Topography Of Kenya’s New Media

Media has traditionally been a communication platform in diverse dimensions including advocacy, news sharing, entertainment, education, and awareness creation. Media Coverage in Kenya has grown with the increase in vernacular radio stations and the rise of social media since 2009. Today, social media has replaced radio as the first channel of information sharing and as the most widely used platform thanks to a mobile phone penetration rate of more than 70% and a high broadband subscription. Television broadcasting was hit by the digital migration of 2014 where content producers were allowed the latitude to air their production without necessarily owning a television station provided an agreement is reached between producers and broadcasters. A decrease in the circulation of newspapers since 2013 is also a trend that threatens print media despite being a stable revenue earner from the advertising business.

While social media uptake continues to spike in a country where the population mean is 20 years, the topography is not without obstacles. Among the obstacles that need to be addressed in social media are skills gaps among content producers, resource shortage in acquiring the right infrastructure and a policy gap to regulate the social media space which is highly infested by fake news, plagiarism, and incompetence. Other obstacles are little or no evidence-based research, forensic analysis, data-driven journalism, and excess attention on politics at the expense of other subjects like health, economy, culture and the environment.

Ownership of media in Kenya has continuously grown especially in seeing over 17,000 bloggers rise with prominent sites. Among these bloggers, at least a third of them are dependent on the enterprise for a living. Mainstream media ownership however is in the hands of few where HH Prince Karim Agha Khan, Moi’s family, S.K Macharia, Kenyatta’s family, Patrick Quarcoo, Late Chris Kirubi’s family, Raila Odinga and Wiliam Ruto are some of the leading shareholders in Kenya’s most prominent media houses. Kenya also hosts international media entities and is a regional bureau of top international news organizations. The big media houses are employing adaptive mechanisms to industry changes by integrating hybrid content production models for online audience advertisers. Media houses are pursuing newsroom convergence where journalists are required to be multi-skilled with thorough research competencies that meet multimedia needs. Technology is on constant upgrade across the media industry in Kenya as it is the greatest force shaping media execution.

An Overview Of Kenya’s Art Industry

Art is a rich sector with potential to create employment to many youths and women across all cultures. In this column I will highlight some of the prominent sub-sectors in art, possible returns at an average scale and rate at which opportunities for selling artwork come. The eight most prominent industries in the sector of art include; craft industry, performing arts, designer fashions, photography, music industry, interior design, visual art and film. Some of these sub-sectors are complex while others are simple and less sophisticated yet each has its unique dynamics.

In the music industry, an average musician in Kenya is likely to record music every six months, get a gig at least once a month and earn averagely Kes.50,000 per gig. The average musician is likely to use live performances and side hustles to make ends meet as recording alone may not generate sufficient revenues to sustain them. On the other hand, an interior designer takes about two assignments a month and charge a fee ranging from Kes.80,000 to Kes.300,000 per assignment. Most interior designers work freelance or get hired by real estate companies.

Visual artists work in small teams, they open studios and sell paintings at a fee ranging from Kes.500 to Kes.150,000. They participate in competitions and market their art work online. Similarly, film makers work in larger teams of about 30 to 300 people but take longer to release a production. Film making requires large investments and involves complex work. A project is likely to cost an average of Kes.1,500,000 and take seven to eighteen months producing. Photographers work freelance and get gigs almost weekly. They are prominent on instagram and earn between Kes.40,000 to Kes.80,000 per month. They show up in events, photo shoots and adventure safaris. Some own studios.

The craft industry is largely associated with women from rich cultural backgrounds in rural parts of the country. They work cooperatively in groups, they make objects of craft such as baskets and sell them at very low prices. Youths are prominent in fashion design where they run labels with a network of tailors for their designs. Their sales are highly dependent on seasons and rely heavily on social media to advertise. Product pricing depends on their brands and they like participating in competitions. Art is a large sector but not without challenges especially in mobilizing capital, remaining competitive and appropriately pricing products of art.

Rick Okinda                                          

The writer is a Certified Accountant working with small business owners to deliver business plans that serve their management and financial needs. | rickokinda@gmail.com

CASE FOR FUNDING FOOD PRODUCTION IN KENYA

The agricultural sector is the least funded sector in Kenya despite being the largest in terms of GDP contribution (at over 50% GDP contribution, directly and indirectly,). With an estimated 8.5 million people in Kenya engaged in some form of agriculture, the choice of capital to finance agricultural activities has been solely left to credit institutions, thus limiting a farmer’s choices, forcing him to put up with the sale of assets, alternative incomes and social networks. Inadequacy of financing tools in aspects such as inputs, working capital, and mechanization leads to inefficiency in the value chain and thus resulting into chronic food shortages.

Take the example of maize farming in Kenya. This is mainly done by small-scale farmers across the nation without any profound distinction, a second example is a livestock in the Northern parts of the country. Sales occur through local markets with only a small percentage going through cooperatives. Financing agriculture subsectors would cause a boost in the reorganization of the agricultural field, with quality and quantity yields being a bargaining chip for higher sales and more money for farmers.

Kenya is ripe for fresh modeling of agricultural financing to incentivize both financiers and farmers to take on investment risks. For starters, there’s a need to establish a framework to assist vulnerable and rural smallholder farmers to reduce risk and increase investment in their farms. Through strong partnerships and innovative insurance products, farmers can manage controllable risks and are supported through insurance when disaster strikes. There’s a need for a stronger public sector presence in the agricultural sector through rural finance in avenues such as agribusiness and providing utilities while also offering loans and related services at competitive prices to farmers.

Farmers will adopt diverse agricultural practices, stagger planting over time, plant resilient crops, and have multiple sources of income to mitigate the risks associated with losses to their livelihoods. While these methods may offer some sort of resilience, factors such as climate change, natural disasters, and pest infestations can leave farmers with no hope for financial recovery, driving them deeper into poverty.

With the agricultural sector being among the first to be devolved to county governments, food security has once again been put at the forefront of the nation’s agenda. Agriculture would be an important sector in the alleviation of poverty therefore stringent measures on financing the sector would go a long way in achieving recovery and growth in Kenya after recent years of drought and slow development.

Paul Oreje

The writer is a final year commerce student at Kenyatta University | pauloreje1996@gmail.com