Africa is not a continent, it is a continent of people.
This is the message being pushed by a team of craftsmen and women working to make it a reality.
The group’s aim is to transform Africa into an emerging, thriving, and economically diversified continent by selling and supporting local African crafts and artisanal products, in order to make the continent a more vibrant, sustainable and inclusive place for African people to live and work.
“Africa has the potential to be a whole new continent,” says Omer Alkhader, the executive director of the African Crafts and Craftsmakers Network, which is supporting the group.
“If we continue down this path of economic globalization and consumerism, Africa is going to become a one-sided continent.”
In a region with many cultural and political divides, such as between West Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo, a continent-wide craft movement has the power to connect with communities that may not otherwise have the same opportunity to sell their wares, according to the group’s founder, Toni Aghababy.
Aghababa says that she wants to see the African craft community become the backbone of a country.
“It’s not just a hobby, it’s about a livelihood,” she says.
“People are going to start making these things and it’s going to change the way they look at their livelihood and how they work.”
African crafts and craftsmakers have come to be viewed as an extension of the local African culture and traditions.
“The Africans are the original inventors, the original creators,” says Alkhada.
“They are the ones who are making everything.”
The craft movement is being supported by several African governments, which have invested heavily in infrastructure projects in the region.
In 2016, Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda invested in the countrys first national fiber optic cable.
In 2018, Ethiopia opened its first online African market.
A new cable service between Lagos and Lagos, called Kenya Connect, is scheduled to begin in 2020.
Alkhada believes the craft movement will change the face of Africa and change the economic landscape.
“We’re talking about the potential of this continent to become more of a continent than just a continent,” she explains.
“We’re looking at the future of Africa as an opportunity for our people, for the entire continent.”