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Why Balala can afford to tango with celebs

Moi Cabinets

By Stevens Muendo

On Wednesday, Tourism Minister Najib Balala spent his evening with showbiz big shots at Blue Times, Museum Hill. It was a night of good news — that Kenya would host this year’s continental MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA) sponsored by Zain.

"The MTV event has come in handy to expose Kenya to the world due to the popularity and media coverage associated with it," a jubilant Balala said, adding that his ministry was now diversifying tourist products from the traditional beach and safari to sports and events like the MTV awards.

"MTV’s choice of Nairobi is a huge boost for the city and we are looking forward to welcoming the continent’s biggest stars in October for this milestone event," he said, adding that the function would rake in about Sh12 billion in publicity (in advertising).

The annual event, a celebration of the continent’s contemporary music and youth culture, will take place on October 10, at the Indoor Arena, Moi International Sports Centre, Nairobi. It will be aired to a potential TV audience of one billion people worldwide.

Seeking new friends

More than 5,000 fans will witness the event live at the Indoor Arena. This will market Kenya to the world and that is why the Tourism minister was seeking new friends with music celebrities such as Nameless, Wahu, Amani and Jua Cali whom he reckons are the ‘new unique products’ to sell Kenya to the world. This is the highest profile music event in the history of East Africa and Balala shares in its pride.

Leading mobile telecommunications operator, Zain, is the sole sponsor following their multi-platform, multi-territory partnership with MTV last year.

"The tourism sector has recovered by 70 percent for the last one year after the post-election violence that seriously affected it. I will spearhead the promotion and re-brand Kenya as a tourism destination," said Balala.

So our music celebs are the next major tourism attraction?

Alex Okosi, senior vice president and managing director, MTV Networks Africa, says as a vibrant and influential cultural hub, Nairobi will form a brilliant backdrop to the MAMA Awards and ensure that the second edition will be a truly unforgettable experience.

Forget that our very own little Kisima Awards went under for lack of sponsorship and Government support. What irony!

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