The rise and rise of Nollywood

The Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, is currently recognised as the second largest film producer in the world.

It took a quantum leap in 1992 with the release of the thriller, Living in Bondage, written by Kenneth Nnebue and Okechukwu Ogunjiofor. The two-part flick, directed by Chris Rapu, tells the story of a struggling businessman who is lured by a friend to kill his wife for instant riches, and haunted by her ghost.

The film became the first Nigerian blockbuster, after previous efforts by Chiefs Hubert Ogunde and Solomon Eze (Mike Ori Ihe Di Mma), both of blessed memory.

While Ogunde was popular with his Yoruba movies, Eze was famous with his ‘Okpuru Anyanwu’ (Under the Sun) Igbo series.

Since the era of Living in Bondage, thousands of movie releases have been successful.

As a significant part of the entertainment sector, Nollywood, according to a study, contributed 2.3 per cent (about N239bn) to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product in 2016.

It has also taken the world by surprise with its popularity and development in the last decade. The significant growth of the industry caught the attention of the Nigerian government, which reportedly invested in it, having seen its impact on the economy. The immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan was said to have approved N200m grant for Nigerian movie producers.

Nollywood currently accounts for N853.9bn (1.42 per cent) of Nigeria’s GDP and employs more than a million people directly/indirectly. Economic observers consider it as one major sector that speaks to the diverse nature of the Nigerian economy.

According to former Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Export-Import Bank, Roberts Orya, Nollywood generates at least $590m annually. It is one of the priority sectors identified in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of the government, with expected revenue of $1bn this year.

Given the scale of Nigeria’s economy and its population, the industry has the potential to quadruple its revenue generation, not just with the quality of movies being produced, but its global acceptability and consequent competitiveness with high-grossing international movies.

The recent submission of Lion Heart, produced by Nigeria’s Genevieve Nnaji, which was controversially dropped, is the first Nigerian movie to make it to the Oscars.

With the support of the private sector and more support from the Nigerian government, Nollywood promises to transcend international borders and etch permanent footprints on very land across the world.

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