CS Ababu Namwamba/KFC

The Cabinet Secretary for Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts Ababu Namwamba has reiterated the need to grow and nurture the Kenyan film industry calling it a crucial pillar to preserving Kenya’s culture.

Speaking at the third Film Empowerment Programme awardee unveiling ceremony, the CS who was the Chief Guest, was in attendance alongside the Kenya Film Commission CEO Timothy Owase and The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) representative Mr Bernd Lakemeier.

“Kenya is indeed blessed with a youthful and creative population. I'm delighted to announce that this morning I'm unveiling 22 awardees of the third cycle of the Film Empowerment programme who will receive KShs. 39 million,” CS Ababu Namwamba said in his opening remarks.

The Film Empowerment Programme created by the Kenya Film Commission is aimed at providing film and video-related funding in the broad categories of Development Funding (of feature films, documentaries and TV Concepts), Production Funding (of feature films and documentaries), Marketing and distribution Funding, and Emerging filmmakers Funding.

Speaking about the Ministry’s goals toward film the CS hoped that the film would eventually rival the top industries in Kenya adding that film was crucial to preserving culture.

“Films are a crucial pillar in preserving our culture as a people. We must therefore tell our own story in our own way…We're cognizant that film financing is a problem. My Ministry is working on the Creative Economy Bill to mitigate this,” he said.

The CS also made reference to Kenyan film culture in which, using the commission’s own figures, noted that 66% of Kenyans only watch foreign content.

“There is need for the establishment of a screen culture through steady growth of an audience base. The Kenya Film Commission survey on film consumption trends revealed that only 34% of Kenyans watch local films while 66% of Kenyans watch foreign films…In the list of priorities of my Ministry, we have set the film industry as the cornerstone for the creative economy in the country.”

Mr Namwamba’s remarks come after a year in which Kenyan films continued to penetrate the African and International markets as they joined film catalogues on international streaming sites such as Netflix, Showmax and Prime Video. On January 13th, the Kenyan film “Disconnect: The Wedding Planner” will debut on Netflix; a sequel to the first which is also on Netflix.

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