Afriexim Bank has put the global economic loss from the Corona Virus pandemic at one trillion dollars (USD$1tn) as at March 20 ,2020.Global GDP is expected to drop from 2.9 per cent in 2019 to 2.5 % in 2020.The Nigerian creative industries would have lost nothing less than thirty to fifty billion naira if we consider the creative industry in its widest definition by UNESCO to include; film and video, music, design, publishing, architecture, crafts, visual arts, fashion, TV and radio, advertising, literature, computer games and the performing arts. Nollywood alone would have lost nothing less than five billion naira taking into consideration cancelled productions and videogram releases, cinema attendance, tax remittances, printing, hotel occupancy and related expenditures like feeding and leisure activities in major production centers like Lagos, Asaba, Kano etc.
The Corona Virus pandemic ,the “ thief in the night “with its 2-3 % fatality rate has inflicted huge economic damage .The British Broadcasting Corporation has described it as “ Greatest global crisis of the century” and warned that “ It’s inevitable the world would see a global recession” .In Asia alone ,more than 11 million people could be forced into poverty according to the World Bank .There are presently no statistics for Nigeria but recall that pre-Corona we had more than 100 million people living below the poverty line. If we were the poverty capital of the world before Covid 19, what would Nigeria be after Corona? The 7.7 billion people on planet earth needs to brace up for a hard time with Nigeria on the frontline of suffering.
A package of palliatives has come from the Presidency, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Central Bank of Nigeria and House of Representatives through the Economic Stimulus Bill 2020.Cash and material donations have been made by corporate bodies and individuals.
The palliatives from the government have thus far failed to accommodate the creative industries in spite of the huge losses it has suffered and is still suffering. None of the cash has “Creative Industry” written on it. On the contrary the federal government of Germany has released fifty billion euros for the creative industry while the UK Art Council has committed USD$190m to the arts.
“The government and private donors need to understand that the creative sector is one of the most vulnerable for the simple reason that it is characterized by the highest number of self-employed individuals and SME’s. Without movies ,music ,video games and other forms of entertainment , nobody would survive a lockdown .It is no longer enough to praise the soft power of the creative industries and the monumental contributions in engaging the youths .The government and donors need to match the importance of this great sector with commensurate support. The creative industries needs support like other sectors”
The post Covid-19 world will be one of great recession and hunger .Statistically the Corvid 19 virus will affect less than 0000.0.5 of any given population. But the economic fallout is affecting and will affect 100% per cent of the population .Moody’s has already predicted that 5-6 million people could lose their jobs by the end of this month .The largest such job loss in recorded history .This is seven times the 800, 00 jobs lost in 2009. Hotels are seeing bookings plummet by more than 60% and with a lockdown; 100% loss for ALL businesses.
Research conducted and published by US based Performance Research in partnership with Full Circle Research Co. revealed that majority of audiences are not eager to return to public events after the pandemic.( where are the figures for Nigeria? )
Scheduled movie releases like “Morbius “, ‘Ghostbusters “sequel and many more have been pushed to 2021 release .Other blockbusters like “Mulan”. “Fast 9” and even the eagerly awaited James Bond follow up “No Time to Die “have all succumbed to Covid 19.Senior Disney (world’s biggest media company) executives are taking huge salary cuts. What has this got to do with Nigeria? Well, Hollywood film releases contributed a substantial chunk of close to N3b remitted to state and federal government as tax by Nigerian cinemas in 2018 &19.
The free fall in the price of oil has made mincemeat of our economic projections and highlighted the importance of non-oil exports. Oil tankers laden with our Brent Crude are said to be roaming the high seas with no buyers in sight, even at discounted prices. Surviving the virus may prove easier than surviving the hunger.US will provide loans to companies that will cover the payroll for two months. Brazil has chosen to play down the effect of the virus to focus on the economy.
As the second largest employer of labour after Agriculture, the creative industries will hold point in the revitalization of the economy. It is a low hanging fruit .Government should begin to do the needful by ensuring the creative industries are fully and transparently integrated into all palliative programmes.Post Corona the creative industry has to be recognized and energized as the top dog in job creation and non-oil exports
The Economic Team can still take advantage of the present situation…manufacturers of Sanitizers ,Face masks ,Chloroquine are experiencing a boom .There is huge global demand for alcohol .Nigeria should consider standardizing the production of these items for export once local demand is satisfied.
Jack Welch legendary CEO of General Electric captured it all when he said “Mistakes can often be as good a teacher as success”
Beyond cash , government can demonstrate its commitment by ensuring inclusion of creative industry in policy discussions .In spite of making all the right “noises “ CBN did not invite the creative industry to the Economic Roundtable weeks back neither was the sector included in the initial palliatives. Government should raise the bar by consulting with experts in the creative sector to streamline practical ways and means of accessing the N220B CBN /CIFI fund. Policy discussions at the highest level of government should cascade beyond the ministerial level to government agencies like Nigerian Film Corporation ,National Film and Video Censors Board and the single biggest lender in the creative industry ; Bank of Industry. It is farcical to talk about boosting non-oil exports without confronting the operational and policy challenges. How do you loan money to a sector without adequate protection?
But the criminal absence of date relegates planning to the realm of conjecture .This could be the actual starting point for government .Collation of credible data not the mish mash of extrapolations being peddled around.
“Time “Peter Drucker intoned “is the scarcest resource and if it cannot be managed, nothing else can be managed.”