Rwandan artists and content developers now have a new avenue to showcase and exhibit their work following the launch of Africa’s first video streaming site.
The platform, www.journal.rw, developed and run by Innovation Village, a Rwanda-based creative firm, provides an avenue to share high definition video content.
Launched last week, the platform seeks to leverage digital technology to avail creative content to viewers across the world on their devices.
The platform developers say, to create it, they focused on aspects of production and quality content.
Explaining how the video streaming site works, Armand Kajangwe, the executive director of the platform, told The New Times that it can be accessed via any device connected to the Internet and was free at the moment.
“It is a mobile-friendly website that you can access on any device connected to the Internet. All videos are of high-definition quality but you can choose to watch them in standard form. Streaming Journal will remain free during the six-month trial. After the trial, we might apply a small subscription fee or pay-as-you-go model,” Kajangwe said.
He said the platform, which fuses creativity and technology, will also serve to shed light on often misrepresented and misinterpreted creative industry as well as attract curiosity on Rwanda, consequently impacting tourism and investment.
“Africa is witnessing a creative and cultural revolution, and its young people and technology are at the forefront of this change,” Kajangwe said.
“Rwanda has enormous potential and the ability to become a key player in the creative revolution and there’s never been a better time to expand on how we tell stories about the remarkable innovations, ideas and ideals behind this transformation.”
Innovation Village, Kajangwe added, created Journal as a platform to help produce and share Africa’s remarkable and inspiring stories with the world.”
The platform joins the ranks of internationally renowned video streaming sites such as Netflix and Vimeo, which in recent months have been expanding their presence across the world.
Kajangwe said they remain positive that Journal will gain popularity going by trends of media preference, especially among the young generation.
“There is room for both traditional cable and streaming TV services; however, we are seeing an exponential rise in streaming subscriptions in the last five years There has also been reports on the behaviour of younger audiences who want to watch on-demand content as opposed to scheduled programmes. We consume media at a faster rate than we used to 10 years ago and that is precisely because of the Internet,” Kajangwe said.
Beyond streaming services, Innovation Village has also invested in a modern film production studio that will help create original high quality programs, documentary and full featured films.
This, they say, will ensure high quality content on the platform.
Currently, all their content is from their in house studio but they plan to start gathering and working with local and regional content creators to meet demands of a diverse audience.
“Our studio and production team will work with local and regional content creators, scriptwriters and storytellers to produce quality shows and documentaries,” Kajangwe said.
Local content creators can’t wait
The development is expected to be a relief to local content creators such as poets, musicians and dancers, who have long sought an avenue to showcase their work.
The platform’s establishment and development is also courtesy of the ongoing broadband rollout efforts which have seen high speed internet available across the country.
The platform developers say that availability of fast and affordable internet was one of the facilitators to launch the platform. Going forward, they hope to have strategic partnerships with internet service providers to have preferential rates to access the site.
“Journal is one of the perfect opportunities in Rwanda to take advantage of the 4G network. We hope to work with 4G service providers to provide preferential rates to access Journal, which will help encourage more people to use the platform and grow our network,” Kajangwe said.
Already, the platform has creative work of top artists including Singer Diana Teta, Inganzo Ngari dance troupe and poet Eric Ngangare (Eric One-Key).
Journal has been well received by emerging content creators, who say it will act as an alternative platform for local artists to showcase their work to a global audience.
Commenting on the development, Jackline Uwera, a student and upcoming poet, said young people working in the creative industry now have a chance to share their work with local and international audiences increasing the chances of making a living out the creative professions.
“Digital technologies will expand the audiences as they go beyond borders. All that is needed is Internet connection. We are likely to see Rwandan and regional artists increase their audiences,” she said.
Diana Mpyisi, the co-founder of Spoken Word Rwanda, a monthly poetry gathering, said the new platform would not only help to promote artists in the country but also promote the country.
“This is a positive development in promoting Branda Rwanda since it is a homegrown initiative. It will serve to promote the country as it has an international audience,” she said.
Mpyisi called on Rwandans to help increase the platform’s global appeal by sharing it widely across their networks and interacting with its founders to suggest artists and content they would want to see on the platform.