the past few decades, I have witnessed many events as a physical and a virtual audience. However, I have not even caught such a flawless piece of work.
During and after the event, many netizens in Ghana concur that the GCF has set a benchmark for rating future shows organized by our ‘local’ entertainment bigwigs. That’s fair enough. Barring any other noteworthy piece not directly mentioned, I am convinced that the event’s success rested on a large pool of resources – human and capital.
Expertise and sub-substandardness of local production:
Getting experts to run successful events in Ghana has been a severe bane to event organizations. British Advertising Tycoon David Mackenzie Ogilvy once said, “Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine”. Unfortunately, one of Ghana’s significant shortfalls is the lack of technical know-how. Not to say that we don’t have people who have experience in handling events in Ghana. But, the challenge is those who have ‘experience’ are stuck to a particular mundane routine over the years and ‘refuse’ to learn or grow.
Why do I say that? First, it was fascinating to see that our ‘experienced guys’ such as Mr Rudy Kwakye(served as a team lead), Mr Frank Kwakye (sound), and Derrick Ankomah, alongside other production crew members, played impressive roles in the successful organization of the GCF. Yet, these same people offer services to event organizers in Ghana and produce negligible differences yearly. Correct?
So the big question is, what different methods did organizers of the event rely on to pull off such an incredible event? The answer is simple. Our ‘experienced practitioners’ were led/directed by ‘experienced professionals’ (foreigners essentially) assigned by the GCF organizers. For instance, the OB Van (owned by a Ghanaian) used to operate the control room was handled by “outsiders/foreigners”. Not to take anything away from us, but we are just so accustomed to a particular norm. Thus, pulling off a spectacular production is challenging unless there’s a direction from an “outsider”. Our experienced guys would not take a word from you (as a local) if you tried to suggest other creative ways to get the job done. You will likely hear statements such as, “do you know how long I have been doing this? This is my job; let me handle it”. But do they say the same to “outsiders”? Your guess is as good as mine.
We need skilled individuals to thrive in every facet of our industry. But how will we learn new techniques and improve when there is an institutional and financial lapse? When the people themselves are used to the same routine and are unteachable – unless it is a foreigner?
On finance, while going through the feeds on Facebook and Twitter, I saw how some netizens went hard on events such as the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards – calling them out to take a cue from the GCF and do better. But one missing link was that very few considered (or consider) the level of capital investment that went into the production of the GCF. The budget, if disclosed, would shock the bone marrow of ordinary Ghanaians who lack insight into what goes into the production of a successful event. I, therefore, ask, when will corporate Ghana and the government understand that the creative arts industry can drive tourism and help accrue millions of dollars into the Ghanaian economy? On this side of the sun, event organizers will go arm’s length to secure sponsorship only to be given a paltry of it (that is when they successfully get any). Lack of financial support leads to inadequate funds to pay for “experts” and acquire advanced equipment to run a flawless event. While the sound guy is underpaid, the light guy is taking his share. As a result, everyone is de-motivated right from the onset, leading to poor production year in and year out. I must also mention GCF employed a large pool of Human resources to see the event’s efficiency. It won’t be surprising that the cost of paying the crew alone can be the entire budget of several “big events” in Ghana. Capital is thus critical in acquiring the tools and human resources needed to man these tools.
Impact on economy:
Notably, the creative arts industry contributes significantly to countries gross domestic product (GDP) worldwide. For instance, in 2020, Media and entertainment contributed a whopping $2 trillion annual economic impact globally and some $500 billion in the United States. It is estimated that about 5 million people are employed within the audiovisual space alone in the creative arts industry, bringing in about $5 billion annually. Sadly, we do not have precise data on the influence of the creative art industry on our economy.
Consequently, I hope that while we set the GCF as a benchmark for future events in Ghana, funding bodies and the government will open their arms wide to support the creative industry. I still consider it an untapped sector. We need to do more. Also, event organizers need to stop underpaying creatives – all in a bid to make so much for themselves. If the resource is available, it is better to pay creatives well, as it would lead to the success of the events. What’s the return on this? Better sponsorship packages for subsequent events. Additionally, our ‘experts’ need to take it upon themselves to outgrow their comfort zone. It is time for them to plug themselves into international productions to acquire enhanced skills and knowl edge to change the fortunes of event organizations in Ghana. On the flip side, I believe our ‘experienced guys’ learnt a thing or two about production while working with these “foreign experts”.
I would use this opportunity to congratulate all the acts who performed, especially our Ghanaian acts, for their stellar performances. Big shouts to Stonebwoy, Sarkodie, Gyakie, DWP Academy, Kwesi Arthur and Yaw Tog. You made us proud.
By David Quaye
The author of this piece is an MC, a new media enthusiast and digital media freelancer named David Quaye. You can reach him on +233 241 664 181 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Kenya’s Jennifer Riria to be Honoured as Model African Woman of the Year 2022 by YAWC
The Group Chief Executive Officer of Echo Network Africa (ENA), formerly Kenya Women Holding which is a woman led, women serving development institution has been nominated to be honoured at the 6th Annual Continental Convocation of the Young African Women Congress (YAWC) which is set to take place in Accra, Ghana from 2nd to 6th October, 2022 under the theme, “Network for Empowerment: Eliminating Barriers to Women’s Development”.
She will be honoured in relation to her interventions in improving the socio-economic situation of women and girls in Kenya, having been admitted into the EY Global Hall of Fame.
A special event dubbed, “Jennifer Riria Day” will be held in her honour on Tuesday 4th October within the period of the congress.
Dr Riria is distinguished as a Microfinance Banker and Practitioner, Researcher and Gender Specialist. She has led Kenya Women Finance Trust Microfinance (KWFT) Bank for over three decades, and propelled it from an unprofitable NGO to a medium sized Bank, serving low income women and their families all over the Kenya. KWFT has served over 3 million women and disbursed over US$ 3 billion over a period of 30 years. As the CEO she spearheaded the transformation of KWFT from a microfinance institution to a regulated middle-sized bank (2004-2009).
She has served in many other leadership roles both in financial, public, and health institutions for which she has been recognised locally and internationally. Dr Riria is the Patron of the Democracy Trust Fund (DTF) a semi-autonomous organization that supports and positions women to participate in democratic processes. Additionally, Dr Riria is the Chairperson of the Africa Women Leaders Network – Kenyan Chapter. Recently she re-launched the “Jennifer Riria Foundation” whose focus is to enhance young women’s leadership through innovations and connecting them with the private sector. Working with and touching people’s life is her passion. Dr. Riria served on many Boards including the Women’s World Bank Board which is an international microfinance network of microfinance institutions and banks for 21 years, which she was the Chairperson.
The “Jennifer Riria Day” will be the second in a series of events to recognise and celebrate astute women of Africa for their contributions to women empowerment for national and global impact. The first, having been conferred on the first female Chief of Staff of the Republic of Ghana, Hon. Akosua Frema Osei Opare in 2019. The day is specifically named after the woman proposed to be celebrated at the specific congress to leave an imprint on the minds of delegates on the achievements of the honouree.
The Young African Women Congress is a Pan-African event opened to young women of African descent. It is a platform which fosters knowledge-sharing and cultural exchanges among nations and generations. Major activities at the congress include Keynote Presentation, Panel Sessions, Career Workshops, Group Brainstorming Sessions as well as Project Story Presentations by delegates. There is also a full day trip to interesting sites to promote Africa’s heritage and tourism.
Its main objective is captured in its motto: Empowering Women for Continental Development and Integration for a Better World.
Ghana’s new dancing super-talent, Endurancegrand steps into the light with her effervescence
Dance With Purpose Academy (DWP) have established themselves as one of the best producers of dance talent on the African continent. One of their most exciting prospects emerging on the scene is Endurancegrand.
Born Endurance Dzigbordi Dedzo, the dancing queen who has been stepping gracefully to the rhythm since she was 7-years old has already performed on some of the biggest stages in the country including the VGMA, TV3, Coca Cola, Ghana Football Awards, Ghana’s Most Beautiful and most recently, The Global Citizen Festival: Accra as part of the DWP Academy collective during Usher’s show-stopping performance. To top that impressive feat, she has also worked with brands like AirtelTigo and Dark & Lovely.
Endurancegrand’s interest in dance was piqued by her brother-in-law, Joshua Rana, back when she was just a kid who loved playing football, video games and singing; and she has never looked back since. For her, dancing has never been just a job or a simple means to an end, dancing has always been the “end” itself, her north star. “I faced neglect, doubt and lost some people very close to me because I chose dance as a career but that did not stop me because I always knew what I wanted. To me, dancing is just as important as the air I breathe or the water I drink. Dancing is my life! When I step on the stage, nothing else makes sense. Only my body and the rhythms and energy it releases”, Endurance describing what dancing means to her.
The Capricorn dancer’s biggest dream is to be able to touch lives globally, travel around the world to share her knowledge to the young and old and show women around the world that they can be whatever they choose to be.
Understanding probable cause
Global publisher to release first graphic novels from South Africa’s award-winning Triggerfish Animation Studios
North American independent book publisher Catalyst Press will publish two graphic novels from Cape Town’s world-renowned animation studio next year, its first venture into the literary sphere. (more…)
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