Electronic Music in Africa

Electronic Music in Africa: 001

Although music has been made electronically for over half a century, it is only since the rise of affordable equipment – both hardware and software – that electronic music has truly entered the mainstream, particularly in Africa.

New technology has enabled musicians to compose and record in the comfort of their home studios, and no longer requires big budgets and expensive studios. Today it is no exaggeration to say that most radio hits rely on computer programming and sampling, and are often written primarily for the dancefloor. The global success of South African house producer Black Coffee is just one of many examples.

The electronic music scene in South Africa has been bubbling for many years, creating world-class DJs and producers year in and year out. With the many facets that make up the South African electronic music industry


In Africa, electronic music is bubbling. Across the vast continent, fresh machine-generated sounds are popping off, sometimes drawing on outside influences, sometimes made within their own creative bubble. In Egypt, electro chaabi, the computerized update of urban folk music, recently caught the ear of Kode9 and other forward-thinking UK DJs.

Afrobeats, with its hip-hop leaning, accessible 4/4 vibe, has travelled beyond its origins in Nigeria and Ghana to grow in the UK and beyond, whilst in South Africa, house and its many regional variants like kwaito have been popular for a long time.

Of all these exciting, recently unfolding forms, gqom could be the most outlandish. Emerging mostly from the townships of Durban, South Africa’s second most populous city, gqom is a raw dance music blueprint with a polyrhythmic bustle – part broken beat, part chrome-plated synth menace. Skeletal, robotic, unsettling and irresistible, it sounds somewhat influenced by UK sounds like grime and funky, but has nothing to do with them, says gqom producer Citizen Boy, part of the Mafia Boyz collective.

- Snippets Taken from Fact Mag


In recent years a diversifying economy has supported an emerging middle class, driving demand for consumer goods and services, as well as luxury brands.

Rising consumer demand, aligned with annual growth of around eight per cent, is likely to add around $1.1 trillion to African GDP by 2019, with Ethiopia, Uganda and Mozambique among the fastest expanding markets, and large economies such as Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt continuing to perform strongly.

However, risks remain, including a lack of infrastructure, poor governance, fragile security and unreliable logistics, but conflicts are more localised and democracy is spreading, suggesting the dominant trend is positive.

According to Deloitte, the consumer opportunity in Africa rests on five key pillars: the rise of the middle class, exponential population growth, the dominance of youth, rapid urbanisation and fast adoption of digital technologies.

Read the report here


  1. Afrika Burn

  2. Sandbox Festival

  3. Oasis Festival

  4. Oppikopi Festival

  5. Cape Town Electronic Music Festival

  6. Rocking the Daisies

  7. Rezonance Festival

  8. Vortex Trance Adventures

  9. Lake of Stars

  10. Ultra South Africa


  1. The Real Estate Agents

  2. Okmalumkoolkat

  3. Mujava

  4. Vinny Da Vinci

  5. Spoek Mathambo

  6. Goldfish

  7. DJ Fresh

  8. Grandmaster Ready-D

  9. The Nightwatchmen

  10. Black Coffee


Take two of sub-Sahara Africa's bigger economies, Nigeria and Kenya. PricewaterhouseCoopers has forecast consumer spending on recorded music revenues to hit $43 million and $19 million for Nigeria and Kenya respectively this year. Both markets are undergoing shifts also seen elsewhere in the world, meaning digital gains will roughly offset physical losses. PwC expects Nigeria's physical market to decline $3 million to $14 million by 2017, while its digital market is predicted to grow $2 million, to $28 million. In Kenya, a $2-million decline in the physical market in 2017 is expected to overshadow a $1-million increase in the digital market.

South Africa, with a population of 53 million, is expected to generate $85.3 million in consumer spending on music this year, a figure multiples larger than expected spending in either Kenya or Nigeria. And on per-capita basis, South Africa's music spending of $1.61 is far greater than $0.43 in Kenya and $0.25 in Nigeria. By this measure, Kenya and Nigeria have much room for improvement. 

A number of factors influence a country's digital music spending: adoption of smartphones, affordability of mobile broadband, digital services' marketing capabilities, the pricing of digital services, and competition from physical and digital piracy. There are also more complicated factors that impact overall music spending, such as the role of music in its culture and the ability for music companies to launch and operate. The availability of payment options will also come into play. The more roadblocks to spending, the lower a country's music spending relative to gross national income.

Read more here 


In a continent with over 8000 ethnic groups and 60 native instruments spanning horns, percussion and strings, there is a dizzying variety and richness of African music that has truly reached a global appeal like never before.

Over the last couple of decades, the dance scene in all corners of the continent has gathered momentum. From the clubbing scene in Cairo to Ethiopiawi Electronic emerging from the furthest reaches of Ethiopia; festivals bursting out from Morocco and the new genre set for world domination from Ghana known as ‘Afrobeats’. The dance music underground stood up and took note when Boiler Room conducted their True Music Ballantine sessions in Johannesburg. Africa is blessed with the youngest population in the world so what significance does this have on dance music? With youthfulness comes creativity and potential. 

According to recent figures, distributing music digitally in Africa has earned MTN Music over R944 million ($70 million) in revenues during the first six months of 2016 alone.

In a recent interview with South African news website Techfinancials.co.za, MTN Group chief digital officer Herman Singh explained that MTN has developed the capability to offer music to its customers in eight different formats: MP3 (full tracks), ringtones (true tones), caller ring back tones, streaming (music on demand), radio streaming, IVR radio, music subscriptions and music videos. MTN does not produce music, but instead earns income from music distribution via these various formats.


In Africa the total contribution of travel and tourism in 2015 was $180.0bn, which made up 8.1% of GDP, and the sector supported 7.2% of total employment, which is 22 million jobs.

In Malawi the annual Lake of the Stars Festival is an event that generates over $1 million for the Malawian economy every year, according to the organisers.

Each year, locals and tourists from neighboring countries and further afield flock to events across the continent. This means good times for performers, visitors and local businesses.

Among the largest is Morocco's Mawazine, which, according to the organizers, attracted more than 2.6 million visitors this year.


The past few years has seen attendance at South Africa’s festivals soar with organisers saying they saw massive increases in attendance. Recent figures released by Nutickets, an online all-in-one event management solution, showed the company experienced 300% growth in the first six months of the year compared with 2014. So what’s behind the surge in festival popularity? According to the experts the predominant contributing factors are technology and quality.

Nutickets’ numbers underscore the success of 2015 – in the past 12 months the company did gross ticket sales north of R140m with 30-50k in transactions a month.

“The growth for us is exciting and we are now moving into full e-commerce and cashless offerings for events, not just in ticket sales,” says Shai Evian, Director at Nutickets. “We are not from a technology background, but we deal with a young, tech-savvy crowd and this year we saw purchases using mobile phones reach over 55%.”

“Tickets and redemption will all be electronic and all payments at events will become contactless,” says Johan Dekker, General Manager of the Payment Service Provider Africa business at PayU, the company that processes payment for Nutickets. “Fans will be able to pre-order drinks and other services and preferences will be stored in the system. This will allow for consumers to predefine what they need and experience faster checkouts and access, which will ensure they secure their tickets swiftly.”

Technology is clearly playing a significant role in the growth of South Africa’s festival scene, allowing for greater accessibility, convenience and security.

Read more here