Photo: File picture of Asa Baako Festival in Ghana //Photography BK Oduro
Africa’s Vibrant Music Scene
Africa, celebrated for its cultural diversity and stunning landscapes, is on the cusp of a musical revolution akin to Austin and Nashville in the US. Johannesburg, with its rich musical heritage, is one of the leading African cities in the charge. In this article, we explore Africa’s potential in music tourism—a must-read for global and African tourism leaders.
African Musical Diversity
Music flows through Africa’s veins, creating a harmonious tapestry that transcends borders and languages. From West African drumming to South African jazz, African music resonates universally. This deep connection between music and culture presents an extraordinary opportunity—the burgeoning business of music tourism.
Music tourism has gained global traction in recent years, attracting millions of enthusiasts who travel not just to see but to feel the beats and melodies of their favourite artists. Africa, with its multifaceted musical heritage, is poised to capitalize on this immense potential.
Africa’s music diversity is astounding, from Nigeria’s infectious Afrobeats to South Africa’s AmaPiano vibes, influencing music genres worldwide. Festivals like Bushfire in Eswatini and Sauti za Busara in Zanzibar have already captured international attention, showcasing a fusion of traditional and contemporary African music.
One prime example of music tourism success is South Africa’s Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the largest music event in sub-Saharan Africa. It unites global artists, fostering cultural exchange, boosting tourism, and promoting emerging talents.
Music tourism offers substantial economic rewards. In 2019, the sector contributed over $600 billion to global GDP, with Africa’s share being a mere fraction. However, the growth potential is substantial.Infrastructure development in Africa has made the continent more accessible to tourists. Strategic investments in music venues, promotion, and cultural preservation can tap into the burgeoning demand for authentic experiences, bolstering local economies and creating jobs.
Music tourism in Africa can empower local communities. Tourists engaging with local musicians and cultural traditions directly support community livelihoods. By championing local talent and preserving indigenous musical heritage, music tourism becomes a catalyst for sustainable development, contributing to societal well-being and destination sustainability.
Challenges and Solutions
While the potential for music tourism in Africa is undeniable, challenges like infrastructure development, visa regulations, and safety concerns must be addressed through collaborative efforts.
Investments in music infrastructure, such as concert venues and recording studios, can enhance the music tourism experience. Simplified visa processes and improved security measures will encourage more tourists to explore the continent.
The Time is Now
The world is increasingly drawn to Africa for fresh and authentic experiences. The success of the Black Panther movie and the global popularity of African musicians like Burna Boy and Black Coffee underscore the growing interest in African culture. Music tourism has the potential to amplify this interest and usher in a new era for the continent.
As CEO of Downtown Music Hub in Johannesburg, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of music firsthand. Our city’s thriving music scene attracts tourists from every corner of the globe, yet this potential extends far beyond our borders. The time has come for Africa to unite and harness the incredible power of music tourism.
Music tourism is a burgeoning industry with immense potential in Africa. It can stimulate economic growth, empower communities, and showcase the continent’s rich musical heritage. By addressing challenges and seizing opportunities, Africa can ascend as a global hub for music tourism, captivating travellers worldwide with its irresistible melodies and rhythms. The stage is set—let’s make Africa the ultimate destination for music enthusiasts globally.
Written by Mpume Mabuza, President & Chairperson of the African Association for Visitor Experiences & Attractions (AAVEA) & CEO of Downtown Music Hub and was first published in the October 2023 Issue of VoyagesAfriq Travel Magazine