Students at a film workshop in Lagos, Nigeria

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UNESCO spotlights growth potential of Africa’s film industry

UNESCO published the first complete mapping of Africa’s film and audiovisual industries in 2021, the UN International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development. These industries currently employ an estimated 5 million people and account for US$ 5 billion in GDP across the continent.

The African Film Industry: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities for Growth contains strategic recommendations to help the sector achieve its estimated potential to create over 20 million jobs and contribute US$ 20 billion to the continent’s combined GDP.

The report argues that this potential remains largely untapped despite the significant growth in production across the continent, with Nigeria, for example, producing some 2,500 films a year.

Many aspects of the film and audiovisual industries in Africa remain informal, with only 44 per cent of countries having an established film commission and 55 per cent having a film policy. Piracy is estimated to waylay from 50 to over 75 per cent of the film and audiovisual industries’ revenue. Other challenges include education and training, internet connectivity, gender equality, freedom of expression and the preservation of archives.

The publication is designed to help the African film and audiovisual industries and decision-makers take stock of the present landscape and plan strategically for future growth. It is also part of UNESCO’s contribution to the Year of Arts, Culture and Heritage of the African Union (2021).

The African film Industry: trends, challenges and opportunities for growth
UNESCO
2021
Published with the support of China
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As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of UNESCO’s Declaration on Cultural Diversity, we need to strengthen international cooperation to enable filmmakers of all countries to express themselves and develop viable and competitive cultural and creative industries.
Audrey Azoulay
Audrey Azoulay UNESCO's Director-General

UNESCO’s action in favour of a dynamic creative economy that uplifts creators is in line with its 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and its efforts to strengthen the status of artists. UNESCO is engaging the international community to embark on renewed reflection on cultural policies to tackle global challenges and outline priorities to shape a more robust and resilient cultural sector. The current crisis is forcing decision-makers to consider the social and economic weight of the creative economy, encouraging countries to reform their policies. Digitalization has been a gamechanger, affecting the entire creative value chain and altering the ways we create, disseminate, consume and communicate.

Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions
2005
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We are seeing progress. In July 2021, the Ministers of Culture of the G20 group of the world's largest economies met in Rome and agreed for the first time on a declaration that firmly positions culture as a major engine for sustainable socio-economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It urges governments to increase their investments in the sector and aims for permanent integration of culture in the G20.

Such efforts pave the way for the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development, MONDIACULT 2022, which will be held in September 2022 in Mexico.