With the inclusion of the creative industry on the list of sectors granted pioneer status and tax holidays, Nseobong Okon-Ekong predicts that there are more promising days ahead as financial experts now take a keen interest in entertainment and ancillary areas.

It’s well past 8 O’clock at night.
Ayeni Adekunle, CEO of Blackhouse Media, a Lagos-based public relations and digital marketing company has just emerged from a meeting. He needs a little time to relax his nerves before another round of consultation. His office is designed to accommodate a few nap rooms. Staff who need to clear their head can snooze for a couple of minutes to regain composure. Generous lunch is served on the house every work day. There are a few board games and a snooker table. A well-stocked bar complete accessories of a modern work environment.

The staff are expected to put in long hours at work; so the employer meets this anticipation with a bouquet of offers that makes coming to work a pleasure. But that is not the reason Ayeni and his team are not particularly in a hurry to go home tonight. Coming from a newsroom background where the assignment at hand determines the closing time, he is used to task-driven duties.

The Nigeria Entertainment Conference which he founded four years ago is just a few hours away. Last minute business must be taken care of to ensure everything goes well. The conference has not failed since it began in 2013. This year, it ran on the theme, ‘It’s Time for Africa’. That could only mean one thing to practitioners in the Nigerian entertainment space, having conquered Africa, move the continent to the world stage. This understanding is captured in Ayeni’s statement: “As the entertainment business in the world over continues to see rapid, shocking changes, with the future of the industry increasingly relying on information technology and new ideas, Nigerian Entertainment Today is bringing practitioners in Nigeria together, to put our house in order, while taking concrete steps to study global trends, understand them, master them, and put them to use – for the benefit of practitioners, consumers, corporates and society.”

The year after the NEC began, Nigeria rebased her gross domestic products (GDP). The country immediately became the largest economy in Africa. Experts say this exercise is supposed to be done every five years. But it took Nigeria 24 years to conduct one. Although, entertainment was said to contribute 1.2 per cent of the USD510; a tiny drop compared to agriculture at 22 per cent or oil and gas at 15.9 per cent, nonetheless, it received the largest celebration not necessarily because entertainers are given to loquaciousness, the merriment was ignited because it was a novelty.

It was the first official acknowledgement of a thriving sector that absorbs the creative energy of the country’s large youth population. With rebasing, Nigeria’s per capita income rose from USD1,555 to USD2,688. This pushed its world ranking up to 121st from 135th.

Every player in the Nigerian entertainment industry agrees that the 1.2 per cent assumed contribution from that sector is far from the true position. The general belief is that the impact of the sector is more than what has been captured. The blurred lines have been lost to widespread infringement of rights and lack of organised framework.
Since 2011, Tony Okoroji, Chairman of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), has embarked on sensitisation programme every September 1. It is known as ‘No Music Day’, a day the music industry dedicates to bringing attention to the widespread infringement of the rights of song writers, composers, performers, music publishers, record labels and other stakeholders in the music industry in Nigeria. This has been a long walk from the days when artistes like Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Charly Boy, Eedris Abdulkareem, Orlando Owoh and Onyeka Onwenu led protests that sometimes degenerated to physical assault against perceived or real infringers of copyright. Till today, even government institutions like the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board still carry out Gestapo-style raid to seize pirated products and bring offenders to book.

Deployment of crude force has not always been the only option. The Nigerian creative workforce has continued to explore imaginative methods of getting out of the quagmire. For instance, Nigeria became the first country in Africa to provide for the Private Copy Levy Scheme, a stream of revenue from the levy of gadgets like MP3s, MP4s, cell-phones, memory cards and flash drives which is paid through the collective management system to the artistes, writers and producers whose music, movies and books are stolen. However, this important scheme has not been implemented 22 years after.

A protracted war between various interest groups in the creative industry sphere has given room to more devastating exploitation of rights. COSON believes it should be the only rights collecting manager in the country, but the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria headed by Mayo Ayilaran has continued to resist this notion. The two bodies are locked in a prolonged legal battle. Not too long ago, the MCSN went to town celebrating a victory of sorts. According to the body, both the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and the National Assembly directed the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), to “issue with immediate effect, an approval by way of license to the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria Ltd/Gte (MCSN) to operate as a collecting society for the purpose of the Copyright Act.”

The current leadership of the Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN) led by Pretty Okafor has been canvassing a scheme known as ‘Bar Coding Technology for the Creative Industry in Nigeria.’ With Okafor’s wealth creation and welfare campaign, even a dead artiste is assured his due. Okafor may well be on the verge of unlocking a gold mine of wealth for Nigerian musicians; and indeed anyone in the creative industry, through a scheme that ensures automatic payment when their work is used. From a study that he commissioned a consortium of Nigerian companies to carry out, it was discovered that Nigerian music is number one in Africa and number three in the world. According to him, “the Nigerian entertainment industry is worth about N9 billion. The statistics and the research we did are accurate. We can actually raise between N15 and 16 billion every year. There will be a lot of tax coming to the federal and state governments. The only way that the country can get out of recession is to put in place and operate a credible structure that promotes and sustains the creative economy.”

Nigeria is not ranked among the world’s top 20 biggest music markets by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, IFPI. While the counter-claim may not be supported by statistics, it is a common fact that the Nigerian entertainment industry, particularly music and film, dominate Africa, far above South Africa whose music economy was ranked 18th by the IFPI. The Nigerian market remains the dream that many African artistes hope to break into in order to find fulfilment and financial success.

At various times, the Nigerian Government has supported the film industry. In 2006, “Project Nollywood” was launched in conjunction with Ecobank. The project provided N100 million (US$781,000) to Nigerian filmmakers. In 2010, President Goodluck Jonathan launched a N30 billion (US$200 million) “Creative and Entertainment Industry” Intervention Fund, financed by Bank of Industry (BOI), in conjunction with Nigerian Export and Import (NEXIM) Bank. In 2013, N3 billion (US$20 million) solely for Nollywood, and specifically for the production of high quality films, and to sponsor filmmakers for formal training in film schools. In 2015, Bank of Industry launched another “NollyFund” for loans to film producers. The late adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Oronto Douglas, was widely believed to have worked in concert with the founder of the Africa Movies Academy Awards, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe and the late Film Producer and Director, Amaka Igwe, to make these interventions possible.

The Nigerian film industry was reportedly worth N853.9 billion (US$5.1 billion) in 2014, making it the third most valuable film industry in the world, after the United States and India.

The investment clime for the Nigerian creative community keeps getting better as finance professionals become more interested and attracted to it. Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the initial public offering of Nigeria’s first mutual fund that focuses on promoting investment culture especially among practitioners in the entertainment industry. The Fund is sponsored and managed by Greenwich Asset Management Limited (GAML). It is a balanced fund which will invest in various asset classes and targets to raise N1billion through the issuance of 10,000,000 units of the fund at N100 per unit from investors within and outside the entertainment industry at its initial offering.

A landmark novelty was recorded in 2012 when Ali Baba became the first Nigerian Comedian given the privilege of ringing the Year End Closing Bell of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. The following year, his compatriot, the renowned Nigerian musician, Innocent Idibia, better known as 2Baba, was at the Nigerian Stock Exchange office to close the 2013 capital market, which ended on a high note.

Nigeria’s largest private art collector, Prince Yemisi Shyllon, has witnessed the monetary value of Nigerian art rise to millions. Ben Enweonwu’s sculpture ‘Anyanwu’ fetched a staggering £74,500. His ‘Africa Dances’ painting sold for £68,500 in Bonhams, London, Yusuf Grillo’s pieces also did well at the auction. ArtHouse Contemporary Auction, Nigeria’s leading art auction platform founded by Kavita Chellaram supervised the sale of El Anatsui’s 2015 composition – Zata- at $77,000. Bruce Onobrakpeya’s ‘Images’ was sold for $13,750 at the ArtHouse auction. A leading Nigerian artist, Victor Ehikhamenor summed up the increasing demand for Nigerian art. “Serious value is coming to the Nigerian market right now.”

Notwithstanding the challenges of epileptic public power supply, the Nigerian fashion industry is estimated to be worth USD10 billion (about N1.55 trillion), according to Kuddus Kolawole, Lagos State Coordinator of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN). The News Agency of Nigeria notes that the Textile, Garment and Footwear sub-sector currently accounts for 0.47 per cent (N380 billion) of Nigeria’s rebased Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This view is shared by African Development Bank’s Vice President and Special Envoy on Gender, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, who described the fashion industry in Nigeria as a multi-billion dollar industry if well harnessed.

The recent Creative Industry Financing Conference in Lagos which was opened by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) highlighted government’s resolve to diversify the economy through strategic empowerment of critical sectors. With ‘Financing the Film, Television and Music Industries,’ as its theme, the conference organised by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, in conjunction with Think Tank Media and Advertising headed by Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin aimed to take the industry into a golden era of smooth access to short and long term financing, world class management as well as local and international distribution.

This challenge is what a company like The Temple Management Company Limited (“TMC”) has taken up. It is a full-service creative talent and event management company operating in the entertainment, sports, media and art sectors. Using a 360 approach to management, the company oversees the day-to-day business/affairs of creative talents and ensures that they maintain sustainable competitive advantage over the rest. TMC prides itself in its ability to operate on a global scale. The company’s mission is to continually improve on African content, bridge the gulf between talents and their foreign counterparts, and guarantee that processes are in line with international best practices.

Emeka Mba, a former director general of the National Broadcasting Commission, NCC, pointed the way to what many have canvassed as the way forward; more collaboration, better integration and more cooperation to support the widely held notion that the Nigerian entertainment cake is big enough to share among all the players. Mba’s proposition seeks to drive all industry players to establish a Joint Industry Committee (JIC) which shall work with all relevant stakeholders to set up a Broadcast Audience Research Board, which shall provide reliable data on estimates of the number of people watching TV, including which channels and programmes are being watched, when they are and the type of people who are viewing at any one time; fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory access to the Electronic Programme Guide, EPG. Beyond simply having data about the most watched television shows, reliable audience measurement is also critical to the development of a strong broadcast advertising market. A weakened advertising market tends to weaken the incentive for investment in television and broadcasting generally. Our broadcasting market structure is characterized by TV and radio stations renting out blocks of airtime to highest bidder instead of commissioning/acquiring own content; the only type of available quality content on air these days are those produced and packaged by independent producers in collaboration with certain brands.” With poor or non-reliable and generally acceptable audience measurement, it helps to fester a vicious circle, as low audience measurement leads to low advertising revenue and thereby low investment in quality original content, and affecting viewers confidence.”
For over 10 years, Ayoola Sadare, CEO of Inspiro Productions has promoted the live concert culture with his Lagos International Jazz Festival which has experimented with multiple stages while featuring between 30 and 40 artistes in two or three days.

According to PwC’s Global entertainment and media outlook 2017 -2021. Nigeria with a 12.1 per cent CAGR (albeit strongly influenced by surging spending on mobile Internet access), will be the world’s fastest-growing Entertainment and Media market over the coming five years.

One of the most resounding examples of the profitability businesses in the creative industry was the recent ceding of the franchise of a stand-up comedy brand, ‘Nite of a Thousand Laughs’ developed 20 years ago by Opa Williams to Kehinde Adegbite of Yankee Entertainment. The deal is believed to be worth undisclosed hundreds of millions of Naira.

To demonstrate its commitment to diversification of the Nigerian economy, the Federal Executive Council included sectors in the entertainment and ancillary industries among 27 new industries and products to enter into the pioneer status to give tax holidays to them for three years, to enable them grow and expand investments. The industries include tanning and dressing of leather, manufacture of leather footwear, luggage and handbags; manufacture of household and personal hygiene paper products and manufacture of paints, vanishes and printing ink.

Others included manufacture of plastic products (builders’ plastic ware) and moulds; manufacture of batteries and accumulators; manufacture of steam generators; manufacture of railway locomotives, wagons and rolling stock; manufacture of metal-forming machinery and machine tools, manufacture of machinery for metallurgy, manufacture of machinery for food and beverage processing; manufacture of machinery for textile, apparel and leather production; and manufacture of machinery for paper paperboard production.

Also included were, manufacture of plastics and rubber machinery; waste treatment, disposal and material recovery; e-commerce services; software development and publishing; motion picture, video and television programme production, distribution, exhibition and photography; music production, publishing and distribution; real estate investment vehicles under the Investments and Securities Act; mortgage backed securities under the Investments and Securities Act; and business process outsourcing.