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a booming film industry but “untapped” economic potential

The production of cinematographic works is growing in Africa thanks to digital technologies. But the economic potential of this industry remains “largely untapped across most of the continent”notes Tuesday, October 5, Unesco, which publishes a cartography of the continent and recommendations for “Organize future growth”.

In Africa, “These last few years have seen the proliferation of a remarkable quantity of productions thanks to digital technologies”notes the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in a 70-page report.

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” The case of Nollywood [l’industrie du cinéma nigérian] with some 2,500 films made each year is exemplary in this respect. It has enabled the emergence of a local production and distribution industry with its own economic model” and the “the same phenomenon is observed in other states on the continent where the production of films and television programs is growing outside formalized frameworks”.

But “Unlike Nollywood, African film production is struggling to find an economic model that ensures sustainable growth, particularly because of the size and shortcomings of national markets” and “the revenues generated by the audiovisual sector in the majority of States in Africa go to the benefit of foreign interests”.

five million people

Unesco notes that a “overwhelming share of the market is pre-empted by audiovisual goods and services outside these States, which contributes neither to the mutual knowledge of populations, nor to the promotion of cultural diversity, nor to the economic development of a national industry and/ or regional”.

This report maps ” for the first time “ continent-wide film and audiovisual industries, who “would employ around 5 million people and represent $5 billion in GDP across Africa”. “The film and audiovisual sectors are estimated to have the potential to create over 20 million jobs and generate an annual GDP contribution of $20 billion in Africa”notes Unesco, based in Paris.

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But this potential remains “largely untapped”, says Unesco. Among the recurring difficulties, Unesco notes that many aspects of the cinematographic and audiovisual industry remain “informal”. “Only 44% of countries have national film commissions and only 55% have policies to support the film industry”.

Africa is by far the “worst-served continent” in film distribution, with only one screen for 787,402 people. “Only 19 out of 54 African countries (35%) offer any kind of financial support to filmmakers, most often in the form of small grants or grants”the report adds.

“Unrestrained piracy”

When it comes to freedom of expression, industry professionals in at least 47 countries (87%) report “explicit constraints or self-censorship on what can be shown or discussed on screen”. Although there are no precise data on this subject, “two thirds of countries estimated that the sector is losing more than 50%” of the amount of revenue due to a “frenzied piracy”says Unesco.

This report will be launched at UNESCO headquarters on Tuesday afternoon by its director general Audrey Azoulay. Several round tables will be organized with representatives of the cinema industry.

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From Tuesday to Thursday, Unesco also hosts a cycle of screenings of African films, a selection that mixes three generations of directors and addresses the themes of the status of women, “Thwarted Dreams” of a youth in search of a better future or of clandestine migration and the thousands of lives swept away in the perils of the desert and the Mediterranean.

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The World with AFP

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