Zim must support creative industries

HARARE – Creative Economy Outlook Zimbabwe (CEOZ) joins the rest of the peoples of Zimbabwe and Africa in congratulating one of Zimbabwe’s living musical legends Oliver Mtukudzi and one of the potent contemporary musician, Tinashe Kachingwe for making it into the Forbes Africa’s Top 10 Music Money-maker.

Mtukudzi and Tinashe joins eight other polished music composers and performers from the continent as a reflection of the raw talent in the country. It is a vote of confidence in the potential of Zimbabwe’s unstructured creative industry.

The May 2017 edition of the magazine’s list captures the musical exploits from Africans scattered across the globe, including those that are based abroad.

The powerful African artists including Akon (Senegalese-American), Wizkid (Nigerian), Davido (Nigerian), Black Coffee from South Africa, Don Jazzy (Nigeria), Oliver Mtukudzi, (Zimbabwean), Jidenna (Nigerian-American), Hugh Masakela (South African), Micheal Owusu Addo (Ghana) and Tinashe (Zimbabwe – American).

As we celebrate the competativeness of the products of Zimbabwe’s creative industries, we do so with a heavy heart that the government to this end has failed to come up with a consolidated policy framework to stimulate the industry’s growth. This has subdued the potentional of the industry as it is left at the mercy of individual exploits to take form and shape.

The recognition of the talent emerging from the industry without enabling policy framework shows that the country is pregnant with untapped potential, which can be harnessed for the growth of the country’s economic performance.

While Akon produced, and sold musical albums far less than a quarter of Mtukudzi’s 65 album, he tops the list of having generated 35 million sales world wide.

This is mainly because the former is domisiled in a country that has a structured entertainment industry and policy frameworks that enables the conversion of talent into revenue streams.

The creative industries in other jurisdications are hedged by the laws and policy frameworks that insulate them from the ills of piracy and counterfits.

While the two brand ambassadors are being recognised continentally, their products and talents back home are under serious threat from a fueling piracy network which robbs the industry of its true value and stature.

At the same time there are structured dowmstream industries that are created such as the content generation industry, feeding into the broadcasting and filming industry and paying competative remuneration to the artists such as musicans and producers of content.

As we celebrate for example Mtukudzi’s entering of the Hall of Fame, we must remain alive to the reality that the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) is not paying him and the team of creatives the royalties due to them as the parastatal continues to abuse artists’ talent without any sense of caution.

In essense the failure to genuinely open up the airwaves has become an existential threat to the infant industry which is taking form and shape out of its own effort due to glaring policy vacuums.

A liberalised airwaves regime will allow for competition in the purchase of loccaly produced content and setting the
quality standard very high that the products will be continetally and internationally competative.

This is therefore a moment of introspection as we look back at our creative industry, which is growing without shape and form and attempt to answer the hard questions on the future trajectory.

We remain alive to the primary attempts by the Ministry of Information then when it came up with the 75 percent local content policy that led to the development of the urban grooves genre in Zimbabwe and the subsequent growth of music recording studies since the equipment was exempt from paying taxes.

However, times have changed and the government needs to move with the times in realising that creative industries are now the face worldwide in marketing nations. Their nourishment feeds to the competativeness of the respective countries as part of attracting investment and tourism.

In this regard, the CEOZ is in the process of assessing the easy of doing business handbook that was developed by the Ministry of Economic Planning. We are doing so with the aim of guaging its compatibility with global trends in positioning the creative industry as a low hanging fruit for attracting investments.

Further more, we seek to probe on how it is proposing to invest in the industry growth. This will be done simultaniously with the launch of the inagural Creative Industries Consumption Index (CICI) which quantify the net contribution of the industry in the national economic performance.

We therefore once again, wish to once again express our heartfelt congratulations to the two Zimbabwean musicans for carrying the national flag high, though the flag has not invested much in their industry.

With all the challenges that comes with a fragmented industry, the musicans solider on, daily to perfect the art, in the process redifining the standards from local to regional and continental levels.

(Nyapimbi is an executive of CEOZ)