Chief Tony Okoroji, chairman of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), recently returned to Lagos after a week-long working visit to South Africa, which he says was "very productive and very revealing".
According to an article original published in Nigeria’s Daily Independent, Chief Okoroji said he was in South Africa "to connect the pipes between the Nigerian and South African music industries, the continent's two biggest drivers of entertainment, so that there is a free flow of ideas, resources, projects and economic benefits to the stakeholders".
During the visit, Chief Okoroji, who is a foremost promoter of intellectual property rights on the continent, was at the Johannesburg headquarters of the Composers, Authors and Publishers Association of South Africa (CAPASSO), where he signed a contract of Reciprocal Representation for mechanical rights in music between CAPASSO and COSON.
At the event, CAPASSO CEO Nothando Migogo said she was overjoyed that finally Nigeria and South Africa have established the platform to work together to ensure that composers and publishers of music get the full benefit of the significant reproduction of their works in Africa's two biggest economies.
Chief Okoroji also met with Sipho Dlamini, chief executive officer of Southern African Music Rights Organization (SAMRO), with which COSON has an existing reciprocal representation agreement. At the meeting in Johannesburg, significant discussions were held on the need to quicken the project to create an interactive system that links the databases of the major collective management organizations in Africa so as to have seamless access to their works globally and to ensure appropriate compensation for the owners of the works wherever they are used. Also discussed was compensation for Nigerian musicians whose works are broadcast by South African broadcast systems.
In a separate meeting at the South African Music Performance Rights Association (SAMPRA), Chief Okoroji met with Keith Lister, chairman of SAMPRA's management board. There were profound discussions on approaches to better manage the collection and distribution of royalties due to producers, record labels and performers inNigeria and South Africa.
Chief Okoroji, who is an international counselor of the Norwegian Copyright Development Association (NORCODE), also took part in a two-day workshop in South Africa to strengthen NORCODE's developmental assistance programmes for collective management organizations in Africa.
Speaking on his South African mission, Chief Okoroji said: "The capacity that exists for employment, wealth creation and the improvement in the standard of living of our people is enormous if we can deploy our efforts to make our creative industries work optimally.
“Before now, the creative industries in Nigeria and South Africa were like two computer programmes that cannot communicate with each other but need each other to work effectively. We have now begun the important work of laying the pipes and connecting the wires so that the systems are speaking to each other real time. When we are done, the wealth that will be generated will be significant.
“We have continued to build a huge network of veins and arteries, which now connect COSON to over 130 collective management organizations in every continent around the world. What this will do for Nigerian music in the coming years can only be imagined. My trip to South Africa was an integral part of that effort. It was very productive and very revealing."