Why government has moved to support audiovisual sector

RDB CEO Clare Akamanzi makes her remarks during the forum's closing ceremony on Friday. / Eddie Nsabimana

The government of Rwanda has expressed its commitment to work with different audiovisual players to support local authors and push the sector to the next level.

This was a major pledge made to local audiovisual authors who attended the first ever Kigali Audiovisual Forum that concluded last week in Kigali.

The three-day forum which took place at Kigali Convention Centre, brought together about 300 delegates from some 20 countries and participants included major players in the audiovisual sector as well as development partners, students and financiers.

It was organised by Rwanda Development Board (RDB) among other partners to discuss the trends in the sector, map out future business opportunities in the industry and create networking opportunities for audiovisual professionals from across the globe.

Clare Akamanzi, the CEO of RDB said the forum was an opportunity for players and stakeholders to assess the current situation of the audiovisual sector, what is going well with it and what needs to be included to improve the sector.

 “This is where we got a lot of ideas on legal framework for films for example, ideas on financing the sector and tax incentives for the sector players as well as exchanging skills in order to develop the sector.

“We had a good mixture of people that have experience and expertise in the sector who we could learn from and who we can share so that we can use their views to build our sector to the next level,” said Akamanzi said closing the forum last Friday.

Create synergies

Rwanda boasts of many creative individuals, whether in music or film, but Eric Kabera, a local filmmaker and director said collaboration among the sector players remains a major threat to Rwanda’s audiovisual sector leading to a number of challenges that impede the sector moving forward and produce as many works that can reach the international market.

“We have stories to tell but film production is a process that requires resources. We need collaborative efforts from each of the industry players and stakeholders and work hand-in-hand to tell our stories and as long as we have the back of government, I believe things will work,” Kabera said.

Akamanzi pledged government support to the local audiovisual industry to ensure players thrive and push the sector to another level, where they can actually sell and compete beyond Rwanda.

“We have an [film] industry that is growing. The focus is now how we can support them to grow the sector by developing creative skills and overcome the challenges they already have. We have a lot of challenges in Rwanda, we have a lot of demand out of the country but we want to see how the sector can be taken to the level way to commercial,” she said.

The audiovisual sector provides opportunities for developing this creative economy which has a lot of potential to produce for our economy more than what we are doing today.

As a country that is in process of diversifying our economy, we want to move away from commodities-driven production to services are actually creative,” she added.

American actor Mickey Gooch Jr speaks during the just consluded Kigali Audiovisual Forum. / Eddie Nsabimana

Boosting film tourism

There is a possibility to boost Rwanda’s tourism through the cameras an industry expert said.

Ramadhan Suleman, a veteran South African producer and director, said that Rwanda is already ahead of many African countries given that it has potential assets worth exploring to boost film tourism.

“I must congratulate Rwanda for making it easy for people to enter the country besides having the ‘Big Six’ animals, with the most important one that people want to touch: Gorilla. That, for me, is their asset, the rest is to see how the country can create a viable film tourism using those assets,” he said.

However, Hollywood actor Mickey Gooch Jr. also argued that the government of Rwanda should consider tax incentives to attract international film producers to shoot their movies in Rwanda, something that can boost Rwanda’s tourism.

“Big producers that are screening movies tell you that they do not come to shoot their movies in Rwanda because of taxes. If the government implements tax incentives, I believe production crews will come,” he said.

Akamanzi admits film can support the country’s tourism in very many ways in boosting the visibility of the country hence a very good way to showcase tourism in Rwanda and revealed that legal framework of tax incentives in one of the key components that they are in process of developing, in collaboration with the Ministry of Sports and Culture.

 “There have been many countries that were able to promote tourism because of film, it would be a very good tool, for us too, to attract tourists not only to visit our country but also contribute to the economy of films,” she said.