‘Nollywood Model’ Could Help Unlock 20 Million African Film Jobs —UNESCO

Africa’s film and audiovisual industry could create over 20 million jobs and an extra $20bn in annual revenues with further investment, according to a major new report by UNESCO.

The Nollywood model, where producers make a film in weeks for as little as $15,000, is one of several approaches that could drive film industry jobs across Africa, the report says.

But the industry is “historically and structurally underfunded, underdeveloped and undervalued”, the report, based on responses from 43 countries and 36 governments, says.

Currently, only 44% of countries have an established film commission, while just 55% of countries have a film policy, and 35% offer financial support to filmmakers. This slow pace of industry formalization and “low to non-existent government support across the continent” holds the industry back, authors say.

“The lack of enabling policies possibly constitutes the most crucial impediment to the development and growth of the continent’s film and audiovisual sector.”

The administration of cultural policies in African countries is also “fragmented”, making it difficult to design short- and long-term policies and strategies, it adds.

“Many countries lack an empowered ministerial body devoted to culture and the creative economy.”

Nigeria’s Nollywood – which produces 2,500 mostly low-cost films a year for local and global consumption, making it the world’s second-largest industry by output – could offer a model for success, authors say.

Progress is already underway, the report notes, with draft film policies currently under consideration in Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. One of the most encouraging trends of the last decade has been the slow but steady rise in the volume of production across the continent, with practitioners in 31 countries out of 54 noting a recent increase in the number of films and television series being produced. That has been encouraged by the “game-changer” of the ongoing digital revolution which has enabled cheaper technology and distribution via online platforms.

“A few factors explain this phenomenon – the digital revolution, which is making audiovisual content cheaper to produce and easier to distribute; increased investment from global players such as Multichoice, Canal+, and Netflix; the coming of age of a new, better-trained generation of filmmakers; and the massive, inspirational success of Nollywood.”

As Nollywood moves upmarket and Nigerian films improve and go viral, other African countries are inspired to develop their film industries and make them more competitive, the report says.

“Many countries lack an empowered ministerial body devoted to culture and the creative economy.”

Nigeria’s Nollywood – which produces 2,500 mostly low-cost films a year for local and global consumption, making it the world’s second-largest industry by output – could offer a model for success, authors say.

Progress is already underway, the report notes, with draft film policies currently under consideration in Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. One of the most encouraging trends of the last decade has been the slow but steady rise in the volume of production across the continent, with practitioners in 31 countries out of 54 noting a recent increase in the number of films and television series being produced. That has been encouraged by the “game-changer” of the ongoing digital revolution which has enabled cheaper technology and distribution via online platforms.

“A few factors explain this phenomenon – the digital revolution, which is making audiovisual content cheaper to produce and easier to distribute; increased investment from global players such as Multichoice, Canal+, and Netflix; the coming of age of a new, better-trained generation of filmmakers; and the massive, inspirational success of Nollywood.”

As Nollywood moves upmarket and Nigerian films improve and go viral, other African countries are inspired to develop their film industries and make them more competitive, the report says.

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