Lagos, Nigeria, Wednesday, March 20, 2013 – The Managing Director/CEO of Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM), Mr. Roberts U. Orya was a guest lecturer at the Pan-African University, Lagos where he spoke on “That They May be One: Towards a Greater Synergy Between Nexim and the Creative Industry” under the Distinguished Lecture Series.

An initiative of the School of Media and Communication (SMC) through its Mass Media and Writing Department in line with its statutory mandate as a teaching, research and community service-oriented institution, the Distinguished Lecture Series aim to foster and deepen the culture of robust debate on significant, topical issues locally and globally.

Mr. Orya was invited to the Lecture in recognition of the extensive and impressive work of Nigerian Export-Import Bank in furthering the growth of the national GDP through promoting export-oriented investments in the non-oil sector and specifically the trailblazing interventions he was bringing to boosting investments in the Creative Arts industries.

Introducing his lecture, the NEXIM MD took the audience through the business of the Bank and declared that the Creative and Entertainment Industry is a key driver of global growth and can contribute to sustainable global economic recovery hinting that during the recession, the creative economy continued to thrive as people continued to go to cinema and museums, listen to music, watch videos and TV shows and played video games. Citing the Nollywod experience, Mr. Orya declared that the Nigerian film industry has literally upstaged the globally 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 to 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 manifested in several joint collaboration movie works.

The implication of the foregoing, according to Orya, is that 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 that the industry still faces some challenges that are militating against the full realization of its potentials. These include very low production for theatrical releases and cross-border co-production arrangements; inadequate exhibition/theatrical infrastructure. According to Orya, it is unbelievable that a country of more than 170million people currently has less than 60 modern screens in multiplexes located in five cities of Abuja -15, Lagos – 17, P/H -14, Enugu – 5 and Uyo – 6. This, when compared with India is one of the lowest in the film market, with India having over 13,000 screens translating to 12 screens per million people.

Taking questions from his audience on what panaceas NEXIM is doing to improve the situation, Mr. Orya indicated that 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.

Mr. Orya informed the class that NEXIM’s Funding support is in line with Mr. President’s policy pronouncement in November, 2010 to support the industry with funding intervention, which also falls under the Bank’s “Export of Services” mandate. He however noted that even before then, NEXIM had provided over N460million in support of the improvement of distribution infrastructure/platforms and the establishment of new digital production studio.

According to him, at today, the total funding support to the Industry by NEXIM is over N778.5million, with applications 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.

Concluding the lecture, 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 organized by Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC ), and stated 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. According to him, this would be akin to the Cultural Industry Guarantee Fund, established by Francophone West Africa 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.

Drawing thunderous applause from the class, Mr. 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 operationalize 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 thanked the NEXIM MD for an insightful lecture and most of all, for accepting the invitation despite his very busy schedules. He stated that the Distinguished 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. In this regard, considering the wealth of information made available to the class, the choice of Mr. Roberts Orya for the edition was spot-on as the series is intended to galvanize healthy engagement in public discourse and serve as a critical clearing on social, political, economic and cultural currents to societal development. He invited Mr. Orya to consider establishing a collaborative relationship between the Bank and the SMC towards linking film and entertainment professionals with investors as means of increasing financing for content development, infrastructure and capacity development; and most importantly launching a private fund for film and entertainment in line with the suggestions provided in his lecture.

About NEXIM Bank – The Nigerian Export-Import Bank 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.

In pursuit of its mandate of promoting export diversification and deepening the non-oil sector, the Bank’s current strategic initiatives are targeted towards boosting employment creation and foreign exchange earnings in the Manufacturing, Agro-processing, Solid Minerals and Services (Tourism, Transportation and Entertainment) industries.