a The Africa Annual feature by Jon Pienaar. The Nigerian film industry has finally been recognised as a key economic driver in what is now Africa’s largest economy. We take a look at Nollywood.

It’s old news that Nigeria has overtaken South Africa as Africa’s largest economy, but what is a revelation is that the value of the economy now includes data that has not been included before. Theses figures come from sectors that include telecommunications, airlines, information technology and, importantly, Nollywood. In fact, the country’s homegrown film industry now accounts for around 1.3% of Nigeria’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product.)

Nollywood graphic from The Africa Annual“It comes as no surprise that data from Nollywood has been included in the recalculated GDP figures for Nigeria,” says Jason Njoku, co-founder and CEO of Nigerian online film phenomenon iROKOtv. “It has been growing steadily for the past 20 years and can legitimately be uttered in the same breath as the likes of Hollywood.” Njoku says that when it comes to sheer output, some 1,500 to 2,000 movies are made in Nigeria every year.

Njoko entered the Nollywood industry in December 2010, after he could not find any Nollywood movies online for his mother who was living in the UK. Having realised how popular Nollywood films were outside of Nigeria, Njoko thought it inconceivable that films that were so sought after were so inaccessible. He flew to Lagos and after immersing himself in the industry, negotiated Africa’s first content-partnership deal with YouTube. This company streamed full-length Nollywood movies online under the name of Nollywood Love.

The Nigerian Diaspora could not get enough and Nollywood Love was an overnight success. In January 2012, the company launched its own movie streaming platform, iROKOtv, and reached 500,000 registered users in under 6 months. In December 2011, iROKO Partners moved into the Nigerian music scene and iROKING was born. The platform showcases the most popular West African singers and manages and monetizes the video YouTube sites for many of the industry’s top artists.

“Nollywood is the most hard working, brutal and dynamic of industries that Nigeria has spawned. It is an economic miracle that the industry has not only flourished, but grown exponentially, considering the conservative budgets movie producers have to work with, as well as the antiquated methods of distribution that held the industry back for so many years,” says Njoku.

“Nollywood has been, for too long, actively discounted as a potential industry for growth in Nigeria. Investors at home and abroad were unwilling to invest, putting their money in traditional sectors such as agriculture, oil and property. In 2010, iROKOtv secured ‘series A’ funding of US$ 3 million from US-based Tiger Global, the very first significant, multi-million dollar investment into the industry, which is really quite astonishing,” Njoku states.

Since its first round of venture funding four years ago, Njoku and his team secured a further US$ 19 million venture capital investment, bringing the total invested in the operation to US$ 21 million. These investments are undoubtedly a testament to Nollywood now being considered by the international investor community as a very real and exciting investment prospect in Africa.

“Thanks to the movie producers, actors and distributors who have helped to put Nigeria on the map culturally, and who, with their creativity and dedication to their art, are helping to drive the economy upwards,” says Njoku.

iROKOtv is the world’s largest online distributor of African content, with a Nigerian movie ‘Nollywood’ catalogue of 6,000+ movies.

The Africa Annual

This feature first ran in The Africa Annual published by Ornico with as its official media partner. Read or download the full magazine via Issuu.

— MarkLives’ round-up of top ad and media industry news and opinion in your mailbox every three work days. Sign up here!


Published by Herman Manson is edited by Herman Manson. Follow us on Twitter -

Online CPD Courses Psychology Online CPD Courses Marketing analytics software Marketing analytics software for small business Business management software Business accounting software Gearbox repair company Makeup artist