CBN and creative industry initiative
At the Creative Nigeria Summit 2019 the other day, a number of heart-warming developments emerged from the stable of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). These include the intention of CBN to put a stop to about $2.0 billion being spent yearly by the country for the importation of hard and software Information Technology (IT) Solutions; Setting up a N22.0 billion Creative Industry Intervention Fund – Creative Industry and Financing Initiative (CIFI); Development of Creative Industry Parks/Hubs first, in Lagos, as a pilot scheme and thereafter, across the country especially, in Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu cities. According to reports, CBN and the Bankers Committee (BC) are poised to making these a reality.
There is no doubt that if the country can be prevented from bleeding out $2.0 billion yearly for IT solutions that can be produced within the country, life will be better and more meaningful for the average Nigerian, specifically, if such a huge amount is properly ploughed back into critical areas in the economy. But how can this be achieved without ensuring that the hard and software IT solutions being imported are produced domestically?
The answer is the reason for the setting up of Creative Industry Hubs/Parks and Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI) by the CBN and the Bankers Committee. The fund to be made available on long-term basis at a low cost single-digit interest rate is aimed at supporting, developing and growing start-ups and existing businesses in the Creative Industry in Nigeria. It will also be used to develop Creative Industry Parks – “an environment where startups and existing businesses can be incubated and rewarded for their creativity.” “Each will be able to support skills acquisition for over 200,000.00 Nigerians.” The parks will be equipped with state of the art tools, high level training and networks that will enable creative individuals and entrepreneurs in music, movies, fashion and information technology (IT) to turn their ideas into values.
It is interesting that CBN and the BC have recognised that they can play this catalytic role for the country and indeed, the entire world to tap into the enormous energy, creative and innovative talent of the teeming resourceful Nigerian Youth so that they can be part of overall national wealth creation.
These programmes, if realised, will have significant impact on job creation, employment, development of local ICT solutions and skills. They will also assist in the reduction, if not elimination, of wholesome importation of hardware and software IT solutions into the country since they will become available domestically. Indeed, according to CBN, the programmes will result in “over 50,000 Nigerians benefiting from the Parks; creation of “over 25,000 software engineers and 150,000 skilled and unskilled jobs.” Ultimately, CBN believes that they also have the potential of causing “Gross Domestic Product (GDP) gains of close to $2 billion while curbing importation of IT solutions that can be produced in Nigeria.”
Furthermore, the Parks/Hubs will serve as Outsourcing Centres for IT services required in other parts of the globe. Thus, “Nigeria can expect to earn over $200 million yearly from the provision of IT services to individuals and corporate organisations in other parts of the globe.”
The importance of this initiative rests on the fact that they will galvanise the innovative and creative abilities and skills of Nigerian youths. So, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bankers Committee deserve a pat on the back for their creativity too. However, they need to be supported for anticipated benefits to accrue.
Given this opportunity, the nation expects so much from the youth, especially in terms of bringing to reality the purposes for which the initiatives are being emplaced.
Consequently, it is strongly advised that Nigerian youth that may aspire to take advantage of this opportunity for the betterment of their lots and hence, that of the entire country, must commit themselves to serious self-discipline and work both hard and smart. This is one golden opportunity they should not allow to slip-off their hands.
Meanwhile, the seriousness of CBN/BC in taking these giant steps can be seen from their reported request from the Federal Government for approval to use the National Arts Theatre in Lagos for the housing of the Creative Industry Centre. Taking this step more than speaks eloquently and loud enough for anybody to believe that they mean business and are ready to see to the accomplishment of the goals.
It is exciting and also commendable that the Federal Government has granted the request and even handed over the Theatre to the BC. The government’s approval action will, no doubt, save that national edifice that has remained dormant, deteriorated and almost ruined over many years, from being completely wasted. Indeed, that new life is going to be breathed into it through extensive renovation and rehabilitation as well as beneficial creative activities, brings back some hope for the creative and innovative future of the country.
The Lagos State Government that has “allocated 40 acres (of land) for the development of the Creative Hub” should be commended. This is a remarkable way of recognising the importance of the initiative. One can only imagine or indeed, foresee that, before the pilot experience in Lagos comes full circle, State governments where cities have been marked as the next hosting places for other creative industry hubs, should have made adequate arrangements and locations for the commencement of activities at the hubs.
Finally, these national youth empowerment programmes, with great potentials for giving economic and social fillip to a sizeable number of the country’s population, should be supported by all and sundry. Its success will encourage the setting up of similar initiatives by other principal stakeholders in the country. Given the country’s population, there is the possibility of huge foreign investment inflow into the intellectual property venture as a great resource. The Nigerian youth who are the target of the initiatives, should see them as a debut of the long awaited opportunities for them to prosper in the new world of knowledge workers.
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