The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has called on international investors to invest massively in Nigeria’s creative sector ”as the non-oil export alternative for economic growth and development”.
The Minister made the call while addressing the plenary session at the ongoing 2016 Edinburgh International Festival Summit in Scotland on Thursday.
”With approximately 24 million TV households, 150 TV channels, a greater number of radio stations, smart phone penetration edging over 40 million and over 100 million phone lines sold to date, and with over 20 million Diaspora Nigerians who are all primary consumers of the creativity located all over the world, and with us being the commercial bed rock of the last frontier, Africa, we are ready for business,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said although Nigeria is endowed with abundant cultural heritage, with each of the 36 states boasting of at least 3 to 5 cultural industries, the challenge is how to harness this abundant cultural heritage and create an economy out of it.
He noted, however, that the nation is ready to tackle the challenge by working with its partners, including the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the British Council, to build capacity and provide knowledge.
Recalling the Memorandum of Understanding which he signed with the British Council on the sidelines of the summit on Wednesday, the Minister expressed the belief that the British Council ”can assist us in the area of capacity building, identification of infrastructure and, more importantly, in the area of organizing how these things work in a cooperative manner”.
He announced Nigeria’s intention to preserve its cultural heritage by reviving a number of its festivals that have not been held regularly over the years, including the Argugun Fishing Festival and Durbar, and also bringing back the various age-long traditional games like ‘ayo’, ‘arin’ and traditional wrestling.
Alhaji Mohammed told the summit, which is being attended by representatives of many countries, that the present Administration had resolved, even before knowing the price of oil was going to crash, that it would diversify its economy
He said apart from agriculture and solid minerals, the country will be focusing on the creative industries ”because it is a major low-hanging fruit” which is ready to be plucked immediately.
The Minister identified some of the key creative industries thriving in Nigeria as the home-grown Nollywood (Film) Industry and the music industry ”which is beginning to find its way into major international markets”
He also listed traditional medicine, music, food, cosmetics, performing arts, science and technology, oral expressions, costumes and body adornment as some of the nation’s cultural resources
”We are simply not awake to the fact that our cultural resources offer more lucrative alternatives to our oil deposits in the form of income derivable from entrance fees to facilities and exhibitions, copyright charges for reproduction and use of collected rare objects, photographs and visual images, enquiry charges, sale of publications, publicity materials and promotion licensing agreements to mention a few.
”We need to be alert to harvest our many distinctive tangible and intangible cultural resources,” Alhaji Mohammed said, adding that Nigeria is opening opportunities to boost tourism and the hospitality business through well-organized national and international carnivals and festivals.