Animation is not one of the things that come to mind when you think of MTN Ghana. The telco is well known for many innovations from fast and reliable 4G LTE internet to nationwide mobile penetration and more. Yet, MTN Ghana has been championing animation in Ghana in its own way for the last three years through the MTN Apps Challenge and for that, it deserves some accolades.
The MTN Apps Challenge, now in its 6th year, is an initiative that encourages young people to create innovative digital solutions to societal problems. For the most part, the initiative has focused on app development. This however changed in 2016 when the challenge introduced the animation and internet of things (IoT) categories. This introduction seemed like trend hopping at the time but MTN has proved over the years that it’s pretty serious about it.
Whoever pitched the animation category to MTN Ghana is a gem that deserves to be celebrated. Three years down the line, the animation category remains a great way for Ghanaian animators to be noticed, exposed and rewarded for their skill and innovation.
This is especially true for animators who would otherwise be left swimming in the obscurity and hopes of online hype turning profitable. With the MTN Apps Challenge, Ghanaian animators truly have a spot.
The biggest criticism and concern about the MTN Apps Challenge is that it isn’t being marketed as extensively as it deserves. Perhaps lumping everything – app development, IoT and animation – together is to blame. It’s hard to reconcile an apps challenge with an animation competition. If MTN Ghana wants to really push Ghanaian animation, organizing a separate competition specifically for animation is a viable option to be considered.
Nevertheless, that the MTN Apps Challenge even exists is a great boost to the animation industry. Other initiatives such as the prestigious Kuenyehia Art Prize, for example, is another great boon to Ghanaian animation. Comfort Arthur of Social Media Zombies and Black Barbie fame recently emerged as the first runner-up in the latest awards, although not for animation but her Naughty Nii illustration series.
Other initiatives such as the upcoming MESH Confab, the upcoming Accra Animation Film Festival, the Black Star International Film Festival, the Golden Movie Awards, the Ghana Movie Awards, the GUBA Awards, NerdCon, the Chale Wote Street Art Festival, and even dEX Artmosphere also create spaces within which Ghanaian animation can thrive; one way or the other.
We can only hope that in time, with increased interest and funding from savvy investors, Ghana can have a library of great animated features spanning 2D, 3D and other new, experimental forms.
It is important that in this internet age where Poka (through his animated music videos, Louis Appiah (through the Nazir series), Creo Concepts and the likes are quickly amassing a cult following by telling their own stories through animation, other animators follow suit.
The key takeaway is this, let’s not ghostwrite our stories so anime like Onyakonpon don’t raise eyebrows. The time to tell our own stories is long overdue and MTN Ghana through the MTN Apps Challenge is leading the charge with animation. MTN Ghana has paid its dues and deserves some accolades. Kudos to MTN Ghana and the MTN Apps Challenge team for leading by example.
Auditions for the MTN Apps Challenge are over but you can catch videos of the auditions and updates over at MTN Ghana’s Facebook page.Animated projects that have won in the challenge include Monuments, The Bird and the Kite (Bertil Toby Svanekiaer), SkyHigh, Agorkoli (by Francis Brown) and Octobia.
Judges for the auditions were Eyram Tawiah (Leti Arts), Cecil Jones Abban (Parables Production), Ethel Coffie, Yaw Boakye and Alain Gbeasor. Animated projects submitted to this year’s Apps Challenge in no particular order are:
- Toon for thought by Michael Lellatom (see Michael’s YouTube channel)
- Akumafu (the Defenders) by Rhema Adedipe (see Akumafu)
- I Believe in Ghana (iBig) by Bertil Toby Svanekiaer (see Bertil’s YouTube channel)
- Azumah, the Ghanaian Hero by Nii Ofei-Kyei Dodoo (see Nii Ofei’s YouTube channel)
- Motombo on Stage by Emmanuel Rock N. Hanson (see Pixil Motion Studios’ YouTube channel)
- Atsu by Andy Korshie-Shenie
- Pursuit of Desire by Darlington Agyekum & Owusu Prince Kwadwo
- Gold Coast by Blessed & Amaka Igelengah
- Aluta da Great: Man Must Chop by Razahk Issaka (see the Aluta da Great series.)