Principal players in the nation’s entertainment space, known as Nollywood have intensified calls for the government to make bundled broadband internet service widely available in its quest to diversify the economy and boost the emergence of local digital content.
Speaking at the Nollywood Economic Outlook 2019 organised by the Nollywood Mandate Group (NMG) in Lagos, participants tasked the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to work closely with entertainment practitioners to boost local digital content.
The chairman of the occasion, Dr. Chris Uwaje, former President of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) noted that Nollywood has done well for itself but to get to the next level, it needs to quickly overcome the challenge of distribution. According to the Oracle, “It is time for Nollywood to leapfrog the distribution of its content using the rapidly emerging digital technology.”
Zeb Ejiro, pioneer Nollywood producer and Sheik of the Nigerian Entertainment sphere called on the NCC to work out an interface with the movie industry to explore how bundled broadband can be made available to practitioners. He urged that government to establish a special product for the movie sector just like it has for Agriculture.
Ejiro lamented that while a lot has been said about enabling environment very little done to actualize it. Political will is required, he noted.
Prof. Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the NCC, said that the commission’s proactive effort to achieve thirty percent broadband penetration for the country demonstrates its understanding of the power of broadband. He explained that the commission is promoting several infrastructure models to boost broadband availability. He noted that submarine cables that have landed in the country and data centres are still largely underutilize so there is enough capacity to go round. Henry Ojiokpota, NCC Lagos Zonal Controller, who represented the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission declared that the commission is ready to work with Nollywood to explore options for mutually beneficial activities to grow the local content and productivity in general. He stated that with broadband digital content can be distributed further, faster and more economically.
Dr. Ali Pantami, Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) in his presentation revealed that the agency set up the Office of Nigerian Content (ONC) precisely to promote local content. NIDTA is keen to boost local content through creating the enabling environment to encourage creativity and local content production. Chioma Okee-Aguguo who represented the DG remarked that. On globally, the trend indicates that oil and gas is dated and out-dated, wasted and wasting and that the empowerment of youth with technology is the way of the future.”
Dr. Uwaje argued that because the disruption that broadband can bring can be both positive and negative, it must be managed strategically such that the bulk of the content will be local content.
Don Pedro Aganbi Lagos Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) Chairman, stated that video on demand VOD is a growing trend and Nollywood must tap into it. According to Aganbi, “Going digital means that the movies can reach more people and more far flung places. The availability of bundled broadband service would indeed go a long way to boost access and improve the distribution and consumption of digital entertainment,” Aganbi submitted.
Uwaje explained that while entertainment can play a critical role in the economy, the practitioners and relevant industry bodies must work conscientiously to sell their viewpoint to government. “We need to harness the power of digital delivery utilizing the growing availability of broadband services, he emphasized,” he concluded.
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