Lai Mohammed: Partnership with Tony Elumelu Foundation Much Needed Catalyst for Creative Industry

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• Private sector has a key role to play in the devt of Africa, Nigeria, says Elumelu
Nume Ekeghe

The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday said the federal government partnership with the Tony Elumelu Foundation was the catalyst needed to transform the creative industry into a profitable one and Nigeria’s greatest assets and revenue generating sector.

Mohammed stated this at the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing between Tony Elumelu Foundation and the Ministry of Information in Lagos.

On his part, the Founder of Tony Elumelu Foundation Mr. Tony Elumelu, urged the private sector to play a key role in the development of the economy through partnership with the government in various sectors.

However, Mohammed said: “This is the combination of months of hard work from both sides. From the moment the idea of this MOU was conceived, he threw his entire weight and of course that of his foundation to make it a reality.
“From the time I assumed as minister, I have not missed any opportunity to tell anyone who cared to listen of my intention to develop our country’s creative industry and enhance its contribution to the national economy.

“In this regard, I have always said the creative industry must be transformed to a creative economy for it to contribute more to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), for it to provide jobs for our youths and also become a source of foreign exchange earnings.
“It is in the realisation of the potential of this sector that I have gone on record calling the creative industry as well as tourism the new oil for Nigeria.

“The creative industry has turned around the fortunes of California, Mumbai, Turkey, Dubai Australia among others, and we can replicate the same here with the support of partners like the Tony Elumelu Foundation.”
He praised the film (Nollywood) and music industry for its constant growth, promising that the federal government would do its best to protect practitioners from piracy.

According to him, “To reach the full potential of the creative industry, we realised early that we would need to reach out to organisations that have the capacity to assist us in achieving the goal of developing the creative industry. This explains why we entered into discussions with the foundation.”

Speaking on other beneficial collaborations involving the sector, he said: “On August 24 in Edinburgh Scotland, we signed an MOU with the British council, and today, we are signing another MOU with the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

“I am excited at the prospect of working with this foundation. The MOU is on the details on how they would work to gather, execute and more specifically the areas of collaboration would include the creation of an enabling business environment for the creative industry with incentives and easy access to funds would get investors into this industry.”

On his part, Elumelu said: “We are gathered here to seal a partnership between President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and the private sector to develop the Nigeria creative industry.

“The minister has identified a sector in the economy that with a little attention, policy incentives and investment, can grow immensely and have a multiplying effect on other sectors of the economy.”
He said the sector which has not been encouraged much from the rebased GDP, would contribute 1.3 per cent which is about $6 billion in the future and would contribute more with policy incentives.

Elumelu further added: “I do not believe that the business of the public should be left alone to the public sector and I strongly believe that the private sector has a key role to play in the development of Africa and Nigeria through long term investment in strategic sectors.

“This sector has been operating very quietly in the country often in a policy vacuum and largely financed by friends and family and yet we have witnessed incredible development of Nollywood which has grown to become a mass employer of labour with little support from the public and private sector.”
“This venture has been influenced by our commitment in 2014 in empowering the next generation of African entrepreneurs with $100 million over a period of 10 years which is $10milion every year.”