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JAMAFEST takes EAC Outreach Programmes to Universities in Nairobi

The 2nd Edition of the East African Community Jumuiya ya Afrika Mashariki Utamaduni Festival (JAMAFEST) entered day four on Wednesday at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) Nairobi, Kenya, with several activities taking place.

The theme of Day 4 was: Fusing the Old and the Current into One as we unravel the way forward.

A Visual Arts Exhibition was held at the KICC Courtyard with traditional sports and children’s games taking place at the KICC lawns. There were also various performances by cultural troupes from the EAC Partner States taking place at the KICC’s Tsavo Ballroom.

As a strategy to reach out to university students and the youth in Nairobi, dance performances with messages on EAC integration by artists from different Partner States were organised at Kenyatta University, University of Nairobi and the Technical University of Kenya.

The JAMAFEST Symposium 2015 themed Unleashing the economic potential of the creative and cultural industries of EAC was held at the KICC Amphitheatre.

While officiating at the official opening of the symposium, the EAC Deputy Secretary-General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Hon. Jesca Eriyo, said it was encouraging to know that there was a wide spectrum of stakeholders interested in the development of arts and culture, emphasising the commitment by the Partner States and the Community to the advancement of the culture and creative economy of the region.

Hon. Eriyo said the symposium was aimed at promoting the arts and culture as a resource as well as the provision of opportunities and platform for exchange of information, ideas and interaction between cultural practitioners, public policy makers and the private sector in the region.

Hon. Eriyo said the creative and cultural industries ranging from art, film, design, fashion, music, performing arts to software and video games account for approximately 3% of the EAC Gross Domestic Product in addition to providing employment to citizens.

Hon. Eriyo disclosed that the EAC Secretariat in collaboration with the Partner States had concluded the regional mapping of culture and creative industries, adding that the report would shed more light on the sector’s actual potential.

Mr Bob Madanji, the Managing Director and Founder of Cinematic Solutions in Kenya called for the creation of Creative and Cultural Hubs where artists could thrive in order to unleash the economic potential of the sector within the EAC and beyond.

Mr Madanji emphasised the need for Partner State governments to appreciate the contribution of the culture and creative industries in the region, adding that this would increase the sector’s worth and the benefits that would accrue from such appreciation.

While making a presentation on Policy and Legal Frameworks for promotion of Film Industries in EAC, Dr Vicensia Shule from the University of Dar es Salaam (UoD), Tanzania, said piracy and counterfeit products were a big challenge to artists and the industry in all the Partner States.

“Sharing best practices and information is a big challenge among the Partner States, which needs to be addressed”, noted the UoD Don, adding that the East African Film Network was set up in 2014 with support from the EAC Secretariat and GIZ. She observed that the network had not effectively taken off and was largely unknown.

Ms Clarette Inamahoro, Burundi’s Assistant Minister for EAC Affairs in the Office of the President, while making a presentation on affordable financing for EAC culture and creative sector business said to ensure affordable business financing for the sector, many factors must be taken into account for example the creation of a regional strategy framework for strengthening peace and social cohesion by promoting promising initiatives in the sense of affordable costs.

“There is also the need to establish a professional framework for private cultural actors (civil society) that can contribute to a reflection for the establishment of cultural and creative industries promotional platforms, as well as the development of micro-enterprises to job creation in the sector and create a related regional fund”, said Ms Inamahoro.

The festival website is jamafest2015.eac.int.

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