“Jambo! Welcome to Kenya!” Travelers walking on Nairobi’s streets always receive a warm Swahili welcome from the local people. Kenya is a country full of enthusiasm. When I met and chatted with Kenya’s local artists, I got a similar feeling as I was moved by the smiles on their faces, and their tremendous passion and dedication to art. In Africa, the creative arts naturally embed culture. This, in turn, forms the magic spirit of African art, as it continuously inspires artists by providing them with the cultural context to create their work. Unfortunately, several factors have conspired to hinder the growth of Kenya’s creative economy, including lack of social recognition and inadequate legal protections for intellectual property.
Helping Our Client
I visited Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, in August 2012 as part of an IBM Corporate Service Corps team. My sub-team of members from Australia, India and the U.S. was tasked with helping Kenya’s Office of Information, Communications & Technology (ICT) and a creative industries task force develop a roadmap for positioning creative industries as a catalyst for Kenya’s growing knowledge-based society. The strategy was for the roadmap to be informed by best practices for coordinating policies and protocols across public-private partnerships. We wanted to create a holistic approach to developing the country’s creative industry so that it could contribute 10 percent of Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) and job opportunities by 2017.
During the one-month assignment, my sub-team and I relied on the UNESCO creative industry framework model to shape our interviews of creative and legal professionals from a variety of sectors. We spoke with organizations such as the GoDown Arts Centre from the visual and performing arts sector, and Digital Divide Data from the new media sector to develop an understanding of the current status and positioning of those industries in Kenya. As we continued to gather data and assess Kenya’s situation, we replicated best practices from the creative industry sectors in Australia, China, India, the UK and other countries to develop our proposals. Then we developed and proposed a set of shorter and longer term initiatives first to jumpstart Kenya’s creative sector and then to outline a strategic roadmap of actions that would empower the government to define industry entry points and facilitate growth. We intended our proposals to help the government raise the profile and increase the social recognition of the creative industries, and to leverage them through the use of new technologies.
The feedback on the team report was positive. Kenya’s Creative Industries Task Force expressed its extreme delight with the report, which they characterized as clear, concise and directly on point. In addition, the task force expressed its appreciation to the Corporate Service Corps team for exposing them to best practices from around the world to help nurture and support Kenya’s creative sector. For the team, the most gratifying news was that the government voiced no challenges to implementing our recommendations, and is working towards achieving the set goal of a 10 percent increase in the creative sector’s GDP contribution and job opportunities by 2017.
The task force is taking steps to implement the recommendations of the IBM report, including proposed shorter term actions to establish a Centre of Innovation, Research & Excellence as a partnership between the government and the private sector. The general public will have an opportunity to contribute to the discussion about how to carry out the report’s recommendations.
Developing Global Leadership Skills
As we neared the end of our trip, all of us on the team expressed the same feelings about the uniqueness of our Corporate Service Corps experience. By completely immersing ourselves in a different culture, we experienced what average travelers seldom do. We enjoyed deep conversations, shared meals and local traditions with our hosts, and had the chance to view many aspects of life – of both the rich and the poor – in Nairobi.
Working on the plan for Kenya’s next five years, we began to internalize the country’s challenges and aspirations as our own. We also were inspired by Kenya’s cultural openness. When we visited the Allamano Special School in Nyeri and played with young people with developmental disabilities, all of the Corporate Service Corps team members and other activity participants were moved by the display of caring without regard to national boundaries.
Finally, as the team worked on each aspect of this challenging project, we pushed ourselves (and each other) out of our comfort zones to learn as much as we could in an unfamiliar situation over a very short time. We developed our leadership and global teaming skills as we shared a variety of points of view on how to tackle the project. Each of us not only contributed to the common effort, but we each benefitted from hearing new concepts and ideas during our frequent brainstorming sessions. Working with a global team broadened my perspective and helped me develop a habit of approaching new challenges from diverse cultural points of view.
My team and I are proud of our contribution to Kenya’s efforts for strategic growth, and we look forward to the dawning of a new era for Kenya’s creative economy. It was really an amazing and unforgettable trip.
Xin Wen (Vivian) Qi is a User Experience Manager and Certified Usability Analyst with
在这一个月的工作中，在参照创意产业的UNESCO框架模型的基础上，我和团队和不同创意行业的创意人士及法律专员开展了访谈，访问涉及视觉和表演艺术的GoDown艺术中心和新媒体领域的Digital Divide Data等众多组织机构，建立了对肯尼亚创意产业发展的现状和定位的理解。在收集数据和评估的同时，我们在提案的过程中也借鉴了来自澳大利亚、中国、印度、英国等全球各国的创意产业的最佳实践。随后提出了一系列用于启动肯尼亚创意产业工作的近期举措和长期计划，并描绘出战略性发展路线实施纲要来帮助政府定义行业起点和促进行业发展。此创意产业的提案旨在帮助当地政府提高声望，赢得更多社会对创意产业的认同，并获得新型科技对于该产业发展的支持。