THE Nigerian economy has witnessed an extraordinary expansion in the past ten years, growing at an average annual 7.5 per cent growth rate, a rate higher than the continental average. The performance peaked with our emergence as Africa’s foremost economy, overtaking the traditional leader, South Africa. Apart from inching closer, (at 26 presently), to the ambitious vision of belonging to the elitist 20 global economies by 2020, the country is already among the 25 developing and emerging countries accounting for 78 per cent of GDP, according to Huawei’s Global Connectivity Index (GCI). However, our economic progress has not been not matched by improvement in social, human and developmental indicators. The country is still experiencing high poverty, poor standard of living, high unemployment, distorted urbanization, high cost of living, high corruption, poor Infrastructure etc. Against the backdrop of our jobless growth, the challenge therefore is to find feasible development options that address our specific challenges particularly given our high rate of poverty, unemployment and social exclusion. While relatively still an evolving sector, the creative industry (encompassing among others film industry, music, folk art, books, paintings, digital animation, etc) appeared well poised for this historical role. In this era of jobless growth, creativity and knowledge are fast becoming powerful means of fostering development gains. Even the advanced countries, with less chronic job crises had been quick to spot these opportunities, and are already hitching onto it.
Today, creative industries are among the most dynamic sectors in world trade. World trade in creative goods and services totaled a record USs 624 billion in 2011, up from US  559.5 billion in 2010, according to the UNCTAD Global Database on the Creative Economy.
Global exports of such goods and services as films, arts, crafts etç, picked up in 2011 — (the latest year for which figures are available) – from US$ billion in 2009 and USs billion in 2010.
In many advanced economies, the creative economy is now recognized as a leading sector in generating economic growth, employment and trade. The job-creation potential of these industries can be important in policy terms, For example, the turnover of the European creative industries amounted to 654 billion euros E 2003, growing 12.3 per cent faster than the overall economy of the European Union and employing over .6 million people. In the period 1997-2004, output of the creative industries in the United Kingdom, measured as value added, grew at per cent per annum compared to 3 per cent growth for the rest of the economy. In the United States) the creative industries accounted for about 2.5 percent of total employment in 2003, with numbers being spread across the whole range of creative sub-sectors.
Yet, and rather paradoxically, Nigeria (like the rest of developing countries) is failing to harness, for productivity, its rich and abundant creative and cultural resources. In developing countries, priority is rarely given to the fostering of the creative industries, such as films and music. The situation has led to the unimpressive output of the developing countries’ creative sector, which according to UNCTAD’s The Creative Economy Report 2008, is less than i per cent to world exports of creative goods.
There is however a notable — and welcomed — exception: Nigeria’s Nollywood. The recent rebased Nigerian GDP catapulted film industry into the front burner of developmental discourse and option. With the new GDP results, services sector has increased to 51 per cent of GDP (33 per cent before), with “new entrant” Nollywood accounting for 1.2 per cent. While 2.1 per cent is modest, by all standards, it is however indicative of the potential of the sector – a potential many keen observers had spotted earlier, but now finally recognized. Since it debuted in 197; with the? first commercial film, Nollywood had recorded significant achievements: Nollywood, has been acknowledged as the third largest film industry in the world, (after America’s Hollywood and India’s Bollywood); it produces more than 1,500 home video films annually; about 50 per cent are exported unofficially; well over 500,000 Home Video Distribution and Rental Clubs across the length and breadth of the country, thereby creating thousands of jobs as a result of the boom in the industry. Nollywood has also emerged as Nigeria’s biggest employer after agriculture (providing up to one million job opportunities, according the Nigerian Film and Videos Censors Board (NFVCB), making it the country’s biggest employer after agriculture.; and the fourth biggest economic sector in Nigeria;
While the sector’s growth had been impressive, especially for the past few years, it’s contribution is still considered low, relative to more advanced economy, and also given the abundant talent and potentials. For example, in his insightful piece, Eric idiahi, (Nigeria’s Creative Industries: Optimizing The Economic Potentials Of The Creative Industries Through Global Partnerships), shows how far behind, the sector’s contribution is, relative to more developed economy, placing the total value of the entire Nollywood industry at estimated at $500 Million per annum – while only two top grossing films in Hollywood in 2010 (Harry Porter and Transformers) grossed $700 Million in the U.S alone!
On Nollywood growth potential, this has variously been described as “huge’ and “phenomenal”. According to Creative Economy, Report 2008 the potential size of the Nigerian film industry has been estimated at more than N billion (that is, about $2.75 billion). The industry has generated revenue for the Government through corporate income and sales taxes; its estimated contribution to GDP is over N86 billion (Naira per US dollar: 127.38 in 2006).
Beyond these are limitless opportunities, waiting to be harnessed: huge market dcmands (Nigerian movies dominate screens across Africa), popular (Nollywood is increasingly gaining attraction all over Africa and beyond (it produces an average of video films per week, 200 per month and 2,400 video films per year; about o per cent are exported unofficially), slow cost (which makes it possible for producers to shoot and complete production at the shortest possible time)
These begging opportunities, however has the flip side: myriads of operational constraints that must be addressed, notably poor content and production quality; lack of investment absence of funding opportunities in the industry; lack of entrepreneurial skills; inadequate infrastructure; inadequate requisite professional skills and training piracy and breach of intellectual Property Rights (IPRs); etc. From all available information, Nigeria loses an estimate of s annually to international piracy.
To unleash the productivity-growth potential of the sector, however it is imperative we address these challenges. Governments must create a conducive climate and also provide infrastructure necessary to stimulate integrated, mutually supportive domestic policies. In more specific terms, policy initiatives may be undertaken promoting creative SME business development and finance (e.g., micro-finance); copyright legislation and enforcement; support for artists and the arts; expansion of digital capacity and know-how; market development, both domestic and export; tourism promotion; education, training and. skills development; and . Industry assistance (e.g., via investment incentives, tax concessions, protection for IPRs, in particular copyright legislation; etc.). In particular, given that large majority of creative industries are small, special attention should be given to the development of the SMEs, with a view to ensuring their survival and sustainability.
There is also the need for capacity-building/human-capital & entrepreneurial development of creative workers. While many of the creative workforce nowadays has a high level of education and good knowledge, these should be further enhanced with relevant and continuous learning, on-the-job skills & competencies, cutting across entrepreneurship, management, continuous learning in their respective fields for upgrading of know-how, new skills to use new ICT tools for creation, production and distribution of creative contents; financing instruments and access to credit and funding for creative or cultural projects; etc.)
Quality (both in content and production) must be the industry’s competitiveness defining hallmark. Productions should not be hurriedly done in less than few days and equally devoid of premiere, which is the only professional way of introducing a new movie to the viewing public. Productivity is not merely about quantity, it is more about quality. Indeed, while identical, quality makes the big between Hollywood and Nollywood. Creative workforce must therefore imbibe quality consciousness in both content and production. The private sector, which remains big financier of the film industry must also lend of helping hand. Possible areas of their assistance/investment should includes training and capacity-building, film village development, distribution and marketing, equipment leasing/sales, and local manufacture/assembly of film equipment, global partnerships etc