Namwamba: We shall reform creative sector to drive economy

KCA University Vice Chancellor Prof. Isaiah Wakindiki(right) and Council Vice Chairperson Nancy Matimu(left) with Youth Affairs, Sports and Arts CS Ababu Namwamba during the Creative Economic as an exciting frontier for National Development at the KCA University in Nairobi on June 8th, 2023. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Youth Affairs, Sports and Arts Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba has challenged Kenyans to change negative attitude towards the creative economy sector.

Namwamba said there are economies like South Africa, Nigeria, UK and America that have succeeded through mainstreaming the creative sector.

He said that these economies have produced the biggest celebrities.

“Kenya has no option but join the league of countries that have mainstreamed creative sector as core driver of the giant economy and where sports and arts is more than entertainment,’’ said Namwamba.

The CS said attitude and culture still affects the sector because many Kenyans look at the creative space as secondary.

He said Kenya must now deal with this negative notion first.

Namwamba said the government is moving towards mainstreaming creative sector through launch of Talanta Hela initiative tomorrow(Friday) that will turn talents into money.

‘‘Though the initiative will elevate the space of talents across the entire spectrum and turn them into sustainable livelihoods, whether you are in sports, music, film, beauty pageant, fine arts, fashion or the new content creation,’’ said Namwamba.

The CS was speaking when he gave a keynote address at Kenya College of Accountancy University (KCAU).

During the meeting,  there was also a panel discussion dubbed,  ‘’Creative Economy As An Exciting Frontier For National Development,’’ organised by School of Arts and Sciences, department of Performing Arts.

The panellists, included Ms Nancy Matimu, fintech innovation and director business lead,  Wakiuru Njuguna, chief executive officer Heva Fund, comedian Eddie Butita and Kenya Film Classification (KFC) chief executive officer Timothy Owase.

Namwamba said the government is in talks with partners to help unleash the full potential of the creative economy.

‘‘We are also in process to develop talents at grassroots and take them at the national talent development institutions like Kenya Film School, Kenya National Theatre and Talanta Hela will market and monetise them and make them the next big thing ,’’ said Namwamba.

The CS said statistics indicate that the creative economy contributes about 5.3 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP) which although is still doubtful.

‘‘It possess the first challenge to this sector to be able to conduct research and have verifiable, empirical and reliable data that can be used to anchor the growth of the sector,’’ said Namwamba.

KCAU Vice Chancellor Prof. Isaiah Wakindiki said the university has plans to establish a creative arts centre to identify talents and develop them.

CS said the government will partner with the university to support the establishment of the same.

‘‘The arts centre will bring together industry practitioners in the university and also the scholars and students in collaborative projects of the industry.  We look forward to work with the government in supporting the Talanta Hela initiative by providing short courses in  business and financial skills to the creative industry,’’ said Prof. Wakindiki.

He said they want to see KCAU become the benchmark of creative arts education in the East African region.

The university offers creative arts related courses both at diploma and degree level and currently he said around 500 students.

‘‘We are at the beginning stages of setting up the creative centre that will be a whole assembly for the creative industry that will have laboratories and theatres,’’ he added.

Owase said KFC is already partnering with the university in capacity building and it will work with it to establish a film hub under its Studio Mashinani initiative at the creative arts centre once complete.

‘‘So far we have established such film hubs in Nyeri, Bomet, Uasin Gishu counties with Migori one nearing completion and our vision is to have a hub in each country. We are now doing it as per the demand of the creative industry,’’ he said.

Owase said they have introduced a program called ‘My County My Story’ which aims to have film business done at the county level.

This will entail telling stories in counties and mobilising resources from counties to develop the sector.