Growing the Nigerian TV industry will help create jobs for the country’s younger generation and deter them from joining militant groups such as Boko Haram, according to the head of the government’s broadcasting regulator.
Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, director general of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), told Content Nigeria that much of the civil turmoil caused by the Islamist group was perpetrated by young people who felt disconnected due to a lack of employment prospects.
“We have a serious crisis with very young people. Most of the unrest we have in our country – Boko Haram in the north, the militants who break oil pipes in the south – is caused by young people,” he said. “It’s because they don’t have opportunities and they feel alienated.
“Television offers a platform for young people to express creativity.”
Kawu added that Nigeria was in the process of moving from analogue to digital broadcasting, and that the digital revolution would offer a platform for the “development of new content and the creation of jobs in Nigeria.”
“The basic decision for us is that 80% of all content should be local; it has to be to create opportunities for jobs. And when people get opportunities they begin to connect with their country in a more positive frame of mind,” he said.
“Our country is a population of 192 million and 63% of that is under the age of 25, and 75% is under 35. Creating these kinds of pathways will give more and more younger Nigerian content creators the opportunity to reach the world.”
The digitisation of the country is being done in stages but will eventually reach all 36 Nigerian states. Kawu said the internal development would, in turn, showcase the country’s television potential globally.
He said the international recognition of the Nigerian film industry – aka Nollywood – “has provided the wings; now we need to fly.”
“Content from outside the Nigerian territory is part of our sensibility because we’re part of the world,” he said. “Nigerian content is so dominant in Africa, the international companies know the best way to tap into this new generation of Africans [is through Nigeria].
“We’re encouraging younger and more established content producers to create relationships for coproductions and bring stories that tell an international story into Nigeria, and also connect internationally to present the Nigerian story as part of the global human story.”