Afreximbank launches a $1 billion fund to boost Africa’s film sector.

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The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has declared its intention to establish a $1 billion African Film Fund aimed at providing financial support to the continent’s film industry. Kanayo Awani, the Executive Vice President of Afreximbank, unveiled this initiative at the 2023 CANEX Summit during the third Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2023). Awani explained that the fund’s objectives include overseeing film financing, co-financing major studio projects, supporting African filmmakers, and providing financial assistance to producers and directors throughout Africa.

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At CANEX 2022, Afreximbank doubled its financing for the creative sector from $500 million to $1 billion. The institution currently has a project pipeline exceeding $600 million, covering various deals in film, music, visual arts, fashion, and sports. Notably, Afreximbank’s inaugural film investment recently premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, and several films from Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya are scheduled for streaming release in 2024.

In spite of Africa’s film industry being valued at $5 billion, employing 5 million individuals, and holding an annual revenue potential of $20 billion, the sector encounters various challenges. These include restricted access to financing, inadequate copyright laws that facilitate piracy, and limitations in infrastructure, skills, and market accessibility, all of which impede its growth. Consequently, African creative products struggle to secure international exposure and distribution.

The CANEX initiative aims to address these challenges by offering both financial and non-financial support to facilitate trade and investment in Africa’s creative industries. The week-long CANEX Summit serves as a platform for fostering discussions and partnerships between businesses and governments. It includes events such as a fashion show showcasing African designs and a music factory where artists can record their work.

Actor Boris Kodjoe highlighted that while black creativity has left a global impact in music, art, business, and film, Africa continues to grapple with external perceptions of poverty and conflict perpetuated by media portrayals. Despite this, there is a high global demand for culturally-specific content, and Africa, with its youthful and connected population, is a significant provider. Afrobeat music is already gaining global popularity, and it is projected that by 2030, Africa could generate $200 billion in creative exports.

Albert Muchanga, the AU Commissioner, reiterated the substantial potential of the fast-growing creative sector in creating jobs and driving economic growth in Africa. However, he emphasized the need for this potential to materialize into concrete plans and projects, with investments directed towards safeguarding intellectual property rights.

With the introduction of the new billion-dollar film fund, Afreximbank has the capacity to directly empower African filmmakers and studios, enabling them to share their narratives with global audiences. By providing financial support for both production and distribution, the fund addresses crucial constraints, fostering the growth of the film sector.

The impact of the fund is not confined to the film industry alone; it is poised to stimulate broader economic activities. Increased film production is expected to drive job creation, facilitate infrastructure expansion, boost tourism, and enhance exports.

Beyond its economic contributions, the fund has the potential to reshape external narratives. By showcasing promising African talents and portraying the diversity and creativity of the continent on the big screen, it challenges outdated perceptions.

In essence, Afreximbank’s investment in the African Film Fund recognizes the significant social and economic potential within the sector. This initiative is anticipated to generate both cultural and financial gains as the vibrant voices of Africa find a platform on the global stage.

Source: Tech-in-Africa