Business Hilights
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3 months after, no signal from Bankers Committee on National Theatre

In September last year the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele told Nigerians that it has sealed strong understanding with the Nigerian Bankers Committee (NBC) to invest a whooping N22bn in the redevelopment of moribund National Theatre, Iganmu in Lagos for the creative industry to thrive.

Checks after three months show apparent silence as against the speed with which both parties toured the facility and assured industry stakeholders on their readiness for immediate redevelopment action.

Business Hilights recalls that the National Arts Theatre, which ordinarily should remain the primary centre for the performing arts in Nigeria, had lost its glory as well as its potential as a means of non-oil revenue generation for the country.

Only few Nigerians would recall that the imposing but currently bushy national asset was built in 1976 as one of the four main venues of the historic Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) that took place in 1977, has completely lost its splendour.

Early October 2019, the NBC made of bank chief executives and regulators took over the facility with the plan to turn around and bring it back to life.

Earlier in his speech at the 2019 Creative Nigeria Summit, Emefiele announced that the 40 acre Creative Industry Park will be developed around the National Theatre with similar parks to be located in Kano, Port Harcourt or Enugu.

CBN Hqs Emefiele
CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele

He added that the Creative Industry initiative which is aimed at unlocking the creative talents of Nigerian youths is designed to generate 800,000 jobs in the movie, music and fashion sectors, as well as and increase the revenue of the industry by $300 million.

He said the banking industry, through the initiative which would be implemented over a five year period, will support the development of 50 additional cinemas, and increase the contribution of the movie industry to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to three percent from the current level of one percent.

According to him, “Our goal through the establishment of these parks is to create an environment where startups and existing businesses can be incubated and rewarded for their creativity. In each of these parks, efforts will be focused on discovering the most innovative young entrepreneurs across the music, movie, fashion and IT industries.

“Each park will be able to support skills acquisition for over 200,000 Nigerians. These individuals will be empowered with funds at single digit interest rate, state-of-the-art tools, high level training and networks, that will enable them to turn their ideas into a reality. “When they are able to achieve this objective of creating a new music product, a high-quality movie, an IT software application, or a fashionable outfit, we will work to ensure that they are able to distribute their work on a large scale around the globe.

National Arts Theatre
National Arts Theatre, Igamu, Lagos

“So far, the CBN and the Bankers Committee intend to support this creative venture with N22 billion of initial funds. Part of our efforts in the music and movie industry will be to support young entrepreneurs in the development of digital content at the park.

“Our Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI) will also enable the development of distribution outlets such as cinemas and music platforms, which will help improve the reach of the content developed by our young entrepreneurs.

It would be recalled that apex bank and the commercial banks would be playing this role through the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI).

The CIFI is part of the development finance function of the central bank, which Section 31 of the CBN Act 2007, empowers it to carry out.

Accordingly, the CIFI is a collaboration between the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee to improve access to long-term, low-cost financing for entrepreneurs and investors in the Nigerian creative and information technology (IT) sub-sector, as part of efforts to boost job creation in Nigeria, particularly among the youth.

Under this initiative, entrepreneurs in fashion, music, movie production and information technology can get long-term low-interest loans with interest rate of nine per cent over a 3-10-year period, guaranteed by the CBN for their businesses. It was designed to support entrepreneurs in the creative industry and stimulate economic growth.

“We intend to support the development of over 50 additional cinemas from our current capacity of 48 cinemas nationwide. The cost structure of these cinemas will be lean, in order to make movies affordable to a large section of Nigerians.

“These measures which will be implemented over a five-year period, will increase the contribution of our movie industry to GDP, from one to three per cent. It will also result in improved revenue generation of over $300m from production and distribution of Nigerian movies at cinema locations at home and abroad, as well as the creation of over 200,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Lai M
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed

“In the area of music production and distribution, this initiative over the next five years, will enable young Nigerians to capture significant market share of the $10.7 billion music industry. It would also create over 500,000 direct and indirect jobs,” Emefiele said.

Three months after, efforts to get details on the stage of planning the N22bn investment could not yield any result as several contacted bank executives who are in the know of the deal failed to comment.