A member of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) will this week seek permission to introduce a private member’s bill seeking to boost the five-member bloc’s creative industries.
Eala resumed business in Arusha, Tanzania, yesterday with election of its Commission members.
MP Dr James Ndahiro (Rwanda) is pushing for the East African Community Creative and Cultural Industries Bill, 2014 due to the importance of creative and cultural industries, he said.
Creative industries are those that originate from individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation “through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property.”
According to Ndahiro, in today’s global economy, creative and cultural industries are considered one of the fastest growing sectors as they contribute significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many countries.
“Many developed and developing countries capitalised on cultural and creative industries to grow their economies. The Bill seeks to improve and make more beneficial, EAC’s creative arts, culture and talent,” he said.
Dr Ndahiro stressed that developing the bloc’s vast potential of creative industries will help create more wealth and reduce unemployment.
Many countries have established a Centre for Creative and Cultural Industries to assist in all aspects of their development, he said, citing Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.
While Hong Kong adopted action-oriented strategies with the active participation of the business sector, Singapore developed a “Media Lab” as a showcase project for creative industries, and Japan established the “Creative City”, an urban revitalisation project which became popular worldwide.
“EAC has the potential for wealth creation since it is rich in cultural heritage with unlimited pool of talents, but it remains a marginal player in the global market,” Dr Ndahiro said.
The EAC produces world-renowned artistes, singers, musicians, dancers, designers, but “their contribution to our economy” has remained insignificant, he said.
Lack of incentives, financial, educational, infrastructure and technology support from EAC partner states and businesses, he said, partly explains why creative industries are not yet fully developed.
Dr Ndahiro’s Bill seeks to promote creative and cultural industries in the EAC by establishing a Council charged with ensuring a favourable environment to enhance and stimulate creativity and innovativeness among EAC citizens.
The Council, if approved, shall provide high quality trainings for skills and creativity development and formulate policies and strategies that stimulate creativity and innovations, especially among the youth.
A fund is also likely to be established to finance creative and cultural projects designed to develop the sector and train creative and cultural entrepreneurs, practitioners, administrators and creative and cultural workers.
Rwanda last year started mapping its cultural and creative industries after similar surveys were reportedly completed in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
According to Unesco, cultural industries, which include publishing, music, cinema, crafts and design, continue to grow steadily and “their international dimension gives them a determining role for the future in terms of freedom of expression, cultural diversity and economic development.”