Business

Jamaica can earn big money from animation

BY STEVEN JACKSON Business reporter jacksons@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 30, 2014    

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The World Bank thinks the local animation industry can grow to US$69 million ($7.7 billion) in value in five years. As such, it is investing millions in the sector to attain this goal, but it's a loan that the Government must repay.

"Given the interest expressed recently by global companies, and the demands of the industry, there is good reason to believe that, with the right talent, these numbers are achievable," stated the World Bank in its project document entitled 'Youth Employment in the Digital and Animation Industries'.

"In other words, an investment of just a few million dollars focused on training as well as on showcasing Jamaica's animation industry globally can be expected to pave the way for the country to absorb tens of millions of dollars in foreign exchange."

The World Bank, starting this month, will invest US$20 million over five years in the project, which is expected to benefit 15,000 youth directly and indirectly. The Wold Bank estimates the animation foreign exchange earning over five years to increase from US$5.4 million in year one to US$47.8 million in the fifth year.

Contacted for comment, the Jamaica Animation Nation Network (JANN) declined to say whether the figures were realistic.

"We haven't seen how they calculate the figures and we are not privy to the document," stated JANN spokesman Kevin Jackson. Wayne Sinclair, executive director of GSW Animation studio, did not return calls up to press time.

The bank valued the size of the industry based on the planned investment and the earnings expected from the sector.

"Despite these conservative assumptions, and using a discount rate of 12 per cent, the net present value for the animation component of the project is a staggering $69 million and the Internal Economic Rate of Return is 280 per cent," added the document.

Over the past few years, the industry increased its exposure due to KingstOOn, the two-day animation festival held in June last year, and Digital Jam 2.0 and 3.0, the digital application competition held in March this year.

The global animation industry earns an estimated US$220 billion annually. The industry utilises the outsourcing model for attracting large projects from developed markets. Cartoons need armies of animators. As such, a large part of earning relates to increasing the number of local animators from 100 to some 2,800 in five years to allow the island to bid for lucrative projects.

The World Bank will extend US$10 million towards training animators, developing infrastructure and accrediting institutions, while US$5.6 million will fund a tech incubator named Startup Jamaica. An additional US$1.6 million will support early-stage investments in the startups.

Government will have nearly 30 years to repay the loan, which offers a five-and-a-half-year grace period.

This project falls under the US$120-million Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) between the World Bank and Jamaica, which runs until 2018. The CPS was announced in April.

The KingstOOn Festival exhibited the talents of Jamaican animators and visual artists to an audience of animation professionals, international and Jamaican industry leaders, businesses, government officials, financial institutions, and universities.

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