1. I am pleased to be at the Nollywood Economic Outlook (NEO) 2019, which focuses on current global realities, trends, creating the right policies, recommendations and the future of Nigeria. I commend the organisers, The Nollywood Mandate, for putting together this important programme at this crucial time. I also wish to express my gratitude to Dr. Don Pedro Aganbi, President of The Nollywood Mandate and NEO, for my invitation to this event and the opportunity to deliver the Keynote Address.

2. To begin with, I must admit to the special pleasure and inspiration I get from meeting and interacting with groups of Nigerians who are actively working to find solutions to developmental issues faced by our country. The Nollywood Mandate is one such organisation and I commend their hard work, consistency and commitment that went into bringing today’s event into being.

3. I am indeed honoured to be part of a distinguished list of guest speakers at this event, which includes fellow parliamentarians, senior public servants, representatives of the private sector as well as accomplished practitioners of our film industry.

4. Nigeria is described as the giant of Africa largely because of our population, which makes us the most populous black nation on earth. This longstanding descriptive acquired a more nuanced meaning in 2014 after a rebasing exercise revealed that the Nigerian economy was in fact the largest in Africa. This leap in our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was attributed, in part, to the contribution of the indigenous film industry to the Nigerian economy. We are, of course, talking of a considerable economic contribution that had not been captured previously, until 2014. Today, no one can claim to be in the dark as to the significance of Nollywood in terms of its contribution to the GDP.

5. It is hardly news that the Nigerian film industry is ranked second largest in the world in terms of production. It is estimated that Nollywood produces an average of 50 features per week; this puts our industry far ahead of Hollywood, and second only to India’s Bollywood.

6. It is important to note however, that Nollywood does not come close to Hollywood or Bollywood when it comes to revenue generation. It can be argued that one of the reasons for this is the inadequate leveraging on new technology for piracy prevention, wider distribution and quality assurance for Nollywood productions.

7. This brings me to the focus for Nollywood Economic Outlook 2019, which is captured by the theme: ‘Disruptions, Nigeria and the New Economy: Creating Innovative Policies for National Development.’

8. As we all know, the modern world is ever-changing, with new and better ways of doing things coming into play almost by the minute. We recently went through a digital revolution and are now firmly settled in the age of information. Thanks to technology, companies all over the world are revolutionising the way we think about certain industries; for example, transportation – Uber, hospitality – Air BnB. This has helped transform even the creative enterprise.

9. The film industry is not left out, with relative newcomers on the supply side such as Netflix and our very own Iroko TV that are changing the business of television and movies in different parts of the value chain. We have the continuing massive take-up of smartphones and gadgets as well as the increasing penetration of the internet to thank for radical changes in the profile and resulting demand of consumers.

10. Ladies and gentlemen, I call on each and every one of us to look at these developments and see them for what they are: new areas of opportunity to explore rather than threats to livelihoods. As practitioners in the creative industry, your ability to learn and adapt quickly to new innovations will be a major determinant of success.

11. A case in point is Netflix’s recent acquisition of worldwide rights to Genevieve Nnaji’s ‘Lionheart’. The film is being celebrated as a ‘Netflix Original’ and rightly so; it is the first deal of its kind for Nollywood, and for a figure that is believed to run into several million dollars. This is very encouraging, and points to new frontiers for Nollywood players who are willing to step up their game in terms of high production values that will enable them compete on the global stage.

12. The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Iroko TV, Jason Njoku, has also found success in curating and distributing Nollywood movies by taking advantage of the widespread use of smart devices and the internet. This and many other examples are a welcome development, and we would like to see more of such innovations in the industry.

13. The International Federation of Film Producers’ Associations (FIAPF) has described Nigeria’s movie industry as one of the most prolific in the world. I have on several occasions expressed my belief in the immense potentials this industry holds for national economic growth. I also recognise that the industry needs greater support of government in order to maximise those potentials.

14. You will agree with me that a major challenge that currently faces the industry is the widespread infringement of intellectual property as evident in the proliferation of pirated films on our streets. As further evidence of the adverse impact of piracy, the National Copyright Commission (NCC) estimates that Nigeria loses about $1 billion annually to the menace.

15. There is no two ways about it: piracy denies Nollywood producers and financiers their entitled earning for their creative endeavour and investment, and poses a major detriment to our economy. We lost the great comedian Moses Olaiya Adejumo popularly known as Baba Sala recently. It will be recalled that it was the piracy of his classic film ‘Orun Mooru’ that ruined Baba Sala financially and sent him into a long creative decline. Today’s filmmakers – including Tunde Kelani whose film ‘Arugba’ was heavily pirated – continue to grapple with the problem. The pirates, by all accounts, seem unfettered in their activities and act with impunity and contempt for the law. This brazen theft of intellectual property cannot be allowed to continue. We must address the problem and do so effectively.

16. For our part as the legislative arm of government, the National Assembly is working to pass the amended Copyright Act that seeks to create a strong disincentive for the pirates. However, beyond modifying the Act, it is critical that it is fully implemented after it is passed into law. The reason for this is illustrated in a report about the financial successes of the Indian film industry despite widespread piracy. The report posits – and I agree – that only determined enforcement can make strict intellectual property laws effective.

17. By way of conclusion, permit me to render a quote by Koïchiro Matsuura, former Director-General of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), who said that: “Film and video production are shining examples of how cultural industries, as vehicles of identity, values and meanings, can open the door to dialogue and understanding between peoples, but also to economic growth and development.”

18. This has definitely been the case with our Nollywood industry. We have come a long way since the pioneering ‘Living in Bondage’, which is credited with birthing the indigenous film industry we know and love today, and which projects Nigeria to the world like no other sector. I look forward to celebrating the greater heights that this industry will achieve.

Thank you for listening.


Abubakar Bukola Saraki MBBS CON (pronunciationⓘ; born on 19 December 1962) is a Nigerian politician who served as the 13th president of the Nigerian Senate from 2015 to 2019.[1][2] He previously served as the governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011; and was elected to the Senate in 2011, under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing the Kwara Central Senatorial District, and then re-elected in the 2015 general elections