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Digital Media City pact with South Korea a big boost for Kenya's creative industry


Kenya’s creative and media sectors have recently posted significant growth, riding on advancements in digital technology and increasing global connectivity.

This growth is marked by the rise of streaming platforms, the proliferation of social media, and the expanding influence of digital content creators.

Current trends point to a continued shift towards digital and immersive experiences, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), which are set to revolutionize content creation and consumption.

Additionally, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in content production and distribution is expected to enhance personalization and engagement. As these technologies evolve, the creative industry is poised for exponential expansion, offering new opportunities for innovation and economic impact.

Leading economies such as the USA and Korea have made significant investments in technology to enhance the creative sector and the arts by providing critical digital infrastructure and incentives to facilitate the creation of digital platforms and tools that artists and creatives can use to produce, distribute, and monetize their work globally.

Further, governments are investing in initiatives to support tech-based education and training programs that equip creatives with the skills needed to leverage new technologies and establishment of innovation hubs and incubators specifically for the creative sector to foster collaboration and innovation. Such investments not only elevate the creative economy but also drive job creation, cultural exchange, and national economic growth.

This background sheds light on the significance of the signing of a financing agreement between Kenya and South Korea for the establishment of Kenya’s Digital Media City at Konza Technopolis.

This project not only proposes to leapfrog the country’s positioning and opportunities for creatives in a digital economy but will also unlock an incredible opportunity for partnership for development with some of the leading creative economies in the world. 

Conceptualized with the support and input of key government agencies and creative startups in the media sector, Kenya’s Konza Digital Media City is an anchor project that seeks to establish a state-of-the-art digital media and entertainment hub to position Kenya as a global leader in the digital and creative industries.

The Konza Digital Media City will be established on a 160-acre space set at Konza Technopolis to be developed as a hub for creative media companies, research institutions, and high-tech start-ups and enterprises in the media and creative industries. The range of productions that Media City will support includes photography and film production, (filmmakers, film distributors), media houses, Gaming, Animation, Software Developers, Internet providers, streaming service providers, citizen journalism, Content creators, Digital and media Innovators, Performing artistes and Musicians.

It will also feature film studios, broadcasting stations, and innovators incorporating cutting-edge research, training, propagation of new technologies, innovation, production of digital media content and entertainment facilities

The facility will host and work with private, and public sector academia and development partners to deliver programs needed to unlock the opportunity that the creative sector in a digital economy presents. Kenya with a burgeoning youthful population is targeting the creative and digital economy for job creation and employment. 

The Konza Digital media city joins the established institutes and investment in science, research and technology including the Kenya Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), the Open University of Kenya, the Konza Cloud, and the Africa Center for Technology Studies. These investments at Konza Technopolis are expected to complement the proposed 1450 digital hubs project that has a creative economy support component to create a cluster for innovation around ICT, life science and emerging technologies.  It is simply a game changer. 

Kenya and South Korea enjoy a cordial relationship that dates to independence in the 1960s. From ICT to Industrial Technology, Road infrastructure to health and water projects to education, we have forged a partnership that has deepened our bonds over the years.

To enhance the relationship, the two nations' cooperation is anchored in the Economic Innovation Partnership Program (EIPP) which started in 2021 to provide technical support to key development priorities for Kenya.

This development comes right on the back of President William Ruto’s recent visit to the United States of America whose key undertaking was to tap into the American multi-billion-dollar creative and film industry for the benefit of Kenya. 

According to the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA), there are over 130 Free-to-air (FTA) television stations and close to 200 radio stations. Our creative industry is estimated to have recorded over $2 billion in total sales and is projected to grow annually at 10.3 percent.

This boom in the media sector has occasioned a steady rise in the demand for local content. Coupled with a recent policy directive by the Communication Authority to ensure over 40 percent of media content is made up of local content, the local creative industry is set for a brighter future to be spurred by the Konza DMC. Once complete, the DMC is expected to create an average of 5,000 new jobs annually and deliver skilled content creators and media professionals in Kenya.

Ms Ndumbuki is the Chief Manager, Business Development and Innovation, Konza Technopolis

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