'Massive success and breakouts': Kenya's 2018 entertainment scene

A file photo of musician Jaguar who is now Starehe Member of Parliament. /MOSES MWANGI
A file photo of musician Jaguar who is now Starehe Member of Parliament. /MOSES MWANGI

Karibu twenty eateen!

I thought that may get our attention. After nearly 20 years in Kenya’s creative industry, I couldn’t resist the Wordplay.

No, I’m not referring to the corruption written about in Michela Wrong’s 'It's Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower', of 2010. However, it is very much time for our creative industry to sit at the world’s dining table – and that’s what I see for Kenya in 2018.

For 54 years, Kenya has been sustained by the resources of agriculture and tourism, but we are yet to see the real wealth of this nation in its intellectual property.

As we closed 2017, a very key instrument to the sustainable success of intellectual property in Kenya, was in Parliament. The Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2017, the work of the Kenya Copyright Board (Kecobo), in consultation with the creative industry, is a game-changing piece of legislation, containing some firsts for Africa – even ahead of the current entertainment leaders of South Africa and Nigeria.

And it is being championed by Dagoretti South

Member of Parliament

John Kiarie - himself is an experienced creative director and comedian known as KJ - and supported by the Member of Parliament for Starehe – Charles Njagua - the musician known as Jaguar.

I believe that this may the first time in Kenya’s history that we have creative professionals in Parliament. Both belonging to Jubilee, it is hoped that their party’s manifesto for our sector will now be fulfilled; thus leaving a lasting legacy, for the two terms of President Uhuru Kenyatta, in transforming the creative industry of Kenya.

A key highlight of The Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2017, that will bring instant transformation, is the law compelling Internet Service Providers to block access to piracy websites.

Literally overnight, this will mean that the creators of music, film, television and animations in Kenya, will earn from their intellectual property, via (mainly local) online distributors like Mdundo, Waabeh, SuperNgoma, ZikiLab, etc for music; and Netflix, Showmax, iFlix, ViuSasa, RongaTV & MyChoiceTV for film, television (inclusive of comedy, theatre, etc) and animations.

The same Legislation will protect & grow the upcoming online gaming industry too. Incidentally, the Kenyan game developer and animator – Andrew Kaggia - racked-up 84.5 million Views on

globally the last 20 months. If that isn’t a testament to Kenyan creativity, then I don’t know what is.

The same Bill has enhanced structures in place to combat the pirating of literature, books, manuscripts, etc.

The net effect of this anti-piracy legislation is billions of shillings back into the economy, leading to further investment into content creation, education and training, which shall result in thousands of jobs for our youth and more taxes for the government to use for the further development of Kenya.

More powers for Kecobo

Another key benefit of The Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2017 is more definitive powers to Kecobo to regulate Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) of copyright and related rights.

Last year witnessed a scenario where Kecobo withdrew the license for the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), on alleged non-performance; only for months of legal battles to ensue over the collection of royalties and confusion in the marketplace, with the net effect being a reduction in collections and less revenue to musicians. This legislation will ensure improved accountability and performance by CMOs as well as more effective interventions.

However, a lot of groundwork was done last year to put CMOs on track for a minimum collection of Sh500 million for their members in 2018. in 2017, Kecobo initiated the joint collection by the Kenya Association of Music Producers (Kamp), Performers Rights Society of Kenya (Prisk) and Music Publishers Association of Kenya (Mpake), whereby, a customer efficiently receives just one joint license for the use of all rights in music, which is then shared by the members of the three CMOs.

Furthermore, Kamp, Prisk and Mpake have actively engaged their customers to help the growth of the Kenya music industry, by agreeing on favourable tariffs to ensure compliance. This has resulted in memorandums of understanding being signed with the Matatu Owners Association, the Pubs, Entertainment & Restaurants Association of Kenya (Perak), the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers & Caterers (KAHC) and the Media Owners Association.

Similar MOUs are in process with the Event Managers Association of Kenya (EMAK), the Retail Trade Association of Kenya (RETRAK) and the Association of Deejays in East Africa (ADj-EA). This shall see a growth in revenue collected and distributed to music rights holders in 2018, with the same benefits to the economy of Kenya, earlier mentioned.

Last year also saw developments in fashion, with the beginnings of the Kenya National Fashion Council (KNFC), in collaboration with the Commonwealth Fashion Council and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives. this is expected to be formalised in 2018.

During 2017, I was very grateful to see the Ministry of Sports, Culture & the Arts (Mosca), the Office of the President, the Kenya Film Commission (KFC), the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB), the Permanent Presidential Music Commission (PPMC) and the Creative Economy Working Group (CEWG) very actively engaging with industry on the policies of music, culture, film and creative industry, generally. So it’s likely that we shall see additional Bills for sectors of the creative industry in Parliament this year, or perhaps a consolidated Bill for the creative industry holistically.

in conclusion, with such a focused drive towards legal and economic empowerment, 2018 will see massive domestic success for the creative industry of Kenya, as well as breakouts from Kenya into mainstream global music, film, television, animation, gaming, literature, fashion, theatre, art, etc, like we have already seen from Kenyan talent in athletics and ICT app development.

Thank you to all in the creative industry who made 2017 count. we welcome you to the table of prosperity in twenty eateen!

PS: Be sure to join us at Ongea! 2018 – the 3rd Eastern Africa Music Summit, as we trade, learn and showcase our industry, from February 15 to 8, a Sarit Centre Expo Centre Hall in Westlands, Nairobi. Entry is free.

Mike Strano is an Australian entrepreneur, owner and founding director of top100-ranked Phat! Music & Entertainment Limited (with the service brands of Phat!Buzz, Phat! Productions and Phat! Intellectual Property), founder of social enterprise Ongea! Africa, co-founder of MyChoiceTV Limited and one of the founding directors of Music Publishers Association of Kenya (Mpake).

WATCH: The latest videos from the Star