DESIGNED FOR SUCCESS

Zambia 2017 | IT, TELECOMS & MEDIA | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Vatice Mushauko, CEO of Inzy, on the company's standing in the sector, capitalizing on the middle class, and the importance of art for the economy.

 Vatice Mushauko
BIOGRAPHY
Vatice Mushauko was born in Zambia and studied computer applications and media studies. He was an entrepreneur from an early age, and when he returned from the UK, he decided to follow his passion and open a media firm pioneering the photography and videography industry in Zambia. The success of the business has led him to work with presidents, organizations, and high-profile people. Currently, apart from the media agency, he owns an investment brokerage firm and is also in real estate.

How has Zambia's media industry been affected by the economic slowdown of the past year, and what is Inzy doing to ensure it maintains its stable position in the market?

The past year has certainly been a difficult one for the sector. The sad fact of the matter is that as money runs short, one of the first industries to see cuts is the arts. However, that is not to say my outlook in the medium term is negative. In fact, on the whole the scene is developing, albeit not at the pace that is ideal. In media, there is no room for stagnation; if a company is not innovative and forward-thinking then it can easily disappear. With the rise of social media, everyone is a blogger or a journalist, and there is no longer any differentiation between professionals and amateurs. To have a foot in this environment as a professional media outlet, it is vital to carve out a niche and set ourselves apart from the rest. Inzy has already made great headway in giving itself the edge over other productions. For example, we are responsible for the visuals for the winning presidential campaign, coverage that included all aspects of media production and development: brainstorming, design, photography, development, strategy, and execution, as well as media management in terms of media buying, too. This is not the first time we have been the manpower behind such a production either: we also contributed to Michael Sata's previous winning campaign. Such success is born not only of hard work, but also experience, resources, and capabilities.

What is being done to capitalize on the growth of the middle-income segment in Zambia in terms of developments in real estate?

As Zambia's middle-income segment becomes stronger and more impactful, demands in real estate change and providers and constructors have to adapt to this new scenario. People in Zambia have higher disposable incomes; travel and technology have become more affordable, people experience greater exposure generally, and the world is becoming smaller. Now, the average citizen does not just want a living space; they want a house that is part and parcel of a whole lifestyle. Furthermore, we are working with a singular set of characteristics that define a country such as Zambia. For example, unlike China or Dubai, usable space is certainly not limited here. Because of that, the traditional still tops the list: big houses and swimming pools. Here, there is no need to build up, and for that reason Zambia does not have skyscrapers popping up on every corner as is the case in other parts of Africa. However, there is still a housing deficit of 3 million, which means that for next few years there will still be room to maneuver within the market and there will still be demand for middle-income solutions.

What impact, in real terms, can art have on the economy?

For the economy, art is key. In the US, India, China, and Nigeria, one of the biggest exports is art, whether that be media, music, or films. Art can be social food, and that in turn feeds into the business landscape of a country, which means that art indirectly aids development and can also directly boost GDP. Because of this, our leaders need to prioritize art and to be seen in the public eye to be doing so. I cannot recall a single Zambian initiative in the arts that has come from public sector management, which leads me to believe art is not being prioritized. What is worse, it may be being overlooked. That being said, there are many astounding projects being launched with private-sector backing, and there are also plenty of self-taught and self-driven people trying to change this culture with their own resources. This alone, however, is not enough. We need support, platforms, and opportunities from the government and stakeholders.