Someone said Nigeria’s creative economy is its new oil. And their statement couldn’t be so far from the truth. From music and film to fashion and design, Nigeria has a vibrant and diverse creative sector that possesses huge income-generating potential and is a major driver of economic growth and social development. The creative industry, which includes Nollywood, performing arts, fashion, visual arts, advertising, TV and broadcast, contributes 1.42 per cent to the country’s GDP. It also has the potential to increase its contribution to the national GDP from three percent to five percent. This is why the Nigerian government has recently unveiled a plan to capitalize on this creative energy and transform Nigeria into Africa’s cultural and entertainment capital. The plan, dubbed Destination 2030, was outlined by the Special Adviser to the President on Culture and Entertainment Economy, Hannatu Musawa, who said it aligns with President Bola Tinubu’s vision to double the nation’s economy to $1 trillion within eight years.

The Destination 2030 plan aims to address current challenges and unlock the potential of Nigeria’s creative sector by providing a comprehensive and coherent strategy that covers all aspects of the creative value chain. Musawa said the plan will focus on four key pillars: policy and regulation, infrastructure and technology, funding and investment, and promotion and marketing. How does the plan address the existing gaps and barriers in the creative sector, such as inadequate funding, infrastructure, regulation, and protection of intellectual property rights?

Nigeria’s creative sector could use some help

From the legendary works of Chinua Achebe and Ben Enwonwu to the contemporary successes of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Njideka Akunyili Crosby, to the recent global boom of Afrobeats and Nollywood, Nigeria has a rich cultural heritage and identity that can be leveraged for economic development and social cohesion. According to PwC, Nigeria’s entertainment and media industry alone was worth $4.46 billion in 2018 and was projected to grow to $10.8 billion by 2023. However, this projection was made before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world in 2020, disrupting many sectors and activities. The pandemic also exposed some of the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of Nigeria’s creative sector, such as its dependence on informal structures, its lack of access to finance and markets, its low level of digitalization and innovation, and its exposure to piracy and theft.

One of the main challenges facing Nigeria’s creative sector, is the weak protection of intellectual property rights. Although Intellectual Property, is the primary product of all activities across the different sectors, Nigeria struggles to protect creatives and their works, particularly in the film, content creation and music sectors. For example, according to a report by the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), the Nigerian film industry loses an estimated $1 billion annually due to piracy. According to a report by Banwo & Ighodalo, IP rights in Nigeria are hampered by low public awareness, ineffective mechanisms, inadequate penalties, corruption, and lack of coordination. This exposes creators to exploitation, discourages innovation, and undermines quality. To address this, the government is planning to develop a legal framework that will protect the rights and interests of creators and investors in the sector, as well as promote ethical standards and best practices. The framework will include laws and regulations that will safeguard the ownership, control, and remuneration of creative works, as well as prevent and punish piracy, plagiarism, and infringement.

Although Nigeria’s creative sector is one of the largest in Africa, the sector suffers inadequate infrastructure and technology, which in turn hampers connectivity and mobility, limits access and quality, and increases costs and risks. For example, despite having the largest mobile market in Sub-Saharan Africa, yet according to the World Bank, Nigeria has minimal fixed broadband infrastructure and connectivity, leaving a significant number of the most marginalized segments of the population without access to digital services. To address this, there are plans to build state-of-the-art facilities that will enable the production, distribution, consumption, and export of creative goods and services. The facilities and platforms will include studios, theaters, galleries, museums, libraries, hubs,  and networks. They will also incorporate digital solutions that will enhance efficiency, innovation, inclusion, and resilience.

Another challenge which the plan addresses is limited access to finance and investment. In the last few years, this has constrained the growth and sustainability of Nigeria’s creative sector. Two months ago, the African Development Bank partnered with Nigeria and other investors to set aside $618 million to fund Nigeria’s tech and creative startups. Nigeria’s plan is to create a dedicated fund that will provide financial support in various forms to creative entrepreneurs and businesses. The fund will offer grants, loans, equity, crowdfunding, sponsorship  to support different stages of development, from ideation to expansion. The government is also proposing to launch a global campaign that will showcase Nigeria’s cultural diversity and excellence to attract investment. The campaign will highlight the achievements and potentials of Nigeria’s creative sector while also leveraging Nigeria’s diaspora community and international networks to amplify its reach. So far, a Creative Economy Council has been set up to coordinate and oversee the implementation of the plan across all levels of government and stakeholders. The government’s plans to support the creative sector are ambitious, but with the government’s newfound bullishness on the sector, they have the potential to transform Nigeria’s economy and culture if implemented correctly.

Elsewhere on Ventures

Triangle arrow