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Our Goal Is To Be Home Of Culture, Tourism In West Africa – Obaseki

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The Executive Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has said that the goal of the state government is to be the home of culture and tourism in the whole of West Africa.

The governor disclosed this at opening ceremony of the maiden edition of the Edo State International Film Festival (ESIFF), which was organized in partnership with the Swiss Agency for Development Corporation (SDC) and the German Government through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Skills Development for Youth Employment (SKYE) Programme.

The 4-day event, which began in Benin City on Thursday from September 1, aims to bring together movie makers, investors, distributors and industry enthusiasts from around the world (Virtually and physically) and attract the attention of key players within the creative industry in the state as well as promote the collaboration of filmmakers with Edo state origin, movies made in Edo State and the international community.

The festival will also serve as an avenue to promote creative skills development and create job opportunities for the residents of Edo State as well as spot emerging talent ripe for internships and collaborative opportunities with content streaming platforms like Accelerate TV.”

Mr. Obaseki said the state was not short of creative talents, adding that Edo has always been recognised as a cradle of culture and creativity in Nigeria.

“Edo State has taken the lead working with our partners to strategically invest in the creative industry. Taking advantage of the resources, our goal is to be the home of culture and tourism in the whole of West Africa.

“The Victor Uwaifo Sound Stage is our first experiment to build our own creative sector. With its success, we have commissioned our film Village which will sit on a 30-acre piece of land and the designs have already commenced”, he said.

He also lauded the support and partnership of the BMZ and GIZ in promoting youth employment in the state.

The event kicked off with an official premiere of the short film ‘We Will Not Be Silent’, a live-action short submitted by award-winning filmmaker, Bode Asiyanbi. Focused on Gender-Based Violence, the session was also hosted by Her Excellency, Mrs Betsy Bene Obaseki, the First Lady of Edo State.

After the premiere, the first lady spoke extensively of the work and process put in place to address violence against women and girls in Edo State.
Head of Programme at the GIZ SKYE programme, Tobias Wolfgarten commended the Edo State Skills Development Agency (EdoJobs), reiterating that GIZ was delighted to partner with the agency due to its focus and achievements in promoting innovation, capacity and competence building.

Wolfgarten explained that the partnership will enhance and encourage the growth of the creative industry, and also promote employment opportunities for artistic and innovative young Nigerians.

He noted that Nigerian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) account for 48 percent of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 96 percent of businesses, and 84 percent of employment in the country.

“If we are to stabilize the local economy and boost job creation among youths, it is imperative that stakeholders utilise a multi-level integrated approach to employment promotion and improve conditions for needs-based technical and vocational education”, he added.

Also in her remarks at the event, the Managing Director of Edo State Skills Development Agency, Ukinebo Dare said the Nigerian creative industry has grown to become of the biggest globally, employing over 1.5 million people in music, films, arts, photography and more.

“It is projected that the film industry alone produces about 2,500 films annually and is worth $6.4 billion. We understand the immense opportunities available here, and we intend to leverage them as part of our holistic approach to employment creation and up skilling in Edo State”, she stressed.

Expressing her joy at holding the inaugural Edo International Film Festival, Ukinebo said the agency will always welcome and support partners, investors and entrepreneurs with the necessary resources in order to “improve business competence, capacity building, high technology adoption, product development and diversification, mentorship and networking as well as external funding for businesses in the state.

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