As part of its growing acquisition of content from Africa, Netflix has announced its first original African animated series - Mama K's Team 4. The series is produced by award-winning South Africa based studio, Triggerfish Animation, and London based kids and family entertainment specialist, CAKE. By Aisha Salaudeen
Mama K's Team 4 tells a story of four teenage girls living in a futuristic version of Lusaka, Zambia's capital city. The girls are recruited by an ex-secret agent to save the world.
Designed by Cameroonian artist Malcolm Wope, the animation drew inspiration for the visuals from retro 90s hip hop girl groups, Netflix said in a statement announcing the deal.
It was written by Zambian writer, Malenga Mulendema who was one of the eight winners of the 2015 Triggerfish Story Lab initiative, a talent hunt for African storytellers.
Mulendema says she grew up watching cartoons and wondered why none of the heroes looked like her.
"In creating a superhero show set in Lusaka, I hope to introduce the world to four strong African girls who save the day in their own fun and crazy way. Most importantly, I want to illustrate that anyone from anywhere can be a superhero," she said in the Netflix statement.
Netflix in Africa
The commission of Mama K's Team 4 is not an isolated move from the streaming platform. Since its 2016 debut in Africa, the company has been investing in original content from the continent.
Netflix also recently appointed Dorothy Ghettuba, an award-winning Kenyan film producer, as the Manager for International Originals, signaling an intention to commission more African content.
Netflix first captured the attention of the African audience in 2015 when it paid $12 million for the worldwide distribution rights of 'Beast of no Nation,' starring award-winning actor, Idris Elba, as a war general leading a group of child soldiers in a West African country.
Last September, Netflix purchased its first film, Lionheart, from Nollywood, the world's second-biggest movie industry in output terms.
It also acquired the rights to add Nigerian film "Chief Daddy" to its platform last month.
Netflix, which is available in all 54 African countries, recently announced it is nearing 150 million subscribers.
It currently faces competition from South African cable TV provider, MultiChoice, which has a presence in 49 African countries through its Africa Magic channel.
Africa to the world
The platform's foray into commissioning films and animations on the continent has generated excitement and analysts believe it is good news for producers on the continent.
Bankole Oluwafemi, who writes about tech in Africa, says Netflix acquiring content directly from African producers will give them the budget to market their films to the rest of the world.
"You have an industry that doesn't have a lot of money flushing in. But Netflix comes into the African market with a budget that is definitely needed," he told CNN.