Local talent is the next big thing in Africa’s entertainment industry

Ask any Kenyan on the street about their favourite television shows or actors and the list will be endless with local artists.

Gone are the days when the pastime banter in coffee joints and lecture breaks would be about those gorgeous male actors in foreign telenovelas that would stream every night into our living rooms at times by default for lack of alternatives.

Needless to say, hardly would some of those poorly done soap operas encourage any high school or college drama star to launch a career in acting.

Enter the era of locally produced television shows and viewers are increasingly identifying with new and exciting episodes that feature familiar people who they can easily identify with.

The growth of local content in the provision of entertainment services by broadcasters is growing by the day, giving a chance to the pool of local talent in Kenya’s budding performance industry.

Read also: Appie Matere — the queen of film storytelling in Africa

Broadcasters and entertainment companies have equally stepped into the scene, creating opportunities and economic value for a wide range of artists and players, effectively scaling up the quality of content coming off the production.

The benefits across the value chain are immense. Local photographers and videographers, fashion designers, make-up artists, script writers, musicians, movie directors and what have you are sharpening their skills while earning handsomely from it.

“For any business to be able to win today and shape tomorrow, it must be able to tell the right story, at the right time, to the right person. At Multichoice, our focus is to leverage technology and become obsessed with pleasing our customers by telling stories that connect with them,” observes Multichoice Kenya Managing Director Nancy Matimu.

At the moment, the programming regulations for broadcasting services in Kenya requires that companies ensure that at least 40 per cent of their content is local.

Through DStv’s M-Net channel, Multichoice is partnering with both local talent and the world’s best production studios to ensure that television viewers have an unrivalled selection of the best general entertainment content, Ms Matimu added.

“We are the biggest investor in local content on the continent and this has played a significant role in bringing the local film and TV industries to life not only in Kenya, but across the continent.”

Through Maisha Magic East and Maisha Magic Plus channels, Multichoice has developed award-winning shows with top Kenyan stars and the company is sharing this original programming across Africa.

The entertainment company’s flagship shows such as Emmy-nominated series Kina on DStv’s Maisha Magic Plus, Kovu, Selina, Pete Date my Family, Stori Yangu, Maisha Mkanda and Our Perfect Wedding continue to perform well, showing the globally competitive set of talents that local artists have.

“If we had any doubts about the future of the sector, we would not make such significant investments into it. If anything, we are increasing our focus on local content investment,” adds Ms Matimu.

Since onset of Covid-19 pandemic on Kenyan shores, a lot is changing in the way entertainment content is consumed in Africa, Zamaradi Productions Executive Producer Appie Matere told Maudhui.

“We have seen a spike in viewership across the board. The stay-at-home Covid-19 restrictions have seen a lot of people start following programmes on TV or on-the-go platforms. Already, there are very nice shows with Kenyan actors on DStv channels,” said Appie.

As part of advancing the local talent pool in Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia, the entertainment company runs Multichoice Talent Factory where people sharpen their skills on film production.

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