Kenya: Script changes in broadcast and film industry


Kenya's broadcast and film industry is set to get a major boost through a government initiative to promote the country's underutilised creative content economy to earn the country more jobs and create wealth. The Creative Content Task Force, an initiative of the Kenya ICT Board, has been formed to spearhead the promotion of the residual capacity and economic potential of the sector.

Coinciding with the forthcoming AITEC Broadcast & Film Africa conference in Nairobi, the task force's first initiative is the launch of an awareness campaign - Mzuka - aimed at sensitising sector players, business prospects and investors on the residual capacity and the economic potential of the sector.

"Mzuka's main objective is to create a framework for formal recognition of the industry and its sub-sectors", said Michael Onyango, the Vice-Chairman of the Creative Content Task Force, who is set to present the campaign at AITEC's Broadcast & Film Africa conference in Nairobi on July 6 and 7.

The creative content economy, which includes the broadcast, film, music, art, publishing, advertising, animation and gaming industries, contributed an estimated Sh25 billion to the economy last year.

But this amounted to just one percent of the economy, compared to 5.1 percent in Jamaica, 11.2 percent in the US and four percent in Latvia, according to Zimele Asset Management Company. "Creative content has the potential for wealth and job creation through generation and exploitation of intellectual property," says Sammy Muvelah of Zimele.

According to Onyango, it is this underlying potential that the task force is seeking to expose on the global arena. It aims to make Kenya the continental hub of creative content within two years.  As a first step, it is in creating a database of players, investors and stakeholders within the creative content economy over the next six months.

Confirming the immense capacity of the creative arts, the Creative Economy Report 2010, published by UNCTAD, shows the sector expanded in the face of a global recession. While global trade in manufacturing and industry shrunk by 12 percent, the knowledge-based creative sectors continued to expand, reaching $592 billion and achieving an annual growth rate of 14 percent from 2002 to 2008.

However, Africa's total contribution in the creative economy is almost negligible. Only one in 10 African countries have established performing and recording industries. Yet Nigeria's film industry, commonly known as Nollywood, is now worth $250 million to $300 million, while Kenya's film industry is contributing Sh65 million, according to a Kenya Film Commission study done in 2008.

The Creative Content Task Force was formed at the behest of the Permanent Secretary of Information and Communications Bitange Ndemo after a visit by Yvonne Mwende, one of the creators of the blockbuster movie the Avatar. The movie made $2.9 billion in sales.