As senior filmmakers from all over Africa and the diaspora looked on, the Kenyan government pledged to give $1 million annually for a period of four years to the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI).Speaking at the launch of FEPACI’s secretariat in Kenya and on behalf of President Uhuru Kenyatta on February 5 at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, Sports, Culture and the Arts secretary Hassan Wario said the government appreciates the powerful role that film has the potential to play both as a key economic driver generating financial capital and jobs as well as in transforming negative stereotypes about Africa.The role of film in Africa’s creative economy has already been confirmed in countries like Nigeria whose film industry generates annual revenues estimated at $590 million, South Africa where the annual estimate is around $300 million and Egypt where the estimate is $25 million.In the case of Kenya, the annual revenue generated by the local film industry is closer to $70 million which FEPACI’s new secretary general, Jane Murago-Munene believes is only a fraction of what the industry has the potential to produce.In the view of this veteran Kenyan filmmaker, the country’s film industry has numerous advantages, such as unmatched filming locations and an abundance of professional filmmakers, performing artists and technical crew.In the last five years alone, Ms Murago-Munene said Kenya has emerged as a regional and continental hub for filming activities as evidenced by the increased numbers of major international films which have been shot in the country.Dr Wario said in addition to filmmaking’s untapped potential for generating wealth and creating jobs, especially for Kenyan youth, the industry can also be a tool for telling positive narratives about Africa.He said it had untold capacity for transforming the public’s perception of the region, exchanging negative stereotypes for positive images and stories.The government’s initial offer to host FEPACI in Kenya was made back in May 2013 when the federation was holding its 9th Congress in Johannesburg, attended by members from 52 countries.At the time, the offer also included the pledge to fund FEPACI to the tune of Sh84 million, which by then had translated as $1 million.The memorandum of understanding between the government and FEPACI as well as the Host Country Agreement were exchanged immediately after Dr Wario, for President Kenyatta, formally launched the FEPACI Secretariat in Kenya.The launch was witnessed by more than 300 distinguished guests, including Kenya’s Foreign Affairs minister Amina Mohamed, FEPACI outgoing secretary general Cheick Oumar Sissoko, and the 25 new board members drawn from 52 African states who held their first board meeting in Kenya early last week.Also present were students representing film departments at Kenyatta University, Technical University of Kenya, Multimedia University and Kenya Institute of Mass Communications, among others.Initially, the Federation was headquartered in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. It was established in 1969 as was FESPACO, the Pan African Film Festival.Four years ago, the FEPACI secretariat was moved to Johannesburg and now it will be domiciled in Nairobi for the next four years.Since its inception, FEPACI has served as the voice for filmmakers in Africa and the diaspora.

Arts & Culture

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