unctad.org | 5th Edition of Afrodysée: African Trends Market
5th Edition of Afrodysée: African Trends Market
14 - 15 June 2019
Geneva, Switzerland

Key Issues

How to Help African Creations​

With the support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the framework of the International Decade for People of African Descent, the 5th edition of Afrodyssée took place on Saturday, June 15, 2019 at the Maison Pitoeff, Geneva.  Afrodyssee is an annual spring time event and included debates, a fashion show and an international market, at which some 40 Designers based in Africa and Europe took part. 

Marisa Henderson, Chief Creative Economy, DITC UNCTAD, UNCTAD took part in a roundtable discussion with four young African creatives. Vincent Jacquemet, moderator and founder of Afrodyssée, invited panellists to speak on the challenges and opportunities facing creative talent in Africa.The panel discussion revealed that the young African creatives face a wide range of challenges in terms of getting their products to market and developing sustainable careers, many of which are likely to be shared with creatives in developing countries in other parts of the world.  One of the greatest challenges concerned marketing.  For instance, Lafalaise Dion - Lafalaise, queen of cowries, creator from the Ivory Coast pointed out that it is sometimes particularly difficult for creatives to gain brand awareness and credibility in their home markets without first gaining an international reputation.  In order to gain international visibility, she said, creatives are often asked to provide product endorsers, such as celebrities, with free samples, at very little notice, at great cost to themselves and with no guarantee that the celebrity in question will make use of or endorse their products.  They often decide at the last minute not to.  Lafalaise’s fellow panellists confirmed that this approach to marketing is common among African creatives, despite the fact that all of the risks need to be borne by the creatives and the rewards are far from certain. 

Virginie Darbon, stylist (France, Madagascar) concurred with Lafalaise and also mentioned the difficulties of meeting customer demand when faced with long delivery times, unexpected delays and high transportation costs due to the often-considerable physical distances involved and inadequate infrastructure.

Dadi Kouamé - Seaside Nights, visual artist, photographer (Ivory Coast) and Marc Posso, photographer (Gabon, France) both spoke of the difficulties of protecting their intellectual copyright, especially in today’s “sharing culture” and cited examples of when fellow creatives in developed countries had appropriated their intellectual property without either recognition or compensation. 

Marisa Henderson, UNCTAD participated at the event as part of UNCTAD‘s ongoing efforts to increase interagency collaboration within the Geneva area and beyond on Creative Economy matters and to raise awareness of UNCTAD Creative Economy work.  During the discussion, she drew attention to the main findings of UNCTAD’s recent research and to the work that UNCTAD has been doing to increase opportunities for African creators.  She also mentioned the challenges that creatives face, such as distribution, marketing, infrastructure and the lack of institutional capacity, and underlined the importance of developing an ongoing dialogue between the governments and the private sector.

The panellists and various members of the audience applauded the work being done by UNCTAD and other international agencies to assist developing countries in supporting creatives.  One panellist pointed out that since creatives often work alone, one of the greatest challenges is to make them aware of ongoing government initiatives. 

As a follow up, the Creative Economy Programme will continue its cooperation with the founder of Afrodysee, Vincent Jacquement to work on sustainable standards for African fashionj.  Jacquement  agreed to participate in the forthcoming ad hoc Expert Meeting on Creative Economy on 28 October at the Palais des Nations in Geneva
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