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'Data price must fall'

by Staff reporter
20 Jan 2021 at 06:53hrs | Views
NATIONAL Arts Council of Zimbabwe director, Nicholas Moyo has called on internet service providers in the country to reduce their tariffs for the survival of the arts sector as artistes are relying solely on them during this difficult Covid-19 time.

As a result of the lockdown that has been ongoing from last year, artistes have been relying heavily on virtual shows to connect with their audiences.

Most of the shows have been for free, but the problem has been the high data tariffs that artistes could not afford to pay for in order to livestream their shows.

Some of their fans on the other hand, could not afford to buy the data to watch the shows, leading to very low numbers being recorded for some of the virtual shows. This in the long run, discouraged some artistes.

Moyo said as an arts sector, they are calling for the reduction of data tariffs in order to make them affordable for everyone, artistes included.

"The challenge in our country is the cost of consuming artwork digitally. Our data is expensive. I think we're the most expensive in the region. At this time, it would be good if the internet service providers also come to the party," said a concerned Moyo.

He said in the same spirit that the renowned service providers give back to communities through various corporate social responsibility projects, it will be great to see them do something for the artistes.

"It's good for Econet to go and donate stuff and NetOne to renovate Mpilo, but we also think that these players can contribute to the betterment of our artistes by reducing data tariffs.

"This will not only benefit artistes, but Zimbabweans at large because when they're depressed, they'll be knowing that they can find solace in entertainment that'll be available online, bringing joy to them," said Moyo.

"That can go a long way in healing the nation and the people. Once we go digital, my call is the bigger power that owns the data infrastructure ensures that we bring down the costs of data. If we bring down the costs of data in my simple maths, it might mean an increase in consumption. So, when we increase consumption, they (internet service providers) might actually still make more money."

Moyo said it will be great for artistes to produce their works knowing they will have consumers for their art. Apart from steep data charges, Moyo said another challenge that artistes are facing is how to monetise their works digitally. "It's important that artistes monetise. We need our own Zimbabwean platforms (through which they can charge for their works).

"They aren't many, I know that there's one called Gateway that provides tickets for online live shows," he said. However, Moyo concedes that there are some artefacts that cannot be consumed digitally especially visual art.

"We're all talking about going digital but the question is how far can we go digital? Are we all able to go digital, can visitors visit Victoria Falls for example, digitally? While I can listen to music, it's difficult to appreciate a sculpture digitally.

"When you remove the physical experience, no one will be able to consume the art at the end. Most of the arts can go digital, not all, but most," said Moyo.

Like many sectors in the country, the arts sector has been affected by the ongoing lockdown and Moyo said this was the price they had to pay for the preservation of life.

"Lives are more important than livelihood. We need each other tomorrow. If we sacrifice lives because of livelihood, we will have money and die.

"The sector has been heavily affected because our products are consumed interpersonally. So, when that contact is the major source of transmission, it means we are affected."

Source - chronicle