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African Music Industry - Music Crossroads


+ BEMA, Yambi Congo!, Equation Musique, ACP Music Festivals Network and other projects   

Sustainable Development through the Restructuring of the Music Industry  

Countries: Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe

Project initiated in: 1995

Presented by: Music Crossroads International

Partners: Sida (Sweden), NORAD (Norway), UNESCO, AECID (Spain) and the City of Barcelona

Project budget: EUR 330 000 (annual budget)

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 // Context

Based on the example of developing countries that have succeeded in building a strong music industry with significant impact on exports, international visibility and tourism (Cuba, Jamaica, Cap Vert, etc.), many international and national development projects have targeted the music sector as a potential source of employment and economic growth for Africa. Most African countries share similar characteristics: strong youth interest in music, high youth unemployment, weak music industries/sectors, weak sectoral public policies, weak or non-existing music education opportunities, especially for young people from marginalised backgrounds.

In addition to Music Crossroads, other important projects are supporting the various aspects of the effort of structuring the music sector: The African Music Export Office – BEMA (UNESCO), aimed at developing music exports, Yambi, Congo!, Na Nga Def, Sénégal! (Wallonie-Bruxelles International), to develop audiences and promote artistic careers, or Equation Musique (OIF/Culture France) and ACP Music Festivals Network (EU/ACP), that support the participation of African practitioners in international music fairs and the coordination between Festivals of World Music. All these initiatives help to:

  • structure the music sector at the regional level;
  • strengthen local markets and encourage regional circulation of music professionals;
  • foster access for African music to international markets.

They also include professional training, capacity-building for local enterprises operating in the music sector, institutional support for enhancing the music industry regulatory environment, support for African operators’ participation in international music events, marketing actions for African musicians, support for local music festivals, etc.

Music Crossroads is presented below as a means to illustrate the potential impact of this sector. Started in Zimbabwe in 1996 to give better exposure to young musicians, it has progressively integrated a social dimension, including activities for HIV/AIDS prevention, gender equality and healthy lifestyles. It builds self-awareness and self-esteem while empowering young musicians with tools to develop a professional music career. The programme has standardised activities which stimulate cross-border cooperation and exchange. 

// Project objectives

The overall objective is to empower young Africans (15-25 years) through music by:

  • providing training and building capacities among young musicians in order to support the development of professional and sustainable careers in music;
  • contributing to children’s education through their participation in cost-free music workshops in urban and rural areas;
  • promoting young women’s participation in the music profession, through specific workshops (organised at all festivals) and activities;
  • promoting socially oriented goals, such as AIDS prevention, sexual education, gender equality, etc., through specific workshops and “Songs4Life” song-writing projects.

// Action and impact

The project has supported the creation of:

  • 5 Training Centres, offering regular music education and skills training for young people;
  • 34 Local Festivals, 5 National festivals, 1 Interregional annual Festival – all including workshops, concerts, competitions; all festivals include “Relationship Workshops”, a dedicated and interactive forum for young musicians promoting a healthy lifestyle.

The project has contributed to the restructuring and visibility of the music sector in Africa, resulting in the following:

  • Almost 3 000 annual activities for 4 878 musicians (75% young men, 25% young women).
  • Winners of the Festivals have received extensive training and career development support over one year – CD recording, promotion, European tours (2.5-3 months).
  • A total audience of 460 000 (75% in the 5 targeted countries and 25% abroad).

The organisation of over 30 international concerts and tours, in Europe and North America. Each year, at least 2 bands and individual musicians make tours abroad.

The project has promoted individual successful careers and given visibility to African artists across the world. These are a few examples:

  • Kapa Dechfrom, Mozambique, winner of the first Interregional Festival in Harare, has developed a successful career, recording two albums with LusAfrica and touring Europe extensively.
  •  “Konga Vibes” (Malawi), European tour 2007, 44 concerts and workshops in 8 countries.
  • “Body, Mind & Soul” (Malawi), European tour 2008, 62 concerts and workshops, in nine countries.
  • “Liyana”, a Zimbabwean band of physically handicapped young people, won the 2nd prize in IRF-2006 and toured Sweden, Holland and Belgium early 2007. A documentary about the band’s lead vocal and song-writer Prudence Mabhena won an Oscar in 2010.

Fore more information, please visit:

- Back to the Projects Overview page -

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Info posted by

Katri Maenpaa
11 July 2012

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