High data costs threaten the creative sector

LOCAL content creators are ruing the recently hiked costs of data in the country as a bane to the growth of their business.Kudzai Chikomo, a filmmaker based in Bulawayo who heads an outfit called Film & Television Resources, deplores the cost of data as a hindrance to the growth of the business of content creators on the continent.

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“Lockdown has presented a massive opportunity for content creators as there are 6,72 million active internet users in Zimbabwe. Consider also that 35% of Zimbabweans are connected to mobile internet and most of the content is consumed via mobile phones,” Chikomo said.

“But if you notice, data on mobile phones is more expensive. This means that that audience is out of reach in the short to even long run. I think that internet service providers partner with content creators to create special gateways for local content.

“It is done with packages such as WhatsApp bundles which are differentiated in price terms from accessing Facebook or Instagram. The tariffs can be reduced with that in mind. But internet service providers can also argue that the biggest chunk of their revenue comes from those platforms.”

Econet on Tuesday hiked the cost of data and, being the dominant market player, has sparked an outcry. The rates have been increased by 225%. A 25-gigabyte bundle which previously cost ZW$400, now costs ZW$1 300.

In essence, as has been noted by technology website TechZim, ZW$400 “could buy subscribers 25GB lasting them a month – now ZW$340 gets them 1GB lasting 24 hours”.

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