Africa's first Video-on-Demand Internet Store, AfricaFilm.tv, will go online in June of 2010. The objective is to open the world for African film producers who do not have access to export markets and international film festivals. Another objective of the initiator, the French-Malinese company IDmage, is to combat piracy, a phenomenon that costs the African film industry millions of euros every year.
Video booths are appearing all over the continent: places where illegal copies of films can be viewed for a fraction of the normal price. The result is that movie theatres are no longer profitable. All the movie theatres in the West-African cities of Dakar and Bamako have already gone bankrupt. The music industry is falling prey to piracy, as well. Pirated versions of CDs of popular artists from the DRC, South Africa and Zimbabwe, in particular, can be bought for practically nothing. Legislation that governs copyrights is either inadequate or poorly enforced in many African countries because the government does not have sufficient resources.
In addition to AfricaFilm.tv, in June IDmage is launching MobiCine, a project that imitates video booths, but that only shows films for which copyrights are paid. In Dakar and Bamako, MobiCine will rent mobile film theatres, equipped with a video projector, a screen, a generator and videos that are secured with a DivX system. These mobile 'movie houses' sell points in advance (analogous to the 'minutes' for pre-paid mobile telephones) with which customers may show a specific number of films to their public. The operators can keep three of every ten euros they earn. The rest goes to the filmmakers and IDmage.
African film producers can create their own page on AfricaFilm.tv, on which they can promote their films and make them available themselves. AfricaFilm.tv does not ask to have exclusive rights; producers may offer their films elsewhere. It costs approximately 4 euros to ‘rent’ a film for 48 hours; the filmmakers get fifty per cent of the proceeds.