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ABC’ host creative sector at Afro Culture Convention 2021

ABC’ host creative sector at Afro Culture Convention 2021

On November 2021, at the Ebonylife place, Victoria Island Lagos the American Business Council (ABC), an development agency with focus on the creative sector, hosted the African culture conference business summit bringing together experts to map a way forward for the growing sector.

The summit focused on the creative ecosystem, which included everything from Nollywood to animation, comics, and gaming, as well as advances and difficulties.

Industry experts such as Rimini Haraya Makama, Microsoft Nigeria’s Corporate and Government Affairs Director, Peter Joy Sewornoo, Special Adviser to The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretary-General, Jaime Moody, US Embassy’s Deputy Economic Counselor, and Ikechukwu Obiaya, Dean, Pan- Atlantic University’s School of Media and Communication (SMC) spoke at the first panel.

The conversations included a wide range of topics, including boosting capacity in the Hollywood ecosystem, digital laws, and enforcement, research and archiving, and taking the creative business more seriously, all of which were focused on continental commerce for the creative sector.

Speaking on strengthening capacity in the Hollywood ecosystem at the event Rimini Makama, stated that the entire value chain comprises not only the private sector but also the government.

Makama cited the grant scheme for filmmakers in 2011 by the previous administration called Project Act, which saw the movie sector receive a $200 million government loan that was meant to improve distribution and production.

She also mentioned that there was a lot that needs to be done not only by the government but by the ABC partnering with foreign organizations to build capacity.

“Associations like the American Business council can partner with international partners to do training with the US mission to bring in directors, film festivals that could lead to building capacity,” Makama said.

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“When people watch American films they are watching them globally, they are not just made for America. So it’s the same way our film should be made by Nigerian filmmakers for international consumption not just for the Nigerian film industry,” Makama added.

On improving the value chain, Makama also said there was a need to educate the players in the industry such as the scriptwriters “ A lot of movies have scripts but I don’t think we have enough writers because we have not encouraged factors certainly as an industry which people can get properly paid,” she said.

The need for adequate archiving of historical works in the Nollywood ecosystem was underlined at the event. Ikechukwu Obiaya stated that there is a lack of knowledge and there is a need to archive materials to have space where people can go and acquire this knowledge of things that have happened in the past and build on the past.

He said one of the biggest challenges people who want to get into archiving face is finding money, especially in places where people don’t understand the importance of the creative industry in general or the immense impact these films have had over time.

“Much has been lost because the proper structure has not been in place,” Obiaya said.

Makama stated that training is available on online platforms such as YouTube and that people should be aware of those opportunities, as well as for the government to ease foreign payment policies, citing the $100 limit for a naira card to pay for online classes in dollars as an example.

The second panel, moderated by Isioma Idigbe, Partner, Punuka Solicitors & Attorneys, featured speakers such as Tanya Hill, International Computer Hacking & Intellectual Property for Sub-Saharan Africa, US Department of Justice, who joined virtually, Jide Martins, CEO of Comic Republic, and Fela Ola, director and founder of stunt group, who spoke about positioning Nigeria’s creative sector in the global space, challenges, and recommendations moving forward.

Chinwe Ohanele, Founder Ohanele Law Firm moderated the last panel with Jide Martins, Editi Effiong, CEO Anakle Movies, Kunmi Adenipebi, CEO Game Evo, and Murewa Ayodele spoking about business and creativity in the acting, gaming, and comics industries.

On the importance of telling local stories, Editi Effiong spoke on the uniqueness of all kinds of stories the importance of these stories being told regardless

“The truth is there’s no difference between the Greek and Efik mythology that I grew up on and And the difference obviously is that the Greek mythology is told in Hollywood and mine is either not told or is someone being a witch who is a bad person that must be prayed against whereas Harry Potter is a billion-dollar franchise,” Efffiong continued

On the impact of streaming services in the movie industry, Effiong mentioned that it’s important to welcome growth in the industry. Netflix has allowed the rest of the world to see a lot of Nigerian content in a way that they would not have seen it.

In 2018 a lot of Nigerian movies like UP North, King Of Boys, Chief daddy, and other Nigerian movies went on Netflix and performed spectacularly in terms of views.

“it’s important as to trying to show what our stories are and to show that properly. And that’s what we do and this streaming platform has actually helped in terms of, giving us a bigger market,” Effiong concluded.

About access and developing an ecosystem in the gaming and e-sport Kunmi Adenipebi, CEO of Game Evo, spoke on the business, capacity, and infrastructure standpoint saying that after 14 years in the sector, Nigeria has not scrapped the surface yet.

He cited problems of the absence of proper infrastructure and the government not helping with police arresting young people who had a passion for gaming thinking it was a gambling spot in the early years of the gaming sector.

“So looking at how we’ve built gaming is not easy because getting sponsorship for events, getting to tell people that I’m a gamer makes them look like I’m not serious. But what we’ve been able to do is to adopt the Western world and be able to show people hear that there is a career path for everyone in gaming,” Adenipebi said.

Adenipebi also said that gaming is just a part of a bigger ecosystem of animation and comics citing that most of these games come from stories on comics and animation making part of the whole industry.