Lai Mohammed: Support for creative industry best way to solve youth unemployment

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohamed, has
stressed the need for governments in Africa to invest in the Creative
Industry as a way of solving youth unemployment and boosting the
creative talent of youths.

The Minister, who made the remarks while briefing journalists on the
just-concluded Annual General Meeting of the Afreximbank in Cairo,
Egypt, where the Creative Industry featured prominently, said such
support should be in form of providing grants for the sector and
building Creative Industry infrastructure such as event places,
cinemas, internet connectivity and cheap data

“What we find lacking in the Creative Industry really is that
governments across the continent need to do more than what we are
doing now. They need to create infrastructure – we are not just
talking about roads or bridges or airports but Creative Industry
Infrastructure, both hardware and software,” he said.

”We have the population, we have the talents, we need infrastructure,
we need government grants,” said Alhaji Mohammed, who was a panellist
at a session of the Afreximbank AGM that was dedicated to the Creative
Industry.

He said with a high population of youths, most of whom are unemployed,
the Creative Industry holds great potential for Africa because it’s a
limitless and renewable resource capable of creating wealth and
employment.

The Minister said the continental bank has floated a $500 million
Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX) Fund designed to boost African Creative
Industry and the Media, including digital innovators and experts,
fashion, film and music.

He said for the Creative Industry to thrive, governments on the
continent should explore avenues for long term grants, capacity
building and provision of infrastructure, adding: ”You cannot grow the Creative
Industry with debt.”

Mohammed also said all the available instruments at the moment
cannot grow the Creative Industry, and that what is needed is ‘patient
money’.

”What we need is for venture capital firms to invest more in the
Creative Industry. This is because out of the $1 billion venture
capital investment in Nigeria in 2021, just 1 per cent went to
the Creative industry,” he said.

The Minister said with a population of about 52 million young
people (between the ages of 18 and 35), who are hugely talented, and
the digital revolution which provides internet access for about 104
million people and also with about 33 million Social Media users,
Nigeria’s Creative Industry is like a goldmine and, when properly
harnessed, would serve as the country’s new oil.

He expressed delight that Nigeria is far ahead of some of its peers on
the continent in appreciating the potential of the Creative Industry
and making policies towards enhancing the contribution of the sector
to economic growth.

“I am proud to say that when we were in Cairo, I was able to thump my
chest and say that Nigeria is doing the right thing. One example I cited is the
collaboration between the Federal Government and the Central Bank of
Nigeria/Bankers’ Committee that will bring a brand new National
Theatre, which will also have four hubs for music, ICT, fashion and
film.

“We are actually creating a creative and entertainment centre, which
is going to employ many people and stop capital flight because you can
now do the post-production for your film and music right here in
Nigeria,” the Minister said.

Mohammed, who also mentioned the floating of the $50 million
Creative Industry Financial Initiative by the Central Bank, promised
to engage the apex bank to ensure that the fund is accessible to the
Creative Industry players.

He also harped on the need to improve on the collation, analysis and
interpretation of data on the contribution of the Creative Sector to
the GDP so that policy makers, development partners and other experts
can make a case for favourable policies and funding for the industry.

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