The East African Community has the potential to create wealth from its rich cultural heritage, but its creative industries are marginal players in the global market, according to a member of the East African Legislative Assembly.

Mr James Ndahiro of Rwanda is pushing for creation of the East African Community Creative and Cultural Industries Bill 2014, which seeks to boost the creative industries in the five-member community — Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The bill, if passed, would create a council to stimulate creativity and innovation among EAC citizens; provide skills training for youth; and establish a fund to finance creative entrepreneurs.

Creative industries are defined as those originating from individual talent, skill and creativity that have a potential to create jobs and wealth “through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property,” according to the report.

In today’s global economy, creative and cultural industries are considered among the fastest-growing, contributing significantly to gross domestic product, Ndahiro said.

Cultural industries include film, publishing, music, crafts and design. “Their international dimension gives them a determining role for the future in terms of freedom of expression, cultural diversity and economic development,” according to UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

In 2014, Rwanda started mapping its creative and cultural industries after similar surveys were done in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

But in the East African Community, creative industries are not yet fully developed, due in part to lack of technical support, lack of incentives, lack of infrastructure, financial and educational support from EAC members and businesses, Ndahiro said.

The East African Community produces world-renowned musicians, dancers, artists and designers, but “their contribution to our economy” has remained insignificant, he said.

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