NAIROBI, Africa has set an ambitious programme to grow the continent's film industry from 5.0 billion US dollars to 20 billion USD a year with the potential to create at least twenty million jobs, according to the African Union (AU) Commission here.

The AU is in the final stages of setting up the African Audio Visual and Cinema Commission (AACC) aimed at opening up the potential of the continent's film industry. At a meeting held in Nairobi this week, African ministers of youth, culture and sports agreed on modalities of ensuring the commission is up and running by 2018.

Africa's top film talent has already made its mark on the global stage, the continent itself is a go-to location for film makers, but experts say its full potential has not been exploited. This is the reason why African film makers and leaders met here to see how the continent can use the industry to spur economic growth.

"What we have is a lot. We need to have harmonised policies on these issues; we need to have a commission to guide to regulate the relations to promote what we have and we need centres of excellence so that we have quality productions," said AU Commissioner for Social Affairs Amira Elfaldil.

South Africa's Deputy Minister of Youth Development, Buti Manamela, said the project will create jobs. If we put together resources under one commission I think that will go a long way in creating jobs for young people, support emerging film makers and helping us preserve our heritage, added Manamela.

In June 2017, the AU Commission set up the African Audio Visual and Cinema Commission to help Africa's film makers create jobs, grow economies and tell the African story through African eyes.

"Today, if you are watching a Kenyan movie, Ghanaian movie, South African movie it brings a sense of identity and dignity," said Ghana's Ambassador to the AU, William Kanyirige.

The AU Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Professor Sarah Mbi, said: If you have a talent and you can go out there and you can sell yourself big then you are already employed."

Manamela says the stories will be told with a united voice. "We are starting. We are on a track, and we are hoping to start tell our stories much more coherently and with a united voice."

The AU is now aiming for five regional centres of excellence in film making in each of the regional economic blocs. These will help facilitate the export of African film products and services to international markets.