Culture industry contributes $1.2b to Tanzania GDP

Posted on May 17, 2016 12:15 am

Tanzania’s creative and cultural industries contribute more than $1.2 billion annually to the national economy more than the fishing industry or transport sector, the first research of its kind has revealed.Its definition of creative industries includes broadcast and print media, film, music, fashion, the visual arts and cultural institutions such as museums and libraries.One of the leading figures in Tanzania’s arts community told your blogger thats she’s not surprised at the sector’s contribution to the economy and hope its growth can help create more job opportunities.The data is the first statistical analysis concentrated on the role of the sectors in the national economy.According to the data in my possession, the largest contributors to the sector include fashion, design and publishing especially literature and the print media. Those sectors employed an average of 230,780 people, while volunteer services were estimated to be worth $190 million to the economy.The contribution of the creative industries to Tanzania’s GDP outranks that of countries including Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana and Egypt, but this reflects the broader definition of cultural and creative sectors in the study.The statistics are based on the 2013-2014 national accounts. Statistics for 2014 -2015 will be assessed soon and when data is out will share the analysis here.An expert in culture, recreation and migration based in Arusha Tanzania said the statistics were also based on information from the census and the non-profit sector that is currently doing very well in the country.The expert said the sports sector would be the next area scrutinised in a similar manner.A Moshi based organisation that is active in attempting to engage young people in recruiting and training has seen number of youngsters in the Kilimanjaro region take up arts as an alternative source of livelihood. It recently held information sessions with high schools, including one in Moshi, to inform students about pathways into the industry.

Mt Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Tanzania in a photo I took several years ago in Maili sita, Moshi
Mt Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Tanzania in a photo I took several years ago in Maili sita, Moshi

The figures i believe would help the sector to be taken more seriously as a growing ”economic force” and attract extra funding to employ more people in a country that has been seriously affected by job opportunities challenges. The screen industry is a significant contributor to the country’s economy and has had striking international successes.Known as Bongowood, the local film industry is growing and appreciating of local content has been increasing significantly annually.Internationally active television production companies in Dar Es Salaam, Mwanza and Arusha have built a local and regional reputation by producing quality work for Tanzania television programs.The wider creative industry is poised to be among the largest export earner after tourism and food and beverages, generating over $2 billion in revenue annually in the next three years. On the domestic front, creative industry contributes nearly $800 million to Tanzania’s economy as of December 2014 figures. This success is due to a number of unique competitive advantages because Tanzania is an excellent test bed for new products and is both an early adopter of local content and a leader in applying local culture to add value.Tanzania’s films are popular around the country and the wider East African region because they are practical and known for taking a fresh approach.Many outstanding digital content creators are trained in commercial capital of Dar Es Salaam. Media design schools attract students from around the country who are drawn to Dar Es Salaam by its reputation and innovation among the creative industry players compared to other parts of the country.From Dar Es salaam’s Media design schools, graduates go on to work in design,film and animation studios around the country. Good news is that there is on-going overseas investment in Tanzania’s digital and creative systems and the Government is actively encouraging foreign investment and fostering an environment that will enable international investors to relocate or collaborate with Tanzania companies. To me, it hammers home that it is an economic driver.The research show Tanzanian culture is more than a mere luxury or frivolity and instead it is a major employer.

Contador Harrison