In brief: UCC woos Netflix; Ugandans to own stake in MTN, Airtel
Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) officials sought the support of American streaming giant Netflix to invest in Uganda’s budding film industry, the commission revealed in its Weekly Update shared on social media on Saturday.
This was during the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) week which was held at The London in West Hollywood, Los Angeles from April 2-5.
The event convenes members of the AFCI with the content creators, financiers, production executives and other industry professionals involved in making location decisions and determining where production budgets are spent.
Of recent, the government of Uganda has shown consequential interest in the film industry, and this has been evidenced by the launch of the Uganda Film Festival through which contributors to the industry are rewarded.
But of course, the resources from the government can’t be enough to get the best possible results from the Ugandan film industry.
UCC’s pitch to Netflix is well-timed since the company has announced that it is interested in investing heavily in the continent.
During the launch it’s first original series — Queen Sono — in Africa in 2018, Netflix’s director of international original films, Funa Maduka, said such moves are “just the beginning” for the streamer’s plans for the continent.
“Africa is birthplace to one of the oldest storytelling traditions in the world. It also has a rich cinematic history,” she said. “The talent is here and we want to present ourselves as an option as they choose the best path to connect their stories with audiences.”
A South African drama series starring veteran actress Pearl Thusi, Queen Sono will start streaming any time this year.
In 2015, Netflix made its entry into the Nigerian market, buying rights for such blockbusters as Kunle Afolayan’s October 1st, Biyi Bandele’s Fifty, and the Wedding Party, a romantic comedy.
During the Toronto International Film Festival 2018, Netflix made another first, channeling part of its $8 billion original production budget to the Nigerian film industry by acquiring worldwide exclusive distribution rights for Nollywood star Genevieve Nnaji’s debut film as director, the comedy Lionheart.
Showing further interest in the African market, the streaming service appointed Kenyan award-winning TV producer Dorothy Ghettuba as its manager for International Originals.
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However, to attract some of these investments, UCC has to do more than pitching, there are things like poor internet connections and expensive data that need to be solved.
But UCC announced that its officials also discussed projects and promoted the country to companies like Facebook and Google-owned YouTube. The two have been massively investing in solving internet problems in Africa so that they can create means of tapping into the emerging market.
Communication operators to list
In its weekly update, UCC also revealed that it had started the discussions with the Capital Markets Authority “around the listing of Communication operators in line with section 1.2.6 of the national broadband policy for Uganda.”
“Listing of all telecom operators, on the local stock market, as a licensing condition will help on mitigation of capital flight among other benefits of local content development opportunities that come along,” subsection IV under section 1.2.6 of the national broadband policy for Uganda states.
Massive sensitization on sim card verification
UCC held a meeting with telecom officials on April 2 and they resolved that a sensitization campaign is conducted in order to enable the smooth running of the new sim card registration and verification process.