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Nigerian musician Tiwa Savage during an announcement about the Global Citizen Festival on July 09, 2018, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: Masi Losi/Sowetan/Gallo Images via Getty Images

Los Angeles–based Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest music company, opened a new office in Nigeria in July, in the hopes that the next "Despacito" might come from Africa. Since January, Universal also acquired a Kenyan record label and expanded its live music business, while Spotify launched in South Africa in March.

The big picture: Africa is the youngest continent in the world, with 70% of people under the age of 30, and Nigeria is the most populous nation on the continent with a population of 180 million. Using social media, from YouTube to Twitter, African musicians are gaining continental and global recognition. Industry giants are taking notice.

Internet access and the spread of mobile technology continue to increase digital music consumption. In Sub-Saharan Africa, unique mobile subscriber penetration reached 44% by the end of 2017, up from just 25% at the start of the decade. In 2016, streaming revenue grew by 334.2% in South Africa. African youth are also supporting a growing live music business.

The exploding popularity of African artists has prompted a rise in transatlantic musical collaborations. Nigerian artist Tiwa Savage’s collaboration with Fantasia, for example, earned a Grammy nomination in 2010, and WizKid’s feature on Drake’s “One Dance” led to a multi-album worldwide deal with RCA Records of Sony Music International.

Yes, but: Because of weak legal protections for intellectual property and widespread piracy, capturing value in Africa’s less-developed music markets is challenging. With the shift to streaming business models, the ability to effectively license audio, performance rights, songwriting and branding is increasingly important.

The bottom line: Nigeria is no longer a source for just oil in the global market. The creative industries contribute over $7 billion to Nigerian GDP, with the music industry alone expected to be worth $73 million in the next few years. Accordingly, U.S. entertainment companies will be increasingly active in Nigeria, and in African markets more generally.

Aubrey Hruby is a senior fellow in the Atlantic Council's Africa Center.

Go deeper

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will not seek re-election in 2022

Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) speaking during a press conference in November 2021. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), a moderate who typically ranks as one of the nation's most popular governors, said Wednesday that he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) will not seek third terms in 2022.

Why it matters: The decision leaves the gubernatorial race wide open and will likely affect multiple down-ballot races next year. Baker was expected to be the front-runner had he joined the race.

3 hours ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.