Ivory Coast’s RTI Ramps Up Production of Premium Content

Pubcaster looks to expand footprint into English-speaking world

JOHANNESBURG — Ivory Coast pubcaster RTI is stepping up efforts to become the driving force behind West Africa’s growing TV market.

Three years after launching its production and distribution arms, the pubcaster has introduced a production slate that underscores its ambitions in the region and beyond.

According to RTI’s director-general, Ahmadou Bakayoko, this is only the beginning. “We intend to ramp up the volume of production,” he says.

RTI was in Discop this week to promote a host of new projects, including the series “Abidjan City Club,” starring César Award-winning thesp Isaac de Bankolé, and directed by French-Ivorian helmer Philippe Lacote, whose feature film debut, “Run” premiered in Cannes in 2014. The pubcaster hopes to begin shooting third quarter 2018.

Production is already underway on the second season of the popular series “National Security,” “Psych,” and “Sibling Rivalry.” And RTI’s first animated feature – a co-production with Abidjan animation studio Afrika Toon – is slated for a November theatrical release.

While also venturing into docs and feature films, the pubcaster is looking to diversify its growing catalog of premium TV series. “Our goal is to become the leading public broadcaster in terms of TV series production in sub-Saharan Africa,” says Bakayoko.

The exec’s confidence is perhaps a sign of the times in Ivory Coast, more than six years since the end of a bloody civil war. Last year the country had the continent’s fastest-growing GDP, and its economic engine, Abidjan, has again become a production powerhouse for the French-speaking West African region, thanks to the likes of RTI and the Canal Plus Group, which launched its A+ premium entertainment channel there in 2014.

RTI’s own investments have paid off, as it’s forged co-production deals with companies like ZEE TV and Lagardère. Meanwhile, the pubcaster’s most popular series, “Sibling Rivalry,” has sold to TV5Monde, France TV’s Outre-Mer Premiere, and SVOD platforms in South Africa and the U.S.—a sign that it’s “managed to convince our partners and distributors of the value of our content,” says Bakayoko.

As its footprint grows across the Francophone world – both in Africa and beyond – the pubcaster is now stepping up efforts to embrace English-speaking territories, which Bakayoko says “are at the heart of our strategic goals.”

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