Kenya eyes Sh2.5bn film hub in Africa’s creative economy drive

Kenya is eyeing to host a Sh2.5 billion hub for movie and video production, music recording and broadcast services to be financed by multi lateral lenders as a way of growing Africa's creative economy. By Neville Otuki

The proposed centre of excellence is among five planned on the continent for $125 million (Sh12.6 billion), according to Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI), promoters of filmmaking on the continent.

Each corner of the continent--East, West, North and South Africa --will host a hub that will come with modern editing suites and equipment for leasing.

"We want African producers and their cast to tell African stories as it is through films, documentaries and other audiovisual platforms," said the federation's principal adviser, Ndiritu Muriithi, a former Industrialisation assistant minister. "We have for long relied on Western creatives to do that for us, often misrepresenting the reality on the ground."

The agency is pushing for increased consumption of content produced in Africa by emerging platforms, especially smartphones. "About 400 million smartphones are in the hands of consumers in Africa, translating to a ready market for content generators."

Africa's film industry, however, continues to grapple with low production budgets due to insufficient resources, less avenues for talent recognition and development, weak distribution structures and lack of access to international markets.

The FEPACI is keen to break this barrier and imprint the continent's works on the global map. Multi lateral lenders are keen on the venture in race to ease growing unemployment in the continent.

Kenya's film industry generates Sh7.2 billion per year and offers direct and indirect employment to 100,000 people.

Mr Muriithi reckons that there is plenty of headroom for growth, adding that the pact between FEPACI, Kenya Film Commission and Kenya Film Classification Board will attract investors to the sector and increase film contribution to the economy.

Overall, revenues from Africa's film industry stand at about Sh500 billion annually.
The federation has a five-pronged plan to facilitate the growth of film making in Africa.
These include access to capital for filmmakers and audiovisual content producers, training, distribution and marketing of content and construction of the film hubs.

Kenya has been positioning itself as a movie shooting destination like South Africa whose locations have been a magnet for global producers.

The government requires local television stations to reserve at least 40 per cent of their airtime to locally produced programmes, creating a huge market for producers. The policy action aims to create job opportunities for youth in arts and film industries. 2003 - 2021