So the D-day is tomorrow, and the long awaited event will finally take place. As I have been writing and collecting views from industry stakeholders for the past two months or so, one thing has been clear, that our industries are lacking in one major way: structure.
Most of the broadcast, music and film industries in Africa are working without any form of structures in place; We have in place professionals, equipment and platforms that are in place to support the content that is being created and produced, but what seems to be missing are the laws, the guilds, qualification standards, set industry practices and standards of conduct, payment etc., and bodies that look out for the interests of the various professionals.
As I questioned some of the professionals, this came up:
Paul Ikhane – “We as stakeholders have not constructively engaged policy makers in terms of the challenges we face as an industry in Africa. If we must move forward we need to get our legislative arm of our governments to enact laws that will protect our interests”
Alex Konstantaras said: “Also in Kenya there is no legit distribution path or clear laws about distribution so we end up having products but almost no where to sell them and also there is heavy taxation for legit films and no taxation on pirated films.”
Eddie Okila- “When you have non-professionals in the field who get to where they are through nepotism and you have to train them, it becomes taxing trying to be professionals and making them see the bigger picture.”
Damaris Irungu Ochieng’ – “One of the biggest challenges is that most producers and broadcasters don’t understand that scriptwriters are an essential part of their creative work; they want to pay the cheapest possible and don’t care much about the qualifications of the writers”
Meredith Beal- “In terms of an industry that can support continual development of musical artistry that can sustain the livelihoods of the talent — that’s what needs to happen and where we should be headed.”
Gerald Langiri- “A fully professional industry must have bodies/associations that govern them. Bodies that have rules and regulations that clearly state policy of how things should run….lack of accreditation and schools or guilds that can actually identify actors in Kenya are lacking and that makes it a very haphazard industry.”
Debbie Asila- “Returns on investment musically is generally low therefore music is something you must do for more than just the money, there must be a higher satisfaction, passion and calling… unfortunately we live in the real world and life is generally expensive that said, money remains a big factor.”
Those are just some of the sentiments that echo the reality on the ground that structure is lacking and this ultimately affects all the other good things that are happening in the industries. As we embark on building a world class digital media, we must also not forget that without creating the policies and structures that support the media industries, the efforts will not amount to much.
Let us meet tomorrow and see what the way forward is.
Compiled by Christine Mwai