Tapping into Africa’s film industry

How much do we know about Africa, and more specifically African movies or TV? Perhaps we do have some visibility to content from Egypt and Morocco – maybe also Algeria. But what about Nigeria? The country has a USD 3bn movie industry with 80 films produced on average each week, generating a whopping $610 million annually. By comparison, Morocco makes a humble $6.5 million each year, yet we have probably heard more about Moroccan films here.

I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion organised by Canon with three African artists, well-known influencers in their countries, and the discussion was such an eyeopener. If I were a businesswoman with deep pockets, I’d be packing my bags and heading to Africa.

We learned, for instance, that while Morocco produces good films, the country lacks theatres. The only way to watch a lot of movies is on the internet and, sadly, some of that is on pirate platforms. This is perhaps an opportunity for the likes of Vox, and if things are not as easy as they seem, we must at least explore the opportunity for mobile theatres.

We also heard that there is very little collaboration between countries in Africa, so each country gets to see its own films but only a few travel – those that do perhaps make it in the festival circuit. Have our regional distributors failed us by only bringing Hollywood and Bollywood and a few Arabic films to this market, and is there a big opportunity here? Is this something our regional broadcasters can explore to bring to the market? Or perhaps OTT service providers?

We continue to remain in the dark about Africa, though this year CABSAT had a panel discussion with African panellists and we will see a dedicated pavilion at DISCOP this month. With broadcasters, suppliers and service providers eyeing Africa as an important market, it’s time we did more.

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