This piece is informed by an event I attended recently dubbed ‘Creative, Then What?’. Great insights were shared and I thought a lot needs to be done to get where other economies have. Firstly, the Kenyan education set-up also known as the 8-4-4 system has predominantly one fundamental flaw which will be the mother of the captioned topic. Creativity has proven to be elusive with this system and as such it has plagued most churned from it from deviating from the preferred white-collar path. I’m not fully condemning the system but it sure does leave a lot to be desired.What am I saying in a nutshell?

We are living in a world where the population is increasing by the minute and this pressure is on land that is constant and capital is hard to come by. A population that is growing exponentially poses employment challenges hence the creative economy.

Let’s jump right in

Wikipedia describes a creative economy to be one based on people’s use of their creative imagination to increase an idea’s value.A top scholar by the name John Howkins has authored a book ‘The Creative Economy:How People Make Money from Ideas’ best describes the concept.

John Howkins developed the concept in 2001 and described it as an economic system where value is based on novel imaginative qualities rather than the traditional resources that include land, labor and capital compared to creative industries which are limited to specific sectors, the term is used to describe creativity throughout a whole economy.

This term can also refer to all economic activity that depends on a person’s individual creativity for its economic value whether the result has a cultural element or not.

Roots of today’s creativity go back to two main themes of the nature of work and especially the relationship between the individuals and their work. It is therefore safe to say that a creative economy occurs wherever individual creativity is the main source of value and main cause of a transaction.

There are several ways to measure a creative economy just as the traditional way using similar indicators like producer outputs,consumer expenditure, employment and trade. Businesses use value-chains, prices and traditional data. Other additional indicators also apply i.e intellectual property. A great challenge arises where measuring intangibles like ideas, designs and brands can not quite be quantified. Various concepts birthed the creative economy gave priority to data and knowledge over the individual’s creation of new ideas while giving little credence to an individuals personal creativity or cultural context. Europe however paid more emphasis on the latter and paid attention to the arts and culture. Numbers rarely lie and this is why.

UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sports categorizes the creative industry into twelve groups namely: Advertising and Marketing ;Crafts Design:Products and Graphics; Film,TV, Radio and Photography; IT, Software and Computer services; Publishing Museums ,Galleries and Libraries ; Music, Performing and Visual Arts.

Recently published figures reveal that the UK’s creative Industries are now contributing 84.1 Billion Pounds per year to the UK economy. This industry has shown resilience even in the wake of the Euro-zone crisis growing by 8.9% in 2014 almost double the UK’s economy as a whole.The nitty-gritty of this industry shows that it generates nearly 9.6 million pounds per hour.

The government statistics revealed the recovery path the UK is on has mainly been powered by this industry notably so, the British films, music, video games, crafts and publishing. The government had seen this potential and provided incentives for it to thrive through tax reliefs, inward investments,safeguarding music and having numerous cultural educational programmes.

The US case is simply remarkable.According to Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts,this industry comprises of Movie and TV Production, Broadcasting,Publishing,Performing Arts, Advertising and Retail Sales amongst others. These particular categories employed  about 4.7 million people generating USD 334.9 Billion in compensation and responsible for a trade surplus of USD 25 Billion.It’s an industry that is a major driver of economic growth contributing USD 698 Billion of the nation’s economy in 2014. That’s about 4.32% of US goods and services.

Film and television industry alone employs about 1.9 million Americans these include costume designers, make up artists, stuntmen, lighting technicians, actors, actresses, script writers. Imagine the oddest of jobs at least in the Kenyan concept has generated positive balance of trade around the world hat has led to more than USD 16.2 Billion in global exports in 2012 alone.

A report by UNESCO and the consulting group EY (formerly Ernst & Young) sought to find out and identify the extent and scope of the creative economy worldwide.Data was pooled from the International Labor Organization to identify the number of workers and overall global economic impact of the creative economy (this spans across 11 specific industries visual and performing arts, radio, music, books, newspapers and magazines, film,television, architecture, gaming and advertising.

The report established the creative economy employed nearly 30 million people worldwide and generated $2.25 trillion in revenue or 3% of the World’s GDP in 2013. This is substantially more than the $1.57 trillion global telecommunications contribute oh and the creative economy at large is greater than the GDP of India, Russia or Canada.

So what’s the way forward for Africa? What data exists that shows its potential? Stick around, for the next post will be all about that.

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