By Prince Osuagwu
Principal players in the nation’s entertainment space, Nollywood, have intensified calls for government to make bundled broadband internet service widely available in its quest to diversify the economy and boost the emergence of local digital content.
Speaking at the Nollywood Economic Outlook 2019 organaised by the Nollywood Mandate Group, NMG, in Lagos, participants tasked the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, to work closely with entertainment practitioners to boost local digital content.
The chairman of the occasion, Dr. Chris Uwaje, former President of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, ISPON, noted that Nollywood has done well for itself but to get to the next level, it needs to quickly overcome the challenge of distribution.
He said: “It is time for Nollywood to leapfrog the distribution of its content using the rapidly emerging digital technology.”
Pioneer Nollywood producer, Zeb Ejiro, called on the NCC to work out an interface with the movie industry to explore how bundled broadband can be made available to practitioners.
He urged government to establish a special product for the movie sector just like it has for Agriculture.
Ejiro lamented that while a lot has been said about enabling environment, very little has been done to actualise it. He said political will is required.
Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, EVC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the commission’s proactive effort to achieve 30 per cent broadband penetration for the country demonstrates its understanding of the power of broadband.
He explained that the commission is promoting several infrastructure models to boost broadband availability. He noted that submarine cables that have landed in the country and data centres are still largely underutilised so there is enough capacity to go round.
NCC Lagos Zonal Controller, Henry Ojiokpota, who represented the Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission, declared that the commission is ready to work with Nollywood to explore options for mutually beneficial activities to grow the local content and productivity in general. He stated that with broadband, digital content can be distributed further, faster and more economically.
Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, Dr. Ali Pantami, in his presentation revealed that the agency set up the Office of Nigerian Content, ONC, precisely to promote local Nigerian content. NIDTA is keen to boost local content through creating the enabling environment to encourage creativity and local content production.
Representative of the DG, Chioma Okee-Aguguo, remarked that globally the trend indicates that oil and gas is dated and out-dated, wasted and wasting and that the empowerment of youth with technology is the way of the future.
Actor and Lagos State Governorship aspirant for the United Democratic Party, UDP, Dr. Sam Uche Anyamele, insisted that Nollywood is a credible alternative as the nation seeks to diversify its economy.
He stated, “If Nigeria is truly seeking options for alternative revenue sources then the creative is the way to go.”
Everyone, he noted needs to rest, to relax and to refresh and entertainment is required in any of these situations. The entertainment industry is the future economy, Nollywood is the next big thing.
Another Nollywood veteran, Don Pedro Aganbi, noted that video on demand is a growing trend and Nollywood must tap into it. According to Aganbi, “Going digital means that the movies can reach more people and more far flung places.”
He added that the availability of bundled broadband service would indeed go a long way to boost access and improve the distribution and consumption of digital entertainment
Uwaje explained that while entertainment can play a critical role in the economy, the practitioners and relevant industry bodies must work conscientiously to sell their viewpoint to government.
“We need to harness the power of digital delivery utilizing the growing availability of broadband services,” he emphasized.
Other well known Nollwood personalities at the event Rachael Oniga, Veteran Actress, Tony Akposheri, National Treasurer of the Directors Guild of Nigeria, Fred Idehen, Actor and Airtel Ambassador, Maimuna Yahaya, Secretary, Nollywood Mandate Group. Felix Duke, music icon and PMAN official, Sunny Mcdon, secretary, Board of Trustees of Actors Guild of Nigeria, Oliver Duke Linchun, among others.