This report outlines trends in the Kenyan trade of cultural and creative goods




The market for the goods and services of the cultural and creative industries is dynamic and growing.It has impressive potential for trade and thriving of small and medium sized enterprises, which are driven by culture and creativity. The dynamism of the CCI markets is propelled by many factors. The convergence of media technologies, for example, has led to integration of production, distribution and consumption of goods services in cultural and creatives industries.


It has alsoconnected people with similar interests, led to the emergence of consumer who are also creators and reduced the cost of production. Further new formation in the tourist market and the offering of creative production through museums,heritage sites, galleries, festivals. And performances are opening up many opportunities for trade.


The creative economy is recognized as a significant sector and a meaningful contributor to national gross domestic product. It has spurred innovation and knowledge transfer across all sectors of the economy and is a critical sector to foster inclusive development.  The cultural and creative economy has commercial value. Acknowledgement of this dual worth has led governments worldwide to expand and develop their cultural and creative economies as part of economic diversification strategies and efforts to stimulate economic growth, prosperity and well-being.


The Culture and Creative-industry (CCI) generates income through trade and intellectual property rights,and creates new opportunities, particularly for small and medium sized enterprises. Whether it be arts and crafts, books, films, paintings, festivals,songs, designs, digital animation or video games, the CCI are more than just sectors with good economic growth performance and potential. They are expressions of the human imagination spreading important social and cultural values.


According to theUNCTAD/DITC/TED/2018/3 CREATIVE ECONOMY OUTLOOK. The size of the global market for creative goods has expanded substantially more than doubling in size from$208 billion in 2002 to $509 billion in 2015. While the financial crisis affected the creation, production and distribution of creative goods, its trade performance has generally been consistent, with an average growth rate exceeding 7 per cent between 2002 and 2015.


However, despite good growth rates, market conditions worsened between 2014 and 2015, resulting in a 12 per cent drop-off in trade, mirroring a more general slowdown in global merchandise trade.


Over the period 2002 to 2015, developing economies’ participation in creative goods trade was markedly higher than in developed economies, driven mainly by the performance of China. China, Hong Kong (China), India, Singapore, Taiwan Province of China,Turkey, Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico and Philippines were the top ten performing developing economies. The domination of Asian countries in the top ten is a clear indication of their important emerging role in stimulating and contributing to the global creative economy.


From the developed economies group, the United States, France, Italy, United Kingdom,Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Poland, Belgium and Japan were the top ten creative goods exporters.

Creative and cultural industry contributes significantly to youth employment and careers in CCI are relatively open to people of all ages and backgrounds. Informal CCI sales in emerging countries were estimated to total US$33b in 2013 and to provide 1.2 million jobs. Performing arts are the biggest employers in the informal economy, providing unofficial music and theater performances (street performances, festivals and concerts that do not pay authors’ rights, private performances at marriages and funerals, etc.), which are often free for audiences. In Africa, these performances are sometimes funded by individual sponsors.

In Kenya the Cultural and creative industry is gradually growing. But even with the potential of the creatives industry, Kenya and other developing countries are yet to tap into this lucrative global market. Creative goods exports from Kenya stood at Sh4 billion ($40.9 million) in 2013 compared to Sh19.5 billion ($195m)in imports, data by UNCTAD shows.

The Round Table was concerned which opportunities exist increasing trade in cultural and creative industries nationally, regionally and globally? What are the current gaps in policy, infrastructure and skills for the creative sector to fully benefit? What trade and investment policies and approaches are needed to make trade in cultural and creative industries more vibrant? And how can the private sector, public institutions and artist proactively support trade in cultural and creative goods and services?


Participants were drawn from creative sector including strategy development, performance and visual arts and the government.


Cultural and creative content drives the digital economy


Culture boosts cities’ attractiveness, indeed world-class cultural infrastructure is a catalyst for urban development for example building a museum often offers opportunities to engage in large urban development projects and to develop anew “city brand” around cultural and creative industries. Such flagship projects boost a city’s attractiveness for tourists, talent and highly skilled workers. Bilbao, in Spain’s Basque Country, is now an icon of culture-led urban regeneration: construction of the Guggenheim Museum led to the creation of more than 1,000 full-time jobs, and tourist visits have since multiplied eight-fold.Equally important, CCI make cities more livable, providing the hubs and many of the activities around which citizens develop friendships, build a local identity and find fulfillment. In Kenya our major city, reflects very little in terms of the creative and cultural industries. However, one of the major problems that the CCI economy faces in Kenya starts from the grassroots. There are many misconceptions about the art world, creativity has been left for the rebels in the Kenyan families, no parent believes that art and culture can be sustainable in today’s economy. If popular opinion is anything to go by, the creative sector is a huge gamble, braved only by reckless, or masochistic individuals.

Part of solving this problem is educating parents on the importance of creativity. Arts education at primary school level could be a factor in developing creativity.While most governments emphasize teaching STEM (science, technology,engineering, math) teaching art can help students look at things with a fresh eye, develop creativity and start thinking independently. Over time, the generations to come will appreciate CCI and learn how to monetize them – this will then be reflected in the Kenyan GDP.

Lack of support from the government for the sector has been a challenge.Is it that the government does not see the importance of funding creatives or creatives have not specified what how they want to be assisted?

Besides the several approaches to fund creatives through the creative sector, Equity bank has creative fund, but it has not been exploited. Where is the problem?

The Kenya Film Commission made a public announcement in pursuit of industry data to get a total number of creatives in Kenya but only 250 registered. Creatives pointed to the need for more accessible communication between government agencies and the creative sector.

CCI should be a labor intensive industry that should be supported by both private and public sectors

However, despite the strides the Round Table participants felt strongly that the government should market Kenya’s CCI to other countries, in terms of waivers. This will open doors for more collaborations with creatives in other countries and regions. This will put the government in theCCI trade environment, making the collaborating process easier.


The government should have more public participation engagements with creatives, to involve them in the decision making process of things that directly affect creatives, as well as talk strategize on how to improve the CCI environment.


Lack of production equipment was pointed out as a challenge to the industry. Very expensive, recording studios, infrastructure and capability. The government and the private sector should help in terms of providing or funding creative spaces so that they would be able to buy the equipment needed for production.


Enforcement of laws especially in copyright issues and piracy regulations among others. Creatives are not earning as they much as they should because of the high level of piracy in Kenya. The government should strengthen the implementation of these laws; this will help in generating taxes for the country, and creatives will improve and expand their market if they get their dues.


The industry is lacking original creativity. There is so much copy and paste. One of the major reason is because few creatives go through art or other relevant schools to develop and hone their skills. They lack basic inspiration or being original,they copy from the people they learn from. Going to art school provides a fresh eye and perspective to creativity.


Artist do not put the bar high enough for themselves. This is mainly due lack of creative outlets to market themselves in the industry. Basic knowledge on how to monetize their work is very important because very few creatives know how to market themselves as a brand.


Digital technologies have transformed the way many creative works are generated, disseminated and used.They have made cultural products more accessible through numerous online platforms including social media. The digital space has challenged established business models and the copyright system, and blurred boundaries between producers and consumers. This is presenting an up-to-date overview of academic research on the impact of digitization in the creative sector of the economy.

All participants in the digital market (online retailers, streaming platforms, etc.) are dependent on CCI services, online content and new media trends which account for most of the revenues mainly generated by cultural content



1.      Facilitation by government on licensing and access to larger public venues such as stadiums for performances, quality assurance and certification for creative industry education.


2.      Introduction and reintroduction of CCI related courses in schools from the basic level.


3.      Establish public funding program in support of the arts. The available funds tend to be used for others sectors such as health and sports but not the arts.


4.      There is need for close engagement between government and the creative industry for clarity on the opportunities, challenges and potential of the sector.



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