The African Film Industry: Trends, Challenges and Growth Opportunities 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, the UNESCO Director-General, presented the report in Paris alongside esteemed filmmakers Abderrahmane Sissako and Mati Diop.
“This landmark publication reflects the importance of strengthening international cooperation to enable all countries, especially developing countries, to develop viable and competitive cultural and creative industries both nationally and internationally.” she noted.
The report aims to help the African film industry and policymakers take stock of the current landscape and strategically plan for its future growth.
Africa’s potential as a cinematic powerhouse remains largely untapped, despite significant production growth across the continent, according to the report. Nigeria alone produces around 2,500 films per year.
Even though affordable digital cinema equipment and online platforms allow direct distribution to consumers, opening new avenues for content creators, Africa is the least well served continent in terms of movie theaters. Currently, there is only one cinema screen for 787,402 people.
Lights, camera, hacking
The film industry is also faced with the serious problem of piracy. The UNESCO report estimates that 50 to over 75% of income is lost due to hacking, although there is no precise data. In addition, only 19 of the 54 African countries offer financial support to filmmakers.
The report describes other challenges, including limitations on freedom of expression, as well as education, training and internet connectivity.
Films as “public goods”
This year marks two decades since the adoption of a UNESCO Declaration which supports cultural diversity as being as necessary to humanity as biodiversity is to nature.
Ms. Azoulay said during the commemoration of the anniversary, “We must raise our voices to reaffirm that films are indeed ‘public goods’ which require public support and investment to ensure equal access to creation, production, distribution, dissemination and consumption. ”