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Kenya’s Creative Economy Benefits from IP Protection

13 May 2019
– 3 Minute Read


The steady growth and digitisation of the creative and cultural industries (CCIs) in Kenya go hand in hand with a heightened emphasis on effective protection of intellectual property (IP) rights.

The CCIs represent a diverse group of activities that rely on the contribution of original work. Typically, the 6 main categories of CCIs are the literary arts, performing arts, visual arts and crafts, media arts, cultural heritage and design. The growth of these activities is to a large extent defined by how thoroughly they are protected through various IP rights, which connect vital elements of our shared artistic and cultural heritage with the increasing digital transfer of big data and information on which the future will be based.

Data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) illustrates that the global market for creative goods more than doubled in worth from 2002 to 2015, rising from USD 208 billion to USD 509 billion. In Kenya, the growing domestic creative economy is proving to be a core economic growth driver capable of contributing to the nation’s gross domestic product. This growth is fuelled by the increasing spending power of young Kenyans who are embracing the potential of the creative economy. This spurs innovation and knowledge transfer across economic sectors and provides a more inclusive development blueprint for the nation.

From a legal perspective, the current regulatory IP framework in Kenya illustrates the increasing value of the creative economy, with the 2010 Constitution of Kenya setting the tone by reaffirming the importance of protecting the IP rights of Kenyan citizens. Various quasi-governmental and professional bodies exist to assist creative individuals or enterprises in accessing IP protections. In particular, prominent creative figures are critical stakeholders on the Board of the body called the Competent Authority (established under section 48 of the Copyright Act, 2001). This ensures that the unique perspectives and challenges of the CCIs are adequately represented and dealt with on high-level IP tribunals, ensuring access to legal protections and justice.

The most urgent matter plaguing the CCIs is the knowledge and information gaps on IP law as a critical protection mechanism. This is compounded by the financial constraints on many creatives seeking access to quality legal services. As a law firm, Bowmans has a well-established presence in the creative industry, providing legal advice and representation for all manner of creative individuals and enterprises. The focus is on enabling CCIs SMEs in particular to optimise their commercial potential as early stage businesses that provide creative solutions to societal needs. Relevant services include tax advice, corporate structuring and employment matters, among others.

Ultimately, harnessing advisory opportunities towards CCIs players will help propel artistic entrepreneurship through stronger business models, and inform the direction of emerging innovative, sustainably modeled and impactful businesses.