Nigeria: Afreximbank’s Oromah signs $145m deal with Silverbird for ‘Lagos Beverly Hills’

By Jonas Nyabor

Posted on Wednesday, 9 November 2022 09:09
Benedict Okey Oramah, president of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) since June 2015 / Patrice Moullet for GJA

The African Export-Import Bank is backing Silverbird Group to develop a creative arts estate in Africa with a $145m investment into the group’s project – West Africa’s largest film school and studios within Eko Atlantic City, also known as the ‘Lagos Beverly Hills', while eyeing more projects in the creative industry.

For the first time since the inception of the Africa Investment Forum in 2018, a major deal has been closed in the creative arts sector.

Afreximbank will provide Silverbird Group a $145m support facility to develop an arts estate in Lagos, Eko Atlantic, within two years.

The investment will be a catalyst to reap the potential $20bn that Africa’s arts economy should generate, according to the African Development Bank.

Creating infrastructure

Afreximbank’s president, Benedict Oramah told The Africa Report, the bank is focused on creating a robust infrastructure to support the growth of the largely untapped industry.

“It is unique that we are seeing many projects in the creative industry. We at the Afreximbank are championing the creative arts industry and we have committed $500m to support the creatives. We are creating the infrastructure here for the creative sector,” he said.

The Ben Murray-Bruce (BMB) Studios and Film Academy will be on a 32,725 square meter land. The studios will feature two purpose-built sound stages, a digital hub with music and broadcast studios, editing bays, screening rooms, studio backlot, production offices and a creative academy.

METFilm School in London will support the running of the new film academy, according to Ben Murray-Bruce, Silverbird Group’s chairman.

Tackling unemployment

The continent needs to create at least one million jobs per month to tackle the growing problem of unemployment, especially among its youth.

The creative industry has been identified as one with a high potential to create ample jobs yet investment in the sector remains low, compared to other critical sectors like agriculture.

“We don’t see a Nollywood standard or Bollywood standard, we know of a global standard. When we make movies with the right standards, we can generate the right income, create phenomenal jobs and move people out of poverty, that is our real purpose,” said Murray-Bruce.

Making skills available

He told The Africa Report that with abundant talents and storylines that are in high demand, Afreximbank’s support will make world-class technical skills and facilities available to creative actors to boost the quality of their productions.

“In Africa, the challenge has never been about talent. The difference between a movie produced here and the one in Los Angeles is the quality, not the storytelling, not the cast… We are creating a truly global platform for excellence in filmmaking, storytelling, and professional development.”

When we make movies with the right standards, we can generate the right income, create phenomenal jobs and move people out of poverty.”

The project will give a major boost to Africa’s film and television industries, and attract large-scale international productions to Africa.

It will also establish a creativity cluster that will draw in companies and talents working in similar and related sectors – cinematography, filmmaking, gaming, music, post-production techniques, screenwriting, VFX and animation.

Oramah says Afreximbank, through a new Creative Africa Nexus initiative, will tap into Africa’s creative economy by supporting actors, digital innovators and experts in fashion, film, music and movies to monetise their content.

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