NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 28 – Kenyan film makers have been urged to borrow a leaf from Nigeria and India to transform the local industry and start contributing more to economic development.
Information Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo said on Wednesday that the industry should capitalise on the demand for local content and produce low-cost movies which can help the industry grow.
“It used to be very difficult for us to watch Nigerian movies but now we do. Nairobi has now started the ‘Riverwood’ (Kenyan version of Nollywood) which has grown to a point where Kenyans are now buying this local content. This is an important industry that we must look at because it can create many opportunities for employment,” he told participants at a two-day Broadcast & Film Africa Conference.
Commonly, known as ‘Nollywood’ the cinema industry in the West African country is the world’s second largest film industry raking in an estimated $300 million per year. Its success has been attributed to the availability of cheap filming and editing technologies which has in turn enabled the film makers to produce affordable movies.
The PS pointed out that government has put in place requisite legal and regulatory frameworks that should catapult the industry to greater heights. He added that the government hopes that this positive environment will attract investments into the sector and help Nairobi and Kenya in general become of the favourite filming destinations in the world.
The government he added has no desire to intervene in the sector and wanted the players to take it upon themselves to implement certain changes that are needed in the sector. Key among the reforms includes de-linking for example the Television channels from the content development, a move that would give power to the producers and spur competition.
He urged the private sector to also use technology and the many delivery channels that exist in the market to diversify into other content and areas that tell the African story in a clear and unbiased way.
“We need to create more diversity to enable us exploit other areas that have not been exploited such as education and other thematic areas such as sport,” the PS advised.
The conference brought together over 60 African and international broadcast and film leaders many of whom will make presentations on a wide range of media industry topics.
The conference programme was designed by Russell Southwood, a leading analyst of the African media sector who lauded Kenya’s decision to impose local content quotas that are broadcast in media houses.
This coupled with the sector’s liberalisation he said was the right step in growing the industry was a move forward programming.