The IRON List - September 25, 2017

1. Industry: Africa’s Laughing out Loud

Trevor Noah - perhaps the most famous African comedian right now - recently signed a five-year extension of his contract at “The Daily Show.” Noah’s one of the highest paid late-night show hosts on American television, but more notably has millions of millennial followers making him trendy or viral almost every day. So as with music, fashion, and movies, Africans are taking over the digital video market.

AOL Advertising estimates that, globally, 67 percent of consumers primarily watch videos on their smartphones, 50 percent are finding videos primarily through social media feeds, and the majority (45%) are mainly drawn to videos no longer than 5 minutes. Tremendous news for comedians AphricanApe and Basketmouth, who boasts 455,000 and 3.8 million Instagram/Facebook followers, respectively. Marketers and entertainment executives alike might want to investigate how to grab the most ROI from this $31 billion business.

“African comedy is fresh and organic…” --BBC, “'Mo' problems, mo' jokes' - meet Africa's best comedians.”

"With the talent that you see coming up on the stage every day, in the next five years you might be sure, it's a matter of time before you see a Chris Rock or a Steve Harvey coming from the academy and that would be the dream.” --CNN, “Comedy Gold: Who are the funniest people in Africa?”

“[T]o have reached this stage 15, 16 years down the line, where we’re able to criticize openly like this, it’s a huge step forward in a democracy.” --NY Times, “Black Comedians in South Africa Put Power in the Punch Lines.”

“If you’re still not sure why you should put money behind your social media campaigns, we’ve gathered a long list of social media advertising stats that should help motivate you.” --HootSuite Blog, “All the Social Media Advertising Stats You Need to Know.”

2. Research: War vs. Peace

The United Nations General Assembly convened last week under the theme “Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet.” The focus of the press and attendees, though, soon turned to President Donald Trump’s threat of annihilating North Korea. While Americans imagine a nuclear conflict is on the horizon, war has been a reality in many African nations. South Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are just three examples of the dizzying effects of constant violence, including detrimental impacts on these countries’ bottom line.

Read more analysis here on the “Catch-22” of building economic stability while domestic and international threats looming. Also, read this article about how small arms trading in the U.S. is hurting international efforts to eliminate these threats.

3. Opportunities: Paid, Volunteer and Competitive

Donate to empower young girls and women, a campaign led by Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda

Senior Program Officer at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Outreach and Development Officer at the Institute for Economics & Peace

Program Administrative Assistant at the Open Society Foundations

4. Networking: AkwaabaNYC Networking Social Ghana Connect and Columbia University-SIPA

AkwaabaNYC’s first networking series is scheduled for Friday, October 20th from 6-10pm. Meet with “Ghanaian professionals, graduates, and entrepreneurs in the Diaspora” (must be 21 or older to attend; ID required). RSVP here.


Professor Safwan M. Masri will present at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) on his new book Tunisia: An Arab Anomaly. The event is on Tuesday, October 3, 2017 from 6-7:30pm,  and is open to the public. Find more information here.