Last month presented a great opportunity for me to attend a week long dance workshop dubbed ‘Consider Me Mad’. This was courtesy of a long time friend Jack Bryton a brilliant suave professional dancer. Goethe Institut, Nairobi provided the premises for the week’s activities. This workshop was fully coordinated by Jack and Sunday Israel Akpan a Nigerian with a twisted flair.

I took home with me an experience like no other. In other words a peek into a typicial creative’s day to day life. It brought together different cultures  and the output was nothing short of spectacular. Kahithe a participant who is Croatian but resides in France, Lizelle a ballerina at heart and soul from South Africa and the rest were Kenyans.

The highlight of the workshop was a show that culminated all that was learnt during the entire period and it was presented to an audience. The show conceptualized Nairobi’s busy life and it was translated into sound, dance,music and lights. Photos shared below captured the essence of the show.

 

                                                                                                       

     

This article will highlight the observations I’ve made on the creative economy in Kenya through pointing out sectoral examples.

Fashion speaks for itself. It is one vibrant part of the creative economy as depicted on a previous article here Fashionably Speaking. Over and above mainstream textile and apparel sector, fashion blogging has brought this subject to the fore.Notable to mention are,This is ess, a blog run by Sharon Mundia is fashion power house so is Style by Silvia Njoki, Just Joy Kendi, The Dapper Brother are just but a few notable fashion blogs that  have branded themselves through sharing their panache fashion sense and created a massive following which has led corporates wanting to ass brands. This is a paradigm shift from the norm as we know it.ociate with their

It is important to crunch on a few facts that directly affect the economy and a larger percentage of a nation’s populace. Vision 2030 touched on the importance of the Textile and Clothing industry as a major contributor to the industrialization of this great nation. Currently, it’s all doom and gloom for this once vibrant sector now contributes marginally to the national economic statistics a meager 0.6% to GDP and accounting for only 6% of the manufacturing sector being the second largest activity in this sector. It also contributes to 7% of  total export earnings.

This sector comprises 22 large foreign owned companies operating in the Export Processing Zones, 170 medium and large companies, 8 ginneries (Kenya has 23 but only 8 are operational with an installed capacity is approximately 140,000 bales), 8 spinners, 15 weaving and knitting companies, 9 accessories manufacturers and over 75,000 micro and small companies including Fashion designers ( read Wambui Mukenyi, Kikoromeo, Rialto Fashions) and tailoring units..

Households that benefit directly and or indirectly on this sector are to the tune of 200 000 heads. The United States of America is the largest market for Kenya’s C.T.A. exports to the tune of 82% of the entire chest. It grew from USD 195 million in 2010 to USD 279 million in 2014. This has been propelled by African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), an agreement signed to propel trade and a provision for fabric therein. Time will tell if the agreement will be reviewed by the current President Trump. Other trading blocks that Kenya exports to include E.A.C., C.O.M.E.S.A., UK (based on the now controversial Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)), S.A.D.C through the Tripartite Free Trade between E.A.C. and S.A.D.C.

Revival of a number of textile industries the famous Rift Valley Textile Mills (RIVATEX), Thika Cloth Mills among others.

On the flip side, the country imports 93% of fabric mainly from China (Hong Kong and Taipei) ,India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Kenya’s land mass that can support the growth of cotton is estimated to be a vast 385000 hectares but only a fraction of it is utilized.

Institutions like Mcensal School of Fashion is known for its articulate syllabus in shaping professionals in the fashion industry. However, there lies a disconnect between the facts and the numbers on the ground and how creatives can use this to their advantage. Research plays a key role in optimizing such data and hence the need for data scientists who can bridge the gap there is between industry and creatives.

The next article will look into the shortcomings of this industry are and what stakeholders together with the government can do in order to inject adrenaline into this industry and rev the engines of the manufacturing sector.

Image courtesy of http://fashionatingworld.com