Nigeria’s creative ability: booming Nollywood, music, fashion and much more

Nigeria is an African cultural powerhouse. Its US$ 600-million film industry, “Nollywood”, is the world’s second largest film industry by volume. Nigeria’s music and fashion industries are leading Nigeria’s cultural exports. To take stock of various policies and measures supporting Nigeria’s cultural and creative industries, the Nigerian Government and UNESCO brought together a range of government representatives, civil society actors and artists from the private sectors for a workshop on the UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions from 9 to 11 May.

“You can imagine how diverse the culture could be and the level at which this Convention is important to Nigeria.  It has a large economy and its fast growing film and fashion sectors have become a strong exporter of creative goods and services. The sector accounted for about 1.3% of the country's GDP. This is why the present government is committed to making the creative industry an alternative to oil,” said Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture of Nigeria

The creative industry in Nigeria plays a major role in the Federal Government of Nigeria’s policy of economic diversification. Its growth in recent times has been outstanding, especially the movie industry, which is considered as the biggest employer of labour after agriculture.

The workshop, co-organized by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, the Institute for African Culture and International Understanding and the UNESCO Office in Abuja, aimed to to reinforce national capacities for monitoring the implementation of cultural policies and measures. Nigeria recognizes the importance of assessing the nation’s efforts to promote diverse cultural expressions in view of further strengthening cultural and creative industries. 

Capitalizing on strength

Mapping policies for culture nationally and sharing innovative policy practices internationally are the purpose of periodic reporting under the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Nigeria as a Party to this Convention submitted its first Quadrennial Periodic Report in 2012. Nigeria is currently elaborating its second periodic report, assessing what policies and measures are in place to promote the diversity of cultural expressions, identifying challenges and new areas of intervention. To this end, the workshop gathered a number of government officials and civil society actors from the fashion, performing art and film industries to discuss the different monitoring areas of the periodic report including: cultural and sustainable development, international cultural cooperation, preferential treatment, and the participation of civil society to policy dialogue for culture.

 “Since the submission of the 2012 report, Nigeria has made significant progress particularly in devising measures to enhance cultural expressions through the film, music, performing arts, fashion sectors. During this workshop, working with a broad cross-section of stakeholders, we have been able to identify several positive trends and a number of areas in which cooperation can be improved in future,” said Ojoma Ochai, a member of the UNESCO 2005 Convention Expert Facility.

This workshop is a part of UNESCO’s global capacity development programme promoting participatory policy monitoring and policymaking for culture. The workshop used the methodology developed through the Swedish government-funded capacity-building project “Enhancing fundamental freedoms through the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions”.

Nigeria is expected to submit its 2nd periodic report later this year.