WITH a mandate to promote the diversification of the Nigerian economy and develop the external sector through the provision of services in support of non-oil exports, which includes the creative industry, the Nigerian Export and Import Bank (NEXIM) is not resting on its oars in pooling resources to better the lot of the creative industry and its practitioners, its Managing Director, Roberts Orya, has said.

Partnering with filmmaker Tony Abulu for the movie Dr. Bello, in the recent past, Orya said that funding the industry represents a significant commitment by the federal government to the creative segment of the economy. According to Orya then, the Nigerian Creative and Entertainment Industry Stimulation Loan Scheme is intended to address issues regarding the institution of credible structures, attract investment in the development of content and infrastructure in the media and entertainment sector as well as improvement in production standards, distribution, marketing and exhibition standards. He was speaking in terms of the federal government’s directive making USD200M available to the creative industry.

Cashing in on the success of the partnership with the filmmaker, NEXIM went ahead to work with the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) in a co-sponsoring arrangement at the 65th edition of Cannes International Film Festival, held in Cannes, France last year.

NEXIM team, as revealed by Orya, was at the festival to seek co-financing/co-production opportunities in support of the Nigerian motion picture industry. At a special session held on Wednesday May 23rd 2012, in conjunction with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the NFC, the bank enjoined exhibitors to explore areas of synergies between producers and film makers. It was also an avenue to showcase the abundant opportunities in the Nigerian movie industry.

According to Orya, the Nigerian Creative and Entertainment Industry Stimulation Loan Scheme is intended to address issues regarding the institution of credible structures, attract investment in the development of content and infrastructure in the media and entertainment sector as well as improvement in production standards, distribution, marketing and exhibition standards.

True to his words, Wednesday, March 20, Orya, speaking as guest lecturer at the Pan-African University, Lagos, declared that the creative and entertainment industry is a key driver of global growth and can contribute to sustainable global economic recovery.

During the recession, he said, the creative economy continued to thrive as people continued to go to the cinemas and museums, listen to music, watch videos and TV shows and played video games.

Citing the Nollywod experience, Orya declared that the Nigerian film industry has literally upstaged the global movie world through its innovation, imaginativeness, and prolific performance. “Specifically, the industry is now globally adjudged as the most prolific with consistent production of more than 2000 titles in the country’s 3 major languages rendered every year since 2008. This has placed Nollywood as the third in global revenue earnings, with receipts over the years reported to range between US$300m and US$800m in the recent past to the extent that the practitioners and businessmen from Hollywood and other global equivalents can no longer ignore the industry as is being reflected in several collaboration movie works,” he said.

Orya spoke on the topic That They May be One: Towards a Greater Synergy Between Nexim and the Creative Industry. An initiative of the School of Media and Communication (SMC) through its Mass Media and Writing Department, the NEXIM MD took the audience through the business of the bank and Nollywood.Orya revealed Nollywood has very high prospects for growth and sustainable development based on a combination of advantages which include prevalence of high pool of creative talents, strong and growing domestic entertainment industry, established overseas market demand in Africa, UK, USA and the Pacific Islands coupled with huge Diaspora population, among others. Thus warranting government’s attention and recognition of the industry as a major contributor to employment and foreign exchange generation and justifying the $200m Entertainment Industry Fund and the N3billion grant recently announced.

Notwithstanding all these, Orya pointed out, the industry still faces challenges that are militating against the full realisation of its potentials. These include very low production for theatrical releases and cross-border co-production arrangements; and inadequate exhibition/theatrical infrastructure.

The bank’s role in the creative arts and entertainment industry consists in funding intervention and capacity building. For the former, the bank extends loans to eligible companies in all the value-chain within the creative arts and entertainment industry under the Nigerian Creative Arts & Entertainment Industry Facility Scheme, says Orya.

The MD quoted the total funding support to the Industry by NEXIM at over N778.5million, with applications for over N26billion under processing. Towards capacity-building, Mr. Orya stressed that the bank has been working towards ensuring that the industry operates in a structured manner and within global best practices/standards.

“Till date, the bank has in collaboration with various stakeholders developed draft operating guidelines to enhance access to loan facilities with inputs from various stakeholders, including practitioners and regulators; and commissioned a study to review the industry and develop/recommend the best financing programme/instruments for the Nigerian Entertainment Industry based on the Bollywood financing experience, among others,” he added.

Mr. Orya drew inferences from the bank’s current experience in its funding intervention, the EXIM India’s Report on Film Financing Programme and the Communique of Stakeholders’ Interactive Forum organised by Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), stating that to further strengthen and deepen the industry, there is need for the establishment of an Entertainment Industry Guarantee Fund to strengthen the credit delivery system and facilitate flow of credit to the industry. This, he said, would be akin to the Cultural Industry Guarantee Fund established by Francophone West African countries in conjunction with ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), which was intended to facilitate bank financing of cultural industries in the francophone states.

“Other steps that must be taken to rejig the industry include ensuring a Copyright Enforcement regime and intensification of the Reform System of the Nigerian Copyright System; design and issuance of sector-specific policy instruments by the insurance industry like completion bond, insurance policy, among others,” he stressed.

In conclusion, Orya added that there is a strong need for government to consider the establishment of the National Film Development Fund (NFDF); provision of sector-specific investment/tax incentives regime, especially towards the establishment of digital studios as well as Cinemas/Multiplexes to address the issue of low Cinema screen density; as well as to operationalise the Nigerian Film Institute campus in Lagos to complement the Jos Campus as well as other private sector initiatives to enhance human capital development in the industry.

In his remarks, the Dean of SMC, Prof. Emevwo Biakolo, stated that the Lecture Series has been set to run on a quarterly basis as an ongoing dialogue between town and gown, the academia and society to inform and educate diverse publics on developmental issues in the media.

NEXIM was established by Act 38 of 1991 as an Export Credit Agency with the broad mandate to promoting the diversification of the Nigerian economy and deepening the external sector, particularly the non-oil through the provision of credit facilities in both local and foreign currencies; risk-bearing facilities through export credit guarantee & export credit insurance; business development and financial advisory services etc.