Artistes Set to Benefit as House Passes Bill on Culture and Creative Industries

Published on 25th August 2015

Culture and Creative Industries in the region received a shot in the arm following the passage of the EAC Culture and Creative Industries Bill, 2015 by EALA.
The Bill sailed through the 3rd Reading after intense debate on the floor of the House.The key Bill recognizes people with talents and skills and creates an environment that promotes talents and the necessary infrastructure to develop the industries, many of which are considered nascent, while removing existing barriers
The object of the Bill is to promote the Culture and Creative industries at the EAC. The Bill seeks to establish the Culture and Creative Industries Council that shall provide an environment conducive to the enhancement and stimulation of creativity and innovative endeavours among the citizens of the Community. 
Once formed, the Council shall provide high quality training for skills and creativity development and formulate policies and strategies to stimulate creativity and innovations among the youth to ensure long term supply of talents.
Culture and Creative Industries are considered one of the fastest growing sectors in the global economy and contribute significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many developed and developing countries.
The Council is also to conduct a comprehensive mapping of individuals or groups involved in creative industries and design practical tools that assist individuals to effectively use and diversify their products to be locally and globally competitive.
According to the mover of the Bill, Hon Dr. James Ndahiro, there are citizens with talents and if such (talents) are well exploited, then individuals and the nation would greatly benefit. The Bill, Hon Dr Ndahiro states, seeks to provide a legal framework for East Africans to excel in all forms of talent and creativity and contribute to the welfare of the Community.
We need to celebrate the integration aspirations but only if we take into consideration and overcome challenges been faced in the cultural and creativity industries.  Such include unfair treatment in terms of permits to operate, discrimination of citizens from Partner States despite our co-operation and the opening up of region due to the Common Market Protocol, Dr Ndahiro maintained.
The debate was preceded by a Report of the Committee on General Purpose presented to the House by the Chair of the General Purpose Committee, Hon Dr. Odette Nyiramilimo.
The public hearings were held on March 9-12th, 2015, to form an effective medium for sensitization of stakeholders on the Bill and a forum for them to contribute to its enhancement.  Stakeholders visited included the government officials from the Ministries of EAC, Culture Ministries, Private sector and officials of the Investment and revenue collection bodies.
Hon Dr Nyiramilimo said it was necessary for the Bill to consider Intellectual Property rights which is a specialised and wide technical issue requiring consideration.  The report also states that it is important for the region to consider the relevant provisions of the EAC Common Market Protocol and their operationalisation.  The Report also states that digital media and other forms of art including audio-visual media be included.
The debate on Bill commenced last week. However it was adjourned to give the Committee time to interact with the Council of Ministers.  During the debate, Hon Shyrose Bhanji said it was necessary to support local artistes.  “There is not still a good market for artistes and it is vital for Governments to create budgets to enable them compete in the world market,” Hon Bhanji said.
We have the likes of Juliana Kanyomozi, Ken Wa Maria, Bobi Wine, Kidum among others. They need to marketed widely so they also widen their scope,” she said.
Hon Dora Byamukama said it was necessary to have intellectual property rights through a Bill to enable innovators to enjoy the royalties. She called for development and mapping of an inventory of artistes in the region as a marketing tool.
“Let us market our products aggressively but such products should also be quality,” the legislator added. Hon Judy Pareno said there was creativity and energy among the youth that should be harnessed.  “The Bill will address some of the issues that concern our youth,” she said.  
“There is so much expertise in the bead work of the Maasai for example, Have we patented them? We must protect intellectual property and the regional law goes a long way in addressing some of the areas including protection and harmonization,” Hon Pareno added.
Hon AbuBakar Zein lamented that the Sauti ya Busara which showcases the best of artistes and one that brings together the globe to East Africa is unlikely to take place in 2016 due to lack of funds.

“This is sad thing should it happen, given that the occasion fuses a melt pot of creativity and innovation.The project of integration can wholly be inspired by arts,” he said.
Hon Hafsa Mossi said the region was blessed by a rich culture and great potential in terms of arts.  She said the media could play a key role in outreach. The Chair of Council of Ministers, reiterated that United Republic of Tanzania was committed to the law and had submitted its inputs for consideration.
Hon Frederic Ngenzebuhoro, Hon Valerie Nyirahabineza, Hon Leonce Ndarubagiye, Hon Ussi Maryam, Hon Susan Nakawuki and Hon Martin Ngoga duly supported the report.

Uganda’s EAC Minister, Hon Shem Bageine said it was important to preserve, protect and defend the culture of Africa at all costs.  We should also strive to promote the Kiswahili culture, the Minister said.

Courtesy: East African Community.

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