Lights, camera, action!: New Afreximbank Sh150bn Film fund to support Kenyan films


Intra-African Trade Bank at the Afreximbank Executive Vice President Kanayo Awani. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) plans to set up a $1 billion (Sh151 billion) film fund to help Kenyan and African filmmakers tell their stories better.

The Fund will be launched next year, said Kanayo Awani, Executive Vice President, of Intra-African Trade Bank, at Cairo-headquartered Afreximbank.

Awani said that the fund will be responsible for managing film financing, collaborating with major studios for co-financing, and supporting Kenyan and other African filmmakers.

It will also provide financial assistance to producers and directors working on film projects across the continent.

This initiative will increase the funding available to the African creative sector from the bank, raising it from Sh73.4 billion to Sh151 billion. Additionally, Awani mentioned that the bank currently has a pipeline of over $600 million (Sh90 billion) allocated for film, music, visual arts, fashion, and sports.

“Sports and film financing have been the most prominent transactions at the Bank,” she said in a statement during the start of the seven-day CANEX Summit organized by Afreximbank held in Cairo, Egypt.

“The very first film we financed recently premiered at the Toronto Film Festival this year, and the Bank has several in the pipeline from Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya, which should be on streaming platforms in 2024.”

Awani highlighted the challenges faced by the film industry in Africa, such as limited access to financing and copyright infringement due to weak copyright laws, enforcement mechanisms, and a lack of awareness.

Many Kenyan actors and filmmakers have made a name for themselves in Hollywood and other top film hubs.

They include Edi Gathegi who has starred in popular titles such as The Harder They Fall, The Twilight Saga, and X-Men: First Class, and Lupita Nyong'o, who is known for her role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Additionally, Kenyan film producer Wanuri Kahiu gained critical acclaim for her controversial film "Rafiki," which means friend in Kiswahili.

Yet the plight of Kenyan and other filmmakers in the continent can be particularly harsh deeming their potential.

The aspirations of even the most talented filmmakers are hindered by a dearth of funding for the arts, limited engagement from the public sector, fragmented markets, challenges in distribution, and the persistent menace of copyright infringement.

And yet, Africa’s potential as a creative powerhouse is huge.

According to statistics, the film and audiovisual industries in Africa contribute $5 billion to the continent's GDP and employ around five million people.

This sector has the potential to create over 20 million jobs and generate $20 billion in revenues annually.

According to Boris Kodjoe, a renowned Hollywood actor with Ghanaian roots, the ingenuity of Africans has significantly impacted numerous facets of contemporary society, encompassing music, fashion, art, design, social awareness, business, sports, film, and television.

However, the West's exploitation of black creativity has left enduring consequences.

Despite the admiration for black excellence, Africa continues to encounter branding obstacles due to external perceptions influenced by the traditional media's portrayal of poverty, famine, civil conflicts, and migration on the continent.

This programme offers various financing and non-financing tools and interventions to support trade and investment in Africa's creative industry.

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