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The good and bad of the Kenya National Music Policy

Kenyan-Music-PolicyLast year, a 10-person committee was chosen to finalise work on the Kenya National Music policy, a document that addresses a myriad of issues plaguing the music industry and seeks to solve them.

The document lists piracy, lack of employment opportunities and economic empowerment of musicians and other key players in the industry, and lack of adequate monetary benefit to music industry players as some of the problems facing the music industry.

The draft promises to tackle many of these issues, including adequate copyright and intellectual property enforcement, setting up coordinated operations for musicians and music groups and putting in place suitable support structures.

If implemented, the policy will make it possible for artistes who are self-employed to enjoy protection in regard to their income and social security.

THE GOOD

As such, the policy will provide guidelines to streamline the music industry. This will enable music to develop into a practical socio-economic sector that is recognised and incorporated into the national development agenda.

Piracy, an ongoing battle for musicians, an absence of a code of conduct and lack of transparency in printing industry transactions are issues that need to be dealt with, the policy states. Although it is next to impossible to completely stop piracy, reducing it will be a big step. The policy also states that low royalty collection and payment need to be resolved.

At a time when a vast portion of the content played on radio and television stations is basically foreign, this draft is one of the few steps taken to safeguard the nation’s music heritage. Unfortunately, this is just one measure being taken to reform a market that is already heavily saturated with material that is barely 50 per cent Kenyan made.

The draft also recognises that media content is exclusively controlled by Nairobi, making it contradictory to the letter and spirit of devolution. It says that this discourages investment in, and by, local artistes due to inadequate returns.

The draft has been a long time coming. As of last week, it was going through the validation process. It still has a long way to go before it gets to the implementation stage. Drafting of the music policy began in 2006 and was stuck in limbo for lack of funds to take it to the next level. Nine years later, something tangible is yet to be achieved.

The validation stage, where the policy is open to the public for scrutiny, suggestions and comments, gives the industry confidence that the policy might get to the implementation stage soon.

Hubert Nakitare, commonly known as Nonini, is part of the 10-man committee appointed by Dr Hassan Wario, the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Arts, to update the music policy.

Although the process has been dragged out, Nonini says the end result will be worth it because it covers almost every sector of the music industry.

“It is a long process; this is a policy that will offer guidelines to the music industry. After the stakeholders have gone through it, it will be taken to Parliament and, hopefully, after a few debates it will pass as a Bill and the President will ascent it into law,” says Nonini.

He, however, says that if the process is to be fast tracked, it is up to artistes to lobby and get it done.

Nonini is optimistic that when the time comes

-www.musicpolicy.or.ke/

To Download the Draft Kenya Music Policy  Click Here

-Nation.co.ke

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