BY LAIDE AGBOOLA
Stay optimistic, worry less about the things you and I cannot control. In the United Kingdom, gatherings of two families of 4 each are now been considered illegal, perhaps temporarily till the current health scare subsides. However, visiting supermarkets and return to offices with no specific limits remain legal. In the midst of this, China announced a potential vaccine for Covid-19 which may be ready later this year whilst one of the promising vaccine potentials from the United Kingdom dropped off the positive potential radar.
In Lagos, our quest for more religion has led us to open our religious centers ahead of some of our other vital economic centers. Although belated, it was a solid move to receive the news from the Office of the Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency Babajide Sanwo-Olu that cinemas may now be considered to open any moment from now having reviewed all the necessary technical basis.
Over the last few years, domestic cinemas have remained the most potent instrument for the distribution of the very best of Nollywood movies.
Nollywood, for those that watch the same, remains a vibrant and huge driver of employment for a large section of the populace as well as a key contributor to the economic landscape. For this reason, this sector should not be left behind. The same applies to the entertainment space as a whole. Safe Indoor entertainment form major replacements for the insufficient, unsafe outdoor and sometimes unavailable outdoor entertainment infrastructure in Lagos. Whilst the health scare subsists, in some cases winding down with ‘herd immunity’, this sector should have been one of the earlier sectors that ought to have opened with the necessary health measures properly in place.
We are all aware of the complaints of the dwindling earnings of the major Nollywood online distributor in Africa, Jason Njoku’s Iroko TV, “the Netflix of Africa”, the complaints of whether it is too early for Africa for an online streaming service that halved its revenue from N3,000 to N3,000 by virtue of doubling Naira/USD exchange rate over a defined period. Yet, remains lucky to have a growing international demand similar to its international comparative, Netflix and softer blows of repetitive domestic demands quickly dealt and further softened by the powers that be. Although, the others remain. The Nollywood space remains underfunded, yet remains a vital export sustaining Iroko TV internationally and the big-ticket movies relying on the vast number of domestic cinema chains. Our first foray of cinema chain export in Genesis Cinemas, Cameroon is coming to live soon. Our distribution capacity both online and through our Cinema exports must be carefully promoted by our governmental bodies. We have seen the push of domestic businesses in other jurisdiction for a foray into international space to earn the well needed international currencies we now so need given the fall of the now “old commodity, black gold – crude oil” cum impact of Covid-19.
We should not pay lip service to an industry that is now pivotal to economic growth. As a nation, we continue to embrace the importance of social interactions beyond religious gatherings. Commerce in the form of entertainment remains vital and should be prioritized in a health-conscious way. A challenge the industry players have carefully taken on board. The continuous push of religious activities ahead of commerce and capitalism as part drivers for economic emancipation.
Is Africa ready for the online streaming revolution as Jason Njoku puts it? I think Africa is ready to export his chain of cinema brands mostly domiciled in Nigeria, South Africa and parts of North Africa. We do hope we take the lead in exporting our domestic chains into other African jurisdictions and beyond whilst Iroko TV continues to distribute content. But then, is there an avenue for a domestic player with the distribution network to get involved in the online distribution of Nollywood movies and more and rival the very best “flixes” in the world. Maybe the solution for Africa, for now is brick and mortar merged with online presence for a formidable dominance. Remember to check out our multiproduct marketplace presence at www.purple.shop when it launches in October 2020 complementing our brick and mortar presence across Lagos Mainland and Island.
I guess, we are all learning. Actually, learning fast as we all get back to driving revenues and strategic plans in the appropriate direction using footfall and online. Whilst Africa may not have the infrastructure or financial power for curbing Covid-19, perhaps the same reason it has not had a devastating effect in Africa like elsewhere. This may be the very reason the strategic plan in any one African jurisdiction cannot be the same talk less of being the same with those of any other non-Africa entry strategy.
We do hope we remain all optimistic, positive and determined irrespective of our strategy as we head towards what we still believe would be a ‘busy Christmas’ and this time around I’m sure we would not paint it ‘detty’.