Peter Uzoho

Over the last three decades, the Nigerian creative sector, specifically Tourism, Culture and Arts has not been considered a key contributor to the economy. The creative sector contributes generously to the foreign exchange earnings of many countries including South Africa, Kenya, Morocco, Tanzania and the UAE. Unfortunately in Nigeria, the sector contributes less than 1.5 per cent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the dismal rate of development of the sector has been attributed to the country’s over dependence on oil for its foreign exchange earnings, as well as lack of funding and government support.

The recession witnessed by oil dependent economies has awakened us all to the benefits and need for a diversified economy. Nigeria successfully exited the recession in September with a marginal 0.55 per cent growth in the second quarter of 2017, after recording negative growth for five consecutive quarters. Against this backdrop, the government is aggressively implementing initiatives in partnership with the private sector aimed at diversifying the economy, to ensure every sector starts contributing significantly to the country’s GDP.

In the private sector, Oando PLC, Nigeria’s leading indigenous oil and gas company, continues to set the pace for counterparts in the area of partnerships aimed at supporting the development of the economy. The company recently partnered with the African Artists’ Foundation (AAF) to promote African art as well as socio-economic diversification through the month long LagosPhoto Festival.

LagosPhoto Festival which held its grand opening at the company’s state-of-the-art head office, Oando Wings Office Complex on November 25, will run till December 15 across various indoor and outdoor locations. The grand opening included a well-curated selection of over 31 of the most talented African artists, including the New York Times portfolio review finalist, EloOsunde and KadaraEnyeasi amongst others. The festival aims to engage the general public with multifaceted stories of Africa through exhibitions, workshops, artist presentations, discussions and large scale outdoor prints displayed throughout Lagos.

Oando continues to play a significant role in socio-economic development projects, proudly setting the pace for indigenous participation. In 2011, the company set up its independent charity – Oando Foundation, with the aim of ensuring that children in public primary schools have access to quality education. Through the Foundation’s, work the company is actively supporting the Nigerian Government in realising its education development goals. Today, Oando Foundation has successfully reduced the number of out-of-school children, adopted and renovated over 80 public primary schools across 23 states in Nigeria and impacted the lives of over 200,000 students.

More recently, Oando joined its JV partners (NNPC and Nigeria Agip Oil Company, NAOC) to champion the Green Rivers Project (GRP)/Farmers Day, a celebration aimed at promoting the importance of agriculture in spearheading the socio-economic development and economic diversification of the country, particularly in the Niger Delta. The initiative supports farmers in host communities to increase agricultural productivity and prevent further deterioration of the soil through the use of better farming techniques.

Calling on for more support of the creative arts, AleroBalougn, Head, Corporate Communications, Oando PLC said: For Nigeria to achieve its economic diversification objective, the principle of subsidiarity must apply. The private sector must acknowledge that the government cannot do it all and we owe it to the country we operate in to create a positive and lasting contribution. Therefore, I encourage the private sector to expend more efforts in supporting more initiatives like the LagosPhoto Festival as well as other neglected sectors of the economy to achieve a Nigeria we can all be proud of. As a company we believe Africa has a lot of untapped talent, we are inspired by the sector’s ability to thrive with minimal external support. The zeal and passion that can be found in the sector is in line with Oando’s core values and we are honoured by the opportunity to support the industry through the LagosPhoto platform. We are committed to identifying with and supporting Government’s pursuit of the national objective.’’