The Rwandan creative industry could soon increase its contribution and significance to the economy thanks to a recently launched partnership involving the Swedish government.
The sector, which has long been viewed as informal, is working to replicate best practices from Sweden’s creative industry and its impact the economy through an initiative dubbed “Sweden@Rwanda”
The initiative will this week hold a two-day workshop bringing together players from the Rwandan and the Swedish creative industry.
The forum, to run from September 24 to 25, will create interaction opportunities for players in the creative industry from the two countries with an overall aim to increase the sector’s role in national development.
The forum is a follow up on a benchmarking trip by a 14-member delegation from Rwanda to Sweden in June.
The forum and initiative comes at a time when Rwanda is seeking avenues to create more employment opportunities and non-traditional ways of generating Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Emma Stenström, a Swedish professor from Stockholm School of Economics, who specialises in the relationship between business and creativity, told The New Times that the creative industry can play multiple roles in national development.
Stenström, who is in the country for the forum, said basing on Sweden’s experience, the creative industry is an avenue for self employment, entrepreneurship and also supports the development of other sectors.
“The role of the creative industry goes beyond direct employment; the sector also supports other sectors and industries by providing cultural capital,” Stenström said.
She added that the sector is also important in generating foreign exchange through exports.
Sweden’s creative industry is estimated to about 5 per cent to the country’s GDP and about 200,000 jobs.
Among the necessities to replicate Sweden’s experience, Stenström said countries require having a partnership framework between the government, private companies and non-governmental stakeholders.
“There is a collaboration between government, non-government players and private companies. Research has shown that it is important to have the three sectors involved,” she said.
Stenström added that there was need to link the creative sector and ordinary business for them to understand the importance of creativity.
Inclusion of creative skills in the education curriculum and regulation of the business environment to increase its attractiveness to investors would also boost the role of the sector.
According to some of the players in the sector in the country who spoke to this paper, the industry’s growth has partly been held back by low consumption of products and services from the industry in the local market.
Stenström said this can be addressed by concentrating on exports and cooperation between players in the sector to raise the profile of the sector.
Mathew Rugamba, an entrepreneur in the creative industry who runs a fashion house, House of Tayo, said the upcoming forum will be a chance to broaden society’s scope of understanding of the creative industry.
He said, through the forum, participants will get to appreciate the many aspects of the industry.
“There was a perception that the industry only involved music, industrial art and advertising design, this will, therefore, be an opportunity to show its significance in other areas such as architecture, among other areas,” Rugamba said.
Rugamba said it will be also a chance to lay ground and foundation for young learners to find reasons to consider opportunities in the sector for them to look at it beyond being a hobby.
Yves Iradukunda, the founder of ELE Rwanda, a youth platform for innovation and entrepreneurship said, the forum is expected to devise ways to address emerging market needs such as ensuring graduates from the formal education system are equipped enough to serve in the creative industry.
Iradukunda said, due to market needs, it is necessary to have creativity as part of the education curriculum.