Inspired by the staggering success of its film industry Nollywood, Nigeria now wants to boost its other creative industries. Culture is primed to be the country's next oil. The government has labeled the cultural sector ‘potentially the biggest source of economical growth’ and accords it preferred status. A flourishing cultural sector is expected to provide jobs, improve Nigeria’s international standing and attract foreign capital.

All of this is desperately needed. Up until two years ago the ‘Giant of Africa’ was the continents biggest economy but in 2016 the country slid into a recession. Falling oil prices and attacks on oil pipelines by militant groups had a huge impact on the economy because the country’s state fund is 70% dependent on oil dollars. The economy urgently needs to diversify.

Nevertheless the government’s sudden interest in the cultural sector came as a surprise to many Nigerians. The sector had been neglected for many years. The national cultural policy was almost 20 years old, artists were denied funding and museums were in a serious state of decay.

Decades of mismanagement have resulted in a deep fissure between the state and the artists. Just three months before the government announced to make culture a priority, the heart of Nigeria’s largest artist community was destroyed by a government official working for the Ministry of Culture. The affected artists are still waiting for their compensation to be paid out.

Will Nigeria succeed in making the creative sector one of the pillars of the new economy? Its long-neglected artists are not convinced yet.

Team members

Maria Groot

Maria Groot (1983) is an independent journalist, based in Palermo (Italy).

Olayinka Oyegbile

Olayinka Oyegbile is a deputy editor at The Nation (Nigeria).

Frederik Buyckx

Frederik Buyckx (1984) is a Belgian photographer.
Grant of €4.600 awarded in January 2016


  • Is cultuur Nigeria's nieuwe olie? (BE) - MO* Magazine (MO* 125) pg 78-83, 6 September 2017


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