Congratulations H. E. Dr. William Ruto President-Elect of Kenya Ruto the Fifth

By George Robert Asewe Dj Probert Founder & CEO

Dear Mr. President,

We congratulate you on your election as President of The Republic of Kenya. We speak on behalf of Millions of Kenyans who wish you well and success as you lead the Republic.

We look forward to engaging with your administration on issues concerning the Kenya Cultural Sectors including Copyright, Music, Film, Fashion, Visual Arts, Media, Theater, Design, Gaming, IT, Dance, Books, Publishing & CMOs.

We know you believe that Kenya must restructure its culture and practices in terms of implementing what is just and fair by breaking away from failed practices of the past.

It is unfair for Kenya not to have an efficient royalty management system. Because you have promised to create support funds for sectors, the government and parliament need to introduce a new accountable digitally focused royalty management system for Kenyan artists & creators.

Without a proper functional royalty model, Kenyan banks and capital markets will not be able to invest in the lucrative arts industry. Kenyan musicians should be in a position to use their CMO monthly statements to secure financing from investors and creditors. In Kenya, musicians have never experienced receiving regular financial statements about the performance of their music despite the wide use of their intellectual property by the media, public spaces, public transport, telecommunications, and many sectors using music.

It is unfair that while artists in other regions of the world like America & Europe continue to benefit from collective management of their digital rights, here in Kenya it is only the digitally connected service providers having a sweet end of the deal. Between 2018 & 2021 America has implemented a new royalty management system (The Mechanical Licensing Collective) that has paid out Billions of Dollars to American Artists. Even some Kenyan artists are receiving royalty statements and payments from the MLC. In Kenya, we are yet to set up infrastructure and frameworks to reward our artists in the digital space.

Mr. President, during your term KBC must be reformed so that public infrastructure is used to promote Kenyan film, dance, tourism, food, music, and culture. Your government must transform all 47 Counties into film centers supported by the national broadcaster. Every county must have the presence of the public broadcaster who must be empowered to promote investment and collaboration in cultural news, reporting, film, documentation & curation in the counties. KBC must be curated from all the 47 tips of the Republic. We must invite young creators to take KBC to the next level of programming that promotes the creation of local content in the counties. We must review our programming codes and promote local content curation from social media to public media and provide a great way of rewarding talent.  

We must end the perennial fight between promoters of live performances, venues, neighborhood associations, NEMA, and “Kanjo”. Kenya is an international entertainment market. We must continue to promote investment in entertainment in our neighborhoods. This calls for a revisit of building codes so that we improve noise management of our entertainment venues which must be close to our neighborhoods. Investment in live performance equates to the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs related to the live performance industry.

The government will be expected to champion the use of Artificial Intelligence Technology to aid the Kenyan cultural industries that heavily rely on Metadata to generate income. Data is the new oil. Without a data revolution, artists will miss out on emerging opportunities in the digital space. The Central Bank of Kenya is already experimenting with the idea of introducing a Central Bank of Kenya Digital Currency. We equally need a commission to look into the existing and emerging issues in media, music, film, IT, publishing, writing, art, and the digital space.

We are encouraged by the fact that you have publicly stated that you support the development of the Kenya textile industry. We need investment in the Kenya fashion industry that can employ millions of Kenyans directly and indirectly. From the farm to factory to clothes store, we have an opportunity to re-engineer the Kenya fashion sector.

The entry of global brands such as Netflix into the Kenyan film industry should give your government the appetite to invest in Kenyan film. This is what Europe has done during Covid. The Europeans have invested in film funds and implemented several copyright directives that are elevating their film & cultural industries globally. They have a vibrant live performance scene. They are reviewing their streaming & fair remuneration practices to protect and promote their creator economy. Kenya can equally do this kind of investment.

After reintroducing art-based subjects in our schools we must equally commit to supporting cultural industries & professionals. We need national dialogue to heal wounds of the past related to non payment of royalty. We also need dialogue to create new just markets that promote fair remuneration for artists in Kenya. We must build the future today and break away from historical practices which have been unfair and unconstitutional since they have violated property rights of our creators. We have an international obligation to respect the intellectual property rights of all artists. By fixing royalty systems, we shall open several doors for investment and collaboration. We shall also be honoring our international obligations as good corporate citizens who promote respect for property rights.

We wish you and your deputy well and look forward to the bottom-up transformation of our cultural heritage and industries. @WilliamsRuto @rigathi @MusaliaMudavadi @Wetangulam

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