Landmark report highlights the untapped potential of the African film industry — Global Issues

The African Film Industry: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities for Growth is the first-ever mapping of the sector, which currently employs some five million people and accounts for $5 billion in GDP across Africa.

Making creativity viable

Audrey Azoulay, de UNESCO Director General, presented the report in Paris together with esteemed filmmakers Abderrahmane Sissako and Mati Diop.

“This groundbreaking publication reflects the importance of strengthening international cooperation to enable all countries, especially developing countries, to develop cultural and creative industries that are viable and competitive, both nationally and internationally,” they said.

The report aims to help the African film industry and decision-makers take stock of the current landscape and make strategic plans for future growth.

Africa’s potential as a movie powerhouse remains largely untapped, despite significant production growth across the continent, the report says. Nigeria alone produces about 2,500 films per year.

While affordable digital movie equipment and online platforms allow direct distribution to consumers, opening new avenues for content creators, Africa is the most underprivileged continent in terms of cinemas. Currently there is only one cinema screen for every 787,402 people.

Lights, camera, piracy

The film industry also faces the major problem of piracy. The UNESCO report estimates that 50 to more than 75 percent of revenue is lost to piracy, although precise data does not exist. In addition, only 19 out of 54 African countries provide financial support to filmmakers.

The report outlines further challenges, including restrictions on free speech, as well as education, training and internet connectivity.

Movies as ‘Public Goods’

This year marks two decades since a UNESCO Declaration which argues that cultural diversity is just as necessary for humanity as biodiversity is for nature.

Ms Azoulay said at the anniversary commemoration: “We must raise our voices to reaffirm that films are indeed ‘public goods’ that require public support and investment to ensure equal access to creation, production, distribution, distribution and consumption. ”

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