By Innocent Onoh
The Nigerian creative economy can make significant contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GPD, and create millions of jobs especially for the youths, if the right policies, incentives and investments are deployed to the sector.
This was the opinion of stakeholders at a forum in Lagos tagged “Art Tech Lagos”, put together by AfriLabs, a Pan African innovation organisation.
In line with its mission to support African tech hubs, AfriLabs provides financing, mentorship, networking opportunities, and tools to build the capacities of high-potential entrepreneurs.
The event which was a convergence of creative Nigerian youths in arts and technology was aimed at highlighting the value chain opportunities available to be explored for investments in the creative economy.
In an address, the Executive Director, Afrilabs, Ann Ekeledo, described Nigeria as a nation of great talents in music, comedy, writing as well as fashion and dancing.
Mrs. Ekeledo said the goal of her organisation was to partner critical stakeholders including governments in driving investments in the sector which has the opportunity to create millions of jobs for young people , thereby addressing the worsening unemployment situation in the country.
According to her, “Everybody knows about how African creatives have become a soft power outside the continent. Everywhere you go across the world, you hear Nigerian music, you have Nigerian films, next generation fashion as well. What we are going to do is to make the sector a lot more financially viable.
“We want other stakeholders, like the government, for example, to begin to see the creative economy as critical to social and economic growth and investing in it. We want to see creative policies and regulations by the government that will make the creative sector thrive”, she said.
Ekeledo explained that as part of measures to scale up the sector, there was need for policies that ensures the protection of intellectual property, guarantee infrastructures and technologies for producing quality works, make available subsidies for filmmakers to reduce cost of production and create a marketplace for practitioners.
Contributing , a Board Member of AfriLabs, Dr. Itoro Emembolu urged that practitioners in the creative ecosystem should leverage the expertise of one another to enhance the quality and quantity of their work as well as increase their online presence to become more viable economically.
While stressing the need for indigenous social media platforms that will enable local creatives enjoy more benefits from their works, Dr. Emembolu called on practitioners to accelerate creation of local contents, as the number of contents uploaded online determines the revenue base.
” When you own the content, then you can now generate revenue from that content. Every content you put on YouTube, get generating revenue on it, just a small percentage. So how can we create that content situated here and generate the revenue and gain royalties on wherever it goes, because our content is going worldwide? Those are the conversations we need to have within ourselves and government to see how we can move that forward”, she said
In a keynote address, a prominent reality TV Show Judge, Obi Asika, said Nigerian governments and Nigerians need to place more values on the nation’s creative and cultural works including traditional festivals and films,describing them as the most original and among the biggest globally.
The celebrity noted that all that is required to unlock the one billion dollar industry is to properly package the contents and push them to a wider audience, preferebly the Television.
He said Television remains the biggest platform to market creative contents, as he enjoined TV stations to jettison the culture of selling airtime, but concentrate on creating contents, which is more profitable.
In his words,
“We have to engage ourselves, we have to engage our actual culture, our indigenous value. And until you place value on yourself, you cannot have money. If you diminish who you are, you will stay diminished. So we have to elevate everything about ourselves. And when you elevate what you are, and you’re now visible, those that have distribution, which is the key thing that I’m talking to technology, guys, the technology can bring distribution and scale and monetization.
“And while you can make money, because that is the fundamental thing, you want to be able to monetize the content, monetize the stories, and the stories are taught in many different ways, Podcasts, documentary, film, animation, music, literature, poetry”.
” We have abandoned our own mythology. The greatest stories in the world that are untold are in Africa, then Nigeria you have more cultural festivals than anywhere in the world. When we stop being afraid of ourselves, then we own the world.
“This market is not just that we are talented, is that we were visible. If they can’t see you, they can’t be investing. So we have 400 TV stations. TV stations don’t sell airtime. They make content. And advertisers can see what is the most watch content and they give you the money. So our advertising industry is big enough for a television community to be at least a billion dollars a year today”.
Young Art and Tech Executives during a panel discussion
The event brought together notable creative Nigerians from across the country, including famous Creative Director and Choreographer, Kaffy and Efe Omorogbe who spoke on “value chain opportunities in the music industry.
The creative economy in Africa is a rapidly growing sector that encompasses a wide range of industries include music, film, Literature,art, fashion and digital media.
In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the potential of the creative economy to accelerate economic growth and development in Africa.
Creativity and technology has always existed from the invention of the paintbrush to the recording music.