The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, has been quoted as saying that “N7b has been approved for the creative industry. “
Last year, Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bankers Committee announced a N200bn Creative Industry Financing Initiative. Bank of Industry has billions for Nollywood. Nigerian Export Import Bank has millions of dollars for the industry. Nigerian Export Promotion Council has millions to support export. Access Bank has or had Access Nolly. A visiting Francophone Filmmaker once commented “Seems like there is no better time to be a filmmaker in Nollywood. ” Really?
Interestingly, however, only the defunct Project ACT and BOI appear to be the only effective and visible funding mechanisms in Nollywood. There are rumours that over N22bn has been released from the CBN/CIFI fund. It will be interesting to know who has accessed these funds. The identities of beneficiaries of Project ACT and Bank of Industry Nollyfund are in the public domain.
It is very important to identify the beneficiaries in order to activate a kind of peer review and monitoring mechanism. These funds after all belong to the Nigerian people. Where are the “35 firms in content production, content distribution, production equipment, digital transmission, equipment …” that benefited from the last N7b facility? The same ministry of finance in all honesty has had a high level of transparency.
Whilst the world celebrates the victory of the Korean film “Parasite”, it is important to note that this success was not achieved overnight. It was the result of carefully planned and orchestrated policies that resulted in the development of the industry.
Developing a viable industry goes beyond phantom funding especially in an environment that is rife with corruption. An analysis of successful film industries in different countries makes it relatively easy to identify workable strategies that are guaranteed to develop the industry. There is absolutely no need to reinvent the wheel. These measure include but are not limited to:
1. Effective copyright administration with a focus on enforcement, enlightenment and legislation. National Assembly should move Copyright from Exclusive to Concurrent list to enable state governments contribute their quota to the fight against piracy. This will create employment and generate wealth.
2. Professionlize the industry by ether passing the Motion Picture Practitioners Council Bill into law or streamline and strengthen the existing guilds and associations similar to NBA, ICAN, ANAN. This will improve quality and create employment. This has been used very effectively by Europe’s biggest Producer France.
3. Create tax incentives that are implementable and efficient to encourage corporate investments in the creative sector. Support and/or investment can be tax deductible. This has been used most effectively in South Korea and Vietnam and in fact all over the world. In nearby South Africa 35% Tax Rebate is used to attract foreign direct investment in entertainment and media.
4. Control the unregulated flow of foreign content into the country through the imposition of quota on foreign films imported into the country. This has been very effective in the broadcast sector and has been used very effectively in China, Korea, Vietnam and many countries around the world.
– Special tax should be imposed on box office tickets for foreign films. France has a 5% tax that is used to fund local productions.
5. Institutionlize the funding of the industry through the creation of a film fund. This structure will centralize all the available funding and put an end to these entire ridiculous phantom funding.
6. Reduce the taxes and fees paid by the industry at all levels. Over 18% of box office receipts are paid to federal and state governments. Close to N3bn was reportedly paid by JUST cinema exhibitors between 2018/19. Billions are paid in censorship fees amongst other sundry levies. Not a kobo of these monies are ploughed back into the industry by federal and state governments.
9. State governments must acknowledge the vital contribution of the creative industry to their various economies. Apart from direct employment of residents of such states who in turn pay taxes, there are indirect financial inputs via accommodation, feeding, printing and other leisure activities. These states are promoted directly and indirectly as tourism destinations. The strong presence of the creative industry in Surulere and Lekki axis of Lagos has resulted in higher value for real estate. States like Kano, Lagos and Delta especially must begin to show appreciation by establishing film funds, film offices/commissions and generally create a mechanism for supporting the orderly growth of the creative industry.
10. Immediate implementation of the Copy Levy by the Minister of Finance and Customs. This will empower the three Collective Manage Organizations.
The industry on its part must immediately establish a special commission for the implementation of the above.