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Govt eyes growth of visual effects industry

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 10 – The government has set up a taskforce that has been mandated to chart the way forward for the local visual effects industry in the country.
The taskforce to be chaired by ICT Board Chief Executive Officer Paul Kukubo will hold its first meeting next week to explore ways to address the sector\’s challenges as well as how to spur its development.
"There are several requirements that the industry needs to comply with and the taskforce will therefore look at these deficits and recommend the way forward," Information Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo said.
He pledged to champion the transformation of the sector and the nurturing of the talent, in order to unlock the huge opportunities that it portends and develop it into one of the fastest growing industries.
He projected doing so could see Kenya tap into the approximately Sh4 billion worth of business that goes to India\’s outsourcing sub-sector.
"We have various capacities and (we) can collaboratively begin to make this kind of productions (such as 3D, animations, short commercials) locally. There are already local efforts going on but we need to use the expertise that we have to develop those capacities and move forward," Dr Ndemo said.
The PS spoke during a forum which was hosted by one of the creators of the epic movie, "Avatar" Yvonne Muinde who emphasised the need for all stakeholders to work together to harness the huge potential in the sector.
"This industry is a collective process and so we need build everybody up. There is a lot of talent and great ideas but we need to do this as a collective unit," the New Zealand-based matte painter said.
Pointing out that there is a lot of talent in the country which has mainly concentrated on animation, Ms Muinde challenged local enthusiasts to broaden their horizons and intensify training of the various disciplines such as gaming.
"Our competition is India, Philippines, Malaysia, Hollywood, so we really have to step up our training. There\’s a huge gap when we only train animation; it is a positive thing that we have started but we need to broaden this so that we can tap into the huge potential in the industry," she said.
There has been an attempt in the country to train interested parties in 2D and or 3D digital Animation concepts, artists and graphic designers as seen by the establishment of several Art and Design schools in the country.
Such efforts to nurture the industry and develop local content have seen the production of \’Tinga tinga Tales\’ which is an animation series of African folk tales.
Appreciating and buying such programs Ms Muinde said, would not only provide a market locally and regionally but would also encourage more Kenyans to venture into the business.
Notwithstanding the challenge of lack of financing for stakeholders, ICT Consumers Association Chairman Alex Gakuru sees the country\’s migration from analogue to digital broadcasting, coupled with the operationalisation of the fibre optic cables as growing the sector by providing employment opportunities for thousands of youths as well as a chance for them to become world renowned movie producers.
He opined that the country needs to appreciate and nurture its local talent in ICT and not only recognise them "when and after they have made a mark internationally."

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