Following news in August that French multinational Vivendi, which owns global music giant Universal Music Group, had announced a five-year plan to expand Universal’s reach by investing in digital channels, new countries and adding partnerships, particularly in Africa, India and China, Vivendi has announced the launch of a series of new music initiatives in Africa. These include the staging of a major Ebola virus awareness-raising concert in Guinea's capital Conakry in September, the construction of a new concert venue and a recording studio in Conakry, and a new label, Island Africa, based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
On 26 September, about 25 000 people are expected to gather for the festival 'Ebola: All Together Towards Victory' to be staged at the Esplanade du Palais du Peuple in Conakry. The purpose of the free event, according to Vivendi, is "to raise awareness about action to combat the Ebola virus" and "to celebrate the success of the vaccination campaign against the Ebola virus." The line-up will include Guinean and international artists such as Wizkid, Kiff No Beat, BanlieuZ’art, Azaya, Soul Bang’s, Sia Tolno, Abram Sonty, Djanii Alfa, Instinct Killer and guests. Local Guinean channels RTG and Evasion will broadcast the concert live.
The concert is the first of a series of initiatives launched in Guinea involving Vivendi's different businesses, including pay-TV service Canal+ (which recently launched A+, a TV channel for and by Africans), Universal Music, and video streaming platform Dailymotion, which will be opening a channel this week specially dedicated to the event. Vivendi's new focus on Africa reflects the economic interests of its main shareholder, Vincent Bolloré, who operates various businesses in Africa, including a container terminal in Conakry, through Bolloré Africa Logistics. "Vivendi intends to promote talent from Guinea, and more widely in Africa, and to support their international development," said the company.
In parallel to the concert, Vivendi will lay the foundation stone of a new, large concert hall devoted to music, shows and screenings. The venue will be located in the heart of the Bolloré group’s Blue Zone in Kaloum, Conakry and is designed to celebrate African artistic talent. It will be named CanalOlympia, in reference to the iconic Paris venue owned by Universal Music. CanalOlympia hall will be opened "shortly" in Conakry and is expected to be followed by the opening of similar such locations in other sub-Saharan African countries.
In addition, Universal Music will start a new label, Island Africa, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Inspired by the Island label, committed to discovering local talent and supporting them in their career development. Vivendi said that Island Africa "is developing a large pan-African network of infrastructure and technical facilities to promote African music on the continent and worldwide". Among the new facilities announced is the creation of Guinea’s first recording studio.