YouTube's Alex Okosi sees 'tremendous' opportunity in Africa's creative market

  • Alex Okosi, CNN - YouTube

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, as stay-at-home orders continue to roll out across the world, millions of people are turning to the internet for everything from virtual learning and working from home to entertainment and social media -- leading to a surge in usage.

For video hosting sites such as YouTube -- which boasts more than two billion users per month -- the pandemic means how-to's, self-care and social connection videos are becoming even more popular. More eyes on the platform are also giving rise to new stars in new places, including Africa.

With more than 70% of its video watch time coming from mobile devices, YouTube is increasingly focused on the growing African market -- with 475 million people in sub-Saharan Africa alone projected to have mobile internet access by 2025.

Last week, YouTube named 20 African creatives as part of its inaugural Black Voices initiative, joining other entertainment giants such as Netflix and Disney to announce partnerships with African artists and production companies in the last year.

CNN's Eleni Giokos recently spoke with Alex Okosi, YouTube's managing director of emerging markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, to talk about the opportunities he sees in the future for African creatives.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Eleni Giokos: How important is the African market for YouTube?

Alex Okosi: It's important enough that I'm here. It is important that YouTube is actually investing, and it has been investing in Africa. We've launched YouTube music in Nigeria. We have an amazing cross-functional team of people, across all of YouTube and Google that are really focused on how we grow in Africa and make sure that we continue to nurture the talent that we have.

Alex Okosi, pictured here in 2019, joined YouTube last year.

EG: How do you view yourself as YouTube versus the other platforms that are really gaining popularity?

AO: At the end of the day [it] is great to have competition, right? I think it does provide diversity for users and also for creators. I think the power of YouTube, what it can do, we are able to connect people. We are able to inspire people. We're able to educate people. If you see what's happened over this period that we're living through -- this incredible pandemic -- more people have leaned into YouTube for a variety of different things.

EG: I want to talk about how the African continent is represented on YouTube. Do you feel there's still work to be done? Where are we at right now and where do you want to take this?

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