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Empowering African Startups: an interview with Ojoma Ochai of CC Hub

CC Hub (Co-Creation Hub) in Nigeria is dedicated to promoting technological innovation in Africa. It supports startups with incubation, acceleration, product development, distribution, talent acquisition, and funding across sectors like healthcare, education, and creative industries. Notable successes include LifeBank (health tech) and Edves (edtech). Additionally, CC Hub is influential in research, community building, and preparing Africa's creative economy for investment.

We had the opportunity to interview Forward Thinker Ojoma Ochai, the Managing Partner of The Creative Economy Practice at CC Hub. With over 17 years of experience in International Cultural Relations and leading Creative and Digital Economy projects, Ojoma has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in fostering innovation and technological application to stimulate growth in the African Creative Economy.

As a co-founder of Pixel Ray Studios and a board member of ₿ Trust, she has been at the forefront of developing the creative economy in Africa and beyond. Her insights are especially relevant for this interview as we delve into the role of technological innovation in driving social and economic transformation in Africa, the work of CC Hub in supporting startups, and the future of Africa's technological and creative economy.

Forward Partners: In your view, what are the most critical sectors in Africa that can benefit from innovation and technological integration? And how is CC Hub working to break down geographical barriers in these areas?

Ojoma Ochai: Africa is at a pivotal moment for technological innovation. Key sectors like food sustainability, healthcare, infrastructure, and the environment stand to gain immensely. For example, healthcare innovation is essential for ensuring a healthy population, which is the bedrock of prosperity. Similarly, sustainable materials and environmental innovations are crucial for long-term development.

One sector particularly close to my heart is the creative industry. Creative expression is fundamental to our identity and humanity. It drives self-actualization and economic opportunity. There's immense potential to leverage technology in promoting and preserving our rich cultural heritage, which can lead to significant social change.

Forward Partners: Can you share a specific project at CC Hub that highlights how technology is driving social and economic transformation? What were the key challenges, and can you share a recent success?

Ojoma Ochai: One standout project is LifeBank, a health tech startup focused on the logistics of medical supplies like blood and oxygen. We've supported them through our incubation and acceleration programs, which emphasize four pillars: product development, distribution, talent acquisition, and funding.

For instance, helping LifeBank build their logistics technology was crucial. Then, we worked on their distribution strategies to ensure these supplies reached the right places. Talent acquisition was another challenge; we helped them build a skilled team. Finally, securing funding was critical for their growth, and we provided support for investment readiness.

Another success story is Edves, an edtech startup providing digital tools for schools across Africa, and Orange VFX in the creative industries sector. These examples show how targeted support can transform startups into key players in their fields.

Forward Partners: How do you envision the future of Africa's technological and creative economy in the next decade? What role do you see CC Hub playing in this evolution?

Ojoma Ochai: The next decade will be transformative for Africa's technological and creative economies. We're seeing rapid growth in sectors like music, film, and short-form digital content, driven by technological advances and digital channels.

CC Hub's role is multifaceted. We conduct research, like the Creative Vibrancy Index for Africa, to understand and support creative industries. This research helps professionals and policymakers make informed decisions. Additionally, our focus on ecosystem and community building fosters collaboration and innovation across various sectors and regions.

Our co-working spaces in Nigeria, Kenya, Namibia, and Rwanda facilitate collaboration and serendipity, essential for innovation. We also run investment readiness programs and incubators, ensuring that creative tech startups have the support they need to thrive.

Forward Partners: How do innovations in technology influence the creative economy?

The digital economy and social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have opened new opportunities for short-form content, attracting young audiences globally. This trend is particularly evident with content from Africa, spanning fashion, food, and lifestyle, indicating a significant growth potential for African creators.

Despite infrastructural challenges, Africa's creative sector, especially in music genres like Afrobeats, continues to thrive, driven by the uniqueness of creative expression and technological advancements.

We are pivotal in nurturing this creative economy through a multi-pillar strategy.

Understanding industry trends and gaps is crucial. The center developed the Creative Vibrancy Index for Africa, a research tool that assesses the supportiveness of African cities for creative industries using 21 indicators, such as cultural infrastructure and digital connectivity. This interactive dashboard enables creative professionals to advocate for city-specific interventions and helps policymakers enhance digital connectivity and other supportive measures.

CC Hub emphasizes strengthening networks and communities within the creative sector, fostering collaboration and growth. By leveraging research and community-building efforts, CC Hub aims to support and expand Africa's burgeoning creative economy.

It focuses on integrating the creative and tech industries to harness mutual benefits. In co-working spaces across Nigeria, Kenya, Namibia, and Rwanda, they promote collaboration by bringing these ecosystems together.

Emphasizing Pan-African collaborations, CC Hub runs programs to facilitate cross-border interactions. For instance, they are launching a market access program that allows startups to explore and navigate different African markets, fostering stronger intercontinental linkages.

CC Hub also supports creative tech startups through investment readiness incubators and accelerators, aiming to fortify the creative industry's infrastructure and market reach.

About the the co-creation Hub in Nigeria:

CC Hub, or the Co-Creation Hub in Nigeria, is remarkable for its commitment to fostering technological innovation for African prosperity. The organization supports startups through incubation and acceleration, focusing on product development, distribution, talent acquisition, and funding. It operates across various sectors, including healthcare, education, and creative industries. Noteworthy successes include LifeBank, a health tech startup, and Edves, an edtech startup. CC Hub also plays a significant role in research, community building, and investment readiness in Africa's creative economy.

About Ojoma Ochai

Ojoma Ochai is Managing Partner of The Creative Economy Practice at CC Hub which has a mission to stimulate innovation and technology application to catalyse African Creative Economy growth. The practice delivers the mission through research, advocacy, ecosystem development, investment readiness and other projects that build capacity, attract capital and support intra – African and global collaboration. Ms Ochai is also co-founder of Pixel Ray Studios, a global film and audio - visual content infrastructure development company currently developing projects in Africa and the Caribbean. She sits on the board of ₿ Trust – an organisation set up by Jay Z and Jack Dorsey (CEO of Block Inc and co-founder and former CEO of Twitter) to support bitcoin development in Africa and other locations. She is also a member of the UNESCO global Expert Panel on the 2005 Convention on Cultural Expressions where she has delivered projects in a range of locations around the world particularly in Africa and the Caribbean. Ms Ochai is Board Chair, African Tech and Creative Group - a network of sector leaders that are working to ensure that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area delivers value for African businesses. Her 17+ years of experience spans International Cultural Relations and leading Creative and Digital Economy projects. Her previous roles have included being Regional Director for British Council Sub-Saharan Africa Arts and Creative Economy Programme and other roles working on projects for institutions like the Swedish Arts Council, World Bank, and various national governments to support the development of the Creative Economy.


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