Harnessing The Potential Of The Film Industry To Create Jobs And Develop The Cross River Economy BY EMMANUEL ETIM

In Breaking News, Business & Economy, Columnists, National News, Opinion

emmanuel etim on creative industry

Creative and entertainment industry in Nigeria has become a key driver of growth, analysts have posited. The creative economy – which includes, the film industry, the music industry, the culture industry, visual arts industry, the fashion industry and many others – is not only one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the world economy, it is also a highly transformative one in terms of income generation, job creation and export earnings.

Motion pictures, sound recording and music production which are all part of the creative industry are collectively now worth billions of pounds, and constitute 1.4% of the country’s £307bn GDP, according to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics.

The Nigerian Film Industry, Nollywood which is the most prominent in the creative industry in the country has impacted greatly on the national economy. Within twenty years of its existence, the industry has taken giant strides to become an industry to reckon with in and outside the country.

Experts credit the birth of Nollywood to the 1992 video release of Living in Bondage, a movie with a tale of the occult that was an instant and huge-selling success. However, some stakeholders argue that long before that some notable Nigerians had been involved in the production of film and video for television and in theatre.

Whatever the case may be, the important thing is that from then, the industry has grown into a multimillion Naira industry from creativity and hard work of many stakeholders. Today, there are dozens of distribution companies, hundreds of movie producers and directors, thousands of actors and other stakeholders in the industry in Nigeria.

Nigeria video film is a staple in almost every Nigerian home. The appeal has also stretched far beyond Nigeria to other African countries and Africans in Diaspora.

Nollywood is adjudged the third in global revenue earnings, with receipts over the years reported to range between US$300m to US$800m in the recent past. It has been asserted that the Nigeria film industry is the second largest employer of labor, with an average movie employing a minimum of 130 people.

The Nigerian film industry Nollywood produces about 50 movies per week, second only to India’s Bollywood – more than United States’ Hollywood. Although its revenues are not on par with Bollywood’s and Hollywood’s, Nollywood still generates impressive revenue annually.

This treatise rides on the crest of this favourable industry climate to advocate the need, and propose ways, to grow the film industry in Cross River State for the development of State’s economy and create jobs for its teeming youths.

The film industry in Cross River State can be said to still be in its infancy compared to what obtains I other states in Nigeria. There are very few films produced in the state annually and the state can boast of only a handful of A-list actors, quality producers and film distribution companies.

There is need for the Cross River State Government thus to support the development of this very important industry in the state as we seek to create jobs for our teeming youths and diversify the state’s economy for growth and development.

How can the Cross River State Government grow the film industry in the state, make it more vibrant and make it a leading sector in the economy?

To achieve this, first the state government needs to invest in local capacity-building to empower film industry entrepreneurs in the state. This can be done by establishing a Cross River State Film Academy where training in different aspects of film making will be taught to interested youth.

Training and capacity building has often been identified as a very important aspect of development in the film industry. From script writing to acting, production, post production etc. the role of training cannot be over emphasized. A standard film academy will thus be a good place to start and build capacity of stakeholders at the local level.

Second in the line up is need for the Cross River State government to seek creative ways to provide funding for the industry in the state. As lucrative as the film industry is, the challenge of funding has often limited many stakeholders from achieving their dream. Unlike in Hollywood, financial institutions in Nigeria have not been able to structure funding options for projects in the industry in Nigeria.

International agencies, some banks and the Federal Government of Nigeria has sought ways to support growth in the sector and the Cross River State government can collaborate with these institutions in a bid to draw these funds for investors in the state.

The state government must also play the role of guarantor for some of these loans to enable young people take more risk in this direction as they explore their creative capacities.

The third thing that needs to be done is for the Cross River State Government to mainstream film industry initiatives into economic and social development programmes of the state. The state must formulate policies that will help develop the industry in the state. We must create and implement a blueprint for the development if the film industry in Cross River State.

The state government must also set up agencies saddled with the responsibility of not only regulating but also growing this very important sector in the state. This agency must work closely with related Ministries, Departments and Agencies locally and nationally to achieve set goals and objectives. These and other steps will help develop the film industry in Cross River State.

What does the industry hold for Nigeria and Cross River State in the future?

The exponential growth of Nigeria Film Industry has been attributed to enhanced production and content quality of Nigerian films and stemming from growing professionalism. The spread of digital technology will be a major driving force for the film industry in the years to come, as domestic consumption increases.

Higher levels of internet access, increased penetration rates for smart phones and improved bandwidth are all expected to help generate a production boom.

Likewise, pay-TV penetration is forecast to reach 24.4% by 2018, with competition amongst digital terrestrial television operators set to grow after Nigeria migrates to digital.

If the Cross River State Government helps to develop the film industry in the state, thousands of jobs would be created in the next few years in the state and this will also contribute to the development of the Cross River State economy.

Best regards.

Emmanuel Etim is a development consultant based in Nigeria emmanuel.etim22@gmail.com

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