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Opening Statement by Hon. Dr. Hassan Wario, Egh, Kenya’s Minister of Sports, Culture and the Arts Kicc, Nairobi, Friday September 15, 2017

September 15, 2017

-Your Excellency Mrs. Amira Elfadil, AU Commissioner for Social Services;
-Your Excellency Prof. Sarah Anyang’ Agbor, AU Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and the Youth
-Government Ministers and other Heads of Country Delegations
-My Principal Secretary Mr. Joe Okudo
-Members of The Diplomatic Corps
-All Delegates

Ladies and Gentlemen:
AS THE HOST- CHAIR OF THIS FORUM(STC-YCS2) MAY I TAKE THIS FOREMOST OPPORTUNITY TO APPRECIATE AND WELCOME ALL DELEGATES FROM ACROSS THE CONTINENT.
KARIBUNI KENYA!

FROM NORTH AND SOUTH, FROM EAST TO WEST, WE GATHER HERE IN NAIROBI FOR A NOBLE CAUSE: TO GIVE OUR NIHIL OBSTAT (no objection), OUR SEAL OF APPROVAL, BY ADOPTING THE PROTOCOL/STATUTE FOR ESTABLISHING THE AFRICAN AUDIOVISUAL AND CINEMA COMMISSION.

WHEN I CAST MY EYES ACROSS THE EXPANSE OF THIS ROOM I DO SEE FACES BEAMING WITH VIGOUR AND ANTICIPATION FOR THE COMMENCEMENT OF THIS SPECIAL AGENCY OF THE AFRICAN UNION WHICH WILL OVERSEE THE DEVELOPMENT OF A VIBRANT AUDIOVISUAL AND FILM SECTOR OVER THE NEXT 50 YEARS.

IN SHORT WE ARE HERE TO HERALD THE COMING-TO-BEING OF AN AUDACIOUS PLAN TO ENABLE AFRICA TELL ITS STORY THROUGH OWN MEDIA AND SIMILARLY CORRECT AN IMAGE IMPAIRED OVER THE DECADES BY IMPASSIONATE THIRD-PARTIES.

LADIES & GENTLEMEN:
THE AU COUNCIL OF MINISTERS WILL SHORTLY BE CONSIDERING THE REPORT OF THE EXPERTS MEETING REGARDING THE AGENDA OF THIS EXTRAORDINARY SESSION BUT ALLOW ME TO NOTE AND RECALL THE BIRTH OF AACC WHICH HAS BEEN LONG IN COMING.

AS MANY OF US SHOULD BE AWARE, THE AACC WAS CONCEIVED BY THE AFRICAN UNION COUNCIL OF MINISTERS IN MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE IN THE YEAR 2003.

SUBSEQUENTLY THE AU COMMISSION TOGETHER WITH THE PAN-AFRICAN COMMISSION OF FILM MAKERS(FEPACI)UNDERTOOK A JOINT STUDY ON THE STATE OF AUDIOVISUAL AND CINEMA SECTOR IN AU MEMBER STATES.

THE RESULT WAS THE ‘2015 REPORT ON THE STATUS OF THE AFRICAN FILM INDUSTRY’ AND WHICH RECOMMENDED THAT AACC TO HAVE THE FOLLOWING BROAD MANDATES:
(1) AWAKEN INTEREST IN THE CREATIVE ECONOMY
(2) PROMOTE FILM AS AN EXPORT PRODUCT TO ENHANCE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THE FILM INDUSTRY
(3) ENHANCE PROPORTION OF LOCAL CONTENT
(4) EASTABLISH DISTRIBUTION PLATFORMS/NETWORKS
(5) CREATE A FUND FOR THE FILM INDUSTRY

LADIES &GENTLEMEN:
ALLOW ME TO TENDER MY HUMBLE APPRECIATION TO FEPACI, WHICH FOR 45 YEARS HAS BEEN STEADFAST AND FAITHFUL TO ITS CALLING OF FACILITATION AND STRENGTHENING OF THE AFRICAN VOICE IN THE FILM INDUSTRY.

INDEED, SINCE FEPACI MOVED ITS HEADQUARTER TO NAIROBI IN THE YEAR 2013, THE GOVERNMENT OF KENYA HAS OFFERED TECHNICAL AND FUNDING SUPPORT TO THIS CONTINENTAL FILM VOICE. THIS IN TURN ENABLED IT TO, AMONG OTHERS, SPEARHEAD THE OPERATIONALISATION OF AACC, CAPACITY BUILDING IN NATIONAL FILM ASSOCIATIONS AND ENHANCED DISTRIBUTION OF AFRICAN CONTENT.

IN SIMILAR MANNER KENYA REMAINS READY TO CONTINUE LENDING ITS SUPPORT, INCLUDING HOSTING OF THE AACC HEAD OFFICE.

OUR EFFORTS HERE TODAY WILL CASCADE INTO A SERIES OF FORMAL PROCESSES, CULMINATING INTO RATIFICATION OF THE AACC STATUTE BY THE AU ASSEMBLY OF HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT IN ADDIS ABBABA, ETHIOPIA, EARLY NEXT YEAR (THAT IS,2018)

THUS VERY SOON, AACC WILL TAKE A PLACE OF PRIDE ALONGSIDE OTHER AU SPECIAL AGENCIES SUCH AS THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTIES COMMISSION, AFRICAN ACADEMY OF LANGUAGES, CENTRE FOR HISTORY AND ORAL LANGUAGES, AND THE AFRICAN INSTITUTE OF RENNAISSANCE WHICH ENCOURAGES FUND REMITTANCES BY DIASPORA AFRICANS.

LADIES & GENTLEMEN:
THE FRAME-WORK AND ETHOS OF AACC IS STRONGLY HINGED ON THE ASPIRATIONS OF AFRICA’S YOUTH IN THE NEXT 50 YEARS.

THIS IS REFLECTED, FOR EXAMPLE, IN THE AU AGENDA 2063, ASPIRATION#5, WHICH RECOGNIZES FILM AND CULTURE AS BEARING IMMENSE CONTRIBUTION TO THE ECONOMY OF AFRICA, AND THE ATTENDANT NEEED TO EMPOWER WOMEN AND YOUTH WITH REQUISITE ENTREPRENEURAL SKILLS.

PERHAPHS YOU ARE WONDERING AFRICA’S RESURGENT INTEREST IN THE FILM INDUSTRY.
A COMPREHENSIVE STUDY BY THE UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT(UNCTAD) IN 2011 ESTABLISHED THAT GOODS AND SERVICES FROM THE CREATIVE INDUSTRY ACCOUNT FOR 7%(SEVEN PER CENT) OF THE WORLD’S GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT(GDP).

THIS TRANSLATES INTO AN ANNUAL TURNOVER OF 624BILLION US DOLLARS, WITH THE FILM/CINEMA SEGMENT REGISTERING A 39% GROWTH BETWEEN YEAR 2005-2011.
FACED BY THIS PHENOMENAL GROWTH, ALLOW ME TO DISTORT A CLICHÉ, BY STATING THAT FOR THE CREATIVE ECONOMY ‘THE LIMIT IS BEYOND THE SKY’
IN THE LONG TERM, INVESTMENT IN THE FILM INDUSTRY WILL AID AFRICAN COUNTRIES IN THEIR QUEST OF THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS.

LADIES & GENTLEMEN:
IN A LARGER SENSE, WE MAY BE TREADING A BEATEN PATH. IN DECADES GONE BY, DRIVES BY AFRICAN STATES TO CONSOLIDATE EFFORTS ON SPECIFIC AGENDA GAVE RISE TO SUCH PAN-AFRICAN INITIATIVES AS THE ORGANISATION OF AFRICAN UNITY (OAU), AN OSTENSIBLE EFFORT TO ASSIST AFRICAN COUNTRIES REGAIN INDEPENDENCE FROM COLONIALISTS. IT IS NOTEWORTHY THAT MANY AFRICAN FILMS OF THAT ERA WERE THEMED ON ‘OPPRESSION AND CLAMOUR FOR SELF-RULE’.

WITH THE AFRICAN BLOCK NOW VIRTUALLY ‘FREE’, THE FOCUS FOR COLLABORATION HAS SHIFTED TO CULTURAL AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC ISSUES AND HENCE THE RENAMING OF THE CONTINETAL BODY TO AFRICAN UNION(AU)

THE DECADES FROM EARLY 1960s, SAW THE FLOURISHING AFRICAN WRITERS SERIES, ESSENTIALLY A PUBLISHING ASSOCIATION OR ‘SUPPORT GROUP’ OF LITERARY PRODIGIES SUCH AS SEMBENE OUSMANE, TABAN LO LIYONG, AUSTIN BUKENYA AND KENYA’S OWN NGUGI WA THIONGO. SOME OF THEM DABBLED IN FILM AS WELL.
IN THE FIELD OF MEDIA, THE CONTINENT HAD THE UNION OF RADIO AND TELEVISION NETWORKS OF AFRICA(URTNA), WHICH PROMOTED THE EXCHANGE OF HOME-GROWN RADIO AND TV DOCUMENTARIES.

LADIES & GENTLEMEN:
OUR FOCUS TODAY IS THE CONTINENTAL FILM PROFILE. BUT AS HOSTS OF THIS CONFERENCE, I WISH TO ASSURE YOU THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF KENYA HAS MADE GREAT EFFORTS TO TRANSFORM CINEMA/FILM INTO A PROSPEROUS INDUSTRY.

THUS WE HAVE FACILITATIVE BODIES SUCH AS THE KENYA FILM COMMISSION(KFC), KENYA FILM CLASSIFICATION BOARD(KFCB), DEPARTMENT OF FILM SERVICE(DFS) AND THE KENYA COPYRIGHT BOARD(KECOBO). THE NEWEST IN THE STABLE IS THE GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED KENYA FILM SCHOOL INAUGURATED LAST YEAR, AND WHICH SAW OFF ITS INAUGURAL 60 GRADUANDS A FEW MONTHS BACK.

ALL THESE EFFORTS WILL, AT ONCE, RENDER KENYA A LEADING FILMING DESTINATION AND HOME OF RENOWNED FILM MAKERS.

BUT EVEN AS WE CHEST-THUMP, WE REMAIN READY TO LEARN AND COLLABORATE WITH THE OTHER BUBBLING FILM PRACTITIONERS IN NIGERIA, SENEGAL, BURKINA FASO, MOROCCO, EGYPT. INDEED, ALL OF YOU BRING SOMETHING UNIQUE TO THE FILM AGENDA.

LADIES & GENTLEMEN:
I HAVE WOWED YOU ENOUGH WITH MY STORY AND I WOULD RATHER NOW OFFER DELEGATES THE CHANCE TO ALSO ‘TELL YOUR OWN STORY’ AS WE SHORTLY SIFT THROUGH THE DOCUMENTS SO ABLY PREPARED BY VARIOUS TEAMS OF EXPERTS.

IT IS NOW MY HUMBLE DUTY TO DECLARE THIS SESSION OF STC-YCS OFFICIALLY OPENED.
THANK YOU! AHSANTENI SANA!

DR. HASSAN WARIO, (PhD), EGH,
Cabinet Secretary,
Ministry of Sports, Culture and The Arts
KENYA.
Friday September 15,2017