Strong heritage, bright future

Strong heritage, bright future
Strong heritage, bright future

As part of the Nigerian media and entertainment industry, ‘Nollywood’ has achieved tremendous success not only in Nigeria, but across sub-Saharan Africa and around the globe and the film sector is contributing to the country’s economic prowess.

Nigeria’s $250 million film industry has grown to be the third-largest gross-producing industry of its kind in the world and is the second-largest output-producing marketplace in terms of annual film releases.

Nollywood and the creative arts industry are now growing at 33 per cent and contribute more than $6 billion to the newly rebased Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Although in the context of GDP contribution the sector is not large, there are other factors to support its inclusion in the strategy plan.

When the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan rebased the Nigerian economy in 2014, the primary purpose for the rebasing exercise was to reflect more accurately the sectors that were almost non-existent, or in an embryonic state, in 1990. In the years before 1998, the entertainment industry in Nigeria was low-profile, with musicians, actors, and models being satisfied with the fame that came with their roles and very little interest from investors.

However, following the successful management of Nigeria’s hottest music breakthrough of 2Face Idibia in 2004, entertainment has become big business, with many Nigerian artistes raking in millions of naira monthly, a situation that was unthinkable about 15 years ago.

The Nigerian entertainment industry has spread beyond its borders into the African region and African Diaspora markets in the UK and the US. The industry is comprised of both music and film production. The music industry produces on average 550 albums of different types of music annually.

The abundance of talent and Nigerian music lovers preferring their own music to foreign material has been a major source of inspiration to many artistes and businessmen. Record sales have more than tripled in the past five years, averaging 10 million in 2005 and rising to an estimated 50 million in 2010.

There is additional revenue generated by musical shows and concerts held in Nigeria on a regular basis. An estimated 1, 200 concerts and shows take place every year and account for a combined annual turnover of $105.5 million.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reported that Nollywood is Nigeria’s second-largest employer, second only to the government, and calls for greater support to nurture the industry.

Also the fact that many Nigerian businesses have come to see entertainment as a way of promoting their products and services now means more revenue can be generated for the industry in the coming years.

The ever-rising demand is becoming obvious, with keen competition promising improved standards and further patronage for that sector. It is estimated that Nollywood is home to more than 200,000 actors, producers, distributors and promoters.

The media has also played a pivotal role in fostering the astronomical growth of the Nigerian entertainment industry over the last two decades. The development eventually led to the convening of the maiden stakeholders’ conference in 2014 in Lagos.

Using the theme, “Building the Industry of Our Dreams”, the conference brought together under one roof industry stakeholders from the media, music, Nollywood and the business of entertainment and corporate social responsibility.

The conference, which was held under the auspices of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, was declared open by Director-General Frank Nweke Jnr. Nweke sought to engage and sustain a dialogue among stakeholders in the creative and entertainment industries and the government in policy formulation, implementation and regulation as a mechanism to drive the business of entertainment to the next level.

In his keynote address he said the evolution of multi-dimensional media spheres had created opportunities to develop dynamic content for local media channels, adding that the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) and other television stations that hold airtime in trust for Nigerians should collaborate with digital content producers to produce programmes that would deliver value to their local audience.

Other notable speakers such as Chris Ubosi, Kenny Ogungbe, Kola Oyeyemi and Amaka Igwe all contributed to the debate via presentations that discussed how to boost the profile of the entertainment industry.

The major players in the Nigerian entertainment industry are record labels, movie producers, marketers and distributors of film and video products as well as event planners. Some of the names that readily comes to mind are Kennis Music and Primetime Entertainment, Storm Records, Next Level Entertainment, Sound city, Nigezie, Cool FM, Silverbird Entertainment, GDC, Capital Records, comedy festival Nite of a Thousand Laughs, producer Chico Ejiro, actress and singer Genevieve Nnaji, actress Kate Henshaw-Nuttal, comedian Nkem Owor and singer-songwriter 2face.

In spite of the phenomenal growth the Nigeria entertainment industry still faces a number of challenges; the biggest of these is piracy in both the film and music sectors. Estimates indicate that for every single copy of film sold legitimately, there are five to 10 copies sold on the black market. Other challenges include poor production standards and inadequate marketing and distribution linkages.

Sub-standard cross-border co-production arrangements, as well as insufficient exhibition/theatrical infrastructure are other challenges that prevent the Nigerian entertainment industry from realising its full potential.

President Jonathan has been the only president in the nation’s history who has fully supported the Nigerian creative industries. In 2013, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Nollywood, he announced the donation of a grant of N3 billion ($15 million) to the industry. The grant was supervised by the then Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and the Minister of Culture and Tourism at the time, Edem Duke.

The President acknowledged the important role Nollywood has played in promoting the brand image of Nigeria both within and outside the continent. “There are three endeavours that unite Nigerians: sports, music and movies,” he said at the Nollywood anniversary celebrations.

Bolstering the entertainment industry can serve as a driving force for economic growth in the years ahead. In 2008, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recognised the creative industry to be a key contributor of economic growth, employment and trade within developed countries such as Nigeria.

Entertainment industries have indeed emerged as one of the world’s most dynamic economic sectors. According to UNCTAD, international trade in creative goods and services reached its peak in 2011 – the latest year for which figures are available – totalling some $624 billion.

UNCTAD has urged developing nations to encourage the development of creative industries within their communities, via policy-making and regulative oversight, as a grassroots method of improving their socio-economic conditions.

By marrying technology, culture and business, the entertainment industry is a viable means for Nigeria to achieve worthwhile economic growth that will help maintain its status as the leading economy in Africa.