In a world of ever competing elevator pitches, Basic Lead tells the good Discop Africa story by helping youth secure quality jobs, partners with Malaria No More

by Andy Kozlov (@KozlovAndy)

There are myriads of ways to tell a story.

You can talk about national leaders, and thus portray continents like Africa by painting a picture of long-serving leaders — some of them serving for too long as we were reminded by the recent events in Burkina Faso. Or you can choose to talk about the dynamism of youth movements, self-sacrificing staffers of NGOs like Médecins Sans Frontières and their battle against the Ebola virus.

Pitching a documentary at this year's DISCOPRO competition in Johannesburg was Denver Breda of South Africa
Pitching a documentary at this year’s DISCOPRO competition in Johannesburg was Denver Breda of South Africa

For those who prefere to always remain on the bright side of destination marketing, telling a story is a constant search for a proverbial success story, mining for positive data of growth, citing promising forecasts to convince the rest of us that Africa is the place to watch if not fully plunge into.

Researching for this essay, I check Discopafrica.com.

“By 2050, Africa’s GDP will be on the EU heels,” prophesizes a branded promo material for CÔTE OUEST, an Abidjan, Ivory Coast-headqurtered leader in the  distribution of audiovisual content in Africa.

Not really sure how this piece of data should make me passionate about investing into Africa — but still overall positive — I keep browsing the Discop Africa site.

By 2050 — 35 years from now — researchers scrutinizing Africa’s modern history might see a major success story in one Johannesburg, South Africa-based international event management company named Basic Lead.

Established 25 years ago, Basic Lead is behind Discop Africa, the world’s major media market for Africa. They are at the forefront of imagining and portraying Africa from the point of view of story-telling, transmedia, telecommunications and all those other sexy digital era terms that turns us on daily as media consumers.

TV Series projects are being pitched during the competition that took place earlier today as part of the Discop Africa media market and DISCOPRO conference organized by Basic Lead
TV Series projects are being pitched during the competition that took place earlier today as part of the Discop Africa media market and DISCOPRO conference organized by Basic Lead

Today marks the last day of the annual Basic Lead-organized media market and conference in Johannesburg.  Patrick Jucaud-Zuchowicki, general manager of Basic Lead, has mastered his marketing pitches very well. Commenting on Ivory Coast as the Guest Country for this year’s Discop Africa, Patrick explains to a TV and entertainment online publication:

[Ivory Coast] will certainly become a major regional production hub for TV content produced and co-produced in Africa. It is the fastest-growing TV marketplace in French-speaking Africa.

Mr. Jucaud is equally good at bringing home the major milestones on 2015 agenda in Africa, the region that he has been promoting for years. Previously he had done a great job at boosting media industries in Central and Eastern Europe via his brainchild DISCOP EAST, a Budapest-based  trade-show that he sold in 2010 to the US-based National Association of Television Programming Executives (NATPE):

Next year is when the digital switchover process should be completed in Africa,  ..a lot of new, emerging platforms [will be] shopping for content in order to be ready by that deadline.

But its the DISCOPRO pitching, mentoring and market access program that will probably capture the minds of African historians and be evidenced as a disruptive incubator for African creative industries.

Mark from Malaria No More talks at a Discop Africa cocktail reception
Mark from Malaria No More talks at a Discop Africa cocktail reception

In the time when opinion leaders across sub-Saharan Africa are invoked to face up to the new realities of industrialisation for late-starters,

policymakers and entrepreneurs need to look for new development models rather than seek to copy what worked in Asia 20 years ago.

Launched three years ago, the DISCOPRO Pitching Competition by Basic Lead along with other training activities that the 20-strong team performs around Africa throughout the year might well be a solution to the challenges of youth involvement and quality employment in Africa.

Says Michelle Garforth-Venter (@EcoJourno), the 2014 pitching competition host and award- winning conservation journalist behind pioneering educational TV productions and print articles:

The competition is a great platform for next generation and up to network and learn.

Michelle Garforth-Venter (@EcoJourno), award- winning conservation journalist, hosted the 2014 DISCOPRO pitching competition in Johannesburg (Photo: Basic Lead)
Michelle Garforth-Venter (@EcoJourno), award- winning conservation journalist, hosted the 2014 DISCOPRO pitching competition in Johannesburg (Photo: Basic Lead)

It’s in the air. It is what historians and marketers like to call ‘zeitgeist’.

Pitching a TV Series at this year's DISCOPRO competition in Johannesburg was Kwaku Duah Prempeh of Ghana
Pitching a TV Series at this year’s DISCOPRO competition in Johannesburg was Kwaku Duah Prempeh of Ghana

At the World Bank Group Annual Meeting a month ago, key policymakers, corporate and civil society leaders reminded the public that some 75 million young people in the developing world are unemployed and hundreds of millions more are underemployed. If that wasn’t stunning enough consider that every year 20 million young people enter the labor force in Africa and Asia alone. In South Africa roughly 40% of youth aged 15-24 are jobless. Whereas, annually every 1 % gain in global youth employment yields approximately $72 billion in additional worldwide economic consumption.

Securing good jobs for youth is a global priority. 1 bn people will enter the job market over the next decade, and the global economy will need to create five million jobs each month simply to keep employment rates constantKeith Hansen, World Bank Group Global Practices Vice President.

Good jobs can be jobs full of fun and inspiration for the rest of us just like the creative economy story that the Basic Lead team and their partners are working restlessly to tell.

Pitching a TV Series at this year's DISCOPRO competition in Johannesburg was Binta Dembele of Ivory Coast
Pitching a TV Series at this year’s DISCOPRO competition in Johannesburg was Binta Dembele of Ivory Coast

If this message of hope wasn’t enough, this year DISCOP Africa joined the fight against malaria by partnering with Malaria No More, the world’s top NGO in the effort to eliminate the mosquito-borne illness that claimed 627,000 lives in 2012, 90% of whom were in Africa.

There is no ‘magic bullet’ to tackle youth employment and unemployment issues, but important elements of such strategies include education and skills development, entrepreneurship development, and of course better labour market information, statistics and analysis. Many NGOs and others already do good work with youthTheodoor Sparreboom, labour economist at the International Labour Organisation

Do you have ideas on how to boost quality employment of African youth and ideate sustainable solutions by creating and distributing media content? Comment below. We want to hear from you!

The author can be reached on a.kozlov@steppesinsync.com

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