By Okoh Aihe
The idea of the Nollywood visiting the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) didn’t look appropriate but it took that visit from the Actors Guild of Nigeria to price open the symbaotic relationship which exists between the two sectors inadvertently and almost unnoticed. Rather fortuitously, the link has been exposed and both parties can see what such a relationship brings to the table for the good of country and industries.
The NCC is not an operator in the Communications industry but relying on the Communications Act, the Commission superintends the industry and creates favourable environment to attract investment from local and international communities. And doing just that in the past eleven years since the industry gathered more speed, has created an industry, one of the fastest growing in the world, of which Nollywood practitioners have been major beneficiaries.
With a booming industry that has been variously acknowledged, Nollywood through sponsorship deals and endorsements has more access, giving practitioners the latitude to live more reasonable life, even live like the stars they are, with their esoteric taste well funded. This really is their time and the telecom industry has been a major contributor to the growth of the industry that was almost a walk mate with poverty; an unserious vocation.
This is what brought the President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, Ibinabo Fiberesma and her team to the NCC to thank the Commission for its support to the industry, explaining that having travelled all over the country during her campaign, and seeing some creative manifestations, that more grounds even exist for a bigger relationship between the Commission and the creative industry.
However, the team found a little dose of surprise as the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Dr Eugene Juwah flanked by some of his directors explained the nexus between the Commission and Nollywood. In November last year, he explained, NCC was a major sponsor of a big event in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, which brought together academics from different parts of the world to Georgia Tech, to discuss Nollywood and more ways of exposing the industry to the international community by way of business and entertainment, explaining that the event boosted his belief in the industry, causing the Commission to take a long time view at the sector.
The New Media Department being built at the Digital Bridge Institute, Lagos is the immediate outcome of such forward looking view at the industry. DBI, Dr Juwah told the visiting team is a subsidiary of the Commission and its activities are fully focused on capacity building in the ICT sector.
Explaining that convergence has brought entertainment and telecommunications into one industry, Dr Juwah informed that part of the relationship between the Commission and Nollywood will be serviced by DBI which will help build capacity for the sector in the area of new media and emerging technologies for entertainment, production and post production.
Technology is becoming more exciting and daring. Celluloid is blending with video productions to present super screen images. Under the mobile for short platform, people are producing short films to be exposed on mobile phones alone. The switch over from analogue to digital TV transmission which in Nigeria will happen in 2015 will further create opportunity for content producers to provide materials to fill more television air time.
There is the need for a mastery of production facilities that can make this job possible for content producers. From a all indications, the New Media Department at DBI will play a central role in meeting the production capacity needs of Nollywood. This is the point Juwah made very strongly to Ibinabo and her team. The DBI is currently building a modern studio for film production activities.
The President of the Actors Guild seems to be fired up. Campaigning across the country, she saw a production in Katsina that excited her non-stop. She is of the opinion that most of these skills could be appropriated to produce new stars and expose them to the world of fame and wealth.
Very vehemently, she is looking for development partners across the land and the quiet but landmark intervention of the NCC through DBI seems to have given her a much needed assurance that it is possible for help to come for Nollywood who from an unlikely quarters in order to encourage an industry which, apart from telecoms, is one of the country’s biggest contributions to the global community since the early 90s.
*Okoh Aihe, Special Assistant, Media, to the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, wrote from Abuja.