Breakout group at AI Day at the New Dimensions Lab, Gauteng, South Africa, November 2023. Speaking in foreground: Mozilla Foundation Senior Program Officer Chenai Chair
Breakout group at AI Day at the New Dimensions Lab, Gauteng, South Africa, November 2023. Speaking in foreground: Mozilla Foundation Senior Program Officer Chenai Chair
Electric South, a Mozilla IRL Fund Awardee, uses immersive media to help artists across Africa tell their stories with new technologies
We spoke with the nonprofit’s co-director Ingrid Kopp about elevating underrepresented voices


  • Accessibility to technological storytelling tools and techniques, including virtual reality and augmented reality, has long been a barrier for many underserved communities across Africa

  • Immersive media tools and production require high-speed internet and stable electricity, which many areas lack

  • South Africa-based Electric South is using these emerging immersive technologies to create new spaces and opportunities where people can share original narratives across the continent

The Issue

There are several barriers to creating tech-driven art in Africa, including a lack of sustainable funding; specific skills gaps on the local level; an inadequate supply of VR/AR headsets, other necessary hardware and training; and uneven access to stable electricity and high-speed internet. The rise of AI in art and storytelling is also presenting both new challenges and possibilities for creatives to navigate.

The Approach

Electric South is dedicated to helping emerging artists create and distribute their work by training them in newer technologies like VR and AR. “Many of the artists we work with have told us how meaningful this is for them, because they can help build the tech and are not just inheriting it fully formed,” said co-director Ingrid Kopp. Some of the challenges the Electric South team have encountered have transformed into opportunities. For instance, exhibitions can be challenging because of limited access to VR headsets for audiences. So the team devised alternative distribution strategies that don’t rely on in-home headsets or large-scale mobilization.

Electric South is among the first awardees of Mozilla’s “In Real Life” (IRL) Fund. The fund supports community-serving organizations in Africa advancing digital and human rights, both on and offline — with a particular focus on Eastern and Southern Africa. This grantmaking mechanism is part of the Africa Innovation Mradi, which leverages Mozilla’s role as stewards of the open web to promote innovation grounded in users’ unique needs across African countries.

Mozilla’s funding has allowed Electric South to focus on AI’s growing influence on immersive storytelling. The organization has added programming — residential workshops, labs, and online talks — tackling questions around what AI means for artists in terms of both threats and opportunities, how AI works in informal economies, how deepfakes affect the work of documentary and nonfiction storytellers, and more.

What Does Success Look Like?

Though Electric South has different barometers to measure progress, a key one is a thriving, inclusive tech arts scene across the continent with events, conferences, festivals, adequate funding, distribution and exhibition opportunities — and lots of collaboration.


Kamal Sinclair’s work on inclusive media futures has been a significant influence and inspiration for the organization’s programming.

Participant Testimonials

“I rarely connect with a group of strangers the way I did here. This was a genuinely enriching experience. I’ll probably be running on the energy from it for the next few years.”

—Lab Participant 1

“The structure and schedule of the Lab were impeccably designed, providing a perfect balance between immersive engagement, knowledge-sharing sessions, and hands-on workshops. The diversity of activities, including discussions, masterclasses, and project workshops, showcased a thoughtful curation that was not just informative, but transformative, for my creative process.”

—Lab Participant 2