OPINIONPeople Daily

Protected copyright sector can spur growth agenda

Cyrus Kinyungu

As Kenya’s economy grows, the role Intellectual Property plays in the creative sector cannot be ignored. Copyright, one of the core Intellectual Property rights has contributed to the development of a knowledge based economy in Kenya.

In its 2009 publication, The Economic Contribution of Copyright Based Industries in Kenya, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), identified many copyright-based industries that contribute billions of shillings to the country’s economy.

According to WIPO, the copyright-based industries in Kenya contributed an estimated Sh85.21 billion representing 5.32 per cent of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2007. The sector is growing stronger and the potential is enormous. Indeed, the creative sector has been transforming the country towards a knowledge-driven economy with the uptake for the intellectual property rights being on the rise.

The number of people in Kenya whose livelihoods depend on Intellectual Property, especially copyright, is on the rise. In realisation of the sector’s contribution, universities in Kenya have introduced courses aimed at sharpening skills and talents in the interest areas.

For instance, universities have introduced programmes in performing arts, theatre, film production, music, design, creative writing among others that boost the knowledge base in the creative sector. The industries are categorised into core copyright based, interdependent copyright based, partial copyright based and non-dedicated support industries.

Press and literature, music, theatrical productions, opera, motion pictures and videos, radio and television, photography, software and database, visual and graphic arts and advertising services are among the core copyright based industries.

The interdependent copyright based industries include TV, radios, VCRs, CDs and cassette players, electronic game equipment, computer and equipment, photography and cinematographic instruments, photocopiers and bank recording materials, among others.

Those categorised under partial copyright-based industries include apparel, textile and footwear, jewellery and coins, other crafts, furniture, toys and computer games, architecture, engineering and surveying, among others.

This Kenyan classification, which compares fairly well with WIPO’s classification, is an indicator of how deeply the country’s economy is driven by intellectual property. One of the flagship projects of the government under the social pillar of the Vision 2030 is to establish a programme to identify, nurture and develop music and performing arts talents.

The WIPO report notes that the contribution of the copyright-based industries to the economy on the basis of GDP was higher than that of the agriculture (2.3 per cent), education (2.5 per cent), and healthcare (3.9 per cent), and compared favourably with the contributions of the main sectors of the economy, such as manufacturing (6.2 per cent).

It noted that the contribution of copyright-based industries of 62,131 people to the national employment was also higher than that of the electrical-and-water sector (19,000 employees) and the mining-and-quarrying sector (6,300 employees).

The contribution of copyright-based industries to the national employee income (Sh19.12 billion) was more than that from the mining-and-quarrying (Sh1.35 billion) and electrical-and-water (Sh8.37 billion) sectors, individually as well as combined, the report stated. It was estimated that these industries may be contributing upwards of 7 per cent to the national economy in terms of GDP with the core copyright based industries making a contribution of about 3-4 per cent.

Considering that the publication was based on a 2007 survey, the sector’s current contribution to the economy, over 10 years later, must be significantly higher. It is for this reason that in his Jamhuri Day speech last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta identified protection of Intellectual Property Rights as a critical factor in supporting the growth of local industries.

Earlier during his inauguration on November 28 last year, the President committed to focus on innovation. One of the sectors that thrive on innovations is the copyright and related rights based industry.

The structures, strategies and policies put in place by the Kenya Copyright Board, whose core mandate is to administer, protect and enforce copyright and related rights in Kenya, in its current five year strategic plan are aimed at ensuring the sector grows for the benefit of the creatives.

The Kenya Copyright Amendment Bill 2017, which is currently at the Committee stage in Parliament, gives the Kenya Copyright Board the momentum it needs to protect and encourage creators to earn from their intellectual property.

It offers protection measures for creators through better management of the Collective Management Organisations (CMOs). This will ensure that the copyright sector becomes attractive and lucrative thus creating more employment. —The writer is the head of communications at the Kenya Copyright Board —[email protected]

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