Kenya and China Unite to Launch TV Theatre Initiative

Kenya and China Unite to Launch TV Theatre Initiative
Tang Jian jun, Grace Njanga, Director Bliss TV, Mr. Dong Xin (the National Radio and Television Agency Deputy Minister China ), Judith Munyinyi, secretary of information, Ministry of ICT  and GUO ZIQI during Kenya "China TV Theatre" Opening Ceremony at Serena Hotel.

By Thuku Kariuki and Daniel Furnad

A groundbreaking partnership between Kenya and China is set to transform the creative space and build bridges between artists and filmmakers of both countries. A press conference announcing the launch of the Kenya-China TV Theatre initiative was held in Nairobi this week.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was presented, linking the Kenyan government and Citizen TV to commitments from the Chinese government and the international TV platform Star Times.

"This collaboration is essential for the advancement of our creative industries. It offers a valuable platform for knowledge exchange, technological innovation, and cultural enrichment," said Jimmy Carter Luo, Chief Executive Officer of StarTimes Media (Ke) Ltd.

For Kenyan creatives, this initiative will create opportunities to build capacity and learn from experienced Chinese production professionals. It will also open up Chinese platforms for engagement and potential future collaborations and airtime in China. For broad-based TV platforms, such as StarTimes, this will encourage the proliferation of Kenyan and different African content across its bouquet of channels.

The cooperation will involve the Kenya Film Commission (KFC), the Kenya Film and Classification Board, and China's National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA). Viewers can look forward to 4-5 episodes of Chinese programs dubbed into Kiswahili, airing on Citizen TV. Similar productions will also be available to Kenyan TV fans on StarTimes' Bliss TV channel.

For Kenyan production professionals, joining Chinese productions filming here will mean opportunities. Quixin, a major Chinese production company, plans to shoot the dramatic program "Rhino in Love" in September. Though the Kenyan production partner has not yet been announced, early looks at the script show a vibrant story populated by Kenyan and Chinese characters, providing interesting cultural exchanges against the backdrop of conservation efforts and a love of African wildlife. The broadcast partner in China for "Rhino In Love" is also yet to be determined, but it is expected to be a national broadcaster reaching a vast portion of the billion-plus Chinese population.

"This event marks a new chapter in our bilateral relations, particularly in media and entertainment. We look forward to deepening our collaboration with Kenya to foster cultural exchange and mutual development," said NRTA Deputy Minister Dong Xin.

Timothy Owase, CEO of the Kenya Film Commission, expressed optimism about the collaboration. "We are greatly humbled by this partnership between Kenya and China in the field of film and theatre, and we will continue pushing further for our youths to get job opportunities in the film and art industry," Owase declared.

The KFC will facilitate Chinese productions in Kenya, including "Rhino in Love," smoothing the path for equipment and production personnel to come to Kenya while ensuring benefits for the local visual content industry.

Both sides hope this is just the start of an expanded relationship that will result in better cultural understanding between the two nations' populations and expanded commercial opportunities for creatives on both sides of the Indian Ocean.

This initiative is among the efforts that both governments and their private sector partners should, at the very least, embrace to motivate new content for millions of Africans and Asians. In the long run, it could be the kind of commercial impetus to help the Kenyan film industry take its place among international production giants.