By Henry Akubuiro
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, yesterday announced the establishment of a $1 million Venture Capital to boost the Nigerian creative industry.
The minister, who made the announcement at the opening of the two-day Creative Industry Financing Conference holding at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, said 20 people, each investing $50,000, were expected to help make up the required amount.
He disclosed that, so far, five people have volunteered to invest $50,000 each, while expressing optimism that more investors would come forward. The venture capital, said the minister, would serve as seed money for young and talented Nigerians to set up businesses in the creative industry.
Mohammed said the conference, jointly organised by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture and the Think Tank Media, was conceived to take the creative industry into a golden era of smooth access to short and long term financing.
He said: “From my interactions with Industry stakeholders since assuming office, one issue has stuck out like a sore thumb; lack of access to financing is a major bane of the Industry. Instead of just lamenting over this, we have decided to tackle the problem headlong, hence, the decision to host this conference.”
The minister remarked that the government was paying a great attention to the industry because of its capacity to create 1 million jobs in three years, boost the economy and allow the creative talents of the youths to blossom.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, who represented the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, declared the intention of the federal government to provide tax relief to investors in the industry.
“We’re looking at the situation, like has been done in other countries, to provide tax relief for those who are ready to invest in the industry. You see me running around looking for how to collect more tax, but, also, on the other hand, we are trying to see how we can provide incentive for people, those willing to invest, because when you have a strong tax system, people will have a choice to pay to the taxman or invest in the creative industry.
“So, we are going to look at how we can create a cooling structure, whereby certain funds will be eligible for tax relief for those who invest in them. And we are going to create a sustainable pool of financing for the industry.”
The plenary sessions of the conference, which preceded the opening ceremony yesterday, ends tomorrow. Speakers are drawn from all over the world.
The opening ceremony was attended by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs Aisha Abubakar; Minister of Information and Communication from the Republic of Niger, Hadjia Koubra Sani and many industry stakeholders such as film and music producers, artists, copyright lawyers and representatives of banks.