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Weak network infrastructure chokes South Sudan music industry

Juba, South Sudan, 16 May 2021 – South Sudanese musical artists say lack of proper infrastructural development is hampering their ability to transition to the digital world and embrace the internet economy.

Weak network infrastructure chokes South Sudan music industry
Kampala-based South Sudanese artist Silver X (photo credit: courtesy).

This comes as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to pile misery on musicians across the world as mass gatherings remained prohibited by governments.

Prior to COVID-19, South Sudanese musicians found solace in live concerts through which they reaped career-sustaining fortunes.

But this has changed for the worse. With the impact of the virus still lingering, artists are still unable to stage live concerts. This means organizing their shows virtually.

In a country with an internet penetration percentage of 8.0, organizing virtual and live entertainment events is either empirically impossible or so expensive that only a few artists (if any) can afford.

According to the World Internet Stats, the estimated number of South Sudanese with access to the internet stands at 900,716 out of 13 million people as of January 2021.

This means even if musicians were able to organize virtual concerts, chances are that only a handful of individuals get to notice.

Frustrated and with their major source of income shuttered, this phenomenon forced many artists to abandon music or leave the country for greener pastures.

Unlike in neighboring countries where musicians are paid by online streaming giants, especially YouTube, for content creation, South Sudanese artists have found it quite challenging to keep up to the bar.

Silver X, once among the most prominent musicians in the country has moved to Kampala where he has continued to pursue a music career. But for someone who has known him and the power of his music at home, the ‘Ustaz da Dunia’ is no longer the same.

Silver X, real name Okuta Ceaser Malish Jeremiah, has 1.6k subscribers on YouTube and his videos have been viewed 91.3k times. Silver X said recently that he is receiving no payment from the streaming giant for his content.

“At the moment, nobody has earned through YouTube in South Sudan, unless if someone has an account linked to a credit card,” he told Nyamilepedia.

“Besides, the internet in the country is very poor and expensive as well unlike in other countries such as Uganda, Kenya, and developed countries,” he lamented.

YouTube has a threshold that every channel must meet in order to get paid. A channel must garner a minimum of 1 million total views for one to receive $5k monthly. However, the channel of Silver X is still far below this threshold.

Speaking to Nyamilepedia earlier, W.J de King, another once-prominent musician echoed a similar sentiment saying lack of access to a reliable internet connection has affected and continues to threaten their career.

“The challenge we face as musicians is that access to the internet is costly. Of course, some of us are trying but I must say it’s not easy,” said De King of Lokwilili.

The ‘Ana bi Ruwa Wen’ hit-maker, currently based in Juba, also expressed frustration over the inability of South Sudanese musicians to keep up in cyberspace saying it is limiting their audience base to the domestic grid hence they become unable to compete regionally and globally.

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