Film policy is surest way to spur growth in the industry
The Ministry of Information and Youth Affairs has drafted a national film policy that is now at the public participation stage.
The proposed film policy will help to build Kenya’s brand, increase economic growth and promote heritage.
Also, the framework will develop national culture, promote integration and national cohesion and promote tourism.
The film industry will succeed when the policies made by the government support filmmakers.
The 2014 win of the coveted Oscar award by Lupita Nyong’o, the first Kenyan, was a wakeup call for the country’s limping entertainment industry.
Lupita’s win of the best supporting actress was a testimony that the country harbours great potential in filming, that can place Kenya in the global radar.
Whereas Kenya has many talented actors and actresses who would match Lupita’s success, the country’s film sector is still underdeveloped.
It was only in 2013 that Kenya was in global entertainment scene when its film, ‘Nairobi Half Life’, was submitted to the Oscar nominations body.
Recently, there has been excitement about the fact that Kenyan productions like ‘Sincerely Daisy’ and ‘Disconnect’ are making their way to international streaming platform Netflix, You Tube and Apple TV.
In its own admission, the government, through the Kenya Film Commission (KFC), said that the industry, could raise an impressive $60 billion every year and create a significant number of jobs, especially to the youth, whose unemployment rate stands at 70 per cent mark.
However, despite this huge potential and for strange reasons, the successive governments, all grappling with serious youth unemployment, have not nurtured performing arts and film industry to make it an economic magic.
A sound policy and legislation to rhyme the new dynamics in the industry is what we need.
It must not be lost to us that Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry is the second largest employer in Nigeria and it has helped to create millions of jobs for the Nigerian youth.
Kenya, with its robust youthful population can pick a few lessons from Nigeria’s on how it has managed that feat.
One sure fact is that Nigerian government has been supporting the entertainment industry.
One of the key pillars, as we put measures to re-engineer the industry, is creation of an institution, well equipped to train young people on how to produce films.
Such an institution will not only nurture young people with filming skills but will impart knowledge on entrepreneurship for the industry to be viewed as a commercial venture.
Although the country puts a lot of emphasis on extra curriculum activities in schools, drama included, the Ministry of education is yet to develop guidelines and a comprehensive curriculum to train high schools and colleges in Kenya.
Hence, there is need to nurture such talents in formative years in the schools in view of creating future jobs.
Additionally, the country relies on tourism as one of its key foreign currency earner.
KFC and other stakeholders in the industry should start selling Kenya’s potential as a filming destination.
The budgetary allocation to the filming department is not sufficient to promote the growth to give the sector an international presence.
Deliberate efforts to increase financing to the film industry, is necessary.
The policy will provide fundamental pillar for the film industry by ensuring congruence in the legislative and regulatory framework governing the film industry.
It provides a framework that would spur film development while preserving Kenya’s culture, values and national aspirations through effective and efficient film regulation.
Film industry has a huge potential on economic development in terms of wealth creation and jobs.
It also includes the generation of tax revenues and foreign exchange. It contributes to political and social development through films, which lead to promotion of national values, aspiration and cohesion.
The policy is expected to turn around and streamline the film industry in Kenya, spur development and strengthen regulation.
Further, it will create jobs for the youth and help the country collect millions from the industry. — The writer is a public policy analyst —[email protected]