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Exclusive: Netflix boss Dorothy Ghettuba impressed by Kenyan shows

Netflix’s director of local language series for Africa Dorothy Ghettuba has opened up on the possibility of Kenyan local shows going big on the platform. 

Speaking to Nairobi News during the 6th edition of Kalasha Film and TV Festival, Ghettuba said the concern of not having enough local shows on the platform has been raised quite a lot, but strategies to make a difference are underway. 

“We are looking ahead, and into the future. We know the shows are not many enough, but we’re here to change that. We know Swahili shows are not enough, but we’re looking at having local licensed titles on our service from Kenya,” said Ghettuba.

She further noted that filmmakers, directors, and producers have been entrusted with the task of making local films that are sure to captivate a global audience in order for the push for local content on Netflix to be successful.

“There will be a big change, but this will only be possible with you writers, and filmmakers doing shows for us that are from Kenya, and then spread to the rest of the East African countries. Our focus is Kenya,” she added. 

In August 2022, Netflix’s top executive team in Africa announced their plans to continue investing in scripted and unscripted content across genres in Africa until it unearths the big “Squid Game”-like show that captures global buzz.

During a panel of  “See What’s Next Africa” showcase in Johannesburg, South Africa, the streamer unveiled several African original renewals, some co-production developments, more details around existing projects, and another multi-project output deal with the South African filmmaker Mandlakayise Walter Dube for films and series.

“There’s a curiosity across the world about locally-specific shows from Africa — great creative, great stories,” said Dorothy Ghettuba. “The world wants to know what’s happening in Africa.”

The strategy out of Africa was refreshing news as streamers begin to tighten their content spend as global subscriber growth slows. That belt-tightening won’t happen in Africa just yet, said Netflix Africa’s content execs, who are adamant to ramp up the output from the continent and won’t be doing any less.

“Our investment in Africa continues to grow and we just continue to do more and more shows,” Ghettuba said. “We believe that Africa is one of the major creative centers for great storytelling that resonates around the world, so it only makes sense for us to increase our investment with our slate, with an even more exciting slate.”

While South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya remain the three key African content territories for Netflix originals, Ghettuba said the streamer is buying shows from various other countries on the continent, ranging from Ghana and Zimbabwe to Uganda, and will be expanding its original content umbrella. 

Ghetubba said her ambition is “to ensure that the next big ‘Squid Game’-like show comes from Africa.”

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