Creative industries can be a major source of tax revenue, employment

Arts and craft, film, music and fashion designing, which fall under the creative industries, have been thriving in Tanzania over the past decade, employing thousands of young Tanzanians and providing a source of livelihood for them.

The creative industries are seen to be increasingly important to the economic well-being of some youths in the country, thanks to their creativity and innovation.

This is an area that the country needs to harness properly for the collective development of the nation.

In developed economies, creative industries are a major source of government revenue generation, employment opportunities and economic contribution.

There the importance and potential of the cultural industries in Tanzania is unquestionable.
However, a successive of government officials over the years has merely paid lip service to it without doing anything tangible to recognise and promote it.

The government needs to work with stakeholders to transform the country's creative industries to boost foreign exchange earnings, tax revenues and employment creation.

For example, the government should work with commercial banks to enable them to provide loans for high budget movies, facilitate budding local musicians to do collaborations with big international musicians and provide support for procurement of entertainment equipment in the country.

Official figures are hard to come by, but analysts estimate that the creating industries employ thousands of people in Tanzania and generate multi-billion shillings revenues.

In comparison, the current net worth of Nigeria's entertainment industry is estimated at over $4 billion in annual contribution to the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

The Nigerian entertainment industry is now targeting an ambitious $8.1 billion in annual revenues by the year 2019.

A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) global entertainment and media outlook 2016–2020 report noted that: “In 36 out of the 54 countries covered by PwC’s outlook, entertainment and media spending is growing more rapidly than GDP, often by a factor of more than 50 percent."

In the United States, creative industries led by Hollywood account for about $504 billion, or at least 3.2 per cent of US goods and services.

By comparison, the arts and culture sector outpaced the U.S. travel and tourism industry, which was 2.8 per cent of GDP in 2011, based on official estimates.

The sizeable contribution comes from Hollywood, the advertising industry, cable television production, broadcasting, publishing, performing arts and other areas.

One of the challenges that has always been there for economists and even lay people and policy makers is to understand the value of the creative sector.

We believe that the creative sector, although largely ignored, is an important part of the Tanzanian economy -- not just its contributions of ideas and creativity to the innovation economy but also as an important part of the labour force and our country's GDP.

Given the enormous contributions of entertainment industries in the economies of other African countries such as South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria and global giants like the United States and India, it is high time that the economic potential of Tanzania's creative industries starts being recognised.