Digitisation to open windows of opportunity for Zimbabwean youths
By Charity Ruzvidzo
YOUTHS are poised to derive the wide-ranging benefits of the digitisation programme currently underway in the country, experts say.
The revolution in broadcasting, which is hallmarked at migration from analogue to digital television, is set to open employment opportunities for most Zimbabweans.
Digitisation means the conversion of analogue information into digital information.
As digitisation capabilities extend, virtually every aspect of life is captured and stored in some digital form, and societies move closer towards the networked interconnection of everyday objects.
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister, Dr Christopher Mushohwe, was quoted recently as saying content production was a multi-million-dollar business which Zimbabweans, especially the youths, must take advantage of.
“The youths must embrace this digitisation programme. President Mugabe is very worried about the youths. He always wishes well for them each year, as they graduate from schools. So, this is an opportunity for them to create employment and be their own bosses in content creation for broadcasters,” Dr Mushohwe said, adding that Government would be advocating 75 percent local content.
He said there was a lot of work to be done for the channels that would be operating 24 hours a day.
Instead of one nationwide terrestrial channel being used by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), when the digitisation exercise is completed, 12 high-definition broadcasting channels would be availed.
Six of these would be reserved for the ZBC and the other six would be shared among independent broadcasters.
Nathaniel Masanga, an information and technology communication expert, said digitisation holds significant potential for creating formal jobs that are accessible to historically marginalised youths.
“The digital economy holds unique potential to support job creation and, more importantly, the creation of skills and capabilities that will provide a distinct trajectory for youths in the economy. Content production for the increased number of channels will surely create employment for most youths. This will also encourage diversity,” he said.
He added that the 75 percent local content would also ensure that less foreign content is used in the new stations.
“The government’s 75 percent local content is commendable, as it will curb the importation of foreign content to the new stations. Buying foreign content means we are exporting jobs and Zimbabweans are merely becoming consumers,” he said.
Dr Mushohwe said the digitisation programme was 25 percent complete and was on track for completion by the end of this year.
A Harare-based independent film producer and actor, Munyaradzi Gapa, said with support from Government most producers had the capacity to produce quality productions.
“Zimbabwe used to have a flourishing film and broadcasting industry. ZBC had the best locally produced films like ‘Neria’ and ‘Yellow Card’. Local producers need support as they have the capacity to even outpace the glory days of local broadcasting,” said Gapa.
He said they were bracing for the finalisation of the digitisation programme.
The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has taken the initiative to ask for concepts from independent producers so as to assist them with finances.
According to a Zimstat report released last year which was titled “Labour Force Characteristics Thematic Report”, of the 7.7 million people of working age in the country, 5.1 million were economically active in 2012 compared to 4.8 million in 2012.
At national level, the report indicated that the unemployment problem was particularly pronounced for the young age groups in the range of 15-29 years.
Experts say digitisation would go a long way in alleviating employment woes.
The Global Information Report of 2015 highlights that digitisation has incredible power to improve people’s lives, foster economic growth, and create opportunities for individuals and companies.
The report states that ICTs hold the potential for transforming economies through multiple channels. They boost productivity and reduce transaction and information costs.
ICTs foster entrepreneurship and create new business models. The past two decades have witnessed the emergence of start-ups that have disrupted entire industries or created entirely new ones.
In Zimbabwe’s case, digitisation is set to produce entrepreneurs who through content production for broadcasters would end up expanding their businesses.
Digitisation would not only benefit the youths but Zimbabweans as a whole.
An increase in the number of stations would entail diversity in content production for consumers.
Many Zimbabweans were currently watching foreign programmes through Multichoice’s digital satellite television, as it offers diverse content.
The International Telecommunications Union set June 17, 2015, as the deadline for broadcasters to cross over from analogue to digital.
Many African countries, including Zimbabwe, have failed to meet the deadline.
However, strides have been made towards completing the digitisation process, which is expected to be finalised by year end. – Zimpapers Syndication