It was a very tranquil Wednesday afternoon on August 31, 2016 when Mark Zuckerberg, the famous founder and CEO of Facebook came to Afrinolly Space in Oregun, on the mainland of Lagos, Africa’s largest mega-city and the commercial hub of the continent. Mark and his team wanted to see the Digital/Creative hub of Nollywood, Nigeria’s phenomenal film industry. Afrinolly Space is like the Silicon Valley of Nollywood created for the provision of creative platforms and economic opportunities for filmmakers, screenwriters, mobile technology developers, animators and other creatives. Essentially Afrinolly Space functions as “Where Technology Meets Art”.
Nigeria is Facebook’s largest market in Africa with over 16 million Nigerians monthly and more than 7 million daily visitors of which 97% of them on mobile phones and tablets. Coming to Afrinolly Space was part of his first ever trip to Sub-Saharan Africa and he came with his team of professionals who joined the staff of Afrinolly led by Mr. Chike Maduegbuna who coordinated the tour of the facility.
While on the tour Maduegbuna gave an overview of how films are distributed in Nigeria, with Afrinolly’s mobile app being one of the most popular ways Nigerians and indeed other Africans watch African movies, music videos, short films, comedy and trailers. The app was also the first in Nigeria to implement Facebook’s Account Kit login system a few months ago.
Highlighting the challenge of piracy and the lack of resources required to provide studio-based production infrastructures and services, Maduegbuna noted two opportunities for Nollywood: “First, is to embrace technology; in establishing a viable mobile-phone distribution of movies which can eliminate the risk of piracy and also complement cinema distribution. Secondly, by adjusting to new audiences and redefining content production to include short films, comedy skits and music videos. Creating potential opportunity for the monetization of short-form contents.”
Facebook also used this important occasion to host invited VIPs from the Nigerian entertainment industry, including popular filmmaker Kunle Afolayan, Nollywood stars Stephanie Linus, Rita Dominic, Richard Mofe-Damijo, popularly called RMD, celebrated comedian, Basketmouth, beautiful singers Chidinma and Yemi Alade, the famous DJ Cuppy, beautiful daughter of Nigerian billionaire, Femi Otedola, Tolu ‘Toolz’ Oniru-Demure and other dignitaries.
“One of the things I am most excited about my trip to Lagos is going to check out Nollywood. Nollywood sounds like a national treasure and the ability to produce video content that is moving and emotional transcends boundaries and will help tell stories of the amazing innovation, engineering and culture to the whole world,” enthused Zuckerberg posing with the Nollwyood stars for photographs and also stumbling into a music video shoot in the Afrinolly Space studios.
Zuckerberg also met Afrinolly’s developers who have assembled the first Facebook Surround 360 Camera system in Africa. It is a production-ready, high-quality 3D-360 camera design with accompanying automated stitching technology that seamlessly marries the video from 17 cameras, reducing post-production effort and time. This will enhance the creation of virtual reality videos in Nollywood.