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Nigeria urges Afreximbank to simplify access to $500m creative industry support fund

The Nigerian Federal Government on Thursday urged the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to simplify the process for accessing the 500 million dollar creative support fund by the pan-African finance institution.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the plea in Abuja at the end of a virtual forum of the African Union (AU) Ministers of Arts, Culture and Heritage on the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the creative sector.

The virtual forum, organised by the AU Commission for Social Affairs, was chaired by Mohammed and was attended by about 20 Ministers who made contributions on the effects of the novel COVID-19 pandemic on the creative sector in their respective  countries at the forum.

In his closing remarks, Mohammed said that the President of the bank, Professor Benedict Oramah, should make the process of accessing the funding easier for small scale artists and other practitioners.    

“It is this fund that most of us will rely on, in looking up to the bank to save our arts, culture and heritage from the ravages of the coronavirus  pandemic. We want Professor Oramah to help the industry, by simplifying the process especially for small artists, fashion designers, make-up artists and others to access the funding through the various cooperatives which we are going to encourage them to form.

“The beauty of this industry is that after agriculture it employs the largest number of people especially women and youths,” he said.

Earlier in a presentation to the forum, Oramah recalled that just before the COVID-19 came, the bank announced the creative Africa support facility to the amount of 500 million dollars.

“This facility is targeted at exporting of creative goods like films, music, fashion and all aspects of creative goods. It also target the financing of production, building infrastructure for the production of the creative goods and supporting companies that are engaged in the production,” he said.

Oramah disclosed that the bank had developed a cooperative arrangement so that small scale actors in the industry could team up to access the fund.

“We know that many actors in creative industry are small and may not be able to have access to the financing giving their small sizes. We, therefore, created a cooperative instrument so that we can give money to them through cooperatives,” he said.

Oramah also recalled that the bank, in 2019, launched the African Payment and Settlement System to make it possible for Africans to pay for goods and services in inter-Africa trade through their local currencies.

He said the system which made it possible for somebody in Kenya to buy contents produced in Mali and pay in Kenyan Shillings would open the market for Africa creative goods.  

Oramah, a Nigerian National and a Manager with the Nigerian Export-Import Bank before joining Afreximbank as Chief Analyst in 1994, underscored the need to create a mechanism for e-commerce on creative goods.

He said the mechanism would make it easier for Africans to trade among themselves and by doing so the creative goods would boom.

The bank president said the Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted on the economy of the world and the global economy is expected to suffer the worst recession. He noted that although the creative economy had been impacted but it had also shown some improvement.

“Some production activities has stopped such as the fashion sub-sector, production of movies and music had been impacted. However, we have seen a tremendous growth in the demand for some creative goods as people get confined to their respective homes.

“Global distribution channels for movies and music such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and even those that focus on Africa have seen remarkable growth in subscription. Netflix for instance announced an unprecedented 16 million subscribers during the first quarter of this year.

“Although we do not have statistics, some local platforms in Africa have also indicated rising demand. “So, we see that the creative economy has provided opportunity for Africa, to a large extent, mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on our economy,” he said.

The banker encouraged the ministers to promote inter-regional trade in creative product, to boost African share in the 2.25 trillion dollar global creative industry market.

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