New survey tracks contribution of creative industry to Kenya's economy

KNBS Director General George Obudho. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) has launched a survey report on the contribution of the film industry to the economy.

KNBS said the Film Industry Satellite Account Survey (Fisa) was developed due to lack of verified data about the local film industry and audio-visual sectors, which according to the State agency is a major barrier to the design of government interventions and investment by the private sector.

Speaking during the launch, KNBS Director General George Obudho said that initially, the contribution of the film industry to the economy was not known.

“We have been able to see the level of film contribution to the economy through Fisa,” he said. “This is very important because when statistics are given at a global level it is not very useful until it is broken down to a level it can be easily used to understand which components are contributing to what it is.”

Mr Obudho said there was no little to compare with except South Africa which did a similar exercise in 2019. “We learnt a lot from existing literature from countries that have had experiences in the estimation of the economic contribution of film and related activities.”

According to the report, the Kenya Film Classification Board registered 154 film agents in 2018 and 159 in 2019.

In 2020, the registration of film agents decreased to 140 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic’s effect on businesses.

The numbers, however, rebounded to 175 in 2021 followed by a decline to 161 film agents in 2022. Kajiado attracted the most film agents, with the report also showing that most of the firms offering film services are based in Nairobi County.

According to the survey, there has been a surge in the production of long-format films in Kenya. With Kenyan actors making international appearances in global films, the industry has expanded its influence internationally.

Kenya Film Commission Chief Executive Timothy Owase said the creative arts play a critical role in society. “It is essential that we recognise and quantify the impact of the film industry on our economy. The creative sector, including film, has grown in significance and become a vital contributor to the Gross Domestic Product of Kenya (GPD),” he said.

Kenya Film Commission Board Director Hillary Mulama said Fisa was not just about recognising the past and present contributions of the film industry, but also paving the way for a dynamic and thriving future

In 2020, the number of film licences issued decreased to 595, and a slight recovery to 735 was registered in 2021.

The survey said the registration of 866 licences in 2022 is an indication of the tremendous growth in the film industry activities. 

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