By George Robert Asewe Dj Probert Founder & CEO The Music Advocate Africa

Recognition is warranted for @BarazaLab, @TheMCSK @PPMC_Kenya, @PartnersAPKE, @SarakasiTrust, @goetheinstitut Kenya @priskkenya @KIPPRAKENYA @Animationkenya @agmakenya @ADMIafrica @FikaFilmmakers @EAJAK1 @

Creative Sector Innovation is a hot topic for many stakeholders in music, film, fashion, visual arts, gaming, animation & technology. However, Kenya needs to strengthen its individual and organizational capacities for innovation in the arts to foster an enabling environment that supports innovation.

To address this capacity gap, Panga Sanaa a Kenyan initiative seeks to overturn this gap to stir a revolution in how artist organizations collaborate in the development of policy.

Music industry creative panel constituted by Panga Sanaa to discuss music industry proposals on the second day of public policy dialogues at Baraza Media Lab.

According to their website, Panga Sanaa Fellowship is a program hosted at Sarakasi Trust and co-developed by Masson Associates in partnership with industry experts in social innovation, organizational development, and advocacy. The fellowship is supported by GIZ (the German Development Cooperation, Kenya Office) in collaboration with Goethe Institute. Built for action-oriented leaders of creative sector associations in Kenya, the program aims at strengthening the leadership and membership capacities of participating associations

Panga Sanaa is inspired by the general desire and persistent struggle observed among creative sector associations that would like to unite and lobby for common goals and shared aspirations, but lack the knowledge, skills, and abilities to do so.

We were very honored to participate in their policy dialogue platforms moderated by Professor Kimani Njogu at Baraza Media Lab between 21st & 22nd July 2022. Kimani Njogu is a linguist and author whose PHD thesis was centered on dialogue. He does a lot of work in the creative space.

Prof. Kimani Njogu moderating the policy dialogue event at Baraza Media Lab

The platform was a game-changer since it brought together critical stakeholders who have a bearing on our campaign to reform the collective management of rights in Kenya. Our campaign requires the support of all stakeholders affected by collective rights management systems.

In February 2022, when we launched a public petition to parliament seeking to reform collective management of rights in Kenya, we were aware of the monumental task that was ahead of us. Kenyan culture and democracy require that any person whether public or private entity must engage in public participation before their policy proposals can gain life in parliament.

Under Kenyan Culture & Democracy, the Constitution provides that public policy changes like the ones The Music Advocate Africa is pursuing can be sponsored by private and public entities. We are a membership network representing the rights of many creators in various arts.

Participants observing Covid 19 Regulations issued by The Ministry of Health reintroducing mask wearing at gatherings.

The constitution also requires that the sponsors of such proposals undertake public participation. For creators to effectively participate in Copyright Royalty & CMO Reforms, they need to be educated on their rights and obligations so that they can effectively participate in public participation. This is the motivation behind our involvement with Panga Sanaa.

In Kenya, sectors such as the arts have to organize themselves to form CMOS to enforce their collective rights. The government doesn’t organize the sector. It is private sector-led. There is no single initiative in Kenya to train creators on how an efficient collective copyright system works. We have therefore taken up the mantle of developing a CMO engagement resource portal to educate stakeholders.

The Panga Sanaa platform allowed us to interact with the leadership of The Music Copyright Society, The Kenya Association of Music Producers, Performance Rights Society of Kenya, Kenya Copyright Board, Baraza Media Lab, Goethe Kenya, Sarakasi Trust, Twaweza Communications, Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research, Animation Association of Kenya, Alliance Slum Media, Africa Digital Media Institute, FIKA Film Makers Association & Entertainment Arts Journalists of Kenya.

The Music Advocate Africa believes that one of the functional capacities of a policy dialogue process is to develop the capacity to engage in strategic and political processes. This is why we have developed a Bill so that the public can get an opportunity to read, criticize, support, and propose amendments to the proposals.

The Panga Sanaa initiative provides a vehicle for developing this capacity through critical industry networking and collaboration. It was beneficial for us to understand that CMOs who have daggers pointed at them from various quarters are determined to participate in policy dialogues since their future cannot be defined by past failures.

MCSK, KAMP & PRISK through their respective Chief Executive Officers expressed their desire to operate in a conflict-free environment where creativity thrives through dialogue, national reconciliation, and the promotion of fair business practices for CMOS.

Professor Kimani Njogu helped amplify some of the questions we raised. For example, we were keen to understand whether Kenya Copyright Board was interested in acquiring more business development powers as opposed to more policing powers. Whereas we support the role of government in the regulation of copyright we fundamentally believe that the regulator should have more business development capacities for CMOS. Who benefits when CMOs are deregistered and there is no alternative.

We believe CMOs are national assets that require nurturing, and investment. This can only be done through legislation.

We were keen to find out whether The Music Copyright Society of Kenya, Kenya Association of Music Producers & Performance Rights Society of Kenya were keen to set up ombudsman kind of internal dispute resolution systems to address historical grievances efficiently and professionally since judicial processes are not viable for resolving CMO member & user disputes.

The CMOs all answered our question in the affirmative. They are interested in being part of the solution that will increase the wealth profile of their members. We further sought to know whether the CMOs were interested in a truce with the regulator because no one is benefiting from the impasse.

MCSK CEO Left Music Advocate Africa CEO George Robert Asewe (Dj Probert) Right

MCKS Chief Executive Officer supported our calls for a truce and national reconciliation since he believes that the current copyright frameworks are extremely disadvantageous to Kenyan CMOs. How do you enforce distribution when millions of users are not paying. He raised valid points including the fact that past CMO failures cannot be a solid reason to end the lifeline of CMOs.

KAMP CEO Njoroge Mbugua (Center) KAMP PRISK Lawyer Diana (Left)

Equally supportive of the truce was KAMP CEO Njoroge Mbugua. He urged for a truce consisting of an environment where creativity in CMOs can thrive. He passionately gave examples of countries that had activated global trends around private copy levies. He was flanked by KAMP PRISK Lawyer Diana who was of the opinion that the dispute between the government and CMOs was hurting creator interests instead of promoting their economic rights.

Sharon Watta third right KECOBO IP Lawyer

The Kenya Copyright Board Represented by IP lawyer Sharon Watta was keen to emphasize that the only interest of the government was to ensure creators access their royalties in a timely & accountable framework that respects the IP of creators.

Key features of the Panaga Sanaa Policy Dialogue Process

The actors of any creative industry innovation whether technical, legal, social, environmental, or business-oriented, operate in a given institutional and policy context. Creating an environment promoting advocacy and innovation can create the environment necessary for creative policy innovation.

Processes aimed at stimulating public funding of the arts require the input of county governments and assemblies.

Dialogue is necessary for those in a position to influence policy change.

Dialogue is an interaction aimed at understanding each other’s unique needs and finding a way forward for the most pressing needs.

Policy dialogues should be meaningful, engaging, and respectful.

In the context of creative innovation systems, the policy goes well beyond the country’s legal framework and official policies. It refers to the enabling environment more broadly.

Our push for a CMO revolution through policy dialogue and activating political processes of lobbying parliament are informed by the idea that an enabling environment for CMOs is the context in which individuals and organizations put their competencies and capabilities into play.

It includes the institutional setup of copyright in Kenya. It includes the implicit and explicit rules governing copyright & creative business in Kenya. It includes the powers and structure of copyright stakeholders. It involves a national dialogue on the policy and legal environment in which individuals and organizations are affected by copyright function.

The concept of enabling environment in our view includes intangible or informal components such as social conventions, values, and beliefs as well as tangible aspects to do with governance, formal rules, regulations, and policy aspects.  

In the context of capacity development for creative economy innovation, the Panga Sanaa policy dialogue concept refers to all the above dimensions of the enabling environment. By training creative economy leaders in leadership, governance, and management, they have given impetus to the need for nice partnerships at both private & public sector levels.

Our take is that Panga Sanaa partnerships are seeking to improve a value chain that can provide evidence in the form of policy processes that support dialogue and calls for reform in the art sector. We salute Panga Sanaa and pray that Kenyans of goodwill support the initiative since it’s the only way to end the creative industry stalemate on remunerating creative professionals and promoting innovation.

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