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Nollywood 2.0: how tech is making Africa’s movie industry a global leader

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Nollywood, Nigeria’s ever-expanding film industry, is ranked #2 globally, after Bollywood (#1) and Hollywood (#3), by the number of annual film productions (making roughly 40 films per week, at an average cost of $40,000 per project). This stat still blows me away — this is arguably the most popular content across sub-Saharan Africa and the prolificity of this US$590-million movie industry has all happened in less than 20 years.

Vanessa Clark, co-founder of Mobiflock, recently brought iRoko Partners to my attention after she heard them speak at Mobile Entertainment Africa 2012, and I was intrigued. The creation of adequate digital distribution channels for the Nigerian entertainment industry has become a priority and iRoko Partners aims to address this.

Straight out of Nigeria (or Naija, as the BlackBerry Babes would say), iRoko Partners, an online distributor of Nigerian movies and music, is working with Nigerian producers and artists to bring their content to the digital world. The company is the brainchild of Nigerian internet entrepreneur, Jason Njoku.

Piracy and poor distribution channels have long been the bane of Nollywood. Films generally go straight to CD; are shot on low budget and often in a time frame of two weeks. iRoko Partner’s head of marketing and analytics Lanre Akinlagun says that “Nollywood has counterfeits entering the market within 48 hours to a week of a movie being released, resulting in little incentive for movie producers to produce quality work.” These CDs and counterfeits are then sold from market stalls and by hawkers, not just in Nigeria but to the rest of the African diaspora as well.

Jump to ‘Nollywood 2.0’ and piracy is no longer limited to a hawker on the street selling a counterfeit CD, but is now spreading fast into the digital space. Online pirates are uploading content to their sites without permission or payment of due royalties to the producers. They don’t charge viewers for access to the hosted movies, but make their money off Google Ads that result from traffic generated to their website.

Nollywood 2.0: how tech is making Africa
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