Regional artistes can play a vital role in the integration agenda of the East African Community (EAC), a lawmaker said, yesterday, during the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) as members passed the EAC Creative and Cultural Industries Bill.
A private members Bill introduced by MP Dr James Ndahiro (Rwanda) seeks to boost the bloc’s creative industries by establishing a council charged with ensuring a favourable environment to enhance and stimulate creativity and innovativeness among EAC citizens.
The assembly is currently sitting in Kampala, Uganda.
Noting that the Bill was a vital piece of legislation that “should be supported” by everyone, MP Susan Nakawuki (Uganda) pointed out how artistes have been helpful in many respects.
“Music and art have always been a tool for sensitisation. We have, for example, had musicians composing educative songs. Ugandan artiste Bobi Wine, for example, composed a song teaching the public about cleanliness,” she said.
“Even when it comes to the integration process, we could have musicians singing about integration. Their music can reach far places where ministers cannot reach easily.”
Nakawuki spoke of how the music industry is “also key to promoting tourism”.
To achieve all this, however, she cautioned that the assembly should also bear in mind the importance of intellectual property rights.
She proposed that an intellectual property legislation be enacted as soon as possible so that artistes benefit as they should.
Creative industries originate from individual creativity, skill and talent.
They have a potential for wealth and job-creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property and, according to Ndahiro, the EAC is losing out if it does not jointly develop, protect and harness one of the fastest growing sectors contributing significantly to the growth of many countries.
The proposed Council shall provide trainings for skills and creativity development and formulate policies and strategies that stimulate innovation.
The Bill seeks to improve and make more beneficial EAC’s creative arts, culture and talent.
Earlier this year, Dr Ndahiro told The New Times that developing the bloc’s “vast potential” of creative industries will reduce unemployment.
Countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan established a centre for creative and cultural industries to assist in aspects of development.
MP Hafsa Mossi (Burundi) said: “This law is very important for our region which is blessed with a rich culture. It will help in creating a source of wealth.”
Contacted for a comment, yesterday, Masamba Intore, a Rwandan cultural musician, said it was “a very important and welcome development if that law will help grow creative arts.”
“With it, we would eventually see enhanced collaboration between artists in the region too, I hope. And our products would be protected. Many players in the sector today are practically poor which should not be the case,” he added.
He noted that in Europe and other developed countries, governments provide special funding to the creative sector because the sector is vital for cultural heritage.
“They should not only always come to us during campaigns, but also come to us with all necessary support,” Intore said.
Rwanda, last year, started mapping its cultural and creative industries after similar surveys were undertaken in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.