Afreximbank poised to set up $1bn fund for African film industry

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is working on the establishment of a $1-billion African Film Fund to be launched in 2024 to support the continent’s film industry

The Executive Vice President, Intra-African Trade Bank, at Afreximbank, Kanayo Awani, announced this on Friday in Cairo.

Addressing the opening of the 2023 CANEX Summit held as part of the third Intra-African Trade Fair, Awani said the fund would oversee film financing, co-finance with large studios, finance African filmmakers and finance producers and directors of film projects across the continent.

She noted that during CANEX WKND 2022, the bank had increased the financing it was making available to the creative sector from $500 million to $1 billion and that the bank currently had a pipeline of over $600 million in film, music, visual arts, fashion, and sports deal.

“The very first film we financed recently premiered at the Toronto Film Festival,” she said, adding, “The Bank has several in the pipeline from Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya, which should be on streaming platforms in 2024.”

Acknowledging that the film and audiovisual industries in Africa accounted for $5 billion of the continent’s GDP and employed an estimated five million people, with the potential to create over 20 million jobs and generate $20 billion in revenues annually, Awani noted that the sector faced several challenges, including limited access to financing and  copyright infringement due to weak copyright laws, enforcement mechanisms and a lack of awareness.

The sector was also confronted with infrastructure and technology gaps, lack of capacity and shortage of skilled professionals and limited market access and international exposure, as a result of which African creative and cultural products often struggle to gain exposure and access to international markets.

Earlier, Boris Kodjoe, a celebrity actor of Ghanaian descent, highlighted how the creativity of Africans had influenced various aspects of modern life, including music, fashion, art, design, social consciousness, business, sports, film and TV. 

He said that the exploitation of black creativity by the West had had lasting effects and that, despite admiration of black excellence, Africa still faced branding challenges due to external perception fuelled by the traditional media’s depiction of poverty, famine, civil wars and migration on the continent.

Kodjoe said that the world craved culturally specific global content and that Africa was a key player in meeting that demand.  

Also speaking, Albert M. Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission, said the creative sector in Africa was rapidly growing and making a significant contribution to the inclusive growth and sustainable development of African economies.

“I reaffirm my belief that the African creative industry has huge potential to be a source of employment and revenue to create the Africa we want – revenue from intra-African trade as well as revenue from the rest of the world.”

Muchanga urged African nations to convert their vast potential into plans and projects that yield tangible results, stressing the need to also invest in protecting international property rights.

CANEX is an Afreximbank initiative to support Africa and the African Diaspora’s creative and cultural industries by providing financing and non-financing instruments to boost growth. The seven-day CANEX Summit is intended to further develop conversations and provide additional business-to-business and business-to-government opportunities. It includes a fashion show featuring a range of bold and exciting designs from across Africa and the Diaspora and a CANEX Music Factory, hosted by renowned South African producer Oskido, which will provide songwriters and beat makers with the opportunity to record their work.

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