Talanta Hela: Idea that saw MPs put Ababu Namwamba to task

Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

It has been quite the week for Sports CS Ababu Namwamba. Facing questions bordering on hostile from both the Government and opposition sides in Parliament on Wednesday.

The Cabinet Secretary for Youth Affairs, the Arts and Sports cut an isolated figure, taken to task over one of his most visible 'babies', Talanta Hela, and Kenya's darling, athletics.

Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Gladys Shollei, also the woman representative for Uasin Gishu, wanted to know if the kit won by Team Kenya was real or fake.

Then there was the Talanta Hela Initiative dilemma. Shollei wanted to know why the Talanta Hela App was not working.

"I have searched for days on end for the Talanta App that was launched by the head of state on June 9. There is no app that exists. What the president launched does not exist at all. We would like to know, does Talanta Hela exist, ama ni Talanta hewa (or is it fake)," Shollei asked.

"On the Talanta Hela app, that app is not just an app. The Talanta Hela is actually a digital system that would allow scouting of talents from all over the country through the virtual space," Namwamba said, adding that what was launched by the President was the Talanta Hela initiative.

He said the system is ready. He called it a "very revolutionary program".

"This initiative, honourable speaker, is about launching sports and creatives as a mega-industry. It's about monetising the talents of our young people. As I speak right now, we have already had a successful national talent camp, Talanta Hela football champ," Namwamba said.

But Shollei is not alone, Kenyans seemed to latch on to the debate to find out what Talanta Hela is and it became a trending topic during and after the Parliamentary grilling.

Speaking during its launch on June 9 at State House, President William Ruto said it was the Sports and Creative Economy Master Plan.

He said that by facilitating the development of a competitive ecosystem of sporting and creative talents, Talanta Hela formalised entrepreneurship in these sectors.

"Under it, we are committing to facilitate the development of legal frameworks, economic institutions, and organisational mechanisms to promote the effective and sustainable monetisation of all talent in our sports and creative economies," said Ruto.

Through its strategic pillars, the Talanta Hela master plan is aimed at mobilizing sectoral stakeholders, including schools, federations, clubs, private academies and other partners, in an inclusive approach.

"We seek to form effective collaborations with strategic partners under public-private partnerships and other frameworks. The programmes involved include talent search and development, music recording, production and marketing, sports development, and promotion of the creative economy," said the President.

The first move is the revival of sport from the grassroots, through satellite sports academies beginning at the school level, through community to regional (stadium) academies, which culminate in the Kenya Academy of Sports at the national level.

The government has promised Talanta Hela will pursue the enhancement of intellectual property rights and streamline royalty administration.

It also seeks to establish fully equipped creative hubs, support for fashion and pageantry, rationalise the reward and incentive systems for creatives and support nationwide grassroots creative talent search, development, promotion, and monetisation.

The initiative is also designed to implement the Presidential Innovation Challenge, an online initiative that will encourage the youth to create disruptive innovations and revolutionary ideas in every sector.

"Through this convergence, Talanta Hela projects the government's determination to turn competitive capabilities across all sporting disciplines and the expansive spectrum of the creative industry, including music and dance, film and theatre, fashion and pageantry, digital content creation as well as literary and fine arts," said President Ruto.

The Talanta Hela app, raised during the parliamentary session is intended as a one-stop shop for creatives and sportspeople. It will be aimed at connecting talented individuals to opportunities and resources, including access to training programmes, sponsorship and mentorship.

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