The African Union announced the launch of a new agency this week dedicated to the rapid development and growth of film and TV industries across the continent. The establishment of the African Audiovisual and Cinema Commission (AACC) was the product of concerted and long-running lobbying efforts that began with talks in Maputo, Mozambique, in 2003.

The push was spearheaded by the Kenyan government, the Pan-African Federation of Filmmakers (known by its French acronym, FEPACI), the African Union Commission, and representatives of film industries in a host of countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe.

“We wanted a lot of buy-in from the different countries,” says FEPACI’s Christine Githiomi. “Without the support of these countries, this kind of initiative would not be happening.”

Among the key goals of the AACC will be a concerted effort to create and strengthen organizing bodies at the national, regional, and continental levels; to push for more cross-border cooperation; and to develop local TV and film industries, both as a way to spur economic growth and to push a broader cultural agenda of fostering peace and promoting a positive image of the continent.

While the full framework will be put before members of the African Union later this year, FEPACI says that the medium-term goal is to grow the pan-African film sector from an estimated 5 million jobs, contributing $5 billion to annual GDP, to 20 million jobs, contributing $20 billion to annual GDP.

As part of what FEPACI calls a “five-program ecosystem,” the group is mobilizing an estimated $410 million in public- and private-sector funds to boost filmmaking capacity on the continent and across the diaspora.

“Some countries are more advanced in film than others,” says Githiomi. “The idea of making this an African Union initiative is to try to bring up all the different [industries],” so that “this organization is going to support you wherever you are.”