Is Lai Mohammed Right to Say that Nigeria Can Become the Entertainment Capital of Africa?

The entertainment and media industry in Africa is growing and becoming more widely recognized on the world stage. Events like the MTV Africa Music Awards and the African Entertainment Awards have brought attention to rising stars in the continent such as Nigerian pop star WizKid, who collaborated with Drake in 2016 for Spotify’s most-streamed song ever, One Dance. Nigeria could be well-placed to become the leading country for entertainment in Africa, with its burgeoning film industry likely to play a major part in boosting its fortunes.

Mohammed Believes the Film Industry Can Be a Huge Boost

The Minister of Information and Culture in Nigeria, Lai Mohammed, recently claimed that film production there has the potential to propel the country towards becoming the “entertainment capital of Africa”. The 68-year-old has petitioned to state governments to improve the infrastructure in the country which would allow the Nigeria Film Corporation to thrive. He noted the fact that the number of cinemas in Nigeria was a mere 142, compared to the 782 in South Africa. In order to improve the NFC, dealing with issues like this on a domestic level will be an important place to start.

The Nigerian cinema industry, which is often referred to as Nollywood, has been in existence for a vast number of years and dates back to the turn of the 21st Century. The recent shift in the production method of films in the region known as New Nigerian Cinema is what Mohammed will be pinning his hopes on. This movement has seen a return of the methods which were prevalent in the Golden era of Nigerian cinema history.

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Caption: Trailer for 2016’s The Wedding Party.

The films in what has become known as New Wave cinema tend to have higher budgets and production values, along with improved narrative complexity. Some recent examples include The Wedding Party, King of Boys, and New Money. The former was the highest-grossing Nigerian film of all time before its sequel, The Wedding Party 2, broke that record in 2017.

The Nigerian government has seen the potential of New Nigerian Cinema and has been pumping funds into projects since 2006. Not only has funding gone directly into making the films, but it has also helped on a grassroots level in training Nigerian filmmakers at film schools. There has been some progress so far, but as Mohammed recently pointed out at the Inauguration of the Steering Committee on the Commercialization of the Nigeria Film Corporation in Abuja, more needs to be done to keep up with these developments.

Mohammed’s hypothesis seems to be that if the government can help push the Nigerian film industry on to being a major player on the world stage, this can, in turn, boost the entertainment industry as a whole in the country. It is likely to have a knock-on effect, drawing more attention to other media in Nigeria including television and gaming.

What Other Areas Are Growing in Nigeria?

The film industry may be able to lead the way if there is enough investment in its infrastructure, but there are other areas that are growing and could help Nigeria achieve that coveted title of Africa’s entertainment capital. The media and entertainment industry in the country was worth just over $4 billion in 2016. This was already impressive, but nowhere near where it could be. For instance, the same industry in India was worth $17 billion, and in the United States it was valued at a whopping $598 billion at that time.

Entertainment and media, under the same banner as the service sector, was found to make up 54.30 percent of Nigeria’s GDP. This figure shows why the government is so keen to develop in this area.

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Caption: Teaser for Crazy, Lovely, Cool.

Along with films, other branches of the entertainment industry that are on the rise include television and gaming. Netflix has already broken out in the country and now features a number of Nigeria-based films and series. Some of the most notable options available to stream in the country are Crazy, Lovely, Cool and Sons of the Caliphate. The increase in the availability of the internet has also allowed the gaming industry to begin to thrive in Nigeria. Around 60 million Nigerians between the age of 18 and 40 are regular gamblers, and the online gambling industry is estimated to be worth around $2 billion.

Synergy Between Entertainment Sectors Could Help Growth

There is certainly an argument to suggest that building up the film industry in Nigeria could have a positive knock-on effect on other areas and boost the entertainment industry in the country as a whole. One of the most successful models in media nowadays is for brands to cross over various different forms of media in an effort to reach as many people as possible. This synergy has helped build some huge franchises over the years, and the marketing model is becoming more prevalent still.

The gaming industry in Nigeria could look to western sites like Wink Slots as an example of how to create synergy between different media. Among the online slots on Wink Slots are A Nightmare on Elm Street, Game of Thrones, and Britain’s Got Talent. All of these games can help attract players to the films and television shows that they represent. They can also provide entertainment to people who already viewed the other media and are looking for different ways to experience the same themes.

With this in mind, film producers in Nigeria could look to strike deals with gaming sites to have games made based on their offerings. This can help to build up a brand name for film titles and make sure they reach a wider audience. Already, links between eSports and iGaming have had a notable effect on the IT industry in countries such as Ghana, so this could likewise act as a powerful way to get international attention to the Nigerian film industry in a similar fashion. Players based in other countries may see and enjoy the games and then feel intrigued enough to go in search of the films upon which they are based.

There is certainly the potential for Nigeria’s film industry to be the driving force behind positioning the country as the entertainment capital of Africa. However, it would make sense to expand other media sectors at the same time and encourage synergy between the different branches. This franchise model has worked well for Hollywood, why shouldn’t it be a success for Nollywood as well?



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