The National Film and Video Censor Board (NFVCB), filmmakers and other key players in the Nigerian film industry have called for an effective and systematic implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
This was a major highlight of the gathering of stakeholders including regulators, economic experts as leaders of the various guilds and associations in the Nigerian Film industry designated as Nollywood.
At a press briefing held in Lagos last weekend, the Executive Director/CEO of the board, Alhaji Adedayo Thomas said that the forum was organized to address perceived challenges, concerns and suggestions that would form the basis for trade negotiations.
Thomas remarked that stakeholders have the prospect of reshaping the landscape of the film industry as it is the stakeholder's input that the board would incorporate for submission to NOTN for implementation.
"The Board as the regulator of the film industry has been attending meetings with the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) to extract inputs for relevant stakeholders to guide the country's participation in the implementation of these protocols at the continental level. As it relates to the entertainment industry, we will be looking at the real and perceived challenges, worries and suggestions that would form the basis for a national position in negotiations of the protocols," he said.
Mr. Andy Boyo, National Patron, Actors Guild of Nigeria and Chairman of the roundtable said with the full implementation of the AfCFTA, Nollywood would grow fast when it collaborates with other film industry. He added that films would then have a range of stars and wider reach across the continent to attract foreign direct investments.
"This will lead to more income generation and high rate of return on investment for the investors/producers as opposed to if the income is only from one country," he said.
Peace Anyiam-Osigwe (MFR), National President Association of Movie Producers (AMP) and founder, Africa Movie Academic Awards (AMAA) urged the government to protect the rights of film makers.
"The regulator must protect us the way other African countries are protecting their actors because if they don't, it will kill the film industry," she said.
Mr. Victor Okhai, National President, Directors Guild of Nigeria (DGN) saw the agreement as an opportunity for Nollywood to offer products and services. Okhai added that for the industry to benefit from the agreement, it should ensure that it has visa free entry into the African countries for at least 90days, 120 days or even nine months.
He proposed that customs and immigration barriers should be lifted across the continent boarders, filmmakers should get temporary employment permit, access to grants and subtle loans, improved networking infrastructure for easy and fast movement to and fro other business destinations within Africa.
Also, Mr. Patrick Lee, Chairman, Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) said that the emergence of the One-African market has offered doors to further showcase Nigerian films to the world. He however called on relevant authorities to ensure that all negations were made in the best interested of the nation's film industry reputed to be the largest in Africa and second on the global stage.
The AfCFTA with its secretariat in Accra, Ghana is a free trade area created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union (AU) nations. The free-trade area is reputed to be the largest in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.
The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a continental market for goods and services with free movement of people and capital and pave the way for creating a Customs Union. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa(UNECA), the AfCFTA is projected to lift intra-African trade by as much as 52 per cent by 2022.