Three ways Chinese investment is boosting African music streaming development
The music industry in Africa has undergone a significant transformation in recent years, with music streaming becoming increasingly popular across the continent. Rapid growth in internet penetration, driven in part by Chinese investment in ICT infrastructure, has created a new music ecosystem that is attracting investment from across the world. In 2018, Chinese music streaming platform, Boomplay, signed a licensing agreement with Universal Music Group (UMG) to distribute UMG’s music catalogue in Africa. The deal was the first of its kind between a major global music company and an African music streaming platform. The partnership has since expanded to include collaborations with other major record labels, driving growth for both Boomplay and African artists.
In this article, we will explore three reasons why Africa’s music streaming industry is the future of global music. From the rise of foreign music streaming service providers to the impact of COVID-19, we will examine the key trends driving the growth of this exciting industry.
Enhanced ICT Infrastructure: Since the early 2000s, Chinese investment in Africa’s ICT infrastructure has been colossal and consistent, significantly filling the vacuum left by Western countries in the region. Chinese enterprises have enhanced internet penetration across landlocked and coastal countries and strengthened internet connectivity in rural and urban areas. This has enabled African artists to access new audiences and markets, driving music streaming growth.
The construction of a 472km fiber optic cable linking Mombasa and Nairobi, was a significant Chinese investment in Africa’s ICT infrastructure. It led to faster internet and the emergence of music streaming platforms like Mdundo, which has over 7 million users in Kenya.
Increased Availability of Affordable Smartphones: Chinese smartphone manufacturers, including Transsion Holdings, Huawei and Xiaomi, account for the largest share of Africa’s smartphone market. They have increased the availability of affordable and high-performance smartphones in the region, making it possible for millions of people across countries on the continent to own a smartphone. This has contributed greatly to the growth of music streaming in Africa.
In 2019, Boomplay signed a direct licensing agreement with Warner Music to expand their music streaming service in Africa.
In Nigeria, Transsion Holdings has made significant inroads in the smartphone market, particularly in rural areas where access to internet-enabled devices has traditionally been limited. The company’s budget smartphone brand, Tecno, has been particularly successful, capturing over 50% of Nigeria’s smartphone market share. This has allowed millions of Nigerians to access music streaming services like Boomplay, which has over 100 million users in Africa.
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Rising Internet Penetration: World Bank data shows that internet penetration in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) rose from about 1% in 2000 to 29% in 2020, the highest growth in the world. The rapid mobile phone and internet penetration growth has accelerated digitalisation in the music industry and other related industries, driving music streaming and enabling African artists to access new audiences and markets.
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Chinese investment in Africa’s music streaming industry is a driving force for growth. With enhanced ICT infrastructure, increased availability of affordable smartphones and rising internet penetration, the future of music streaming in Africa looks bright. African governments and the private sector need to work closely with Chinese companies to leverage this investment to unlock the full potential of the industry.