Osita Oparaugo was working on funding for the creative industry, during his research, he realized that out of the user-generated content platforms in the world, none was Afrocentric. On top of that, whereas there is regional subscription video on demand (SVOD) platforms in Africa, none is user generated.
To the creative genius from Nigeria, this meant that for any African creative to express him or herself by creating and sharing a video or videos it must be uploaded on a platform operated in the West. “This is too much power for Africans to give away because whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture according to Allen Ginsberg,” said Osita.
He then decided to call a few people in the entertainment and tech industry to verify this finding.
“One of them said to me, Osita if you are thinking of doing it, do it now,” he recalls.
That marked the birth of online content platform, Ogelle.
Ogelle was started out of curiosity on why Africans cannot control our data, voice, image and culture.
Osita saw the urgent need for a platform that will promote, codify and integrate common cultural experiences, values, and art that cuts across people of African descent, and showcases these content to Africans within Africa and in the diaspora, as well as lovers of African content spread across the globe.
Osita was inspired by the fact that content shapes the world and Africa will never be better if we don’t take absolute control of content creation and distribution.
To date, Ogelle remains the only African content user-generated content (UGC) platform with Pan African coverage in terms of diversity of content themes, content creation and representation in languages, giving every African – no matter where they may be the avenue to create their channels, post and share their videos in their languages. “The platform will greatly boost the creative industry in Africa and help in telling the true African story,” said the founder Osita.
“The negative narrative about Africa can never change if we don’t take control of our media and image. With our creativity, we can tell positive and compelling stories about us. The stories that truly represent who we are. There is a popular African proverb that says ‘until the lion learns how to write, the story will always glorify the hunter’. In our judgment as a team, we believe that the hunter has told his story beautifully and the lion’s story in a way that does not truly represent the lion,” remarks Osita.
He further elaborates; “Why do you think our brothers and sisters are dying on the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean trying to go to Europe and America? Because over time, the West has told a beautiful story about themselves and the opportunities they present that most Africans think you can pick money on the streets of Germany.”
Talking about the reception Ogelle has received in the market, Osita says, “It’s amazing how Africans in Africa, in the diaspora and lovers of African content have embraced our platform. In 19 months of operation, we have over 20,000 videos produced by Africans posted on our platform, nearly 500,000 users globally and close to 100,000 app downloads, we are grateful that Africans are keying into our dream.”
Despite the success, the major challenge was selling this dream to people who are used to certain platforms especially when the West control those platforms.
“Remember, we are appealing and approaching a people who believe due to many years of brainwash, that anything coming from the West is good and anything made in Africa is not good. It’s a difficult place to be but gradually, more and more Africans are beginning to realize that we can create anything in Africa and be very competitive globally too,” says Osita.
Secondly, the high cost of data, unavailability of database and unfriendly business environment is a challenge to the operations across Africa but the platform is happy that many African countries are improving everyday on the state of their infrastructure and they believe that soon, these factors will not be there and that the business can flourish.
Considering the level of interest Ogelle has so far received, Osita wishes he started the platform many years ago.
“Africa is culture. The true story of Africa cannot be told in a thousand years to come,” he says.
He adds, “Across Africa, there are unique and compelling stories, cultural heritage and values that are untold. Content that speaks to culture. Content that can attract the world to Africa yearly. Most importantly, is that they are unique, original and majority have been practiced for centuries. The voodoo festival in Benin Republic is out of this world.”
In a continuous effort to unite and promote Africa, the founders of Ogelle decided that the platform should be open, free to all Africans in Africa and in the diaspora to create their channels and upload their content either by logging into the website or downloading the application.
With a projected population of 1.5 billion people by 2050 and nearly 1 billion under 40 years of age and an internet penetration of about 750,000 million people, there is a wide opportunity to market Africa to the world.
Source of income
But, the platform is not for only viewers to enjoy watching free content, the content creators who post and share their videos on Ogelle can monetise such content by views.
For established filmmakers and studios, the platform presents an avenue to generate revenue from completed projects and commissioning of new projects.
“Our competitive advantage is that we are indigenous with 90 per cent indigenous team sharing the same dream, we are catering for a niche market (African Content only) and apart from being an open platform, we are creating content ourselves through our studios across Africa and other networks of partners. We have grassroot understanding of the terrain which in turn has given us access to various national television stations for content sharing as talks intensify about repackaging African nations and Africa so that the generations to come will be proud and appreciate our continent,” says Osita.