Africa south of the Sahara is one of the most destitute regions of the world. In 2002 its gross national income per capita was US$450, one-tenth that of Latin America. Not surprisingly, the promotion of economic development, especially through initiatives by groups such as New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), is the most pressing issue for this area and indeed for all of Africa, which is the only continent in the world that has grown poorer in the last twenty-five years.
Film production is tenuous at most, and concentrated mostly in Nigeria and South Africa. Problems of financing remain part of a vicious circle that continues to hinder the full development of African film industries. One of the key challenges is the struggle to control modes of production, exhibition, and distribution. The continuing dominance of foreign interests in these areas has, in part, spurred an ongoing debate throughout the decades concerning the appropriate filmic modes of representing African cultural identity.