Kenya to Unlock Ksh 200 Billion Monthly from Artists’ Royalties

Kenya Introduces National Registry for its Entertainment Industry

Stephen Chege - Chief Corporate Affairs Officer - Safaricom during a past music forum in Kisumu

  • Digital platforms such as SKIZA and Viusasa will be eliminated
  • Payment of royalties for local content will be channeled through Kenya Copyright Board

The Kenyan Government has announced a new structure to streamline and simplify payments of royalties for rights-holders in the country.

The government estimates that the system will see an increase in collections from a previous KSh 200 million per year to an estimated Ksh 2 billion per year.

President Uhuru Kenyatta who directed changes to the collection structures to the Content Service Providers said it was in his discretion to have all right holders registered to receive royalties through  ‘a multi-pronged approach’.

“Content Service Providers who work with digital platforms such as SKIZA and Viusasa, will be eliminated. And this is because they sit outside the Collection Management Organisations (CMOs). My practical direction on this is to have all rights holders register on the National Rights Registry,” said President Kenyatta.

The CMOs include Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP), Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK) and Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK).

Existing structures are limiting

“To receive royalties, Content Service Providers will be required to channel all payments of royalties through a single, centrally managed account at the Kenya Copyright Board. This will enable oversight by the regulator and ensure that the collection and distribution accounts are easily auditable,” he added.

The SKIZA service was launched by Safaricom in 2009 and it allows customers to download their favorite SKIZA tunes and entertain their callers every time they call. 

Viusasa was launched in 2018 with the aim of taking on the other more Pan-African platforms in the market. It currently supports online streaming of news from local media houses.

The Ministry of Information Communication Technology (ICT) already has new tariffs that will be implemented in the year.

“KECOBO and the Ministry of ICT have already agreed on new tariffs for 2020. These tariffs are to be gazetted and will form the basis on which compliance will be monitored,” Uhuru noted.

The president directed that the ICT ministry, in consultation with the attorney general’s office, ensure that the new structure is gazetted within 30 days.

The President further directed the Ministry of ICT to remove conditions requiring digital platforms to only work through licensed content providers.

“This will enable musicians to work directly with platforms such as Skiza,” he stated.