How African digital creators are leading job growth and economic progress in 2023

Michael Akuchie
66.9% of digital creators hire one staff or more in the first six months of their journey
How African digital creators are creating jobs and growing the economy in 2023

The creator economy in Africa has grown in recent years, enabling talented people – especially the youth – to leverage their skills in this digital age. From selling e-books online to marketing products to thousands of followers on Instagram, TikTok and other social media, creators are exploring newer ways to maximise their abilities, and it’s working. 

Interestingly, digital creators are doing more than generating a steady income. They are also creating jobs for other professionals. Nowadays, a YouTuber – swamped with much work and little time – can employ a virtual assistant to schedule meetings or a videographer to help with recordings. The African Creator Economy And The Future of Work – a report commissioned by Selar – provides more insights into how online entrepreneurs have become employers of labour. 

The study claims more than 1 in 4 digital creators have hired someone to collaborate on projects. For Bloggers and YouTubers, it’s 1 in 3. YouTube-based creators, with 36% of hired staff, sit at the top, followed by bloggers at 35%, social media influencers (31%), and makers of digital products (27%). 

Digging into the job description of those employed, more graphic designers were hired than other professions.  Social media managers are followed as the second most sought-after professionals by digital creators. Both require a comprehensive knowledge of digital creation, a skill not all digital entrepreneurs have.

The study further revealed some major reasons why outsourcing work is becoming the norm for digital creators.

From the over 2,000 creators that participated in a survey, 43.6% claim not having enough time to do all tasks prompted them to get hired help. In second place are 36.8% of creators that cite the need for an expert as a driving factor.  The remaining motives are many clients/customers to engage (7.8%), “Grown, and I’ve gotten too busy” (7.3%), others (3.4%), and the desire to give back to society (1.1%). 

Read also: What does the new copyright law mean for Nigerian content creators?

How African digital creators are creating jobs and growing the economy in 2023
Infographic from Selar’s report on African creators

Commenting on the job creation trend championed by digital creators on the continent, Douglas Kendyson – CEO of Selar, told Technext, “Before this research survey was even a thing, a pattern we had seen from personal interactions with our creators was that so many of them didn’t work alone, at least all the time, especially the most successful ones. They usually had auxiliary support for different things. This is one of the main reasons we decided to do this research.” 

Why is Africa’s creator economy growing?  

According to Hubspot, the worldwide creator space was worth $104.2 billion in 2022. Beyond the individuals supporting its rise, some companies have joined the mix as part of their investment strategies.  These startups and large businesses include Selar, Caffeine, Linktree, and many more. 

Africa is home to highly talented individuals who, though from diverse backgrounds, have always been recognized for their creativity. Regarding the creator economy’s rapid evolution, the internet is considered a powerful motivator.

Statista predicts that internet penetration in Nigeria will reach 59.9% in 2026. With smartphones now available in virtually every African market, access to the internet and, ultimately – the profitable creator economy – is uncomplicated. 

As more Africans joined social media, they became exposed to the diverse monetization opportunities offered by platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Nowadays, brands include influencers as part of their product marketing strategy. These brands include online betting outlets like 1XBet and fintechs like Moniepoint.

Corroborating this assertion is a statement in the report “Creators on Instagram can earn money through sponsored content deals, as well as through merchandise sales and other revenue streams.” 

6 tips for aspiring creators on Instagram

The report also cites the quest for financial independence as a major factor driving the creator economy’s impressive growth. That’s hard to dispute. In Nigeria, a horrible blend of inflation and economic recession reduces the job prospects of the average youth daily. Last year, Statista projected Nigeria’s unemployment rate to hit 33%.  

Read also: 6 tips for aspiring creators on Instagram

Aside from being an income stream, the creator ecosystem offers perks like flexibility and full creative control over one’s content. Also, it’s relatively easy to get into the economy provided one has passion and the necessary tools to pursue their hustle. This differs from the typical white-collar job where formal experience  – and sometimes a wealth of connection – are vital for career advancement. 

The future of traditional employment 

With disruption comes change which often has a good and bad side. For instance, the retail industry is getting hit hard by the emergence of online shipping spearheaded by e-commerce giants like Amazon and AliExpress. Similarly, the increased rise of artificial intelligence has fuelled arguments that millions of jobs will be lost. 

The creator economy is a viable means to earn, display creativity, and build a strong fan base on YouTube, Facebook, etc. This makes the digital industry highly attractive to virtually everyone, especially the youth. There’s a cost, though. Conventional employment – white-collar jobs – may likely lose their relevance as more talent jump on the creator bandwagon. 

How African digital creators are creating jobs and growing the economy in 2023
A content creator

However, Kendyson believes both categories of work can co-exist. “I don’t think traditional white-collar jobs can go away. So many systems in the world are built on them. Yes, recent surveys of youth have revealed that people are more likely to want to be creators, YouTubers for instance, but there are billions of people in the world and quite frankly not everyone will be a creator or want to. So we should be fine. Hahaha,” he states. 

How to support this burgeoning creator economy 

The report suggests that policymakers (government) help the creator economy by providing a business-friendly environment. For instance, establishing training programs for participants to acquire digital skills. It adds, “Additionally, policymakers may need to consider new regulations and policies to protect workers and ensure fair competition in the creator economy.” 

Building a healthy climate for creators should attract investors, culminating in increased capital inflow. The media should also spotlight creators, telling stories of their successes and failures responsibly. This will introduce more Africans to the industry and show them what can be obtained and the hard lessons to learn. In all, every stakeholder has a role to play, and it’s important everyone chips in for the creator economy’s growth. 

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