A FORTNIGHT AGO, CANAL+ Group announced the acquisition of ZACU Entertainment, a major player in the production and distribution of content in Rwanda. This acquisition allows CANAL+ Group to significantly strengthen its audiovisual activities in Rwanda by benefiting from a large content offer of more than 500 hours of new films and TV series produced per year and a catalog of 700 hours, all in Kinyarwanda. With production companies PLAN A in Ivory Coast, ROK STUDIOS in Nigeria, the group acquired ZACU Entertainment as part of its continued commitment to support audiovisual production on the African continent to offer quality content that meets its subscribers’ expectations. Wilson Misago, the founder of Zacu Entertainment, takes The New Times through details on the acquisition and what it means for the local film industry. Excerpts; Were you surprised when a Canal+ Group approached you over the acquisition of Zacu Entertainment? I am an entrepreneur and an investor as well. I believe in my company and I always believed that the company would one day grow and reach a high level. Taking reference from big companies like Netflix, Twitter, Facebook, Google and so forth, they begin as small firms but the more they get investors the more they grow and their value increases as a result. At Zacu, too, we have been working so hard to make it become what it is now. Yes, I was surprised [about the acquisition] but I had a feeling that it is something possible because we have content that is beyond required hours (500 hours). It’s so much content given our industry which, I may say, is still small. Having big investors coming to you, you need to always ready in all aspects from paying taxes, filing financials, showing a clear vision of how you will grow to becoming a big company That is something we have been pitching to other potential investors. What is inside terms of acquisition of Zacu Entertainment by Canal+ Group? I can’t disclose information concerning the size of shares that the shareholders acquired in Zacu but Canal+ Group is our main shareholder because the majority of shares belong to them. Does the acquisition change anything on Zacu’s daily operations and structure? I will remain as the CEO of the company and the team behind Zacu’s content won’t change. I still believe in my team that we have been working with because with them, so much has been achieved. So there won’t be any change in the current team, we will rather empower members of the team available. Canal+ is a big group with ample experience in content production and distribution and I believe it’s a good thing for the team as long as they are empowered to meet needed standards. Zacu Entertainment is now part of Canal+ Group but nothing about how we normally operate will change. We are just going to increase the content we produce with local film producers but taking into account better content that we can sell at the international market. What does the acquisition of Zacu Entertainment mean for you as a filmmaker and Rwanda’s film industry at large? This is a sign that Rwandan film is on the right direction and is only getting better. It’s a privilege to see such a big international company like Canal+ Group getting interested in what you do to the extent that they open talks over a possibility to acquire your product. Acquisition requires a long process and is done with due diligence. There are so many things that an investor expects from a company before investing in it. That’s why the company should always be ready. The acquisition of Zacu Entertainment therefore indicates that Rwanda’s film industry is progressing day by day which is something I really celebrate. When you look at where we started, the local filmmaking journey has been really incredible. As a film entrepreneur, what do you celebrate in this deal? I am celebrating the progress a young Rwandan filmmaker has achieved and the efforts youth are putting in to put the Rwandan film industry on the map. When I started investing in filmmaking, I never thought that a big company like Canal+ Group would one day invest in my company. This milestone is not just about me but the film industry in general because there are other people out there who have innovative projects for the film industry whose potential is promising. I also celebrate the growing audience that Rwandan films are gathering because when you look at how much people love to watch local films, I see the society in the next five years getting used to watching Rwandan films as a culture. When it comes to content production, content agencies like Canal+ Group set their own standards. What are you going to do to meet their standards? Via Canal+, a special channel dedicated for only local films produced in Kinyarwanda, is soon launching and starting operations in Rwanda. Something big has changed in terms of quality in audio-visual content as we target to produce content with standards that are not only local but also meet international standards because there is a possibility that various international channels of Canal+ will soon be showing our films. Do local producers have the skills and is there equipment that meets the standards of content required for production on Canal+ channels? I have no doubt that Rwandan producers have enough skills in producing audio-visual content that meets the international market. Don’t you know Rwandan films produced by local filmmakers that win international prizes? They win because they meet international standards. Yes, there is still a need to improve production skills, but our local producers so far have production skills that meet Canal+’ standards. When you look at Western films, they don’t have anything better than our local films. There have been claims that there is still limited local film content for audiences to consume. With the acquisition, what are you going to do to address this issue? Yes, the content is still small and only a few films are being shown on local TVs but I am confident that we are going to produce more content for our audience.