Sunday, 20 February 2022

AFRIMA Has Given Africa’s Music Global Acclaim.....Mike Dada, President

Michael Dada is a PR, marketing and advertising consultant, a fellow of Nigeria Institute of Marketing and a member of the NIPR. He is a lawyer and the President of the All-Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA). In this interview he talks about the future of music in Africa as well as the future of AFRIMA. Excerpts:

AFRIMA has been in existence for a long time now and it has become very prominent, how would you describe the experience so far?

The experience has been very fantastic and revealing because the idea was to create a platform we can use to communicate with Africa and unite Africans. A platform that will bring out a united, peaceful and prosperous continent and a cultural platform that can communicate the strength of Africa for global competitiveness, so, that was what it was all about.

Would you say AFRIMA has fulfilled its mandate?

It is still an ongoing thing for us; however, the feedback has been that we are, of course, fulfilling those objectives. But for us, we still feel that we still have a lot of work to do in terms of expanding our objectives towards the ultimate objective, we want to use it to empower young people on the continent. We are using it to take more young people away from the street. And that is why we will be training in the next five years, starting from next year, we will be training, one million young people in the creative industry, through the AFRIMA creative academy and the idea is to train and empower people in terms of music production and promotion, brand promotion, touring, event promotion, music technology and all of that. That is the capacity we are building and we are going all over the African continent to that. So, you can imagine that about 65 to 67 per cent of people in Africa are young people but the question still remains, what are the plans for them? In the creative industry, there are enormous opportunities for them to tap into but we need to train them, empower them so that they can be quality tools, in terms of generating income for themselves and the continent and they can compete with anyone in the world. We believe that if young people in Africa are given the just like in the west, they will perform excellently well.

Looking at the successes of AFRIMA over the years, how would you describe how it has influenced the fast-growing music industry in Africa?

When we started like 13 years ago, generating the idea and moving around the continent to seek support, the idea was to see how we could use that platform to expose the African music industry to international standards. I think fairly, we have succeeded in doing that – from the feedback we got. There was a time that an average African artist didn’t have a music video; we insisted that before you could compete at AFRIMA, you must produce videos of your songs. So, people start producing videos that they could submit and compete at AFRIMA. Some of them didn’t even have social media handles, I could remember we had to educate some artists who are superstars today and say; ‘this is how you register on YouTube, this is how you use Facebook and all that and it paid off. So, we have contributed immensely to the growth of the music industry in Africa and it is still growing. So, what we are planning internally is to see how this growth can be sustained and passed on to generations so we can have sustainable growth over time.

Talking about talent discovery and empowering the youths; we all know the biggest music industries in Africa are the Nigerian, South African, Ghanaian and Kenyan music industries, how are you working on taking this talent discovery to countries that are not yet big and have not been discovered musically?

That is part of the objectives I mentioned earlier. We will go round the continent to export the gains and benefits from various countries in the continent and also countries that have not had that privilege of global exposure. We are doing all of that with the AFRIMA creative academy.

When you started AFRIMA, how did you come about institutionalising the platform and building your team across the continent?

It boils down to strategy and capacity. It is all about having the right objective and agenda, capacity and capability and the resources to execute it. It is all about talking to like minds across the continent and it is about scouting for professionals and ensuring that the right people are in the right places.

A project of this magnanimity cannot go without its own challenges. What would you say is your greatest challenge and how are you working on overcoming it?

It comes with its own challenges definitely, but maybe the greatest is in the area of finance because millions of dollars go into planning it. For flights, logistics, production, communication, media etc. On how we are working on overcoming this; yes, we are working, we are not lamenting, we have put a system in place that can make it happen consistently whether there is sponsorship or not.

I know you have said a lot but what are notable plans you are putting in place to make subsequent editions bigger and better?

Part of the things I have mentioned is the institutionalising of our AFRIMA Creative Academy. Many people have shown interest this year, part of our strategy is that we are moving around the continent more this year to beat the impact of COVID-19. Of course, we also want to ensure that we continue to stay on the strategy and objectives –which is to connect and communicate Africa for global competitiveness. We also want to increase our sense of inclusiveness, you know, unfortunately, AFRIMA is divided into Francophone, Anglophone and Arab countries, but it is still about Africa. AFRIMA is for all Africa and not just some certain sections of the continent.

Last year’s edition was a success, what should we expect from the 2022 edition?

2022 edition is going to be awesome, bigger and fantastic. I wouldn’t want to let the cat out of the bag yet, because we want it to be a surprise. But it is going to be bigger, but you can expect something awesome. We call it ‘Africa’s Biggest Weekend’ – that is the grand finale. So, the four days from Thursday to Sunday is going to be the biggest thing that can ever happen to Africa, so just keep your fingers crossed.

Any hint on who is hosting the next AFRIMA?

(Laughs) you know I can’t tell you that yet, but don’t worry, it is going to be a big surprise.

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