Tag Archives: British Council

Africa Day: Celebrating luminaries in the creative sector


By Janet Ndugire, Senior Account Manager

Africa Day is an annual celebration of African unity, to commemorate the founding of the African Union. This year’s theme, “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa we Want”, presents a unique opportunity for the continent to celebrate great individuals who have played a key role in promoting the creative industries.

To celebrate this day, we are shining a light on the work of some outstanding creatives in East Africa. The work that they do within the creative economy acts as a major contributor to Africa’s growth transformation and stands as testament to the outstanding talent within the creative sector in Africa today.

Eugene Kavuma, Co-Founder Kampala Design Week

Through Kampala Design Week, Eugene Kavuma has provided a platform that inspires, equips and engages individuals and institutions to design sustainable solutions for East Africa’s challenges. He is an alumnus of the British Council’s Creative Hubs Academy and has been supporting young entrepreneurs in the arts and culture sectors in East Africa. In this Invest in Africa podcast, he commended organisations supporting the creative industries:  “The British Council, for example, are doing a great job for the sector. The idea that you can bring people together and help them structure businesses in a much more profitable manner is a great contribution to the creative sector.”

Chao Tayiana, Founder, Africa Digital Heritage

Chao Tayiana is a Kenyan digital heritage specialist and digital humanities scholar. With a life-long passion for history, her work primarily focuses on the application of technology in the preservation, engagement and dissemination of African heritage and culture.

Her organisation, African Digital Heritage, is a non-profit organisation that seeks to encourage a more holistic approach to the design and implementation of digital solutions within African cultural heritage.

Faith Aweko, Founder Reform Africa

In 2019, Faith Aweko emerged as the winner of the Social Impact Award. Unafraid to get her hands dirty (literally), Faith (who was also an alumnus of the British Council’s Creative Hubs Academy) started Reform Africa, an organisation that transforms plastic polythene waste into durable, sustainable and water-proof bag packs and artistic accessories.  According to Faith, waste is not waste until you waste it.

Arnold Mugaga, Founder Zetu Africa

Arnold Mugaga is the founder of Zetu Africa, a social enterprise based in Uganda. His design-led company creates innovative bags that pupils can use to carry books and convert into seats during class sessions – inspired by a 2016 report stating that 95 million children in Africa study without classroom furniture. Innovating throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Arnold and his team now use locally sourced bamboo to create a lightweight, affordable chair and bag (with a mobile writing board) that is also waterproof.

George Gachara, Managing Partner HEVA Fund

Under George’s leadership, HEVA, Africa’s first dedicated finance, business support and knowledge facility for creative industries, has been at the forefront of supporting young businesses and entrepreneurs in the creative sector to build high-value profitable businesses to increase their potential and also create more jobs for the sector.

HEVA has invested in more than 40 creative businesses and directly supported over 8,000 creative practitioners in the fashion, digital content and television, live music and gaming value-chains.

As he opined in African Business, “Africa’s cultural and creative industries present an excellent opportunity for long-term growth, but they need to be nurtured and protected, especially in the wake of shocks from Covid-19.”

Labdi Ommes, Musician

Labdi is a visionary and a revolutionary Kenyan singer-songwriter and African single-stringed fiddle (Orutu) instrumentalist. She is a vocal powerhouse whose vision is to popularise African music culture, sounds and instruments and to re-introduce them to the world. Labdi represents the growing population of young African artists taking up indigenous instruments and re-introducing them into the current music scene. She is currently the only female Orutu player in East Africa which was taboo for women to play. The Orutu is a single-stringed fiddle which originates from Western Kenya, among the Luo Community.

For a taste of her sound, click on this link as she performs with Extra Soul Perception who were grantees of the British Council’s new Art new Audiences (nAnA).

Showcasing sustainability around the world

President Biden’s virtual Climate Summit this week has seen important international negotiations on climate and sustainability, and the year ahead promises yet more. Although rescheduled once because of the Covid 19 pandemic, the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 is due to be held in Glasgow in November, with international leaders coming together to add detail to their pledges.

Arguably, rescheduling last year’s event may not have been a bad thing. As a result of the pandemic, we learnt the positive power of cutting emissions (albeit imposed on us) – with the biggest annual fall in CO2 emissions since World War II according to one study – not to mention our capability in responding to existential threats. Meanwhile, the past year has seen some of the strongest climate commitments ever made by governments and business leaders – the EU Green Deal, a greener-than-expected Brexit deal, net zero pledges by China, South Korea and Japan, Joe Biden’s election as US President, rejoining of the Paris Agreement and hosting of this week’s virtual Climate Summit, which has seen yet more ambitious pledges from international leaders. Climate action is becoming institutionalised.

We all wait in hope that November will bring further ambitious international carbon pledges, and more importantly, the necessary action to complete them. The narrative for COP26 includes the assertion that ‘each of us has a part to play’ and in the run up to the summit, the conversation is mounting around how businesses, society groups, schools and individuals are taking action to tackle climate change and encourage sustainability – working #TogetherForOurPlanet.

A cursory glance at some of the sustainability stories around the globe shows that this can mean different things in different regions, but all are making strides towards a better future. Here are some of those stories we find most inspirational:

The importance of carbon removal in reaching Net Zero

The growth in net zero pledges over the last year – including asset managers BlackRock and Vanguard in March 2021 – has created unprecedented interest in carbon removal strategies and carbon markets. And rightly so. This article by our Finland-based client Puro.earth explains the difference between carbon offsetting and carbon removal, and why the latter is so integral to reaching our net zero targets. Microsoft is on board – it has pledged to be carbon negative by 2030, partnering with Climeworks and Puro.earth (including using the latter’s suppliers Carbofex, ECHO2 and Carbon Cycle to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through production of biochar, allowing carbon to be stored in soil for centuries) to reach its goal.

Powering-up for a greener, brighter future

The European Union has committed 550 billion euros to climate protection and clean technologies over the next seven years, and these plans hinge on batteries to store renewable energy and to power electric vehicles. Analysts say the next generation of batteries must last longer, charge faster and be safer and greener than those on the market now, allowing for innovation. International technology firm Systems Sunlight, has announced a new R&D centre, at which the company will develop innovative lithium battery technologies for the industrial energy storage sector, focusing on new technologies that will usher in a clean energy future.

Chilling out for a cooler climate

Unreasonable Group-backed company Sure Chill has developed a unique cooling technology that allows cooling equipment to maintain a constant temperature without constant power. Rather like a rechargeable battery, the tech is entirely natural and can be linked with solar – perfect for areas of the world with intermittent power. Sure Chill is also working with some of the world’s largest brands to develop solutions within home refrigeration, food and drink, and logistics —all of which contributed to the government of Dubai’s decision to choose Sure Chill as “one of the technologies most likely to change the world in the next 20 years”.

Protecting East African heritage against the threat of climate change

Established in 2016, the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, in partnership with the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, offers financial backing for projects that tackle the threat from climate change to cultural heritage in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. In November last year, the Fund awarded five global heritage projects including the development of disaster risk management strategies for preserving Kenyan and Tanzanian coastal heritage at risk due to rising sea levels, and protection against the impact of flood threats to communities and monuments in Uganda.

Constructing a more sustainable future

With cement production responsible for 8 - 12 per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions, the race is on to find a sustainable alternative for the construction industry. As part of our African Net Zero series, we spoke to Wolfram Schmidt from Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM) about his research into alternative materials like cassava and other agricultural residues as a source of ‘green’ African-made cement for future sustainable construction on the Continent. You can watch the full video here.



British Council


Our brief from the British Council was to encourage a priority audience of 18 to 35-year-olds to want to learn about, protect and value Kenya’s cultural heritage in order to engage and benefit from it more fully.

With tight budgets and a young demographic, who were mostly to be found online, we developed a digital-first strategy which we called #CultureGrows.

To generate engagement, we posed the question ‘Who’s your Cultural Hero?’,  launched to coincide with World Day for Cultural Diversity, with an entertaining  explainer video developed for social media.

Cultural organisations and creative enterprises were invited to input to the  long list of heroes, with the nominees starring in a specially  commissioned photography exhibition held at one of Nairobi’s most iconic  cultural institutions, the McMillan Library. The nominees embraced the hashtag  and shared key messages on their social channels to communicate their place  on the list.

With the winners announced on Mashujaa Day (Heroes Day), we engaged media with a press conference attended by 25 choice journalists, and two media releases generating extensive local coverage.

This work was recognised by the PR industry’s most prestigious global awards, The Sabre Awards 2020, for superior achievement in branding and reputation in the educational and cultural institutions category. Gong subsequently won the pitch to manage communications for the British Council’s East Africa Arts programme across the region.

Stakeholders and consumers who have shown an  interest in cultural heritage will be able to continue the conversation online after the pilot phase, following a series  of digital training sessions we have delivered around cultural heritage.