Govt. pegs creative economy growth on Konza City development

Written By: Ronald Owili

Konza Complex. PHOTO | File

The government is targeting to use the Digital Media City at Konza Technopolis as a springboard to grow the creative economy and create jobs for the youth.

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The full feasibility study of the Digital Media City which is currently being undertaken with funding from the Korean Exim Bank is expected to see the development of space to host television, broadcast, film and animation productions which are backed to make Kenya a hub for creative industry in the continent.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the creative industry is one of the worst hit sectors due mass cancellations of music concerts, filming and other art forms, even though the digital space witnessed exponential growth with development of smart technologies as traditional brick and mortar companies crumble in the face of the disease.

Speaking during a virtual meeting dubbed “Building a Digital Economy” hosted by the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA), ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru noted the importance of the sector as key economic driver given that in the last five years to 2019 revenue generated by the gig economy surpassed Kshs. 100 billion on account of high internet penetration in the country.

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“The government recognizes the role creative economy in generating meaningful employment, supporting entrepreneurship and innovation, encouraging formalization and growth of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises as well as promoting social inclusion and reducing poverty,” said CS Mucheru.

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KoTDA Chief Executive Officer Eng. John Tanui said the National Data Centre that has been established at the Konza City also aims at supporting the gig economy through the Digital Media City.

“We would like to position Kenya as a hub in Africa for the creative sector. We have the resources in terms of human capacity and we would like anyone looking for high quality products in the sector to choose Kenya,” said Tanui.

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United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has earmarked 2021 as the International Year of the Creative Economy for Sustainable Development.

UNCTAD estimates that in 2020 alone, 30% of global royalties were lost while the global film industry lost Kshs 770 billion ($7 billion) in revenues.

However, in order to regain lost royalties, content producers are being challenged to develop high quality ad diverse productions that will reach a larger audience and which are competitive at the world stage.

This as Kenya Broadcasting Corporation Managing Director Dr. Naim Bilal promises to increase local productions quota being aired through collaborations with the Kenya Film Commission (KFC), Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) and expansion of the Studio Mashinani in all the 47 counties.

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“At KBC we continue to consume up to 60% of local content and we intend to push that way beyond the statutory ratio and we actually target 80%,” said Dr. Bilal.

According to Dr. Bilal, 5 Studio Mashinani are in operation, while 2 more are currently being established to support music productions free of charge.

KBC through its signal distribution arm, Signet is also set to double the current of channels on the platform from the current 40 to 100 in order to support content producers.

Royalties and piracy

According to industry estimates, the creative industry accounts for 5% of the country’s GDP equivalent to Kshs. 380 billion.

However, stakeholders want the government to be firm in combating digital piracy which is costing the country up to Kshs. 25 billion shillings annually.

The Digital Media City is expected to create 50,000 jobs for the youth when fully operational.

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