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How to create an economy in culture, creative industry our biggest challenge – Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the creative industry as well as culture have a great role to play in the ongoing diversification of Nigeria’s economy, at a time of dwindling earnings
from crude oil.

Receiving the Country Director of the British Council, Ms. Connie Price, in his office in Abuja on Monday, the Minister said the Federal Government would not restrict its efforts at diversifying the economy to agriculture and and solid minerals.

“This government, even before knowing that the price of crude oil was going to plummet to about $38 per barrel, had promised Nigerians during its campaign that it is going to diversify the economy. Diversification of our economy is not just limited to agriculture or solid minerals or even the real sector. I think one area where we need capital investment is in the area of culture because this abounds everywhere.

”But our biggest challenge so far is how do we harness this abundant cultural heritage and create an economy out of it? There is virtually no state in Nigeria today that cannot boast of 3, 4 or 5 cultural industries, either pottery, painting, textile making or leather
works,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed identified inadequate knowledge and the capacity to translate the nation’s abundant cultural heritage into a viable economy as the bane of the sector, and therefore sought the assistance of the British Council to support his ministry to surmount the challenges.

“This is one area I believe you can assist us either in the area of capacity building or in the area of infrastructure. But more importantly in the area of organizing how these things work in a cooperative manner,” he said.

The Minister also sought the support of the British Council in assisting the agencies under his ministry to rediscover their capacity and revive the cultural industry as a major source of revenue for the nation.

He expressed the optimism that through the culture and the creative industry, women could be empowered to acquire skills that would enable them to explore the industry and be economically independent.

Responding, the Country Director said the diversification of the economy had been a huge challenge in Britain because of the country’s over-reliance on industries.

“People might not realize this but this has been an issue in the UK until very recently, particularly in the North of our country where many cities have been dependent on industries and the industries have now gone and we have empty factories,” she said.

Ms. Price said her country had now turned its thinking away from mono-economic dependence by giving vent to its culture and creative industries, which were now bringing billions of pounds into the British economy.

According to Ms. Price, initially Britain witnessed a crisis of management in its cultural institutions because of their orientation as agencies of state that relied solely on state funding, but noted that through the diversification of the economy, the agencies had been re-orientated to think creatively in order to earn revenue instead of depending on government.

She expressed satisfaction with the determination of the Minister to use the culture and creative industry to empower women, saying the British Council was extremely committed to supporting women empowerment.

The Country Director was accompanied on her courtesy visit by the Arts Director, Ms. Ojoma Ocha, and the Partnership Director, Mr. Chikoli Onyemerela.

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