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‘White Models Are Foreign to Nigeria … They Are Naturally Banned’: Nigerian Becomes First Country to Ban Foreign Models in TV Ads

Nigeria plans to stop using foreign models and voiceover talent for its commercials, reports show.

The move is in line with the country’s federal government’s policy to develop native talent and promote economic growth within Nigeria.

According to Steve Babaeko, president of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, about half of the models and voiceover artists in Nigerian commercials were British natives decades ago, but there has been “some kind of renaissance in Nigeria” with a “new sense of pride emerging” among young people.”

“People will tell you, ‘There are about 200 million of us. Are you telling me you could not find indigenous models for this commercial?” Babaeko added.

The federal agency, which regulates advertisement and marketing communications in Nigeria, announced the ban on Aug. 22. Many are calling it a ban on white models in the Black African country.

“All advertisements, advertising and marketing communications materials are to make use of only Nigerian models and voiceover artists,” The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria
said in the statement.

The ban will take effect on Oct. 1. Officials said ads that feature foreign models and voiceover artists that have been already approved will still run. However, new applications for foreign talent will not be approved. Companies currently pay a 100,000-Naira (about $240) fee for each foreign model they employ.

“We say this is a welcome development. It’s enabling regulation that favors the local industry, especially at a time Nigeria is in dire need of sufficient platforms for its teeming youth population,” Segun Arnize, the president of the Association of Voice-Over Artistes Nigeria, said about the ban in a statement.

Many Nigerians and others have applauded the measure, while some critics say it is reverse racism or xenophobia. Nigerians have also slammed some media outlets for creating a false narrative around the announcement.

“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 also said she does not believe the ban is about white models.

“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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