The emergence of Covid-19 at the beginning of 2020 could not have come at a worse time for the creative economy.
The sector – both locally and globally has spent the better part of the last two decades trying to adapt to disruption caused by the internet, which changed the ease and means of production for content while massively decentralising its distribution, affecting jobs and incomes in the process.
As the year of COVID 19 comes to an end, Botswana’s filmmakers and Creatives are optimistic that an increase in locally made streaming platforms will help them pick up the scattered pieces. The aim is to use the new platforms, mainly internet based to become part of the global creative economy.
The aspirations also come at a time when Botswana has been making strides in creating an enabling environment for Creatives to have a well setup industry. Recently as Parliament approved the establishment of a National Arts council which is expected to help professionalise the industry.
In the immediate past, the Government through Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development has introduced Now tv channel to grow Botswana`s television options. While on the other hand through Botswana Fibre Networks, it has introduced the UPICtv streaming platform to cater to the growing online entertainment market.
Deezone Productions Chief Executive – Thabiso Maretlwaneng said “often times we don’t mention enough about our content floating around fortunately now that there is creation of many platforms our content can be taken from one platform to another and that is one thing we have been crying for. You know like in other countries they have so many opportunities from IPtv, cable television, now at least for Botswana we can be able to also enjoy that.”
Maretlwaneng believes content made in Botswana needs to be in different platforms to not only be enjoyed but also increase in reaching different markets.
“I think this now is a great opportunity for Botswana we can have our content on IPtv and it can reach a lot of people because our television is limited to Botswana and not southern Africa. Once we have our platform that is reaching Africa and beyond, I think it will create many opportunities, people can watch and as creative we can get calls from anywhere in the world for work. Also some of our stories can be re-licensed for usage again and even in other countries,” he said.
The other challenges that can be mitigated by the availability of different platforms of streaming are that it creates a wealth generation point. With content creators generating money they can be able to hire equipment and pay employees. Botswana`s start up film makers face challenges with attracting quality staff due to financial limitations and this can have an impact on the overall quality of the production. Some creatives often have to rely on using their earnings from commissioned content as leverage to hire equipment.
Lion Trek Pictures filmmaker Segolame Gaebepe said “website like UPict, YouTube,Pic art, Black Box pay Contents owners Monthly just like any other job. However these website differs some pay when your story or content is downloaded and some pays when the contents have more viewers and Channel Subscribers. There are important since now we can share our stories in different media platforms and the audience will no longer struggle to find our contents and it has become easier to choose on which platform they will prefer to watch on.”
UPICtv licenses content on monetary terms from content producers and will pay royalties through COSBOTS. Mobile network operator Mascom also plans to launch a streaming service. Chief Communications and PR Officer Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego said “Mascom MyPlay, is a Video on Demand Platform for both our prepaid and post-paid digital service subscribers, with specific emphasis on data users.”
The platform has begun to assist local creatives through a competition called “Finding Botswana Diamonds”, a competition aimed at soliciting local content. “Our expectation is that, out of this, we would get an appreciation of the content available locally, to facilitate licensing and production assistance, for the same,” she said.