Africa Interactive Kenya office has moved to Westlands, Nairobi

The Africa Interactive Kenya team on the right and the three guys who helped us to move on the left. Picture by Bertil van Vugt

This week the Kenya office of Africa Interactive has moved to a new location in Nairobi. From Donholm in Eastlands, to Parklands Road in Westlands!

Our new address is:

Africa Interactive Kenya
Parklands Road 25
P.O. Box 36655 – 00200
Nairobi, Kenya

If you are in the area, stop by!

Promoting Africa Interactive at the Broadcast, Film & Music Africa conference in Kenya

Kennedy Odhiambo and Bertil van Vugt at the Africa Interactive stand at the Broadcast, Film & Music Africa conference.

Last week we attended the Broadcast, Film & Music Africa 2012 conference in Nairobi, Kenya. As media-partner of the event we were having a stand to promote our media-company Africa Interactive and showcase our different productions and TV-series. 

It was an interesting event, although we were expecting more content producers. Together with A24 Media and African Visuals Media we were in the minority – as the hardware companies (camera’s, microphones etc) were many. Even the special room for Kenyan filmmakers was mostly empty – maybe they were all busy – but it seems to me that these kinds of conferences are a good way to meet investors and possible broadcasters.

“Just as I experienced at DISCOP Africa in Accra, Ghana, last year it is very clear that there’s a big need for local content. I spoke to different parties that are interested in our two TV series; Spark Africa and Aid or Trade”, says Bertil van Vugt, who leads the Kenyan office of Africa Interactive.

The director of the Kenyan Film Commission explained that the free to air TV channels in Kenya are obliged to have 40% local content in their schedules. KISS TV has aired a Kenyan film every day for a long time, although the quality was not high as apparently the big producers did not want to sell their movies for a low price.

One of the major topics during the conference was the migration to digital broadcasting in Kenya. The deadline has been postponed twice as the consumers are not making the shift due to expenses for new TV’s and decoders. It is clear that the broadcasters are eagerly waiting for the digital era as it opens up many possibilities such as ‘TV on demand’ and an expansion of channels.

“It was good to attend the event to meet new people and organizations, although I found it disappointing to see that there were not many filmmakers, musicians and (TV) production companies”, says Bertil. He continues: “AITEC, the organisation of the conference, should make sure these content producers are attending next year to make this the ‘not to miss’ annual conference for the Kenyan media industry!”

Participatory video highlights work of the Trust Fund for Victims in DRC and Northern Uganda


Many have seen the ‘KONY2012’ video in the past month. In terms of reach and spread through social media it was an unprecedented success with over 100 million views. But in terms of the type of production it was definitely not ‘Africa Interactive’ style.

How we would do it? Together with the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) of the International Court of Criminals, we embarked on a journey to produce a very engaging video documentary on the highly relevant work of the TFV in Eastern Congo and Northern Uganda (also providing support to the victims of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army).

Since 2008, the TFV has been supporting victims of crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. This documentary highlights a small selection of our work with victims and affected communities in both countries.

Innovative collaboration

It was a great and innovative collaboration in which we had one of our best local teams visit the areas to interview stakeholders and to give video training to the local community. This ‘participatory video’ process enabled the victims to freely report on their experiences and feel empowered to film and report about them. So no flying in of Western crews and showing Western opinions, but going as local as possible to hear their stories.

The result is one of the most impressive productions we produced so far. It made impact in our edit suite and outside on several (fundraising) meetings. Thanks to the TFV for the great collaboration. You can take a look at the video here:  www.trustfundforvictims.org/about-us

Showcasing Cordaid’s health care projects in Ghana


Cordaid, the Dutch Catholic Organisation for Relief and Development Aid, and Africa Interactive have recently finished 11 videos that show the stories of numerous Ghanaian women whilst pregnant or just after they became a mother.

A Ghanaian crew, consisting of a cameraman, reporter and video-editor produced the videos in close collaboration with our Amsterdam office. Our local Accra-based crew traveled many miles, flying from North to South, in order to film women in rural areas and capture their experience with healthcare.

The focus lies on pregnant women and the challenges they face during their pregnancy and delivery. Having a baby in Ghana can be very risky, especially when you are living in rural or under-served communities.

In the different videos women speak about hospitals being under-equipped in staff and not being able to provide them the services they need. And that’s where Cordaid comes in with different healthcare focused projects.

In total Africa Interactive filmed 6 health care projects to show the progress that is made and the needs for the future. We made different edits of this material summing up to 11 videos in total.

Bracelets

One very colorful video about bracelets stood out. The video tells about Ghanaian women from rural communities that came up with the idea to wear different colored bracelets during their pregnancy.

With each pregnancy check they get a different color bracelet; red, yellow and green. The latter meaning they’re nearly ready for delivery. “Red means stop, yellow means get ready, green means; go, go, go!”

The bracelets are easy to see, women like wearing them and they are encouraged to go for regular check ups at the hospital. Director from the Diocesan Health Service of Goaso, Peter Yeboah, explains: ”The bracelet idea is intended to reduce avoidable maternal deaths in the system and improve antenatal care attendance at the hospital… we recorded almost 13 percent reductions of maternal deaths from 2008 until now. I think that’s a huge success.”

Watch the video about bracelets for pregnant women below:

Or visit Cordaid’s website to watch other videos from this series.

Africa Interactive

Africa Interactive works with a vast network of local media professionals across the African continent (and Asia and Latin America). In this case we compiled a team of a cameraman, journalist and video-editor in Ghana who have produced these videos in cooperation with our Amsterdam office. From start to finish we have been working on these 11 videos from October to February.

If you are interested in receiving more information about how we work, please contact us via +31 20 423 166 or visit our website www.africa-interactive.com.

Africa Interactive Kenya has opened its doors


Our subsidiary company, Africa Interactive Kenya, has recently opened its doors in Nairobi. The Kenyan team will work closely together with their colleagues in Amsterdam and Accra to produce great media-productions from Africa and the rest of the world.

The main objectives of our Kenyan office are twofold; up-scaling of the capacity in Africa and to provide services to African clients and organizations with offices in East Africa. It’s our philosophy to work with African media-professionals and that is why we are building a team of experienced video-editors. Currently we are looking for a video-editor in Nairobi.

Today the team consists of Kennedy Odhiambo, coordinator and cameraman, Lily Sinei, video-editor and Bertil van Vugt, managing director. Bertil left the Amsterdam team for Nairobi to spend at least one year to expand the Africa Interactive Kenya office. If you are in Nairobi, make sure you visit us!

Bertil van Vugt – bertil [at] africa-interactive.com and tel: +254 (0)70 7955 327

New series: Aid or Trade? – Development meets business in Africa

Our newly produced series ‘Aid or Trade?’ shows that aid is no longer about transferring money or shipping goods. It’s rather about setting up sustainable companies, while taking local constraints and the environment into account. An article in the Economist recently stated ‘Western governments should open up to trade rather than just dish out aid … Autocracy, corruption and strife will not disappear overnight. But at a dark time for the world economy, Africa’s progress is a reminder of the transformative promise of growth.’

This 5 episode-series ‘Aid or Trade?’ (5 x 14 minutes) shows an optimistic and nuanced perspective and portrays successful combinations and collaborations. The program highlights high-potential or successful initiatives: often collaboration between NGO’s, private, and public sector organizations. We show that commercial initiatives can be more social and aid can be more sustainable by using a business approach.

In the first episode we see inspiring initiatives in Liberia, Malawi, Ghana and Kenya. We visited Chid Liberty who set up his social enterprise Liberty and Justice. His garment factory in Liberia’s capital Monrovia is committed to a future in which farmers, manufacturers, transporters, distributors, retailers, and consumers are completely aligned in making choices that result in the eradication of poverty, the responsible stewardship of the environment, and the empowerment of workers.

In Malawi we visited communities around the Majete Wildlife Park, where the organization African Parks is making efforts to assist the communities around the park by training them and finding markets for their products.

The third item is about Ghana’s growing tech-scene, partly thanks to the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra. We spoke to one of the start-ups, Nandi Mobile, who’s founders are trained by MEST.

The fourth and last item of the first episode is about Honey Care Africa, an innovative, rapidly expanding Kenyan social enterprise established explicitly to increase the income of rural farmers.

The four other episodes are highlighting similar initiatives in Zambia, Egypt, South Africa, Benin, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria and Ethiopia. All items of ‘Aid or Trade?’ are produced by African media professionals (researchers/journalists, presenters, camera men/women) in cooperation with and on behalf of producer Africa Interactive.

The 5 episode-series Aid or Trade? is available for broadcasting and can be ordered through our distribution partner FCCE.

We are also working in Asia and Latin America!


In the past 5 years we have been working in many African countries. Our network of highly skilled local content producers has grown from a handful to over 2000 professionals. Driven by our clients demand, we’ve expanded our network also outside the African continent resulting in an increasing amount of productions in Asia and Latin-America.

Many of our clients (NGOs, multinationals and governments) are working in developing countries all across the world, not just in Africa. Therefore in the past years we have made video and photo productions in countries like Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, India, Bangladesh and Vietnam.

As always we believe in local capacity and therefore work with local video-producers, photographers and journalists. As you are reading this post, we are quickly building our network outside the African continent. So if you are looking for content from Africa, Latin America or Asia let us know!

Below you can find two examples of recent productions in India and Colombia:

Showing impact of Sida’s projects through the eyes of beneficiaries in South Sudan

For Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) we recently made portraits of beneficiaries of the projects they support in South Sudan, Africa’s youngest nation.

The two topics we focused on are a women voting program (above)  in the build-up towards the referendum about the independence of South Sudan from 9 to 15 January 2011. The other video (below) is focused on a program to increasing transparency and fight corruption in government institutions.

Our crew in Juba has followed a beneficiary of each program and the end-result shows the impact it has on them.

Let’s talk about it! Africa Interactive creates series on sexuality issues for Rutgers WPF

In Nyanza, a small village close to the Rwandan capital Kigali, around fifteen boys and girls sit opposite of each other in a classroom. Girls giggle as the boys share their thoughts on how to treat a woman in bed. “I think you should talk with a girl so you know what she likes and dislikes, it should be the boy that has to relax the girl before they have sex.”

This is one of the scenes from the video-series ‘Let’s talk about it’, produced by Africa Interactive on behalf of Rutgers WPF. Research for the project began end of 2010 and this month we delivered a DVD containing six inspiring episodes. These videos are produced in cooperation with our local crews filming in Rwanda, Mali, Malawi and Bangladesh and local partners of Rutgers WPF.

Six episodes to kick-start discussion

During six episodes of 5 minutes each, young people from all around the world discuss issues like sexual pleasure, respect in relationships, sexual diversity, condoms, HIV-tests and abortion. These videos are combined on a DVD which is distributed to all the partners in the participating countries so peer-educators (working with Rutgers WPF) can use the material to kick-start their sessions with young people. The goal of this project is that young people start talking about it!

Safe abortions in Mali

Another episode shot in Koulikoro, Mali. A youth group debates whether safe abortion is OK or not? “In our society and religion we cannot abort a child because it is seen as murder… when the girls tell about it, they’ll have huge problems at home”, one female participant explains. What comes out of the discussions is the big difference between an unsafe and safe abortion. “An unsafe abortion is done with sharp objects, it can cause wounds or transfer HIV or other diseases”.  The girls speak out: “The advice I want to give to my sisters… if you are going to have an abortion, you should have a safe one”.

Being gay in Bangladesh

During a workshop in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, about 30 peer educators working with Rutgers WPF, come together to talk about sexual diversity.  You would think since they are trained to talk it comes easy, but that wasn’t the case. In the beginning of their careers at Rutgers WPF the peer educators had to face their own prejudices. “We had a hard time to deal with gays, we avoided them and thought they were abnormal”, a girl explains. After learning and talking about sexual diversity, the group realizes more that ‘it is not a choice to be gay, it is in your nature”. But still: “…most gays are hiding.”

Working with local crews on ‘touchy’ subjects

For us at Africa Interactive it was very important that we work with people who have an open mind regarding the sensitivity of the subjects. We focused on some of our young and experienced reporters: for instance in Rwanda the crew already made a docu-soap about sexuality and love.

Villant, one of our best local producers in Malawi, filmed the episode in Malawi. She is a real ‘power woman’ and while coordinating the job with her (subject: respect in relationships) she let us know how she feels about men and violence. “Girls like me will never take that!” Villant was in charge of the shoot and arranged a whole village to play a role in the video as a young bride and groom walk down the isle. “I just stood in the middle of the village and said: who wants to be in a film?” Everybody came out and joined in!”

We are very curious to hear the feedback from the young women and men who participated in the videos and will watch all the six episodes at home or during work sessions. I’m sure they’ll have a lot to discuss!

View all videos on the website of Rutgers WFP!

Annamara Hamersma
Content Manager Africa Interactive

Africa Interactive creates videos about Plan’s Girls Making Media project in four West African countries

On behalf of Plan West Africa we have documented the progress of Plan’s Girls Making Media Project in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Togo and Ghana. Our professional local filmcrews visited the different projects and spoke with participants and trainers.

The goal of the Girls Making Media Project is to contribute to the elimination of gender discrimination and low quality media reporting on adolescent girls’ issues in West Africa. The three year project directly benefits at least 140 adolescent girls and 30 adult journalists in each country.

About Africa Interactive

Africa Interactive is a fast growing multimedia press- and content agency in Africa, with over 2000 local reporters in 50 African countries. Our reporters tell the story in text, photo or video.

Our database contains filmmakers, journalists, photographers, stringers and marketing experts. We produce tailor made ‘High-end’ videos and ‘Simple Video Reports’ to showcase activities of multinationals, NGO’s and governments in Africa. More information: http://www.africa-interactive.com