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Kenya's "Silicon Savannah" On Becoming An Animation Powerhouse

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act November 27, 2011 at 6:40PM

Variety gives Kenyan animators in Kenya some shine...

Variety gives Kenyan animators in Kenya some shine...

As Kenyan tech companies push for their vision of a "silicon savannah" in this East African nation, local animators say their industry is set to ride the high-tech wave toward becoming an animation powerhouse.

Buoyed by the success of "Tinga Tinga Tales," a toon for the BBC's children's web CBeebies co-produced by the U.K.'s Tiger Aspect Prods. and the Nairobi-based Homeboyz Animation, Kenyan animators are hopeful that their country will emerge as the next big market for outsourcing. Allan Mwaniki, director and lead animator at Homeboyz, says that the scale of "Tinga Tinga Tales," which involved nearly 50 animators in Nairobi, was proof that the Kenyan industry could effectively handle a large-scale production.

"We've shown the world we can do it," he says. Kenya's animation industry began to blossom with a series of U.N.-sponsored training programs from 2004-2006, which brought Kenyan animators together with artists from around the world.

Dubbed Africa Animated!, the initiative was created to enhance the ability of African animators to compete with the Western imports, which dominate children's programming on African TV stations. The workshops gave Kenyan artists an important platform to show their work on a global stage, eventually leading to the "Tinga Tinga" collaboration. The series was a watershed moment for local animators.

The rest can be found HERE.

Certainly exciting; though, still a bit to go to compete on an international level. And as one animation company head notes, "the industry is just beginning to realize the potential that animation offers," and that "there are still financial and technological hurdles... You wish it could grow faster, but it takes patience... It's still early days."

Watch a sample of the work Nairobi-based Homeboyz Animation did on Tinga Tinga Tales:

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