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Commentary on the Creative Industry in Kenya

The  creative industry refers to the activities canvassing a diverse range of businesses, including advertising, design, music, architecture, crafts, design, fashion, film,music, the arts, publishing, software, toys, games, computer and video games, film and video, as well as TV and radio. Basically, these are activities in a way or another concerned with the generation or exploitation of knowledge and information. They may also be  referred to as the cultural industries, the creative economy or even as the Orange Economy (as they refer to it as in Latin America and the Caribbean).

Creative industries are based on individual creativity and talent. The end products are therefore what is referred to as intellectual property. What this means is that the product offered is more or less dependent on the individuals working on it with respect to their cultural, mental, academic or other disposition. While these products are in most cases intangible and cultural in nature, they can either be goods or services. They are usually protected by copyright law, and in some cases, patents.

The benefits accruing from the cultural industry cannot be understated.

Maybe this is because people do not fully understand the magnitude of the creative industry. Some of the major industries that fall under the creative industry include:

  • Advertising
  • Architecture
  • Arts & culture
  • Craft
  • Design
  • Fashion
  • Games
  • Music
  • Publishing
  • Tech
  • Tv & film

Whereas there is financial gain from salaries paid to those involved, there is a greater moral and cultural benefit to the rest of the society. Activities such as film and art can be used to educate and to pass information; even from the government to the general public. Locally, we have had comedians, musicians and actors being called upon to, or using their respective talents to pass across specific messages.

Recent developments and changes in legislation have laid foundation to the exponential growth of this sector of the economy. With improved technology for production and marketing/sales, and friendly laws, creatives are finding themselves in a more conducive environment to do their work. The government and other industry players have stepped up measures to explore and research the cultural activities with a view of developing them. After many years of neglect, one can say the industry is finally getting due recognition.

If the current trend is to be believed, the creative industry in Kenya can only grow. It has even been mused by some that in five years or so to come, it will contribute not less than 10 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, thus will be a major player in the economy. To put this in perspective, a 2007 World Intellectual Property Organization report placed the sector’s contribution to the economy at 5.3 percent of the global  GDP.

With focus in the technology sector and others such as new online solutions start ups, creatives and others are intent to grow the market. It is only a matter of time then that we’ll see majority of people and  businesses embrace fully the creative industry. As it is, creative industries offer a huge opportunity for growth in fact, the creative industry has the potential to power economic growth for the future.

Kenya has always been the hub in this region, the centre where all things thrive. With proper strategy, we can be the creative hub of this part of Africa. Already some industries have leapfrogged and we are currently among the ICT leaders in Africa. It would be fantastic to replicate that in film (with our breathtaking locations), gaming, crafts and architecture. The solution to some of the employment problems we have lie in the creatively industry.

Are the people up there planning for that?

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