Netflix agrees to invest more in African content and filmmakers

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Netflix’s top executive team in Africa plans to continue spending on scripted and unscripted content across genres until it unearths the big “Squid Game”-like show that captures global buzz.

During Tuesday’s “See What’s Next Africa” showcase in Johannesburg, South Africa, the streamer unveiled several African original renewals, some co-production developments, more details around existing projects, and another multi-project output deal with the South Africa filmmaker Mandlakayise Walter Dube for films and series.

Under the partnership, Dube — who directed Netflix’s first commissioned African film “Silverton Siege,” released earlier this year — will direct a variety of Netflix-owned projects. He joins Nigeria’s Junle Afolayan of Kunle Afolayan Productions and Mo Abudu of EbonyLife Studios who have similar output deals with the streamer already. Netflix said it plans to line up further output deals with more African filmmakers.

“There’s a curiosity across the world about locally-specific shows from Africa — great creative, great stories,” said Dorothy Ghettuba, Netflix’s director of local language series for Africa. “The world wants to know what’s happening in Africa”.

The strategy out of Africa was refreshing news as streamers begin to tighten their content spend as global subscriber growth slows. That belt-tightening won’t happen in Africa just yet, said Netflix Africa’s content execs, who are adamant to ramp up the output from the continent and won’t be doing any less.

“Our investment in Africa continues to grow and we just continue to do more and more shows,” Ghettuba said. “We believe that Africa is one of the major creative centres for great storytelling that resonates around the world, so it only makes sense for us to increase our investment with our slate, with an even more exciting slate.”

While South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya remain the three key African content territories for Netflix originals, Ghettuba said the streamer is buying shows from various other countries on the continent, ranging from Ghana and Zimbabwe to Uganda, and will be expanding its original content umbrella.

Ghetubba said her ambition is “to ensure that the next big ‘Squid Game’-like show comes from Africa.”

“That’s my ambition — a show from Africa that will have the momentous impact that ‘Squid Game’ had on the rest of the world,” said Ghetubba.