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In recent years, Nigeria has emerged as a dominant force in the African creative industry, with its innovative and talented creatives leading the way. What sets Nigeria apart from its peers in the industry? To shed some light on this topic, three prominent figures in the Nigerian creative industry recently discussed the factors contributing to Nigeria’s success in the creative economy, in a conversation moderated by Fareeda Abdulkareem during the 8th edition of the Georgetown Africa Business Conference held at Georgetown University under the theme “The Future is Africa: Harnessing Opportunities for a Prosperous Continent.”
Audu Maikori, Abiodun “Bizzle” Osikoya, and Editi Effiong offered their insights on the creative and digital economy in Africa. Maikori attributed Nigeria’s influence to its large population, with creativity becoming a solution that works for many Nigerians because it’s not controlled by the government. Bizzle highlighted the Nigerian mentality of always striving to be the best, which is a driving force behind many Nigerians’ desire to succeed. Editi explained that storytelling is deeply ingrained in Nigerian culture, which is part of the reason why the country is so influential in the creative scene.
The entertainment industry in Nigeria is evolving, and a new generation of Africans and Nigerians is growing up with more choices and agency in their lives. Parents are encouraging their children to pursue their dreams, even if it means going against traditional paths. The traditional career paths of law, medicine, and engineering are no longer the only viable options for success. Instead, young people are now investing in their music and film careers, even saving to purchase equipment and produce their music videos.
The power of storytelling and its impact on people’s lives is seen in the success of Black Panther, a movie that had a profound impact on people worldwide. As Maikori points out, “We need to tell more stories like Black Panther so that black and African people can see themselves as the superheroes they truly are.”
However, financing infrastructure in Africa remains a significant challenge, and creative entrepreneurs face financial constraints that can limit their ability to pursue their dreams. Bizzle discussed how parents are now more supportive of their children pursuing creative career paths in Nigeria, where pursuing music or other creative endeavors was previously seen as a failure. He predicts that the music and film industries in Nigeria will continue to grow and improve as more people learn how to access funds and grants.
Editi Effiong believes that Africans need to invest in themselves and bet on themselves to succeed, rather than waiting for others to bet on them. He discussed his experience of investing in a million-dollar production and how this helped him gain the respect of major streamers. Audu Maikori emphasized the importance of focusing on the flow of cash and acknowledged that it’s crucial to have sufficient funds to place a bet.
In a discussion about the creative economy and the opportunities that exist for those who are not necessarily artists, Audu and Editi shared their experiences and insights. Audu emphasized the range of industries involved in creating films and that the creative industry is not just about entertaining people, but building something significant and valuable. He also mentioned that technology is a big part of the creative industry, and AI is becoming more prevalent. Editi discussed how his experience in the tech industry has helped him transition into the filmmaking industry. He emphasized the importance of the audacity to pursue and the ability to deliver quality results. He also mentioned that many people in Nigeria’s film industry have learned through experience.
Lastly, regarding the needs of the music and film industries in Nigeria, according to Audu, scalability and global expansion are the most important aspects of the music industry, while for the film industry, it’s important to focus on developing skills and providing training opportunities. Bizzle added that funding and education are crucial for the music industry, as many people lack proper education and training. He noted the need for more professionals to educate people in the industry. Editi suggested that building capacity through working on large-scale projects is the best way to gain experience and improve the film industry. He proposed funding larger projects instead of multiple capacity-building projects.
The Nigerian (African) creative industry is a force for good. It is creating jobs, generating revenue, and telling stories that matter. African governments and indeed the diaspora need to do more to support the creative industry. In the next series, we will break down the various factors and elements of success in the Nigerian creative industry.
Audu Maikori is a Nigerian lawyer, entrepreneur, and advocate for social justice, who is passionate about promoting the creative economy and expanding job opportunities in Africa and the Caribbean. Abiodun “Bizzle” Osikoya is a well-known figure in the Nigerian music industry with years of experience working behind the scenes and is a co-founder of The Plug, one of Africa’s leading entertainment companies. Editi Effiong is a creative entrepreneur with interests in advertising technology and film and is the founder of Anakle, one of Nigeria’s biggest digital marketing agencies, and Anakle Films, which focuses on telling the next generation of African stories through cinema.
Audu Maikori is the co-founder of Nigeria record label Chocolate City Group, he is a lawyer, entrepreneur, and advocate for social justice, who is passionate about promoting the creative economy and expanding job opportunities in Africa and the Caribbean. Abiodun “Bizzle” Osikoya is a well-known figure in the Nigerian music industry with years of experience working behind the scenes and is a co-founder of The Plug, one of Africa’s leading entertainment companies. Editi Effiong is a creative entrepreneur with interests in advertising technology and film and is the founder of Anakle, one of Nigeria’s biggest digital marketing agencies, and Anakle Films, which focuses on telling the next generation of African stories through cinema. Fareeda Abdulkareem is a Senior Associate for Private Sector DevelopmentSenior Associate for Private Sector Development at Palladium.