Youth in Kenya have been challenged to exploit their talents and creativity for income-generating opportunities as a way of tackling the rising unemployment.
In a keynote address during a webinar organized by Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) to discuss the role of the creative sector in building the digital economy, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Mr Joe Mucheru noted that many countries have leveraged on the creative sector to create job opportunities and boost their economies.
In his address read on his behalf by Mr. Jerome Ochieng, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of ICT, Innovation & Youth Affairs, the CS added that youth in Kenya must also be on the forefront utilizing their talents in the sector to earn a living and to spur Kenya’s digital economy.
“Kenya’s creative sector is a vibrant one, brimming with talent and great possibility, especially when looked at through the opportunities it affords to our youthful population.I urge more youths in Kenya to take it upon themselves to utilize the available opportunities in the creative sector to create employment for themselves and eventually contribute to our economy,” he said.
The Webinar’s Panelists included Mr. Timothy Odhiambo Owase, CEO, Kenya Film Commission, Dr. Naim Bilal, Managing Director, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), Eng John Tanui, KoTDA CEO, Mr. Mwaniki Mageria, TV Personality and Film Producer, Ms. Akinyi Odongo, Creative Director and Mr. Mike Strano, Founding Director PHAT! Music & Entertainment Limited.
Mr Mucheru noted that the government through his Ministry is currently implementing several projects under the Ajira Digital Program to support the creative sector in the country.
“We are currently implementing several programs to support our efforts in this area. Through the Studio Mashinani project which is a key component of the Ajira Digital Program, we are supporting our youth in the creative industry by providing them with quality audio production facilities to record their creative arts even with limited financial resources.”
“We do this because we are well aware of the challenges many of them face when it comes to accessing production equipment. We also established over 300 Constituency Innovation Hubs (CIHs) where the youth are trained on online jobs through the Ajira Digital platform,” added CS Mucheru.
His sentiments were echoed by Mr Owase who also urged the youth to be proactive in the creative sector and leverage the available opportunities.
“The digital economy is here to stay and we must therefore be prepared to leverage on it as a country and avoid being left behind because the creative sector no doubt plays a huge role in this digital economy,” he said.
He further noted that last year was a good year for the country’s film sector as a number of Kenyan-made films premiered on Netflix, which is one of the biggest movie streaming platforms globally.
Eng. Tanui said the Authority is currently in the process of developing a Digital Media City which will comprise TV broadcasting, animation and gaming, filming and photography, and ICT programming.
The project, he said, will support the country’s creative sector by providing a digital media and entertainment ecosystem for research, training, propagation of new technologies, innovation and production of content.
Dr. Bilal emphasised that the role of media in the creative economy cannot be overstated, adding that the Government is keen on expanding opportunities for those keen to grow.
Mr. Strano stressed the importance of Intellectual Property in the sector, adding that the impact of digital piracy was heavy.
On her part, Ms. Odongo said: “For a long time fashion and design has not been looked at as a serious career space, but things are now changing and the COVID-19 has taught us that it is a very important area, especially when it comes to provision of PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment). This is a multi-billion dollars industry and we need to position ourselves as a nation in order to bite into this big pie.”
Mr. Mageria urged investors in film production to invest more, noting that the current environment has created more avenues for earning revenues in the sector.
“This is a good time to be a creative because you can be able to monetize more easily than before. Local producers therefore need to invest more resources, time and creativity in the sector because that will bring back financial returns,’’ he said.
The Webinar was moderated by Ms. Zuhura Ogada-Odhiambo.