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NEXIM rescues Nigeria’s Entertainment Industry

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IMAGE: Nexim Bank Chief - Mr Robert Orya with a guest at the US premier of Bank Sponsored Flick DR BELLO »



The entertainment industry has perhaps been Nigeria’s  best international showing followed closely by soccer in recent times after the federal government waded into the nation’s sports sector to regain its lost glory.

The entertainment industry especially the movie arm, has grown from a mere electronic companion to an instrument of diplomacy, breaking new  grounds for Nigeria and Nigerians in social transactions, businesses, amongst other areas.

Today, Nollywood actors and actresses are household names in neighboring countries like Ghana, Benin Republic, Cameroon, part of East Africa and South Africa.

My encounter with  a South African girl in Pretoria during the FIFA World Cup of 2010 was an eye opener. My Nigerian friends and I were looking for a bank to change some dollar notes to rand and we ran into this young lady and asked her to direct us to any bank around our hotel. She looked at us and asked where we came from, and we told her we were Nigerians. The next thing, she screamed “Oh my Nigerian brothers” in deep zulu intonation.

And we asked why she screamed, and she simply asked us to just call her Ijeoma or ‘IJ’ for short, and her day would be made. My friends and I threw glances at each other, wondering which Ijeoma she was talking about, and she told us she got the name from a Nigerian movie and at that point we exhaled, and obliged her in chorus, Ijeoma!  And the attendant excitement  was all over her for everyone to see.

That is the strength of the Nigerian film industry, popularly called Nollywood.

However, the road leading to today’s success story has not always been smooth, the industry from its humble beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s faced several challenges including  the dearth of professionals, poor funding and Nigerians’ lackluster attitude to anything made in Nigeria etc.

While the attraction of Theatre Art graduates to the industry has helped in addressing the problem of capacity to some extent, and of course the return of artistes trained abroad, enhanced production techniques have also made nollywood movies worth spending time with.

Today, the industry has in its library, films that can compete with some Hollywood and Bollywood movies, which explains the rising profile of nollywood actors and actresses home and abroad.

But the biggest challenge in the equation has been poor financing.

 This was made worse by the structural deficiencies in the sector which made it difficult for commercial banks to contemplate funding the sector. Low budget according to producers will give you low quality job.

To address this challenge, the intervention of the Nigerian Export Import Bank has been seen by industry watchers as the Greek’s Deux ex machine, some god to the rescue.

According to reports, the Managing Director of Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM), Roberts Orya, in March put the total funding support by the bank to the entertainment industry at N788.5 million, while also  disclosing that applications valued at N26 billion were being processed for funding supports to operating entities and artistes that meet the requirements for loans.

Orya who spoke at the Pan-African University Lagos, on the topic “That They May be One: Towards a Greater Synergy Between NEXIM and the Creative Industry” under the Distinguished Lecture Series, said  the bank’s  statutory mandate and interventions cut across a broad spectrum of the economy in the past few years while noting that the Nollywood industry was now globally adjudged as the most productive, with more than 2000 titles being produced yearly in three major languages since 2008.

Orya was quoted as saying that   with receipts over the years reported to range between $300 million to $800 million and other potential in terms of the huge creative talents; strong and growing domestic entertainment industry; established overseas market demand in Africa, UK, USA and the Pacific Islands  as well as the large Diaspora population, among others, Nollywood has very high prospects for growth and sustainable development.

“He stated that it was in recognition of these advantages and its potential for job creation and other socio-economic benefits to the economy that necessitated the focus and recognition of the industry by government through the provision of the $200 million Entertainment Industry Fund and an additional N3 billion recent grant announced by the Federal Government.

“He explained further that the bank’s funding support for the industry was in line with the President’s policy pronouncement in November, 2010 to support the industry with funding intervention, which also falls under the bank’s “Export of Services” mandate, noting that even before then, NEXIM Bank had provided over N460 million in support of the improvement of distribution infrastructure/ platforms and the establishment of new digital production studio.

“On capacity building initiatives of the bank, Orya said the bank has been working towards ensuring that the industry operates in a structured manner and within global best practices/standards.

“He disclosed that the bank had, in collaboration with various stakeholders, developed draft operating guidelines to enhance access to loan facilities with inputs from various stakeholders, including practitioners and regulators; and also commissioned a study to review the industry and develop/recommend the best financing programme/ instruments for the Nigerian Entertainment Industry based on the Bollywood financing experience; among others.”

The lifeline provided by NEXIM Bank has been applauded by watchers of development in the industry and hopes are higher now among artistes that the time the creative industry has been waiting for is without a doubt, here.


Article Credit: Leadership

Updated 5 Years ago

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Tags:     NEXIM Bank     Nollywood     Funding     Grant     Movie Industry