Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Nigeria's Diamond in the Ruff?

What if....what if there was a product that could be made in Africa, boost local employment, earn foreign exchange, and enhance Africa's image outside of Africa all at the same time? That would be tremendous, am I right? In fact, just performing one of these items in good fashion, in any part of the world, would probably earn the business person or persons behind the effort major recognition. So, it should follow that anyone whom is able to simultaneously do all five of these functions, plus do it in Africa, should attract major international press covergage-right? If you are nodding your head "yes" that's exactly what I did too. However, there is such a product-that is made in Africa. Many of you may not have heard of it before, but I am sure that most of my readers who are from Africa are at least somewhat familiar with it. This brings us to today's topic-Nigerian cinema.

You see, whether we are talking about employing from local labor pools, earning export revenues, or allowing Nigerians to tell their own story this industry has been doing each of the above for at least 30 years. Below you may find a few facts about Nigeria's cinema industry:

  • Africa's largest cinema/films producer.
  • Nigeria is the third largest films producer in the world, after America and India.
  • Many people both inside and outside of industry circles refer to Nigeria cinema as "Nollywood".
  • Produces roughly between 1,000 and 2,000 films per year.
  • On average, 15,000 to 20, 000 DVD's is what one might expect from in sales from the typical Nigerian movie. However, blockbusters may sell up to ten times or more that amount or 200,000 - 300,000 copies.
  • Average production budget is between $15,000 to $25,000 per title.
  • This is a fully privatised industry in Nigeria and employs over 300,000 people annually.
  • This industry brings $250m into Nigeria's economy every year.
  • Most of these films are completed within a few days, they can be found throughout Africa and penetrate the African market outside of Nigeria, while also making their way abroad.
  • Most of these films go straight to video or DVD and sell for $3 each.

This is but a sample of information about cinema in Nigeria and since I wanted to specifically highlight Nigeria's achievements; the focus of this post is on Nigeria, as opposed to Africa as a whole. However, if I didn't at least mention a few points about some of Africa's other players in this arena, I might be doing them a dis-service. So, if you'd like to catch a glimpse into some of Africa's other promising cinema/film creation hubs, plus find relates links click [here].

In conclusion, I'd say that Nigerian cinema is already a diamond. But what do you think?Also, do you think that the same could be said for African cinema outside of Nigeria? And just out of curiousity, could you ever see yourself investing either in Nigeria's film industry or in any of Africa's other cinema hubs? Well, if you said yes, you might not be alone. In fact, you might find yourself having some unlikely company-Wesley Snipes and Danny Glover, both of whom seem to be very interested in playing a huge role in the future of African cinema. Hmmmm.....

One last thing that I'd like to say is that I think this dovetails very nicely with a post that Black River Eagle recently added to his blog over at Jewels In the Jungle. This post discusses the perception of Africa -vs- the reality-please check it out. I bring it up because, like my post his also deals with Africa telling her own story and possibly improving her image simultaneously.

As always, I love your comments. But, if you can't comment at this particular time- but would like to let us know that you were here; please sign and View my guestbook


James said...

Very interesting post on cinema and film creation in Nigeria. I never would have known

Benin "Mwangi" said...

James, thank you so much for your comment. It is a great feeling to know that this post has impacted you, in such a way.

When you get a chance, I really wish that you could check out a Nollywood feature-they are a site to see. If you google
Nollywood there are many sites that will allow you to order online, although I normally just find my Nigerian films at the local Nigerian mart in town...

And by all means, keep on coming back, my friend it's great to see you again!

Black River Eagle said...

Nollywood films on videotape and DVD's are very popular with the Nigerian and English-speaking West African diaspora here in Germany and many local shops owned-and-operated by African businesspeople rent and/or sell these films.

On the downside the industry is having the same nightmarish battle with copyright infringement and illegal copies that Hollywood and Bollywood is having. Illegal copies make up at least half (if not more) of the Nollywood films that are sold on the market here in Europe.

The "Nollywood knockoff" business is becoming so lucrative a trade that it has begun to attract serious criminal networks from Eastern Europe and gangsters from points even further East. Of course, nobody here likes to talk about that and the relevant security apparatus (EU customs officers, INTERPOL, police agencies) are having lots of difficulty in stopping the trade of black market Nollywood films. You see, Nollywood does not have a powerful lobby group at the EU-EC in Brussels and Strasbourg.

Digital Rights Management technology integrated into the final product (DVD's) and applying aggressive law enforcement in both Nigeria and in Europe would probably double or triple the revenues for the Nigerian film studios and distributors. There may be a slight "surge" in jailhouse occupancy on both ends but that should go down over time.

Benin "Mwangi" said...


Hi, I didn't know that Nollywood films were huge in Germany too...

It is really unfortunate that the legitimate business people, actors, and other rightful involved parties are losing a lot of money due to illegal pirating.
Your point about law enforcement stepping up its efforts to combat this problem is well taken, anytime you have serious organized crime activities concentrateing around a particular iindustry or region it seems like it should be of vital importance to local and/or international law enforcement.

Also, I am not very familiar with the tecnology that you have mentioned, but it sounds like the Digital Rights Management technology for Nollywood DVD's makes for a very sound business practice and sounds like an area that may hold some opportunity both for Nigerian filmakers and for anyone else who is able to supply the industry with that technology.

By the way I was able to locate the post that you mentioned in the sept 05' archive of your blog. It was a very well put together piece which brought together a great bit of resources to shed light on the issues at stake.

Otherwise, as's a pleasure, and one more thing, how's the weather in Germany right now?

Black River Eagle said...

How's the weather in Germany?

After experiencing the warmest Winter months since anyone can remember, today we are freezing our butts off as it should be this time of year. Morning temperatures in the north where I live averaged about -7° Celsius and the skies have been crystal clear for most of the day. Refreshing weather for a Missouri boy!

Mikey said...

wow very interesting article.
I had always known this was a big area of influence and a very lucrative business for those involved in it, but to have some obvious truths layed out before you is another thing.

I do hope we [Producers and the like] do not always settle for the quick shoot-and-print style of the movies and try and raise the bar a little. That way we could have more non-Nigerians and others enjoying the gem.

anyway, again, very good write up.

Benin "Mwangi" said...


I am glad that you found this piece interesting.

To me your point is interesting because before I even heard about Nollywood, I had been watching the African cinema that comes out of Burkina Faso. The quality of the movies that they make in Burkina is quite astonishing. However, they are probably on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to profitability. I guess the thing is to strike a balance between profitability and quality. As the market for these various African cinema products expand and gather more demanding viewers, the shoot and print style that we see today will probably be gradually replaced with a product that conforms more to changing consumer demands.

Again, I just want to reiterate that I am happy about your comment, I think it is very valid. Thank you very much!


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