Nigeria has overtaken South Africa as Africa’s largest economy, according to reports released by the Nigerian government, with the West African country’s GDP now totalling $510-billion.

The new value of the economy includes previously uncalculated data from sectors including telecommunications, airlines, information technology and, importantly, Nollywood, the country’s home-grown film industry which now accounts for around 1,3% of total output.

Jason Njoku, co-founder and CEO of iROKOtv, the VC-backed video on demand (VOD) platform for Nollywood movies, comments: “It comes as no surprise figures data from Nollywood has been included in the recalculated GDP figures for Nigeria.

“It has been growing steadily for the past 20 years and can legitimately be uttered in the same breath as the likes of Hollywood and Nollywood when it comes to movie output data, with some 1 500 to 2 000 movies being made every year.

“Nollywood is the most hard working, brutal and dynamic of industries that Nigeria has spawned. It is an economic miracle that the industry has not only flourished, but grown exponentially, considering the conservative budgets movie producers have to work with, as well as the antiquated methods of distribution that held the industry back for so many years.

“Nollywood has been, for too long, actively discounted as a potential industry for growth in Nigeria. Investors at home and abroad were unwilling to invest, putting their money in traditional sectors such as agriculture, oil and property. In 2010, iROKOtv secured series A funding of $3-million from US-based Tiger Global, the very first significant, multi-million dollar investment into the industry, which is really quite astonishing.

“Since then, we have closed on a further $19-million of VC investment, bringing the total to $21-million, which is testament to how Nollywood is now, finally, considered by the international investor community as a very real and exciting investment prospect in Africa.

“Today is a landmark today for Nollywood, with no little thanks to the movie producers, actors and distributors who have helped to put Nigeria on the map culturally and with their creativity and dedication to their art, are helping to drive the economy upwards.”