Nollywood: An African Goldmine

22 November 2019

In 1992, Nigeria’s film industry was born. In 2002, a journalist from The New York Times published an article which coined the term, Nollywood.

Since 1992, Nollywood has grown an enormous amount, producing around 50 films per week! This makes it the second largest global film industry, just behind Bollywood, but above Hollywood. Nigeria’s film industry grew slowly, reflected in the lack of cinemas around the country, but now with the fan base becoming global, the number of movie theatres has grown with demand. This growth provides jobs, a sense of collective identity and culture and growth in local economies. The growth of the industry is demonstrated in the statistics; Nollywood is the largest employer after agriculture and makes up 11% of Nigeria’s GDP.

The average Nollywood film is made between 7-10 days with a budget of just $25,000 – $70,000, compared to the average Hollywood film budget of around $70 – 90 million with a year of production. Due to the small production period and limited budget, there have been many critics of Nollywood films who cannot see past the lower quality final product. However, this has not deterred film makers or film lovers from investing their time and money in the industry and carry on creating original stories to share. In fact, Nollywood is so popular at the moment that it makes up 11% of Nigeria’s non-oil exports.

In addition to low production quality, the industry has also been criticised for its over-dramatisation of stories. Over the years, Nigerian film makers have stuck to what they know: comedies and dramas, however, there are increasing numbers of horrors, period pieces, musicals, animations and even nollynoir.

The 2018 Nigerian film ‘Lionheart’ by Genevieve Nnaji has been a huge successful both nationally and internationally, even receiving a nomination for an Oscar in the Best International Film category. However, Nigeria’s dream of competing was cut short when the Academy rejected the nomination because the film was primarily in English, with only 11% of the film featuring Igbo, one of 500 languages spoken in Nigeria. One of the rules of this particular category is that it must be a non-English speaking film, however, English is the nation’s official language. With this reasoning, the Academy Awards will have automatically banned other colonised African nations too such as, Rwanda, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Africa and Ethiopia.

On the positive side, Nollywood is set to create another million jobs in the upcoming years and generate beyond the $590 million annual income. Creating jobs is vital for Nigeria due to the extremely high unemployment rates.

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