Photo: Getty
  /  08.29.2022

In an effort to uplift and focus on homegrown talent, Nigeria has officially banned foreign models from its television ads, Atlanta Black Star reports.

The move is expected to boost the prospects of locals within the advertising industry, which is currently reflected by a large percentage of white models and people with British accents. “Britons accounted for about half of models and voiceover artists in Nigerian commercials a couple of decades ago,” said Steve Babaeko, president of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria.

Furthermore, he noted that the change is a part of a current renaissance in the country surrounding identity. “As long as maybe eight years ago, you would notice some kind of renaissance in Nigeria,” he shared. “People will tell you, ‘There are about 200 million of us. Are you telling me you could not find indigenous models for this commercial?'”

Current restrictions are already in place in Nigeria for the use of foreign models. Firms have to pay a fee of 100,000 naira, which equals $240 American dollars, for employing any model that is not originally from the country for its advertisements. The federal agency in charge of regulating advertising and marketing communications announced the ban on Aug. 22. It is set to take effect in October. “All advertisements, advertising and marketing communications materials are to make use of only Nigerian models and voiceover artists,” said The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria in an official statement.

While many people celebrated the news, others accused the country of practicing reverse racism. “The government banned foreign models, not white models. White models are foreign to Nigeria, so of course, they are naturally banned,” said British-Nigerian author Lotanna Igwe-Odunze in a tweet. “However, the ban bars anybody who simply isn’t Nigerian. Huge difference.” Nigerian human rights activist Ndi Kato doesn’t believe that the ban is about white models either. “These people celebrating are definitely diasporans and non-Nigerian people because those of us that live in Nigeria can’t remember when last we saw white people in our adverts,” she tweeted. “What Nigeria is banning is other Africans because a lot of South African models are used in our ads.”

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