It is a good option to stimulate the economy

As part of efforts to boost job creation, particularly among the youths, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, has developed a Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI). Under the initiative, beneficiaries could get up to N500 million loan at nine per cent interest rate. The creative industries that could apply include fashion, information technology, movie distribution, music and software engineering. As laudable as this idea may appear, there are challenges that should not be glossed over before it becomes fully operational.

In Nigeria today, authors, publishers, producers and artistes spend a lot of time, money and effort to produce intellectual works. Sadly, within a few hours, and with relatively cheap electronic equipment, the pirate, working from the comfort of their homes, can make thousands of copies of such painstaking works. These unscrupulous characters thereafter sell the pirated works for a fraction of the price pegged by the authentic producer or author. Apart from the huge financial losses incurred by the owners of these intellectual properties, nothing kills creativity better than piracy.

Without any doubt, Nollywood is today our nation’s most widely acknowledged cultural export and one that has become a marketing point for certain aspects of African fashion and fashion accessories. Nollywood and other creative sectors therefore need all the encouragement and support they can get in order to expand and improve. But as we argued in the past, until we successfully tackle the menace of piracy, we must be circumspect.

There is no gainsaying the benefits literary and artistic works have brought Nigeria. Our country has produced the late Professor Chinua Achebe (the author of the globally acclaimed ‘Things Fall Apart’), Professor Wole Soyinka, (the first African to win a Nobel prize in Literature as far back as 1986), and award winning writers like Ben Okri and Chimamanda Adichie, among others. These literary giants have helped to put Nigeria on the global map. Yet, it is not uncommon to find several celebrated writers and artistes living in penury as pirates ride piggy-back on their intellectual works to fortune.

In spite of this however, we endorse the intervention by the CBN and Bankers committee. As has been attested to by many experts, the creative industry in Nigeria has the capacity to create hundreds of thousands of jobs across such skill areas as set design, make-up and management, directing and much more. With this financial intervention, more schools and facilities for editing and post-production skills can therefore be established to expand and improve opportunities for development and expansion. There should also be some investment in proper writing and script conference skills, as well as professional self-management training for actors and actresses. Besides, the time has come for Nollywood to have its own movie production village.

Given the foregoing, we believe that the CIFI can facilitate the birthing of many brilliant projects and ideas that have been held back for years because of the limited means of their creators. The intervention by the CBN and Bankers Committee also offers the various regulatory agencies in the sector the opportunity to pull itself together for a relaunch. Anti-piracy and content protection measures should now be driven with contemporary tools which can be easily obtained all over the globe. Insurance and artistes’ rights issues, including contract guarantees and the creative independence of directors can now be taken up within a framework of professionalism.

This is the time to improve content, re-profile the technical quality of productions and take Nigeria to where the rest of the world is in the creative industry. But we need to strengthen the enabling laws and seek more efficient ways to track and punish the crime of piracy.

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