Nigeria and Kenya unite over special fund for filmmakers

 Selling DVDs of Nollywood Films: Photography by Will Connors from Esquire

Selling DVDs of Nollywood Films: Photography by Will Connors from Esquire

Thursday, 02 June 2011 00:00 By Emeka Anuforo (who was in Nairobi)

TO enable the movie industry break out of the many challenges plaguing its effective development as a tool for economic development in Africa, stakeholders from Nigeria and Kenya have called on governments on the continent to dedicate special funds in their yearly budgets to movie production.

While noting that the lack of technical skills had affected the growth of the industry, the stakeholders also called for the establishment of more film training institutes to cater for the pool of professional and technical manpower that are basic to the development of the industry.

Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, David Adulugba, who spoke at a workshop on Nollywood held in Nairobi, Kenya, stressed that poor access to financing of films had significantly hampered the growth of the industry and discouraged creativity among movie producers.

This, he added, was responsible for the poor quality of films produced.

His words: “Furthermore, the unpredictable nature of the profitability of films is a disincentive to banks and other financial institutions that ordinarily would have provided long term credits to film makers.

“In Nigeria, though this had partially  been taken care of through the Federal Government  $200 million entertainment fund to assist Nigerian film makers who do not have access to financing of their project. However, some stakeholders are of the view that a substantial percentage of the fund should be used to develop infrastructure that supports the industry such as cinemas and movie equipments.”

The workshop, which was part of Nollywood Roadshow project, noted with dismay the inadequacy or non- existence of formal distribution channels for the marketing and distribution of films as well as poor cinema culture and therefore implored the governments and key stakeholders to collaborate towards formalizing distribution channels in both countries.

The Road Show was put together by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in conjunction with the Nigerian High Commission in Kenya and the Kenyan Government to promote the potentials of Nollywood as well as create pathway for Nigerian movies by mapping out areas of interest and collaboration between both countries. The programme featured key Nollywood artistes like Desmond Eliot, Francis Duru, Monaliza Chinda, Uche Jombo, Patience Ozorkwo, John Okafor and Sam Loco.

Adulugba said: “In our quest to increase the basket of exportable products from Nigeria, and in line with our mandate, a maiden road show was launched in Namibia in collaboration with the Nigerian High Commission in October 2010.

“The idea was to create an export path for Nollywood products as well as business contacts between Nigerian and our brothers in SADC whose patronage of Nollywood is phenomenal given the fact that a South African media giant, Multi-Choice constantly consume Nollywood products on a daily basis. In order to consolidate on the gains recorded from the Namibia Road Show, the Council deemed it fit to embark on the current Road Show in collaboration with Nigerian High Commission in Kenya.”

Francis Duru stressed that the road show would foster economic and social ties among both countries; partnership and synergy in production and distribution of films with the east African countries and create business opportunities for would-be investors from both countries.

At the end of the workshop, participants decried the activities of pirates and noted that piracy impedes the growth of the industry of realizing its full potentials. The workshop therefore, implored the relevant agencies of government from both sides to curb the menace of piracy.

Observing that the cost of film production was high, the stakeholders noted that the establishment of a special fund to assist Kenyan movie makers was long overdue, and therefore appealed to the government of Kenya to expedite action for the fund.

Participants also reiterated the impact of the movie industry in both countries and canvassed institutionalization of cultural exchange programme as well as artistic collaborations in the area of movie production, while also calling for the school curricula of African countries to be reviewed to incorporate practical training for students of theatre/ dramatic arts to fit into modern day film realities.

The participants, who were also drawn from the Kenyan Export Promotion Council, the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communications, Ministry of Heritage and Culture, observed the absence of branding for African movies and urged all those concerned to create cross-country joint bodies that would look into the possibilities of creating a bigger and more universally acceptable brand for the industry.

“Something similar to chambers of commerce, ministries of industry and agriculture should be considered solely for the film sub-sector. The enactment of inter-governmental treaties, agreements and policies that enhance the film industry (e.g bilateral co-production agreements, tax and licensing incentives) should be a major step in this direction,” a communiqué issued later emphasized.

thanks to Kole for sending this article!