By Ayo Onikoyi
At the iconic National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, on Tuesday, history was made when the Tony Elumelu Foundation, founded by businessman extraordinaire, Tony Elumelu signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MoU) with the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism championed by the minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to inject $100 million for the upliftment of the creative arts industry.
The $100 million, which is spread across 10-year period, actually began last year and it is to last for another nine years. While the Elumelu Foundation is bringing the financial muscle to the table, the Information ministry is to create the enabling environmental by being the vehicle that will facilitate the values engendered by the financial impetus of the Foundation.
At the signing of the MoU on Tuesday, the three main facilitators of the innovation, the minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, founder of the Foundation, Mr Tony Elumelu and the proponent of the concept and Chief Executive Officer of Elumelu Entrepreneur Programme, Ms Mandavin put pens to paper before a huge audience that includes film-makers, film directors, musicians, entertainment entrepreneurs, creative arts personalities and other stakeholders in the creative arts.
During her rousing speech. Ms Parminder Vir highlighted the importance of creative arts to national economy by bringing to fore in figures the contribution of the creative arts industry from different countries. In her summation she said the British creative industry contributes $84 billion dollars to the national economy of the country every year. She also said that the creative industry in India contributes 14% GDP growth rate to the country’s economy and maintained that if the industry in Nigeria is given the same impetus as these economies, the creative arts contribution to national development will be phenomenal.
In her words:” The film industry in Nigeria’s total worth is estimated between at $500 million to $1 billion and it provides jobs for millions of people. Unfortunately, most of this money is not retained in the economy. If there are structures in place, most of this will be retained to drive the economy. Millions of dollars are lost through piracy because of lack of structured channels of distribution. This and other things, is what the MoU will seek to address”
Continuing, she said: “We cannot afford to ignore the amazing opportunities in the Nigerian creative Industry. The music sector currently is worth over $250 million dollars with potential to grow to over $450 in the next ten years and it provides more than 50% of African music contents across several platforms. Of course, MoUs are easy to sign but it is the implementation that is the hard part. First, the clear definition of what is creative industry is, must be ascertained.”
Highlighting the process through which the MoU will be implemented, she said the creative arts stakeholders and investors, financiers and business leaders will be brought together, as they did in Britain and India, and be charged with the central issue of how to provide the necessary framework to build business capacities in the sector toward attracting sustainable investment.
During the signing, the Hon. Minister said, “My Ministry recognises the urgent need to develop Nigeria’s creative industries and increase its contribution to the national economy. Nigeria currently has creative industries but no creative economy. This partnership will leverage the experience of the private sector to help the creative industries retain the commercial opportunity and the financial benefits.”
In April, the Minister approached TEF with a challenge: “How can we work together to help transform the currently underdeveloped and unstructured creative industry ecosystem into an organized and profitable pool of creative industries that provide meaningful employment to thousands of Nigerians?”
The Foundation’s response is the framework which undergirds the MOU.
While speaking at the event, Chairman of Heirs Holdings and UBA Plc Mr. Tony O. Elumelu, CON said, “Without doubt, Nollywood is a global leader and our young musicians are emerging as international sensations with serious earning potential. Nigerians are good at starting creative businesses, but they lack the capacity to scale, proper business management and the investment necessary to become self-sustaining. This partnership will provide the framework for building business capacity and attracting sustainable investment.”
Also speaking at the event, the CEO of the Foundation, Parminder Vir, OBE, expressed her optimism at the future of the creative industry in Nigeria. A seasoned filmmaker herself, Ms. Vir stated, “Nigeria has an abundance of creative excellence, talent and cultural IP in film, television, music, fashion, ICT, performing arts and this partnership is designed to support the growth of this sector for leading businesses, facilities, entrepreneurs and institutions engaged in the fast growing sector.”
The event was well attended by several industry representatives including luminaries like Joke Silva, Zeb Ejiro, Obi Asika, Ali Baba, D’Banj, Chioma Ude, Nimi AkinkugbeRalph Nwadike, Audu Maikori, Princess Dolapo Oni Sijuwade and more.