Kenya Kwanza Creative Economy Pledges. Understanding President Ruto’s Plan

By George Robert Asewe Dj Probert Founder & CEO

According to the Kenya Kwanza Manifesto, President Dr. William Samoei Ruto and his economic team identified 5 key sectors that the Kenya government will focus on between 2022 & 2027 as they roll out programs that will be geared toward implementing the president’s election pledges to Kenyans. These are:


Micro Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) Economy

Housing & Settlement


Digital superhighway & Creative Economy.

In this article, we analyze the Digital Superhighway & Creative Economy promises made by the president with a view of providing cultural industry stakeholders with a snapshot of what to expect over the next six months as the government rolls out short-term and long-term programs to implement the creative economy promises.

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According to Kenya Kwanza, many critical sectors are suffering a variety of economic ailments. It is for that reason that President William Ruto has promised to sequence the rolling out of the government programs. The sequencing is informed by the fact that the president believes that these sectors suffer from severe resource constraints. This we believe is an indisputable fact. It’s for that reason that the president in his manifesto has promised to adopt interventions that can increase revenue in the economy quickly.

President Ruto promises to implement the Kenya Kwanza policy plan within 4 timeframes as follows:

Short Term: These are interventions that Kenya Kwanza promises will deliver impact within 6-18 months.

Medium Term: These are interventions expected to deliver impact within 18-36 months.

Long Term: These are long-term interventions whose impact is expected to be felt within 3-5 years.

Quick Wins: These are interventions the president and his team promise will have an economic impact within 6 months.

In our view, the timeframes are in order and well justified. This is informed by the fact that every public policy decision that the president will make must be subjected to consultation & public participation. The president will also be expected to mobilize parliament to fund his economic programs. The timelines, therefore, become an important factor in analyzing the president’s strategy in his first term in office.

National Assembly Speaker Rt.Hon.Moses Wetang’ula will play an important role in fast tracking creative economy bills. Copyright property of President Dr. William Ruto twitter page.

Value Chain Versus Supply Chain

Kenya Kwanza is first and foremost promising to adopt a value chain approach. The premise of this policy position is the assertion in the Kenya Kwanza manifesto that competition of resources among sectors often undermines rational allocation of resources and also wastage due to duplication fragmentation and lack of coordination. In our view, this is a very valid point of reference in examining the president’s election pledges. For example, every county has its practices as regard the granting of film permits. If one intends to film in the 47 counties, you will need to acquire 47 different licenses. The cost of these licenses and the procedures for obtaining them are varied and not standardized. It doesn’t paint a rosy picture for the Kenyan film sector. Other concerns in the film sector include the duplicating nature of some roles played by the Kenya Film and Classification Board and the Kenya Film Commission.

To mitigate the glaring duplication and wastage, President Ruto promises to adopt a value chain framework. According to the plan, a value chain describes the production-to-market linkages generating value for the customer. The plan distinguishes the difference between a value chain & a supply chain.

According to the president’s team, the value chain is often confused with the related concept of supply chains which describes the process of transforming materials into products and delivering the products to customers.  Again, we believe this is an important policy principle that will be of great benefit to cultural industry players interested in working with the government to reform the cultural industries of music, film, books, fashion, visual arts, technology, gaming, etc.

The value chain pledge and principle in the manifesto display the understanding of the Kenya Kwanza team that supply chains are primarily about logistics while value chains are about understanding how the creation of value is distributed along the chain. Our position which we believe is shared by many cultural industry players is that the Kenya Cultural Industries Value Chain is up for Audit & Review.

It is our conviction that for far too long, Kenya has focused on creating cultural policies that emphasize the supply chain even though there is sufficient evidence to show that our supply chains suffer serious deficits in terms of promoting the creation, distribution & remuneration of locally produced content. The best example is the Kenya broadcasting regulations that require Kenyan broadcasters to ensure that at least 40% of their content is locally sourced and produced. This is a supply chain blander in our view. The percentage should be at the very least 80%. Another example of a supply chain policy blander is the sustained failure of investment in the national broadcaster resulting in a situation where the national broadcaster is not sufficiently promoting Kenyan culture through innovative programming of radio, tv & film. The digital music streaming supply chain is opaque and collective management of rights operates in an environment of uncertainty

Creative Economy Promises in the Kenya Kwanza Manifesto

Our review of the Kenya Kwanza manifesto plan shows that the President has made several promises that will affect how Kenya manages its creative economy over the next five years.

The plan acknowledges that the Kenya Creative Economy has the potential to add value to Kenya’s cultural industries exports such as fashion, leather products & crafts industries.

The plan acknowledges the need for investment in culture to ensure the diverse spectrum of cultural workers harnesses the opportunities presented by the digital revolution.

The plan promises to establish a film fund, cultural industry portal, and promotion of entrepreneurship in music.

Freedom of Expression

Kenya Kwanza promises to work with stakeholders to expand the space of creativity including freedom of expression and protection of intellectual property.

Creative Infrastructure

The plan involves the mainstreaming of arts and culture in infrastructure (theaters, music halls, art galleries) into the infrastructure development program and identified streams of resources for their development.

Capacity Building

Kenya Kwanza promises to work with stakeholders in culture to identify the incentives, capacity building & other support required from the state to scale up cultural production and the creative economy.

Brand Kenya & Cultural Economy

Another interesting commitment by the president is the promise to mainstream the creative economy in brand Kenya & commercial diplomacy including appointing accomplished Kenyan artists and creative sector personalities as cultural ambassadors.

Within the field of Arts and Crafts, the promise is to first and foremost develop a creative industry information portal.  Kenya Kwanza avers that the portal will help in listing different players in the industry and marketing their products.  Whereas we did not see any promise in the manifesto to compel public bodies and departments to buy services from the portal, we believe this is a great latching point that the president and creative industries can use to ignite long-term calls for the government to promote public spending on art and culture through this portal. Such a move would also entail a review of procurement laws so that public spending on art is streamlined and standardized.

Another interesting promise by the president is the leveraging of existing public entities & institutions including Kenyan embassies as part and parcel of infrastructure for promoting arts and crafts. Again, this is very essential in our view. We believe that government offices including all public departments and entities should display Kenyan art in their respective public spaces. There is a vast number of public spaces such as hospitals, schools, police stations, etc that can spearhead such public good. It is therefore our view that the creative economy players will have to lobby for a policy promoting public spending on arts since the president has made a promise to increase public funding in this crucial sector.

Kenya Film Industry Promises

The proposals by Kenya Kwanza to promote investment in Kenyan film must be viewed with a lot of optimism. There are glaring signs that Kenyan film is slowly but steadily growing in global stature. Netflix which is one of the top global film streaming services is already investing in the distribution and remuneration of Kenyan content. It’s therefore fair to say that over the years there has been significant progress made in Kenyan film. Unfortunately, Kenya has never sorted out preexisting issues such as inadequate funding for film production and poor labor standards for actors and other film industry professionals/ workers.

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In response, Kenya Kwanza promises to pass a creative economy bill that will enable the establishment of a film fund. Part of the mandate of the fund will be to facilitate access to modern equipment and entire film production infrastructure available for local filmmakers on hire and lease basis. The president is also promising to review the inter-county licensing regime to develop a single permit. This is commendable. Since 2013, various stakeholders have lamented the laborious challenges related to business licenses in Kenya. Within the realm of devolution, a great challenge is the multiple licenses and permissions one has to get to do business in the counties.

Kenya Kwanza introduces a very compelling case for the Cultural Industries to identify licensing schemes that continue to negatively affect doing business in the counties and at the national level. At the national level, for instance, the licensing and management of Collective Management Organizations (CMOs) have been a great source of discomfort for music entrepreneurs. CMOs are a bridge between owners of copyright and users of copyright. They facilitate the collective licensing of music, film, books, and visual arts to users such as media, broadcasters, public spaces, pubs, restaurants, matatus, etc. The prevailing environment has led us to build linkages with the Kenya Copyright Board, CMOs, KIPPRA, SELAM, and numerous other stakeholders in the Kenya Culture scene who support our calls for reforming the collective management of rights in Kenya.

Apart from the president’s promise to establish a green channel immigration scheme and protocol service for international filmmakers, another key pledge by Kenya Kwanza is the promise to promote Kenya as an international filmmaker’s destination through benchmarking and offering comparable or better incentives to the sector.

The film pledges seem to be promising the creation of an ecosystem that convenes all stakeholders tasked with revitalizing the growth of the sector. As founders and promoters of the Kenya Film Forum, we support this move. There is a genuine need for high-voltage stakeholder talks that are not only geared towards highlighting challenges but also equally providing intellectual solutions for building the industry. Our resolve to set up the Kenya Film Forum is largely inspired by our vision to bring together film policy makers, film professionals, and film investors within the framework of biannual events that champion legislative, entrepreneurial, and policy programs affecting film in Kenya & Africa.

Music Industry Promises

President William Ruto is promising to put in place infrastructure that promotes entrepreneurship in music to ensure that industry players can turn talents into business, free investment, and basic training skills leveraging on the hustler fund.

The president’s pledge to support the enforcement of copyright laws in our view is one of the greatest policy statements regarding music and all copyright-based sectors.

According to the plan, priority areas will be on the government leading an awareness campaign on copyright laws and the enforcement mechanisms as a way of ensuring knowledge about copyright and increasing the earnings of the artist. The plan will involve the streamlining of benefits that accrue to the artists from Skiza tunes and other revenue streams.

The president’s plan includes the development of a financial model for financing music that is similar to the Kenya Kwanza sports pledges.

Kenya Kwanza has promised to establish a high-level expert task force to identify sustainable sources of sports funding and set up of a national lottery, tax incentives for corporate sponsorship, and a dedicated or ring-fenced tax & public-private partnership for infrastructure development. In our view, the music industry stands to gain a lot from such an arrangement. Companies that sponsor music-related events will qualify for tax breaks and related incentives. If well managed, such a program can attract local and international companies to put more resources into music-related events. This is also a very welcome move for proponents of innovative ideas to promote live performances in the 47 counties.

Senate speaker Rt. Hon. Amason Jeffah Kingi, EGH will play a critical role in fast tracking county related creative economy bills. Copyright property of President Dr. William Ruto twitter page.

Bottom-Up Analysis

This article is largely reliant on information obtained from the Kenya Kwanza manifesto and related publications by UDA and its coalition partners . The president has already nominated his cabinet and it is expected that in the coming weeks the president will have his cabinet nominees approved by parliament.

Cabinet Members who will have Critical Roles in the Digital Superhighway & Creative Economy Plan

Coordination & Supervision of Pledges

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua

Copyright Property of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua twitter page

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi

Copyright Property of Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi twitter page

Cabinet secretaries responsible for implementing pledges

Digital Superhighway & ICT Infrastructure Eliud Owalo

Copyright Property of Eliud Owalo twitter page

Sports Arts & Culture- Ababu Namwamba,

Copyright Property of Ababu Namwamba (R) twitter page.

Treasury Professor Njuguna Ndung’u

Professor Njuguna Ndung’u. (2022, September 28). In Wikipedia.

Co-operatives and Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) Development. HUSTLER FUND Simon Chelugui

Copyright Property of CS Simon Chelugui twitter page

Foreign & Diaspora Affairs Dr. Alfred Mutua

Copyright Property of Dr Alfred Mutua twitter page

Trade, Investment & Industry Moses Kuria

Tourism, Wildlife & Heritage Peninah Malonza

Copyright Property of Peninah Malonza twitter page

Education Ezekiel Machogu.

Copyright Property of Ezekiel Machogu twitter page

When reviewing a political party/ coalition manifesto it is critical to understand that manifestos in nature are a summary of political promises and therefore in many instances, they don’t explain in detail the “how” of achieving the promises. Because of public participation and the need to widely consult, the manifesto cannot be very detailed but gives a bird’s eye view of what to expect in the short term as well as the long term.

It is only logical and fair that a critic of the plan at the very least is undertaken 6-12 months after the president sets up his government. Anything before that would amount to speculation which doesn’t offer any probative value

It is commendable that the President and his Kenya Kwanza team have singled out and publicly acknowledged that the creative economy both in terms of its potential contributions to the economy and in terms of the looming crisis in the cultural industries.

Because Kenya Kwanza is seeking to first and foremost develop policies and programs that will be implemented within 6 months to 5 years, it is our considered view that the reforms within collective management of copyright can be rolled out within 6-12 months because of the complexities involved in bringing all stakeholders to a common united position as regards digital music, streaming, and remuneration issues that have been a challenge for several years in Kenya.

We have done well in terms of creating a supply chain policy for collective management systems. Unfortunately, the collective value chain is riddled with vagueness and incoherent unfair business practices that lack transparency, accountability, and policies that have done more to disenfranchise rights holders instead of promoting their copyright as regards monitoring, distribution & remuneration of rightsholders. Collective Management plays an important role in the professional life of an artist. They enable rights holders of books, music, films, plays, photographs, paintings & a variety of visual arts to license their work to the public in an efficient & credible manner. Collective systems take away the headache associated with managing millions of licenses by providing a single gateway for owners of copyright to negotiate licenses with users of copyright.

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It is damaging and unacceptable for Kenya to continue to collectively fail in promoting the rights of Kenyan artists to earn fair remuneration from the digital streaming of their music. Whereas America the largest music market set up The Mechanical Licensing Collective in 2017 to administer digital music and has since paid out billions of dollars to artists worldwide, Kenya doesn’t have an equivalent and therefore Kenyan artists continue to miss out on the benefits of digital music.  It is even more damaging that Kenya doesn’t have Collective Management Organizations for film, visual arts & books since these cultural sectors could not organize themselves into viable CMOs for these sectors. CMOs in Music have been locked in legal disputes with various stakeholders including the Copyright Regulator and music users like Safaricom. This list of disputes is endless. Litigation cannot fix these issues.  They require objective and credible public participation in policy legal framework debates aimed at promoting the status of Kenyan artists.

Because the president has promised to put in place policies that promote increased revenues in the cultural industries, Kenya Kwanza should undertake a proper scoping study to guide the country on how copyright-based sectors can cash in on the private tape blank levy. It is a levy on blank recording media meant to compensate the rights holder for the private noncommercial copying of his works. This is levied upon both the blank media and blank recording media such as DVDs, flash disks, mobile phones, & computers. This profitable venture cannot succeed without the input of KRA and other public and private entities involved in the importation of blank media. Whereas countries like Germany have implemented the levy since the 1950s as a way of fairly compensating copyright rights holders such as artists who are affected by gadgets that aid copyright infringement, the same is absent in Kenya even though there is empirical evidence to show that the Kenya Copyright Board has initiated legislative and policy initiatives to actualize this. We believe the president should concentrate on spearheading infrastructure and policy to effect the levy which will increase incomes for the creative sectors eligible for the compensation.

Kenya requires a robust high-level discussion on how count governments can promote live performances of music & arts. Counties have a critical role in promoting cultural practices and industries. They are guardians of culture. They are responsible for licensing venues that promote live music & entertainment. The president must take lead in setting up frameworks that will end the increasing disputes between residential neighborhood associations and live music venues like pubs & restaurants. We believe that a policy solution is the development of national & county building codes that promote the development of public spaces that promote modern sound & noise management in venues. This is a priority since the president is committing to unveiling a robust housing plan that promises to build 250,000 housing units every year. It is our view that these new developments must incorporate cultural spaces and performance venues since Kenyans prefer entertainment venues that are near where they live. The housing plan should not overlook the importance of cultural amenities such as theaters, museums, music venues, public grounds, etc. Such policy changes will reduce the increasing court cases between hospitality operators and neighborhood associations. It will also promote more investment in live music venues since the current frameworks cause lots of uncertainty for investors seeking to venture into the live entertainment sector.

Because the President has committed and promised to promote a governmental campaign regarding copyright, we believe that a high-level independent commission should be set up to collect views and make recommendations to reform copyright in Kenya. The commission should not be led by the government because the government shall be the recipient of recommendations for reform and will have to undertake its public participatory process related to the development of policy & law. It should however be facilitated by the government since it will have to coordinate views from the 47 counties.

The promise to promote freedom of artistic expression is crucial, especially regarding political commentary & taboo subjects such as LGBTQ+ expressions. Because every Kenyan has the right to freedom of opinion & expression, the current trajectory of censuring opinions and expressions containing taboo subjects must be arrested. It can dangerously lead to self-censorship and fear. These are not conducive ecosystems for promoting artistic freedom of expression. Kenya is one of many united nations countries that are signatories to UNESCO and other UN-related treaties that compel countries like Kenya to promote artistic freedom. This however is a national concern that requires a delicate balancing act due to homophobia which is present in Kenya & many African countries. Films are based on the expressions and ideas of filmmakers who turn scripts into audiovisual productions. We believe the president can promote robust discussions by various stakeholders so that Kenya continues on its journey towards promoting human rights & protecting the rights of minorities to express themselves through film & arts.

Kenya parliament in session during the first inaugural address of President Dr. William Samoei Ruto. Copyright property of President Dr. William Ruto twitter page.

It is a globally accepted practice that governments must fund cultural industries. We must tell Kenyan stories and document culture through Kenyan film. The promise to set up funds for music, film, sport & other eligible cultural industries is a step in the right direction. We must earnestly engage in a robust discussion on how to sustainably fund them because setting them up through law & policy is the easy part. Treasury will play a key role in the identification of sources for funding. Counties must equally set aside their respective kitties. 

The success of these programs will rely on great coordination skills that must operate in an environment that promotes consultations and inclusiveness of key Kenyan cultural industry players.  The Music Advocate Africa will continue to publish & provide robust thoughts on how to lobby and advocate for the creative economy promises made by president Ruto. Our conviction is founded on the belief that public education of policymakers and creative industry players backed by research in ICT & cultural sectors is crucial to Kenya’s quest to achieve the ideals of vision 2030. Cultural industry stakeholders need to understand the president’s plan and vision for the creative economy so that they can engage in meaningful & robust public participation processes that will be rolled out by the Kenya Kwanza government over the next five years.

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