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Ghana bets on tax breaks to attract global filmmakers

ALREADY buzzing with activity, Ghana’s film sector is adding tax rebates to its portfolio of reasons why global productions should consider it as their next filming destination.

GHANA’S move to introduce tax incentives for film productions marks a significant step in its quest to become a global film and content creation hub.

By offering incentives to filmmakers, Ghana hopes to attract more global productions and carve out a niche for itself as a favourable shooting location on the continent, potentially reshaping its burgeoning film sector.

A 20% tax rebate and other fiscal incentives, such as import duty exemptions on film production equipment, were revealed during President Nana Akufo-Addo’s State of the Nation address at the country’s parliament in February 2024.

“This should provide another tangible reason for Ghana to be the chosen country for film production,” he stated during the address.

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The presidential announcement is the latest in a series of initiatives to promote Ghana as an ideal audiovisual filming location.

The National Film Authority launched the ‘Shoot in Ghana’ campaign in 2022, which has significantly boosted the sector, especially recently with the NFL selecting Ghana as the location for the filming of its ‘Born to Play’ Super Bowl commercial.

The commercial features a young Ghanaian boy pursuing his passion for American football. It aligns with the NFL’s initiative to highlight global diversity and inclusivity while encouraging opportunities for aspiring players worldwide.

According to Juliet Asante, the chair at the Ghana National Film and Television Institute, the commercial employed more than 1500 Ghanaians. There were “only 7 foreign crew members, with the rest of the team being local talent,” she said.

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Apart from this commercial, ‘Girls Trip 2’, an American comedy film about four college friends who reunite and go on a chaotic trip, also selected Ghana as its filming location. The film’s release date is set between 2024 and 2025, according to Collider.com, a movie news platform.

From ‘Woman King’ to ‘How I Got Here’, ‘Territorio Africano’ and ‘Africa from Above’, the National Film Authority lists 51 international films produced in Ghana in 2022 alone, evidence of the country’s growing appeal among international filmmakers.

Tax incentives and other fiscal benefits promise to even accelerate this growth further, as evidenced by the impact witnessed in some of the countries where similar programs have been implemented.

Mauritius introduced a film rebate scheme in 2013, with the government contributing between 30% and 40% cash rebates on qualifying film production expenditures incurred by film producers shooting in the country.

Productions with a filming schedule of 90% or more in Mauritius are immediately eligible for the full 40% rebate. The less shooting activity there is in the country, the fewer rebates are offered.

According to UNESCO, the Mauritius film rebate scheme “has led to an increase in the inflow of currency to the country, a contribution to tax revenue, the creation of employment opportunities, an increase in foreign direct investment, the talent development of local art lovers (artists, producers, etc) and the development of a film industry in Mauritius.”

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A similar impact is evident in South Africa, which introduced a rebate program in 2004 and then provided a 25% rebate on qualifying local production expenses. This amount was later increased from 25% to 50% for local productions.

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From Invictus to Black Panther, the list of award-winning films that have been shot or produced in South Africa is long, an achievement that has been fueled, at least in part, by the incentive program.

Today, the Rainbow Nation is one of the world’s leading hubs for international film and television shoots, with trends reaffirming its growing appeal. In 2022, 3900 film production permits were issued in Cape Town alone, according to the City of Cape Town’s Film Permit Office.

The 2018 National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) Economic Impact Assessment found the local film industry contributed R5.4bn (almost US$300 million) to the country’s GDP in the 2016/17 financial year, highlighting substantial economic gains from increased production.

Morocco also offers foreign productions a cash rebate of up to 30% on filming expenses over US$1 million. In 2022, international filmmakers invested more than US$100 million in the country, according to the Marrakech Film Commission.

Africa’s film and audiovisual industries currently generate around US$5 billion a year. However, the sector has the potential to expand to US$20 billion annually, potentially creating 20 million jobs, according to UNESCO.

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By BONFACE ORUCHO, BIRD STORY AGENCY

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