At Utomi Foundation Lecture, RMD Highlights Impact Of Entertainment On Nigeria’s Economy

WHILE speaking with The Times over a new report on the entertainment industry’s effect on the Los Angeles County economy, chief economist with the L.A County Economic Development Corporation Robert Kleinhenz observed that, despite the loss of business to places around the world, the entertainment industry in L.A. County remains a focal point for the industry around the world, with a significant contributor to the local economy.  

    Kleinhenz, who listed the motion picture and video-related industries, the sound industry, radio, television and cable sectors, live entertainment, as well as agents, managers and independent artistes as part of players in the industry, informed that the entertainment industry is the fifth largest sector based on employment (behind health services, business administration services, hospitality and real estate). 

      In terms of job creation, the economist noted that the industry accounts for not just 162,000 wage and salary jobs, but another 85,000 jobs for freelancers and independent contractors, adding that its impact on the local economy is much greater because the films, television programming, and music that are produced here in L.A. are viewed by people throughout the country and the entire world. 

     “They generate entertainment-related revenue streams from around the world that supports spending and jobs that otherwise would not exist locally. Taking into account the ripple effect the industry has on other jobs (caterers, florists and so on), the industry supported 586,000 jobs and had an annual output of $47 billion in 2011. That’s equivalent to 8.4% of the county’s annual economic output,” he said.

     In Nigeria, the entertainment sector has become a major contributor to the country’s economy, creating jobs for thousands of young Nigerians, thereby curbing unemployment rate. With little or no support from the government, the industry has grown from strength to strength, despite the many challenges such as piracy, poo distribution network and lack of structures. 

     In a paper titled The Impact Of Entertainment On the Nigerian Economy, which he presented at the Pat Utomi Foundation Annual Lecture held recently at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, Delta State Commissioner for Culture & Tourism Richard Mofe Damijo highlighted the impact of entertainment on the Nigeria’s economy

    “What would Nigeria be like without entertainment? That question has been nipping at the back of my mind for quite some time now. If I were to talk about what entertainment has contributed for the total wellbeing of this great country, there will be no time left for any other matter in this event.”

      The seasoned actor and trained lawyer, who took time to explained the term ‘entertainment’ as a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience or gives pleasure and delight, observed that, “what this definition does not tell us is that entertainment also educates the mind, releases harmful stress, unlocks our imaginations and frees us to express our inner beauties. It is a force for social and economic good of any society. Without it, life would be grim and dreadful.”

  According to RMD, the entertainment is a big business in Nigeria and has continued to expand, while embracing new technologies.

    “Nollywood, the film and video segment, is the clear leader. In the last couple of years, our music has taken the world by storm. Our art is making inroads into the global marketplace. Fashion has set its footstool in the global arena. Life theatre has come alive and the new media has continued to make these different aspects of entertainment available to the world in real time,” he said.

     To the commissioner, the impact of entertainment on the country’s economy is not in doubt, as there are clear pointers to that fact.

    “I can say without any fear of contradiction, that our industry has made some impact on the Nigerian economy. In terms of GDP, which is a country’s economic output for a year, Nigeria became the largest economy in Africa and the 26th in the world after the rebasing of her GDP now estimated at about $510 billion. This new figure was supported by emerging industries in the economy including the entertainment industry with a contribution of 1.2 percent. This has helped put Nigeria on track to becoming one of the 20 largest economies in the world by year 2020.”

      Meanwhile, the Nigeria Economic Report published by the World Bank in July 2014 puts the GDP growth rate of the entertainment industry at 24.1 percent, while the African Report published on August 1, 2014, puts the current estimates of Nollywood’s annual revenue at $590 million, which is just a sector in the larger industry. The same magazine also rated the entertainment industry as the 2nd highest employer in Nigeria after agriculture with about one million people particularly the youth.

    However, RMD is of the opinion that, though the industry has done well so far, it can do more, especially with concrete support from the government and corporate world.

    “I believe it can replace oil as the mainstay of our economy if all the right things are done. I acknowledge the effort of the Federal Government through the Nigerian Creative and Entertainment Industry Stimulation Loan Scheme, but I think much more need to be done to redefine and reposition the industry to take its rightful place in our economy.”

     While offering suggestions on how to take the industry to the next level, RMD particularly hinted on the need to tighten regulation of the industry to ensure international standards are met and maintained, as well as ensure existing laws are enforced to the letter and make new ones to fill the voids. 

   “We need to encourage training and retraining of practitioners and develop worldwide distribution networks. There’s urgent need to Launch a real fight against piracy and engage in global partnerships in all aspects of the industry to take it to the next level,” he noted.

   While urging practitioners and industry leaders to lobby the federal government for more tax incentives for investors in the sector, RMD observed that what is happening to oil prices at the moment is instructive.

   “There is no time to waste. As a Chinese proverb teaches, the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The next best time is now,” he said.

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