Film industries in Africa could quadruple their revenues to $ 20 billion (£ 15 billion) and create an additional 20 million jobs in the creative industries, according to a report on cinema on the continent.
Nigeria’s booming film industry – Nollywood is the second largest film industry in terms of production – and Senegal were examples of African countries with defined business models and growing possibilities for local film productions, which are increasingly sought after by television and streaming services such as Netflix and Disney + , indicates the UN report for education, science and cultural organization (Unesco).
Most of the creative industries in Africa were severely underserved, in part due to the failure of policy makers and local authorities to protect and invest in the audiovisual industries, and it was possible to add 20 million jobs to around 5 million in African countries, according to the report. .
Unesco Director-General Audrey Azoulay said the report, which assessed the capacities and gaps of the film and audio industries in each country, “shows the great potential of the African audiovisual sector in terms of creativity and growth” .
“We must strengthen international cooperation to enable filmmakers from all countries to express themselves and to develop viable and competitive cultural and creative industries,” she said.
The report, released on Tuesday, was commissioned after a meeting of African ministers of culture in 2019 and examined ways in which largely low-income countries could boost the growth of creative industries.
The conclusions and recommendations will be discussed at a meeting of the main actors of cinema and culture across Africa in Pan-African Film and Television Festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, later this month.
As African countries adopted a range of models to develop their film industries, from providing digital services to hosting festivals, most struggled to achieve sustainable growth, according to the report.
Africa is by far the most underserved continent in terms of cinemas, with a single screen for 787,402 people. In Nigeria, the number of cinemas has doubled since 2015, although locations are still scarce.
A significant concern was that much of the money generated by African film industries is not returning to local economies, according to the report. Two-thirds of African countries have admitted that more than half of the revenue has been lost due to illegal channels such as piracy, said Ernesto Ottone, Unesco’s deputy director-general for culture. “Creators do not receive payment for copyright in exchange for their work. We need much stronger legislation, ”he said.
But 30 of the 54 African countries lacked national film commissions or recognized audiovisual institutions capable of defending creations and fair use rules, according to the report, making reforms difficult to achieve.
“We are at a time when if these countries do not quickly engage in these challenges, they will continue to lose filmmakers, who are fleeing to other countries like Nigeria and Senegal,” said Ottone.
Despite their size and low incomes, Mauritius and Cape Verde have enjoyed relative success, thanks to support from the private sector and banks providing credit for short films and documentaries. Cape Verde’s industry has “made a huge leap” over the past five years, he said.
Only 19 African countries offer any form of financial support to filmmakers, most often in the form of small grants or grants. For many players in the Nigerian film industry, the meteoric rise of Nollywood – a nearly $ 1 billion industry producing around 2,500 films each year – has largely come about without significant support from successive governments. .
In Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, large investments by international television companies such as Canal + had boosted locally produced television productions, but in many countries investments were lacking. While the coronavirus pandemic has hit the television advertising and film industries hard, the crisis has also sparked some exciting changes, the report added.
“In countries like Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Senegal, new generations of directors can now live off the income generated online from their work,” the report says, as digital film equipment has become more affordable. Platforms like YouTube, Netflix, and local mobile video services offer new ways to distribute and monetize live content.
These changes, he said, had stimulated “the emergence of a new economy for African content creators, who are now doing without traditional actors.”