Is virtual reality set to take off in Africa?

A woman tries a virtual reality headset at the African Futures Exhibition at the Goethe-Institut, Johannesburg.

Story highlights

  • African creatives are exploring virtual reality as a medium for storytelling
  • Costs of production and accessibility present challenges on the continent

(CNN)Virtual reality, or VR, is set to take Africa by storm. The development of immersive environments is still very new but the continent's cutting-edge creatives are already recognizing the opportunities to use VR to tell new stories in new ways.

"I tell stories around my collections and I have always had film in my mind. VR I think is the closest medium to what I want to express and the universe I want to create," says Senegalese fashion designer Selly Raby Kane.
    Andrew Kaggia, a Nairobi- based game developer and animator, explains the interest in VR further: "I feel that we as Africans have so many stories that have yet to reach a major platform. There a number of things I am thinking about, particularly along the lines of African mythology and legends."
    Kane and Kaggia joined other African creatives at the end of October at a workshop co-curated by South African film producer Steven Markovitz, as part of the African Futures festival in Johannesburg.
    "VR is a new format in its infancy, and it's an opportunity for Africa to get involved at a very early stage and be part of the global conversation," says Markovitz. "All the work I do is to challenge the dominant narrative and show Africa as a dynamic, nuanced continent." Through the immersive aspect of VR, he continues, "you can develop more empathy or understanding and challenge prejudices or misconceptions."
    Jonathan Dotse, a science fiction writer from Accra, Ghana whose blog AfroCyberPunk has steadily been gathering international media attention has also been experimenting with VR. With colleague Kabiru Seidu , Dotse produced a short VR film, Pandora, screened at this year's Chale Wote Street Art Festival in Accra.