Africa’s Film Industry: Exploring the Growth of Nollywood and Other African Film Industries

Last Updated on May 9, 2023

Africa’s film industry has grown significantly over time and is now a highly-recognized institution in global cinema. Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry, has particularly become the second-largest film industry in the world, behind only Bollywood. 

Other African nations such as Ghana, South Africa, and Kenya have also made significant advancements in the development of their film industries.

With more high-caliber films from Africa’s film industry, it’s worth discussing the journey so far and the elements that have contributed to their success.

Grab your popcorn, sit on your favorite chair, and let’s journey through the movie world as we celebrate the ingenuity of African filmmakers.

Africa’s Film Industry: Exploring the Growth of Nollywood and Other African Film Industries

Africa’s Film Industry – A Guide to Each Country’s Growth

The Growth of Nollywood

The Nigerian film industry, Nollywood is Africa’s largest and the second-largest in the world – bigger than Hollywood. Nollywood has improved in leaps and bounds in the last decade, with several high grossing movies.

Many factors of helped the Nollywood grow stronger in the last few years.

Nollywood is Africa's largest film industry

Access to Cutting-Edge Technology

Technological advancement is one of the main factors that has contributed to the expansion of Nollywood.

Filmmakers now have relatively improved accessibility to cutting-edge digital cameras and production equipment. This has helped them produce better pictures, especially with the latest editing software.

Favorable Government Policies

Government funding and policies have also contributed to Nollywood’s expansion. The Nigerian government had put policies in place to support the development of the film industry.

This includes tax breaks for moviemakers and the founding of the Nigerian Film Corporation, which offered funding and assistance to moviemakers.

Private Investment

The development of Nollywood has also benefited significantly from private investment and entrepreneurship.

Bigger monetary investments from numerous filmmakers and investors have helped build a more robust and sustainable environment for Africa’s biggest film industry. This has helped create better distribution networks and more high-caliber films.

Read: Differences Between a Film and a TV Series

Cultural and Economic Impact of Nollywood

Cultural and economic impact of Nollywood

With over 2,500 films yearly, Nigeria’s film industry generates over $7 billion yearly for the Nigerian economy. This is a significant contribution to the nation’s GDP. Moreover, more movies mean higher employment opportunities for aspiring actors and crew members.

Nollywood films have also had a big cultural impact, showing the world how diverse and rich Nigerian culture is. Additionally, traditions and cultural heritage that might have otherwise been lost have been preserved through the use of films.

Read: Top 10 Producers in the Producers Guild of America

Challenges Facing Nigeria’s Film Industry

Despite its improvement, the growth of Nollywood has not been without its challenges.


Piracy is one of the major issues the industry currently deals with. And this has been particularly difficult for Nigerian filmmakers.

According to the World Bank, for every legitimate copy of a Nigerian movie produced, nine others are pirated. This is a huge problem for an industry that is a gold mine waiting to be tapped.

Quality Control

Another problem in Nollywood is quality control because some films undergo production quickly and carelessly. As a result, many people lump up these poorly-made movies with the good ones, giving the industry an unfairly bad reputation.

Quality control is a big problem facing Africa's film industry


A key challenge for Nollywood is effective distribution and marketing, especially for independent filmmakers who find it difficult to do so. It can be difficult for these filmmakers to have a large impact because many of them sell their films to audiences directly.

Despite these challenges, Nollywood is expected to continue expanding and developing in the coming years. This is why the body is working to combat piracy, and some filmmakers are beginning to concentrate on making better films that can compete on a global level.

Read: The Role of Film Festivals on the Entertainment Industry

Other African Film Industries

In addition to having an impact on the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood’s expansion has sparked the growth of other African film industries.

Filmmakers have been creating films that show the world the diversity and depth of African culture over the past decade. This has resulted in significant growth in the film industries of several African nations.

South Africa’s Film Industry

South Africa's film industry is another fast growing movie industry on the continent

The South African film industry has seen one of the biggest growth rates. The Apartheid era saw the production of many socially conscious films.

Since then, many South African filmmakers have been creating high-caliber films that have received positive reviews both domestically and abroad as the industry has experienced significant growth since the end of apartheid.

Furthermore, the South African government has invested in the country’s movie industry. There are also tax incentives to promote growth, and the sector has grown to play a significant role in the economy of the nation.

Kenyan Movie Industry

Over the past decades, the Kenyan film industry has also experienced significant growth. Kenyan filmmakers have led the way in creating films that address social issues like gender inequality, poverty, and corruption.

These films have received praise from critics both domestically and abroad and they have promoted the Kenyan film industry. To promote growth, the Kenyan government has also offered funding and incentives to the sector.


The Ghanaian film industry also referred to as “Ghallywood,” has experienced significant growth. It has helped Ghana gain recognition as a recognizable force in African cinema through films that highlight the country’s rich culture and traditions.

Additionally, the Ghanaian government has additionally supported the sector by offering funding and tax breaks to promote growth.

African movies are making huge waves on the international scene

North Africa’s Film Industry

Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia are other African nations that have experienced growth in their film industries.

With a long history of producing films that reflect Egyptian culture and society, Egypt’s film industry is one of the most established and oldest in Africa. The focus on topics like social injustice, gender equality, and cultural identity has also set Morrocan and Tunisian movies apart from critically acclaimed movies.

Despite their expansion, the African film industries continue to face several challenges. Funding is one of the biggest bottlenecks because many African nations lack the financial means to support the expansion of their film industries.

In addition, marketing and distribution can be difficult, especially for independent filmmakers who struggle to get their films seen by a larger audience.

However, African filmmakers now have the opportunity to reach a global audience and present their work to the world thanks to the expansion of digital platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The Impact of African Films

The impact of African films globally
GDN Studios

African films have made a big difference in the global film industry. These movies are clearing up myths and preconceptions about the continent and showcasing its rich cultural diversity to the world.

In addition, African filmmakers have been at the forefront of creating films that address social issues like poverty, corruption, and gender inequality. This has contributed to the international recognition of African cinema.

Africa was portrayed in the media for a long time as a continent of poverty, disease, and war. On the other hand, African films have portrayed a different side of the continent, emphasizing the rich cultural traditions, breathtaking scenery, and diverse population that make up Africa.

African films have promoted a more positive and nuanced understanding of the continent to the world by debunking these stereotypes.

Recognition of African Filmmakers by Global Audiences

With numerous African filmmakers receiving praise and prizes at international film festivals, African films have also had an impact on the global film industry.

Films like “Timbuktu” by Abderrahmane Sissako from Mali and “Cairo Station” by Youssef Chahine from Egypt have won prizes at prestigious film festivals like Cannes and the Venice Film Festival.

This is a clear sign of progress. And African filmmakers know they now have a platform to present their work to a wider audience.

African audiences have been influenced by African films, many of which deal with social issues that are pertinent to people’s everyday lives.

For example, the Biafran War and its effects on Nigerian society are examined in the Nigerian movie “Half of a Yellow Sun,” which is based on the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie novel of the same name.

The movie has received praise for its nuanced depiction of the conflict and its effects on common people. And it has contributed to encouraging conversation and understanding about this significant period in Nigerian history.

Despite little to no support, Nollywood has created around one million direct jobs. This makes it the second-largest employer in the nation after agriculture.

Furthermore, the investment in South Africa’s film industry by the country’s government is also commendable.

Actionable Tips to Improve Africa’s Film Industry

Stakeholders and supporters need to take action to ensure the continued success of the African film industry as it expands and has a significant impact on the global stage. Here are some methods for helping the African film industry:

  • Consider investing in African films, whether you’re an individual or a business. This can ensure that more films are made and assist in giving filmmakers financial support.

  • Attend festivals that feature films from Africa, like the African International Film Festival or the Zanzibar International Film Festival. This not only helps to fund the films themselves but also promotes the African film industry and brings attention to its effects.

  • Promote African films by letting your friends and family know how much you enjoy them. 

  • Support film education initiatives in Africa to prepare the next generation of African filmmakers.

By taking the initiative and assisting the African film industry, we can ensure that it keeps having a positive influence on the global film industry and dispel myths and stereotypes about the African continent. Hence, let’s cooperate to support and promote the expansion of this vital sector.

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