For many stakeholders in the creative industry who have dreamt of a turnaround in its fortune, the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture and
Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) may offer the much-needed respite.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, whosigned the MoU on behalf of the Federal Government succinctly captured the situation in the industry when he noted that the country’s film industry known as “Nollywood” is the third largest film in the world today while its music is fast “becoming the most travelled music anywhere in the world”.
Muhammed also noted that the country’s TV market with little or no
formal production ecosystem is the largest on the continent and with over 170 million people, 24 million TV households and the fastest growing mobile data penetration on the African continent; Nigeria no doubt is a fertile ground for creativities.
According to the Minister, creative industry can be broken down to 13 sub-sectors that comprise: advertising, architecture, the art and
antiques market, crafts, design, designer fashion, film, interactive
leisure and software (video games), music, the performing arts,
publishing, software as well as radio and television, and there are
abundant potentials across the country that can be tapped for each.
He said it was in realization of the need to launch immediate revamp of the sector that his ministry and the Elumelu Foundation had set in motion processes of activating the MoU expected to be a lifeline.
“To reap the full potentials of the Creative Industries, we realized
early on that we will need to reach out to organizations that have the capacity and the drive to assist us in achieving our goals,
organizations that can utilize their business knowledge, network and technical expertise to assist the Ministry in the development of
Nigeria’s Creative Industries.
“This explains why we entered into discussions with the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the British Council. The discussions have now yielded fruits. On Aug. 24th 2016 in Edinburgh, Scotland, we signed a MoU with the British Council. And today, we are signing another MoU with the Tony Elumelu Foundation. Together, we will work to re-position the Creative Industries in Nigeria,” Muhammed said.
The Minister further explained that the MoU among other things, spell out the details of how we can work together to execute the partnership.
“More specifically, the areas of collaboration will include the
creation of an enabling business environment for the creative
industries with such incentives as easy access to finance; the
structuring of the Creative Industries to enable it generate
independent revenues locally and also boost exports to increase
Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings and comprehensive statistics about the Creative Industries, including its size and projections, to guide potential local and foreign investors,” Muhammed said.
On his part, the Chairman TEF, Mr Tony Elumelu, said more than any other thing, the partnership being struck between government and private organisations is the right arrangement needed to boost the creative industry.
“These industries have been operating very quietly in the country
often in a policy vacuum and largely financed by friends and familes. And yet, we have witnessed the incredible growth of the film industry, Nollywood, which has grown to become a mass employer of million across its value chain, a key factor in the emergence of Nigeria as Africa’s top economy and developed its own brand identity across continents,” Elumelu said.
The Foundation Chairman further noted that it is noteworthy that with very little support from the education, public and financial sectors and with very poor soft and hard infrastructure in place to enable the growth of the industry, the creative industry has flourished.
“If this can happen in such a weak enabling environment, imagine what could be achieved if we actually set out to support the sector and individuals and businesses that operate or seek to operate in these sectors,” he said.
Even as the stakeholders at the event brainstormed on how to maximise the opportunities offered by the partnership, of the greatest worry was the nagging problem of piracy. This, Elumelu said, needs proactive effort of government.
Ace Comedian, Alli Baba lamented that piracy has actually been allowed to flouring in the country because government does not cherish intellectual property like it cherishes oil and gas pipelines that are often protected by security operatives. He said there is nothing wrong if government has in place, a mobile taskforce that is specifically set up to crackdown on pirates.
Prominent filmmaker, Zeb Ejiro, also chastised government lackadaisical approach to combating the challenge of piracy. He asked the government of the day to protect practitioners in creative industry by ensuring that there are stiffer sanctions on violators of copyright law.
But in his reaction, the Minister said to successfully combat the
menace of piracy, practitioners in the industry must come together
under one umbrella as there so many bodies and associations claiming supremacy. He said if the structure in the industry could be corrected it would be difficult for pirates to penetrate the chain of film and musical productions.
“Our administration also believes on the need to upgrade our
technological prowess. It is believed that by the time we migrate from analog to digital platform, there would be a reduction in piracy. With digitisation, you can produce and release your work directly, without anyone stealing your initiative,” Muhammed said.
Although, the minister was quick to remind the gathering that no
nation in the world can successfully exterminate piracy, he
nonetheless said the current administration has kick-started the
process of setting up the National Endowment Fund for Arts to give soft loans to practitioners, while the idea of having anti-piracy
mobile taskforce will also be looked into.