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HomeWorldNollywood to oil: Nigeria is now Africa's powerhouse

Nollywood to oil: Nigeria is now Africa’s powerhouse

Nigeria's GDP surpassed that of South Africa about a decade ago, according to the World Bank.

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To the west of the Nigerian capital Abuja, the grey monolith of Zuma Rock towers above the cars on the motorway below.

One of the West African country’s most famous landmarks, Zuma is shrouded with local myths and adorns the 100 naira banknote. But it’s also a metaphor for Nigeria’s solid and lofty economic position on the African continent, nicknamed the “Giant of Africa”.

The country will be in the spotlight in September at the 28th World Economic Forum on Africa, with Jim Ovia – the founder and chairman of Nigeria’s largest bank, Zenith, and author of Africa, Rise And Shine – taking his seat as one of the co-chairs.

The nation has its challenges. In February, 39 people died in violence around the elections that saw President Muhammadu Buhari win his second term in office. And the militant Islamist group Boko Haram has destabilized the northeast of the country. But Nigeria is, nonetheless, seen as a peacekeeping force on the continent.

Here are five things about the country today you might not know.

1. ‘Nollywood’ is bigger than Hollywood

In 2009, UNESCO reported the Nigerian film industry – also known as “Nollywood” – had overtaken Hollywood to become the world’s second largest film industry, behind India’s Bollywood.

In the following decade, output more than doubled to 2,500 films a year – and the industry is continuing to grow, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

It’s estimated to employ more than 1 million people and to generate more than $7 billion for the national economy, accounting for around 1.4% of Nigeria’s gross domestic product.

New cinemas are opening and box office revenue is predicted to reach $22 million by 2021.

2. It will have more people than the US by 2050 

Nigeria is already the most populous African nation, and will more than double in size to 400 million people by 2050, according to the United Nations.

3. It boasts some of the world’s greatest writers 

Nigerian authors have received some of literature’s highest accolades, including playwright Wole Soyinka, who became Africa’s first Nobel laureate for literature in 1986.

The late Chinua Achebe’s debut novel, Things Fall Apart, has sold 20 million copies in the six decades since its publication, making the writer famous for challenging European colonialism.

Ben Okri’s The Famished Road won the Man Booker Prize in 1991.

Contemporary feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was inspired by reading Things Fall Apart at 10-years-old. Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, was made into a film in 2013.

4. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy

Nigeria’s GDP surpassed that of South Africa about a decade ago, according to the World Bank. Last year, Nigeria’s economy was valued at $397 billion, while South Africa – once the biggest player on the continent – had a GDP of $366 billion.

Nigeria is one of the world’s biggest oil exporters – and Africa’s biggest oil producer, pumping out around 2 million barrels each day.

5. Its music industry will be worth $73 million in 2021 

Another of its big exports, Afrobeats, has taken the world by storm, with stars like Davido and Wizkid boasting huge followings.

The music video for Davido’s single, “Fall”, has had 139 million views on YouTube.

Music labels are taking note and Sony and Universal have already opened offices in Nigeria. The country’s music industry is set to be valued at $73 million by 2021, according to PwC.

This article was originally published in the World Economic Forum.

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  1. in the past a populus very poor divided bw christan and muslim concentrate d in south and north respectively now became a major economy in north west africa ….
    in the past christan hold natural resources wealth and political power while muslim were marginalized but today situation has improved and improving continue

  2. Nollywood is not bigger than Hollywood. At least do a little research before you repeat this tired and misguided notion. Movies in Nigeria are made with digital cameras (or handycams) and are not shot on film. They are the visual equivalent of soap operas like The Bold and the Beautiful, or Days of our Lives. A typical Nigerian movie is produced and marketed in under 4 weeks (this includes casting, shooting and post production). The typical budget for such a movie is between $100,000 to $400,000. Using this as a yardstick, it is easy to claim they produce more movies than Hollywood. The numbers might be more, but the quality and technicality is non-existent. They are not movies. They are literally home-made videos, which is ironically what they were called before they were ‘rebranded’.

    So please do a little fact check before you just state what everyone claims.

    • If money and technology are the only criteria of a good movie, then no one can beat Hollywood! You don’t need those to tell a good story.

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