Discover more from unicorn chats
🦄 vol. 19
base (this week's feature) and karl chat about the creator economy and electricity generation
presenting our next feature: born and bred in bloem, base is young and accomplished. after stints in management consulting and at google (saving sash’s ass on multiple occasions), she now finds herself working as a strategic partner manager at youtube.
exploring the creator economy 📸
As a millennial, I’ve borne witness to the world’s transition from offline to online, and the rise of social media and creators. Despite this, it was still startling to discover that more children (US & UK) aspire to be YouTube stars (29%) than astronauts (11%) when they grow up. But given that creators have made it possible for people to earn a living doing work that uniquely combines their skills and passions, it’s no wonder why joining the creator economy is an attractive prospect to kids.
What exactly is the creator economy? 🧐
The creator economy refers to the makeup of businesses built by independent content creators (think social media influencers, bloggers, etc) plus the platforms, and tools that connect them to audiences and opportunities for growth and monetisation. These include what some may describe as “traditional digital distributors” (Youtube, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Apple Music) and companies capitalising at different stages of the creator value chain.
Let’s talk numbers 🤓
It’s difficult to estimate its full size given the wide reach of the term “creator” (this could refer to someone selling miracle-cure PDFs or a professional vlogger), however there are approximately 50 M+ creators today and the market is valued at least $104.2 billion and growing by the day.
When it comes to South Ah 🇿🇦 , it’s even harder to pin down the value. Industry experts estimate the influencer marketing economy to be under R1 billion and predict that SA’s exponential online growth in 2020 will accelerate the growth of this market as more brands shift their marketing budgets to digital and look for authentic ways to reach audiences.
How did it come to be?📱
Digital platforms kick-started this economy by providing creators with a space to get discovered, engage an audience and distribute content at scale.
As creators built audiences, brands started to recognise the ROI from harnessing creators’ online reach to advertise goods and services.
Finally, creators started to gain power in the media ecosystem, and to use their spheres of influence to become businesses, prompting a slew of start-ups focused on enabling creator business.
What’s in store? 👀
As creator value and power in the media ecosystem continues to rise, the following trends are likely to accelerate:
Creator numbers’ booming as barriers to entry continue to decrease: Better tech (phone cameras, screens, creator focused networks, etc.) and access opportunities (funding*) will continue to reduce the barriers to becoming a producer and distributor of quality content.
Creators transitioning their audiences from “traditional” digital platforms to their own platforms, taking full ownership of these relationships.
Innovation spurring along the value chain and the dominance of start-ups focused on empowering creators
Increased investment into the development and support of creators by the digital powerhouses to draw and sustain content creation on their platforms. (See Youtube’s Shorts Fund, TikTok’s Creator Fund, Meta’s $1 Billion Creator program and Spotify’s Greenroom Creator Fund)
For South Africa (and Africa) these trends signal that the future of digital capitalism will also likely transition to the hands of creators as they become businesses in their own right. In light of high unemployment rates, and a growing large, young population, the growth in creatorship and that of the creator economy presents an opportunity for increased entrepreneurship and a new reliance of the youth on their own skills and passions to support employment and their success.
lights out 🔦
Earlier this month Carte Blanche (#FBF) reported that, on average, a stage 4 load shedding equates to a loss of R2 billion for the South African economy 🤯. It was stated that load shedding results in a loss of R500 million per stage, per day. Looking back at 2020, the 47 days and 859 hours of load shedding that South Africans endured, cost the country an estimated R75 billion in lost GDP and an additional 450,000 job losses.
Eskom, once labeled the best energy company in the world as early as 2001, is now arguably the biggest single factor holding South Africa's economy back. Its problems stem from over a decade of negligence, poor operational management and maintenance as well as deep-rooted corruption - but enough about the sad truths locals face on a daily basis.
What's being done? 🔍
A ‘Conference of the Parties’ where diplomats from over 200 countries met for the 26th time (COP26) to discuss matters related to climate change. The goal was setting new targets for cutting emissions from burning coal, oil and gas that effectively heat the planet.
SA at the COP26:
Uncle Cyril spoke about the importance of a just transition to more renewable energy from coal. 'Just' in terms of the need for support from wealthier developed nations.
SA is set to receive $8.5 billion (R131 billion) to aid the aforementioned energy transition. France, Germany, the UK, the US and the EU will supply this combination of grants and concessional finance over 3-5 years.
What’s being done at home? 🏡
Uncle Cyril, in June 2021, answered the pleas of the nation's demands by lifting the threshold for embedded power generation from 1MW (megawatt) to 100MW (enough to supply 179, 000 households) to allow private companies to power their own operations, a glimpse of hope🤞🏽. This is off the back of expected supply shortages over the next five years, as Eskom's old coal-fired power stations reach their end of life. The mounting pressure on Eskom has also led to increasing capacity of renewable energy supplied by IPPs (Independent Power Producers). Although currently out of the 64 IPPs in Eskom's RE-IPP program, only 3976 MW is contributed to the grid while coal contributes 36400MW (78% of total energy supply). As you can see from the donut chart, wind power makes up the lion's share with solar coming in a close second.
Let's take a look at some of these IPPs…
The players ⛹🏽
Since we’ve been talking quite a lot about startups, let's look at the players in the space:
SA IPP provider 🇿🇦:
Longyuan Mulilo's Number 2 North, the largest wind farm in SA, situated in the Northern Cape.
Along with a second 100MW wind farm, almost R5 billion has been invested into the two projects by Longyuan South Africa, a wholly owned subsidiary of China Longyuan Power Group Corporation - one of the world's largest wind power developers.
These two projects alone have created more than 700 employment opportunities, can satisfy 85 000 households' power demands and have reduced 620 000 tonnes of CO2
African startup 🌍 :
Johannesburg-based clean-tech startup Brayfoil Technologies, founded in 2017, has some ridiculously cool aerofoil morphing technology. Essentially, they focus on creating tech that allows wind turbines to adapt to the current weather improving efficiency. (See 🤯 )
This allows for efficiency and lifespan gains as well as cost reductions all inspired by biomimicry. Think of how a bird changes the shape of its wings to reduce the amount of effort required to fly.
The company works with research institutes and corporate clients across the globe on wind turbines, sailing and automotive companies.
SA IPP provider 🇿🇦:
Kathu CSP plant in the Northern Cape, is South Africa's largest solar power plant.
It supplies Eskom with 100MW of power, lighting up 179 000 households and will save six million tonnes of CO2 over a 20 year period.
African startup 🌍:
The Tanzanian based company started off providing solar home solutions to off-grid rural communities but has now become a technology company whose products solve energy access problems in multiple markets. They are currently providing electricity to more than a million people.
The product works with power grids, solar panels and other power sources before switching to a ready energy source and storing energy simultaneously in their lithium-ion battery-based hybrid power system.
COP26’s funding will bring a flood of new money to SA’s energy sector, assuming it all gets used appropriately, there’ll be a lot of new and exciting startups getting called to the front lines, and we’re ready for it!
base recently discovered wode maya, whose videos capture fun and engaging stories about africa and contribute to developing a different narrative of the continent
karl came across this ridiculously cool startup, energy vault, using gravity and kinetic energy to create and store energy
sash thought adele’s tweet about getting spotify to remove “shuffle” as its default mode was cool
claude listened to an episode of the afrobility podcast breaking down ugandan startup safe boda
that’s all for this week! 🚀