Feature- Ecobank: Enhancing the Echo of Arts across the country

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Patrick Akinwuntan, Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria
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By Dorcas Omotayo

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Leveraging on the arts industry in Nigeria for economic growth and to truly position Nigeria as the giant of Africa, should be top priority for the government. But the private sector support could further enhance the country’s positioning on the global stage as the home of creatives.

With Nollywood being one of the largest employers in Nigeria, generating $600 million annually. The economy of Nigeria has experienced a boom in past years as a result of the activities in this industry.

According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, he described the creative industry as the fastest growing sector of the nation’s economy, in terms of business opportunities, employment, earnings and entertainment. This was made known at the 11th Tourism Investment and Business Forum for Africa, he said, “Nollywood, for example, is not just about entertainment. It is also a major driver of economic growth and job creation, especially for youths and women. With over 2,000 movies produced annually, the opportunities are immense for wealth and job creation.”

To mitigate the impact of the pandemic, the government inaugurated the Post COVID-19 initiative committee to rebound the creative industry from the effects of the novel pandemic and reposition the industry to take its rightful place in the economy.

Banks have also been making passionate efforts to take the creative industry to a higher level. Listed among those banks is one organisation that has thrown its full weight behind several creative initiatives in the past. Ecobank, leading pan-African bank, has shown commitment to elevating the creative industry through funding and provision of cutting-edge solutions.
Recall that in 2019, Ecobank announced its partnership with the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) for its 2019 award event. Commenting on the partnership, the Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan said, “As the Pan-African bank, Ecobank is proud to partner with Africa’s most renowned music awards, which is a symbol of our support to building the family and lifestyle of Africans. Ecobankmobile *326# is joining AFRIMA to ensure that the Lagos show is a success.”

Even though the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has also recognised the importance of the industry. It collaborated with banks in the country to set up a Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI). The initiative was introduced to improve access to long-term low-cost financing for entrepreneurs and investors in the Nigerian and also cater to all creatives. For instance, a film distributor can get a loan of up to ₦500 million from his bank, through the scheme.

As part of efforts to develop the economy, Ecobank has affirmed that it was well positioned and prepared to participate actively in the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI) recently introduced by the CBN in collaboration with the Banker’s committee.

Furthermore, Ecobank continues to showcase its commitment through other initiatives which would assist the Nigerian arts and creative industry, to achieve scale and competitiveness globally. The bank in 2019 partnered with Terrakulture to promote African arts and culture through theatre productions during festive seasons. The essence of the partnership is to create jobs, promote Nigeria’s cultural heritage on the global stage and sensitize people to watch plays that will provide information on the nation’s rich and varied cultures.

Determined to enable a thriving and prosperous Africa, Ecobank Foundation – the charitable foundation for Ecobank, sponsored the 2019 Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la Télévision Ougadougou (FESPACO). The festival organised by the Government of Burkina Faso, is regarded as the most important film and cultural event on the African continent.

As efforts are being made to scale up the Nigerian creative industry, it is getting clearer that both the government and private organisations have a pivotal role to play in creating solutions and funding to achieve a major milestone in the creative industry. In line with this, Ecobank is creating solutions to enhance the industry and working closely with industry players as a major partner supporting the growth of the sector.

Dorcas Omotayo is the Features Editor of News Wings NG.

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