lai mohammedLet me formally welcome you all to this ceremony for the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture and the Tony Elumelu Foundation. This is the culmination of months of hard work on both sides. In this respect, let me thank my brother, Mr. Tony Elumelu. From the moment the idea of this MoU was conceived, he threw his entire weight – and of course that of his Foundation – behind all the efforts to bring it to fruition. My brother, thank you most sincerely.

2. Let me also thank the Chief Executive Officer of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Ms. Parminder Vir, OBE (Order of the British Empire), and her entire team for their tireless efforts in putting together this partnership agreement. From our first meeting in April, which incidentally was held here at the National Theatre, she left me in no doubt about the feasibility of this partnership. Thank you, madam, for your vision and dedication to lifting the Creative Industries in our country.

3. From the time I assumed office as the Minister of Information and Culture, I have not missed any opportunity to tell anyone who cared to listen of my intention to develop our country’s Creative Industries and also enhance its contribution to the national economy.

4. In this regard, I have always said the Creative Industries must be transformed to a Creative Economy for it to contribute more meaningfully to the nation’s GDP, provide jobs for our teeming youths and also become a source of foreign exchange earnings for the country. It is in the realization of the potentials of this sector that I have gone on record as calling the Creative Industries, as well as Tourism, the new oil for Nigeria. This is no mere rhetoric at all.

5. Before going further, let’s answer a question that must be agitating the minds of many. What is Creative Industry? Let’s look at the definition that was developed by the UK in 1998, that the Creative Industries are those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have the potential for wealth and job creation, through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property. According to the definition, Creative Industries have the following 13 sub-sectors: Advertising, architecture, the art and antiques market, crafts, design, designer fashion, film, interactive leisure and software (i.e. video games), music, the performing arts, publishing, software, as well as Radio and Television.

6. For its part, UNCTAD, which is the UN Conference on Trade and Development, calls the Creative Industries the interface between creativity, culture, economics and technology as expressed in the ability to create and circulate intellectual capital, with the potential to generate income, jobs and export earnings while at the same time promoting social inclusion, cultural diversity and human development.

7. With these definitions, it is clear the Creative Industries are bigger and wider than our traditional perception of the sector here, hence the inherent possibilities are also limitless, so to say. Little wonder, then, that the Creative Industries have turned around the fortunes of California in the United States, Mumbai in India, Turkey, Brazil, Dubai, Australia etc and made them economic giants. We can replicate same here, with the support of partners like the Tony Elumelu Foundation. Our Nollywood is one of the 3 largest film industries in the world. Our Music is fast becoming the most travelled music anywhere in the world. Our TV market with little or no formal production ecosystem is the largest on the continent. Our over 170 million people, 24 million TV households and the fastest growing mobile data penetration on the African continent constitute huge, added advantages. As a matter of fact, the ongoing digitization of television in Nigeria, which we are also undertaking, can create at least one million jobs in three years!

8. To reap the full potentials of the Creative Industries, we realized early on that we will need to reach out to organizations that have the capacity and the drive to assist us in achieving our goals, organizations that can utilize their business knowledge, network and technical expertise to assist the Ministry in the development of Nigeria’s Creative Industries. This explains why we entered into discussions with the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the British Council. The discussions have now yielded fruits. On August 24th, 2016 in Edinburgh, Scotland, we signed an MoU with the British Council. And today, we are signing another MoU with the Tony Elumelu Foundation. Together, we will work to re-position the Creative Industries in Nigeria.

9. I am excited at the prospect of working with the Tony Elumelu Foundation. It is a delight to know that the Foundation has bent over backwards to accommodate the Creative Industries within the bigger Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme, which has the purpose of identifying, over 10 years, a total of 10,000 African start-ups and entrepreneurs with ideas that can generate at least 1,000,000 new jobs and contribute at least 10 billion dollars in new annual revenues across Africa. This is the kind of visionary enterprise we need to fuel sustainable development across the African continent, and we are happy to be working with this Foundation.

10. The MoU we are about to sign will spell out the details of how we will work together to execute our partnership. More specifically, the areas of collaboration will include the creation of an enabling business environment for the creative industries with such incentives as easy access to finance; the structuring of the Creative Industries to enable it generate independent revenues locally and also boost exports to increase Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings; and comprehensive statistics about the Creative Industries, including its size and projections, to guide potential local and foreign investors.

11. An innovative part of the collaboration is the plan to convene a Creative Economy Task Force to map the Creative Industries to provide a better picture of what is happening on the ground and help inform policy development. We also plan to sign on a Consultant to measure the economic contribution of these industries to the Nigerian economy and provide a blueprint for action.

12. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I have hyped this partnership between our Ministry and the Tony Elumelu Foundation everywhere and every time I have spoken about the prospects of Nigeria’s Creative Industries. This is because I believe strongly that the collaboration will be the much-needed catalyst to transform our Creative Industries to a Creative Economy. I have no doubt that our partner, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, also shares my strong belief in this regard. Let us both, therefore, put our shoulders to the wheel to ensure the success of this partnership.

13. We must make provision for concrete benchmarks to measure our progress in the implementation of this MoU. This will ensure that by the time we conclude the initial two-year period of this historic collaboration, no one will need to strain his eyes to see the achievements. It is important to note here that our efforts to lift the creative industries have received support at the highest level of our Administration. Last week, at an evening of conversation with the youth, President Muhammadu Buhari not only rallied support for the sector, he also directed that such support must reflect in the budget of the Ministry of Information and Culture in 2017. And now, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I say let the real work begin to bring our Creative Industries into the mainstream of the Nigerian economy.

14. I thank you all for your kind attention