The Creative Industry: an untapped job creation sector?

  • Unemployment Rate in Botswana increased to 20 percent in 2013 from 17.80 percent in 2010.
  • Unemployment in Botswana also averaged 18.42 percent from 1991 until 2013, reaching an all time high of 23.80 percent in 2006 and a record low of 13.90 percent in 1991-Central Statistics Office


The creative industry is termed as those industries that are based on individual creativity, skill and talent with the potential to create wealth and jobs through developing intellectual property.
These  sectors include the art and antiques market, crafts, design, designer fashion, film, music, the performing arts, publishing, software, advertising, television and radio to mention a few. Botswana’s creative industry, although growing at a snail’s pace, has indicated that it is an unexploited sector that has the potential to create employment,  diversify the economy away from the mineral sector and contribute meaningfully to the country’s GDP if it is developed accordingly.
Considering the high unemployment rates, especially among the youth in Botswana and the recent #UnemploymentMovement protests, Shabba Kgotlaetsho, a Creative Director at Lepatata Arts Ensemble and also himself a writer, theatrical, film and photography director, says the arts are an untapped industry that can create jobs: “We have globally competitive arts systems unique to Botswana and a high number of globally competitive artists here,” he said.
Kgotlaetsho, an artist with over 15 years experience, both in the visual and performance arts said some of the factors that are stifling the growth of the industry is the lack of inclusion into the national economic sector saying. “First is lack of proper and knowledgeable officers within government to advice government in creating right policies around the arts. Such policies wouldn’t only create markets for Botswana’s rich arts sector but would equally create a conducive investment environment, not only by foreigners but by local private sector,” he explained.
The second factor, he said, was the lack of a proper arts sector audit, “This comprises the sector in that, despite government’s investment into the arts, we are not in a position as the state to speak comprehensive of what we have in our arts human capital sector. If such was available, the private sector would on its own take the arts up,” he said, giving an example where an officer at Botswana Development Corporation dismissed their desire to build a private theatre on the grounds that there were no hard facts on the arts sector. “We understood his position,” he said.
Gao Lemmenyane, Director of Maitisong agrees that the creative arts can create employment looking at the past projects he was involved in. “I am definite creative arts can create jobs. We have a great example in the radio drama Madi Majwana which has been running for the past 3 years. We have people who only work in the show, we do voice training and after that they have found voice over gigs and some landed training on radio,” he said.
He further opined that understanding how jobs can be created by the sector is misunderstood by people in leadership positions, which is why they cannot see the potential. During the presentation of the radio play’s economic benefit late last year, Lemmenyane highlighted that the creative industry is the future employer as they have managed to engage over 60 people in the Madi Majwana project. “This means that we have created job opportunities for these people who will also acquire new skills as they will be trained,” he explained.
All around the world, the creative industry is talked about as an important and growing part of the global economy. Many surveys and studies show that culture and art is one of the most dynamic economic sectors in terms of employment, economic growth and wealth creation. As demonstrated by other countries like South Africa whose creative industry contributes 4.11 per cent to GDP and 4.08 per cent of the workforce is employed in the sector, Botswana’s creative industry may be part of the solution to the current high unemployment rate facing the country.