Page last updated at 16:44 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 17:44 UK

Getting animated in Nairobi

DIGITAL PLANET
By Dave Lee
BBC World Service

Tinga Tinga Tales
Tinga Tinga Tales will be coming to CBeebies by the end of the year

When huge contracts from Disney turn up at your door, you know you've made it.

That's how Homeboyz Animation feel. The Nairobi-based team's top animation skills have won serious acclaim across Africa, and by the end of the year its work will be all over TV networks in the rest of the world.

Its show, Tinga Tinga Tales, aims to educate children about the animal kingdom.

Production company Tiger Aspect set up a fully-equipped animation studio in Nairobi. They hired 50 local designers, animators, musicians and writers to work on the show, which will be shown on the Disney Channel and, in the UK, CBeebies.

Fifty per cent of the show's profits will be put back into developing an educational trust for children in East Africa.

Imminent opportunities

The Tinga Tinga Tales story is just one snippet of evidence of a booming animation industry in Nairobi.

CONNECTED AFRICA
You can hear more of the BBC's Connected Africa season on special editions of the BBC World Service programmes Digital Planet and World Have Your Say

Daniel Muli works for the Mediae Production Company, also based in Nairobi.

Like Homeboyz, they produce educational programmes which make heavy use of animation.

Its show The Know Zone uses live action and animation to teach Kenyan children how to speak English.

Mr Muli believes that as broadband access spreads across Kenya, there will be greater chance for talented locals to share their work globally - a privilege taken for granted in the western world.

"People are going to be able to put up their work and help people become more aware of the fact that we can actually do a lot of stuff here," he said.

At some point in time it will be at the same level as the international stage
Ahmed Deen

His colleague Ahmed Deen, believes the internet will not only give them a huge, worldwide audience, but will also allow Kenyans to teach themselves skills they would have otherwise known nothing about.

"Prior to broadband, prior to internet, getting hold of resources and help was based on the fact I'd go down to my friends place and he might have a book with the information I want," he said.

But as more Kenyans go online, they are tooling themselves up with digital skills.

"There's not that many people who do animation but it's growing," said Mr Muli.

"There's a whole bunch of schools that are training up new people. And there's a whole bunch of projects that are going on at the moment that give you the feeling that something exciting is going on."

Mr Deen is just as optimistic.

"At some point in time it will be at the same level as the international stage," he said. "But right now it's growing and slowly by slowly, with the government agencies helping, it's going to pan out nicely."



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