On Friday last week, I inaugurated a recording studio at Koma-Rock area of Matungulu constituency in Machakos County that signalled the commencement and operationalisation of grassroots studios in three other counties to stimulate creativity.
Studio Mashinani, as the name suggests, is a project through which the Government has taken recording studios to the grassroots level where the majority of talented youth reside.
Five studios comprising two in Nairobi and one each in Machakos, Mombasa and Kisumu counties have been completed and plans are underway to eventually spread out to all the counties. The studios are fitted with modern high-quality recording equipment.
The inspiration behind the Studio Mashinani concept is that Kenya has enormous creativity and unexploited talent. However, the missing link is the lack of, and in some cases inaccessibility to, opportunities for the youth to exploit their potential.
Many of our talented youth hail from poor backgrounds and cannot afford the high cost of producing and recording their music and other creative content in commercial studios.
Studio Mashinani will bridge this gap by providing state-of-the-art equipment and mentorship as well as access to platforms to commercialise their productions.
Studio Mashinani leverages on talent as an asset that can pay, hence the mantra Talent ni Kazi, and that if properly harnessed, the creative energy and artistry of the youth can turn around their fortunes.
Indeed, the creative economy has huge career prospects that Kenya can exploit to sustain the livelihoods of our talented youth, having generated business empires through entertainment ecosystems such as America’s Hollywood, India’s Bollywood, Nigeria’s Nollywood and now our very own Riverwood.
Studio Mashinani is an intervention that demonstrates Government focus on alternative and innovative ways of creating jobs considering that only 70,000 out of the 800,000 young people who enter the Kenyan job market annually succeed in securing employment in the formal sector.
The rest join the ‘Kibarua’ workforce and hustle for their day-to-day needs.
The creative economy has huge career prospects that Kenya can exploit to sustain the livelihoods of our talented youth and the Government is trailblazing by creating an enabling environment through Studio Mashinani.
Studio Mashinani makes it affordable to produce, record and eventually popularise and commercialise talents from all over the country through KBC’s newly launched youth dedicated television channel (Y254) and other digital platforms.
We envisage that the creative productions by local artistes will increase supply to the demand for local content by local broadcast stations.
The content produced will also boost the efforts by broadcast stations to comply with the statutory 45 to 60 per cent requirement for local content, which will in turn increase their revenue.
The Studio Mashinani Project is part of the Ajira Digital Programme – a broader initiative that provides a remarkable digital solution to youth unemployment in Kenya.
The programme seeks to introduce Kenya’s unemployed youth to online work, providing training, resources and infrastructure that they require to be successful in the digital workspace.
I encourage the youth to visit the Ajira portal www.ajiradigital.go.ke, and register for the program.
The online work sector has huge promise for solving the unemployment challenge. Already some 40,000 Kenyans earn a living through online work.
The Government is leveraging on this opportunity to scale up the numbers and has invested heavily in awareness creation, sensitisation and training about online work in order to grow a critical mass of online workers.
The workers are expected to mentor thousands more to exploit this opportunity and in the process contribute to the attainment of the target one million jobs annually.
To facilitate Ajira’s digital solution to unemployment, the Government has committed to provide free Wi-Fi, high-speed Internet connectivity and digital devices in all the 290 constituencies through the Constituency Innovation Hubs project in collaboration with Members of Parliament.
Each constituency will have four innovation hubs to enable young people at the grassroots level to access online work and other digital opportunities.
Already, Limuru and Mathioya constituencies have operationalised their Innovation Hubs that have now become beehives of activity with hundreds of young people frequenting them to access and complete online work and other transactions.
We encourage more Members of Parliament to sign up and allow their constituents to also access free Wi-Fi and faster Internet speeds.