With a profile film industry and ambitious expansion plans in place, Lagos has set its sights on becoming Africa’s most pioneering city.
IN MAY, A DELEGATION FROM THE NIGERIAN Export-Import Bank attended the 65th Cannes Film Festival, in conjunction with the Nigerian Film Corporation, with the purpose of fostering relationships between “Nollywood” and the global film establishment.
Already topping Hollywood’s output – and second only to Bollywood in terms of the sheer number of titles produced every year – Nigeria’s plucky film industry is currently churning out around 200 titles every month. This African upstart industry – just twenty-years-old this year – is one of the region’s big success stories.
The Nollywood story began in the late 1980s when a crime wave hit Lagos. Forcing residents to stay in at night. With no clients, cinemas around the coastal Nigerian city started to close. Local entrepreneurs began producing films by Nigerians for Nigerians on shoestring budgets. However, it is generally accepted that the 1992 release of Living in Bondage marked the birth of Nollywood, and in a remarkably short time Nigeria found itself with a thriving grassroots film industry.
Today Nigeria boasts the world’s third most profitable film industry, led only by the US and India. With an annual turnover of US$500 million, Nollywood employs 350,000 people and generates one of Nigeria’s largest sources of private sector income. With quality on the rise, Nigerian films are gaining popularity around the world, appealing to audiences from Africa to the USA.
Today’s Lagos is a different city to the dangerous, polluted sprawl of the late 1980s. The city is mid-way through a development boom that has brought with it a flourishing music and performing arts scene, shopping malls and luxury hotels. Crime has also been tackled. Speaking to the World Press Conference in 2010, Lagos state governor Babatunde Fashola said: “Lagos is now safer than many other similarly sized cities, with violent crime having dropped by over seventy percent in recent years.”
Thanks to considerable commitment from the state government, the local transportation system is also being revamped. For his hard work, Fashola was recently awarded the International Association of Public Transport Award for political commitment to the global promotion of public transportation.
Despite the cultural and economic growth, the city still faces significant challenges. With a population of around 15million people, Lagos is severely overcrowded. Infrastructure is crumbling, traffic is congested, and water and power supplies are struggling to meet rising demands. The UN predicts that this metropolis is expected to grow a further 2.7 percent annually until 2025, making it the second fastest growing city in Africa and the seventh in the world. Lagos is under pressure.
The Eko Atlantic City project is one of many potential solutions to the problem. This innovative residential and business development is being built from scratch on reclaimed land offshore, and is set to provide 250,000 homes and offices for 150,000 commuters.
This futuristic city will be everything that Lagos is not, possessing world-class transport systems, open spaces, efficient sewage systems and uninterrupted electricity. Development plans include shopping malls, skyscrapers and marinas, with a strong focus on sustainability and the use of eco-friendly materials and technologies.
Not even the waves will dampen the city’s ambitions. “The Great Wall of Lagos” – a seven kilometer-long barricade – is under construction to stop the sea eroding the shoreline. Lagos will soon be able to reclaim even more land, creating new prime development space.
Meanwhile, IBM is helping Lagos realize its visions. As part of its Smarter Cities Programme, IBM is running a project that can collect and manage data in real-time. By using IBM’s software and research, solutions to problems such as traffic congestion and efficient power supply management can be achieved.
“The uses for this information are nearly limitless,” says Bob Picciano, general manager of software and sales for IBM’s Software Group. “It can be used to empower citizens, build political capital, or develop new business models and partnerships within the private sector.”
Despite its problems, Lagos is the economic and cultural hub of Africa’s largest country. Thanks to the hard work of its leaders and the irrepressible spirit of its citizens, Lagos is embarking on ambitious ways to clear or surmount its obstacles. The gauntlet has been thrown, and Lagos has grabbed it with both hands on a mission to establish itself as the gateway to Africa as it becomes a truly modern, international city.
Article by Aspire Magazine-Business and Luxury with Etihad Airways