Digital Lab Africa – Setting a stage for digital content creation and mentorship

For African creatives working digitally, Digital Lab Africa is an acceleration and incubation platform. Launched in 2016 by the Embassy of France & French Institute in South Africa (IFAS) the initiative has been managed by the South African innovation hub Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct since 2018. For the first time since its inception, the 3rd edition of Digital Lab Africa is a fully developed programme of the Digital Content Hub of Tshimologong supported by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD).

Digital Lab Africa has released the names of the winners for their Pitch competition. The winners of the animation category included ‘Ringa Mzansi’ by Lwazi Msipha (South Africa) and ‘Uzi’ by Naddya Adhiambo Oluoch-Olunya (Kenya). Web creation had as its winners ‘Cartographie Des Régions Musicales Du Mali’ by Tiécoura N’Daou (Mali) and ‘Re/member your Descendants by Xabiso Vili (South Africa). Taking the prize in the video game category was ‘Mancala Plus’ by Setriakor Nyomi (Ghana) and ‘Precious Cargo’ by Simone Beneke-Graham, Shannon Bennetts, Rowan Brough and Niall Graham (South Africa). The digital music award was collected by ‘Swaggify’ by Marvin Madyara (Zimbabwe) and ‘Sunkambe’ by Shaka Ramulifho (South Africa). Taking the award for virtual reality was ‘TRVLR’ by Komborerai Chapfika (Zimbabwe) and ‘The Afrocyborg VR Film Collective’ by Shmerah Passchier and The Afrocyborg Collective (South Africa). The DLA audience award went to ‘Baba’ by Justus Macharia (Kenya).

Digital Lab Africa aims to act as support for digital creators of next-generation content and to mentor them towards making the concepts for their projects a reality. This objective is supported by French and Sub-Saharan African leading companies like TRACE, Tiggerfish Animation, ARTE or Lagardère Studios.

Digital Lab Africa’s third call for applications was open to artists, producers, designers, start-ups, SME’s, collectives, entrepreneurs and students primarily working in digital content creation. The call is focused on developing projects that require partners as well as financial support and needed to be inventive in terms of their expression of content, use of technologies, form and narrative. Similarly, projects had to fit into the framework of the following categories: VR, web creation, digital music, gaming and animation.

Chief Executive of Tshimologong Precinct, Lesley Donna Williams, expresses that Digital Lab Africa’s #3 call for projects aligns with Tshimologong’s vision of ‘Africa Rising’, she states, “The call for a greater volume of authentic African voice in the global digital space is growing and we are well poised with our relationship with the DLA and through our Digital Content Hub to fill that gap with meaningful content.”

Selected projects are awarded funds and a Digital Lab Africa incubation pass to push the development of the projects forward. Project holders receive a mentorship opportunity with African and French experts so that they are able to reap the benefits of gaining knowledge from several ecosystems. In combination with their mentorship Digital Lab Africa mentees partake in both a residency as well as industry events in either France or Sub-Saharan Africa. What is hoped with the programme is that projects will be elevated to market ready content and contribute towards displaying African creative prowess at its very best.

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