Nigerian animation executives from companies including Ultricle Studios and Kugali Media are hopeful the industry can improve its ability to attract international partners.
During a panel session at Lagos Comic Con last weekend, Kugali co-founder Tolu Olowofoyeku said he was not satisfied with the low number of partnerships African animation studios have with the wider international industry.
“There is really no one to blame; it’s a work in progress. It is a function of the Nigerian state, and certain things are just too difficult to do in Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking on the same panel, Dayo Clement of Ultricle Studios said that even though his company had tried working with international companies, low standards remain an issue in the local industry. As more African studios emerge and international bodies see that they have consistently delivered good content, this will open the door to collaboration, he said.
Elsewhere, Ferdy Adimefe, founder of Magic Carpet Studios, warned that while his company had had discussions about partnerships and coproductions, “we cannot get ahead if international bodies tell our stories through their own eyes.”
“We defined our ideology and are into authentic African stories. Animation is a calling and we help people find their identity, so quality cannot be compromised,” said Adimefe, adding that bilateral trade agreements could aid coproduction.
Similarly, Clement said Ultricle’s selling point was offering stories from an African perspective, telling unique stories beyond what Western companies can offer. He also echoed Clement’s point about standards.
Discussing local collaboration between African animation companies. Olowofoyeku said legal agreements should be in place from the outset. Some of the challenges as noted by Adimefe include lack of capacity, lack of training at universities for people to upskill in animation and also lack of financial support.
The panelists all agreed that animation is an export and therefore African animation studios need help from international partners with both production and distribution.