State Minister for Labor and Jobs, Dr. Festus Keyamo, said the federal government would step up efforts in the entertainment industry to combat piracy.
Keyamo said this when, on Friday, the leaders of the Nigerian Actors Guild (AGN), Abuja Branch, led by its president, Mr. Alvin Ahmed, paid him a courtesy visit.
He expressed concern about the pace at which artists ‘ intellectual property are losing through piracy, noting that the scourge will impact the development of Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry, if left unchecked.
He told the representatives of Nollywood that the ministry will work with other agencies of government to tackle piracy.
“By so doing, the intellectual property would be protected, the industry would grow and more employment would be created.”
Recognizing Nollywood’s socio-economic importance to the nation and his immense job-creating potential, the minister assured the AGN of the government’s effort to promote the industry.
He said the government had made funds available to the industry and allowed them to access the funds, encouraging them to fulfill the conditions attached.
He said other ways of increasing the industry are for government to invest heavily in infrastructure, such as building film villages, providing state-of – the-art equipment and post-production studios, and making them affordable for young producers.
Earlier, the delegation chief, Ahmed, was seeking government support to develop the film industry.
“We are film makers, creative people, actors, producers. We want to have synergy with government. Nollywood wants a voice, a projection, while we need our voices to be heard,’’ Ahmed said.
He also stated the desire of Nollywood to collaborate with government to put the visions and plans of government into visuals.
Ahmed said the industry had contributed a lot in job creation by making people to earn a living from entertainment, acting and film making.
He then requested for government assistance in promoting the industry.
“Nollywood has been there for long, creating employment for a whole lot of people.
“There is no age limit in its employment, as little children, youths, adults, the old, physically challenged and so on, are all employed by the industry.
“In Abuja alone, Nollywood has close to 6,000 actors, remove Nollywood, and these people will be on the street looking for jobs,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) estimates that the Nigerian film industry is the second largest based on annual production in the world after India’s Bollywood.
Nollywood produces an impressive total of 50 movies a week, employing around a million people in the process.
This thriving industry, however, with an estimated annual revenue of $5 billion north, is being plagued by an endemic problem of piracy and bribery that devorates not less than half of that amount in unearned profits.