Caption: (inset) Leti Arts Co-founders, Eyram Tawia (Ghana) and Wesley Kirinya (Kenya)
Africa is at the verge of global stardom, with the latest box office stunner movie featuring African superheroes in their fictional Kingdom of Wakanda. There is no doubt that Africa is starting to create its own imagery and endearing the world. It is through such that companies like Let Arts are focusing on.
The IBCA caught up with Leti Arts to find out just what the founders are working on to bring an authentic Africa to a worldwide audience, through meaningful games and digital comics.
How can you define the technology sector in Africa?
Leti Arts: The African technology sector is atypical of the rest of the world. The DIY (Do it yourself) movement across the continent is conspicuous, consisting of youths trying to solve some of the many problems they perceive around them. Africa has the youngest population in the world, with its population estimated to grow to 2.5 by 2050. The tech sector will be defined by the youth of today in the coming decades.
Briefly tell us more about Leti Arts.
Leti Arts: We are an interactive digital studio that aims to change the African narrative through games and comics.
What motivated you to create Leti Arts?
Growing up, we the co-founders of Leti, Eyram Tawia (Ghana) and Wesley Kirinya (Kenya) loved video games and comics. We were however baffled at the fact that there were hardly any African superheroes in these games and comics within the genres that we enjoyed so much. We therefore individually made up our minds to change this. After meeting online after an article feature about Wesley creating a game was published. I, Eyram got in touch and that is how Leti Arts was born.
In what ways are you working to develop and transform the African Video games industry?
Leti Arts: The African video game industry is still at an early stage and being nurtured especially in Sub Saharan Africa. Together with other indie game developers across Africa, we are working hard to create the culture through collaboration. Our annual internship program is also dedicated to training students from junior high school through to tertiary in the art of game development. This is because there is really no form of training for people interested in game development. We do this in the hope of raising the next generation of game developers.
You plan to bring an authentic Africa to a worldwide audience. Expound on this.
Leti Arts: Leti is doing this already through our Africa’s Legends franchise which is presented in games and comics. These games and comics have an elite group of superheroes from all over Africa that solve 21st century prevalent issues on the continent. These include disease epidemics, sanitation, fuel jet sniffing in children etc. We also showcase our history, culture and folklore which is often deemed primitive by basing these superheroes on actual historical, cultural and folklore figures. We hope that our work will create enough excitement for the modern generation to learn more about our heritage.We are changing the African narrative, one game and comic at a time.
What is the most rewarding and challenging part of what you do?
Leti Arts: The fact that we are challenging the status quo in a continent where game development or any thing “game” is not considered profitable is one of the most satisfying feelings we get. We are currently dispelling this notion and have had parents who have seen Leti on Tv bring their kids in for our internship
With regards to challenge, that would be finding the talent needed to work in the industry. As already stated we do not have any courses that train people on game development. We therefore have to train people with different academic backgrounds to suit the necessary positions.
In your opinion is technology being used effectively in Africa?
Leti Arts: It could be better but looking at the fact that a lot of people don’t have access to the internet, we really can’t fault them. We have however met young people who have taught themselves how to program by learning online. We believe the average African is beginning to explore the possibilities of technology by the day.
What are the challenges of scaling to penetrate more market segments especially within Africa?
Leti Arts: Monetization would be our biggest problem. A huge segment of Africa is not conversant with online payment systems and that makes it a bit difficult to charge. The adoption of the mobile money payment systems however is a light at the end of the tunnel for us. Again they do not really trust that games made in Africa are worth paying for but bit by bit, we are changing that notion.
Lastly, what advice would you give to future Tech-preneurs?
Leti Arts: We would advise them to never give up on their passion for when all is lost, passion is what we would have left.