NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 17 – The Kenya film industry earns Sh200 billion annually, an increase by 140 billion from 2007, according to a study commissioned by the Kenya Film Commission.
Ezekiel Mutua, CEO Kenya Film Classification Board, said the steady pace of growth can be attributed to increase in technological innovation in the local scene.
This has in return created thousands of new jobs.
Mutua noted that Internet usage stands at an impressive 54pc with mobile usage at 80pc, positively impacting the economy and particularly the film industry.
“This development is spurred largely by advances in technology as well as increased levels of investment by both local and foreign investors,” said Mutua.
“Kenya has a thriving film industry that has gathered a renewed pace of growth across the continent,” he added.
Speaking during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Films and Publication Board of South Africa, Mutua said: “Despite the exponential growth, challenges that come with technologies need to be addressed especially the lack of regulation of online content.”
A case in point is the recent introduction of online television streaming services Netflix which has gained mixed reactions.
“The biggest issue we have with Netflix is on programme ratings.”
“What’s rated 16 in the USA is not fit to be watched by a 16 year old here in Kenya,” said Mutua.
The major challenge is that the country lacks a regulatory framework to highlight on such issues especially those to do with online content.
“We are currently engaged in consultative meetings with relevant stakeholders as well as the government to formulate a regulatory framework,” Mutua Noted.
This not only affects Kenya but other African countries since there is lack of a regulatory framework of online content.
Sipho Risiba the COO Film and Publication Board from South Africa reiterated, “Netflix launched in South Africa the same time it did here in Kenya and we are facing the same challenges as you are… the lack of a regulatory framework.”
“There are a number of entities streaming online content and Netflix isn’t the only one,” said Risiba.
“It is important that we come up with a framework to ensure that there is conformity, uniformity and we standardize the engagements with these entities,” stated Risiba.
The South African Film Board said they are planning on offering training on classification at a fee and have extended an invitation to Kenya.
The one year course is to be done at the University of South Africa and will enable the film board personnel classify content according to stipulated rules.
“It should be noted that the classification is an expensive process and needs a fee viable structure.”
“South Africa is currently working on the tariff structure which is more aligned to the physical distribution of content,” Risiba explained.
Mutua said with the MoU in place, Kenya and South Africa will work together on how best to handle the highlighted challenges of online content.
In conclusion the two film boards pointed out on the need for other African countries to make initiatives in pursuing better regulatory regime since we risk being used as a dumping site of unregulated online content.