By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
The Federal Government in collaboration with Tony Elumelu Foundation is to convene a Creative Economy Task Force that will map the creative industries and assist in formulating a policy for the development of the sector. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this on Tuesday in Lagos at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between his ministry and Tony Elumelu Foundation on the development of the creative sector. The minister said that the task force would help in providing better picture of what was happening in the creative sector and how the sector could be transformed to creative economy. He said an area of collaboration in the MoU was the creation of an enabling business environment for the creative industries with such incentives as easy access to finance. The minister said the agreement also involved the structuring of the creative industries to enable it generate independent revenues locally and also boost exports to increase Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings. He said the agreement also included the development of comprehensive statistics about the creative industries, including its size and projections, to guide potential local and foreign investors. Mohammed reiterated government’s commitment to the development of the nation’s creative industries to enhance its contribution to the national economy, provide jobs for the teeming youth and become a source of foreign exchange earnings. “It is in the realisation of the potential of this sector that I have gone on record as calling the creative industries, as well as Tourism, the new oil for Nigeria. This is no mere rhetoric at all,” he said. Mohammed noted that the creative industries had 13 sub-sectors: advertising, architecture, the art and antiques market, crafts, design, designer fashion, film, interactive leisure and software (i.e. video games). Others were: music, the performing arts, publishing, software as well as Radio and Television. He stressed that the creative industries had the inherent possibilities and as well limitless to turn around the fortunes of the nation. “Creative Industries have turned around the fortunes of California in the United States, Mumbai in India, Turkey, Brazil, Dubai, Australia etc and made them economic giants. “We can replicate same here, with the support of partners like the Tony Elumelu Foundation. “Our Nollywood is one of the three largest film industries in the world. Our Music is fast becoming the most travelled music anywhere in the world. Our TV market with little or no formal production ecosystem is the largest on the continent. “Our over 170 million people, 24 million TV households and the fastest growing mobile data penetration on the African continent constitute huge added advantages. “As a matter of fact, the ongoing digitisation of television in Nigeria, which we are also undertaking can create at least one million jobs in three years,’’ he said. He said government realised the urgent need to enter into agreement with private organisations – Tony Elumelu Foundation and the British Council- to reap the full potentials of the creative industries. The minister said he was optimistic that the collaborations would be the much-needed catalyst to transform the creative Industries to a creative economy. Mr Tony Elumelu, the Chairman of the foundation said that the MoU was one if the biggest collaboration between the public and private sectors on the transformation of the creative industries. Elemule said the creative industries unsupported, contributed 1.2 per cent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 6 billion dollars annually to the economy of the country. He said his foundation would accommodate the creative industries in its entrepreneurship programme, which had the purpose of identifying over 10 years a total of 10,000 African start-ups and entrepreneurs with ideas. The intention, according to him is to generate at least 1,000,000 new jobs and contribute at least 10 billion dollars in new annual revenues across Africa. Elumelu also promised to mobilise support for contributions into the National Endowment Fund for the Arts which would be used to develop the sector.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Foundation, Ms. Parminder Vir, said the creative industries had the potential to transform the fortune of the country and the foundation was passionate about the development if the sector. The event was attended by major stakeholders in the creative industries, mentors and entrepreneurs of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.