Data is a more pressing human need than oxygen as Parliament now stars colourful radio personality-turned-activist Tbo Touch, writes Victor Kgomoeswana.
Johannesburg – Money is too tight to mention, fees are not falling, data is a more pressing human need than oxygen as Parliament now stars a colourful radio personality-turned-activist. Let the real games begin!It is astounding how the initiative since 1994 has swerved from the political heavyweights to unlikely leaders in civil society.
True, the struggle against apartheid was fought on a mass-mobilisation ticket, among others, but politicians and captains of industry just met their equal in Thabo Molefe, more commonly known as Tbo Touch.
The former Metro FM presenter is nobody’s fool. He can be indiscreet at times, but he is a shrewd hustler. You don’t command a radio listenership of more than a million in a career spanning more than a decade by being a dummy.A wine entrepreneur, among others, who reportedly managed to sell a bottle of his Touch Warwick cabernet sauvignon to businessman Sello Rasethaba for R1.3 million at an auction, Tbo Touch plays to win.
Not shy to make a statement, be it with his fashion, radio riffs or tweets, Molefe is mounting a campaign that is long overdue. And this is not for show, but a business calculation.
Luckily for him, he knows how to ride the wave of public discontent to advance a cause that will abet his hustle – and the masses, who are potential consumers of his latest offering.
In July, Molefe launched an online music streaming venture called Touch Central, with another showman not cheaply bothered by controversy, Gareth Cliff.
Streaming requires data; lots of it. Data costs money, dollops of that, in South Africa, moreso than in other African countries.
This lad from the Vaal Triangle (no Ekurhuleni, is it New York? who cares!) is your typical rebel with a cause. Love him or hate him, Tbo Touch has just taken up the cudgels for millions of South Africans who have been left out of the data game unjustly and unnecessarily by cellphone companies, Telkom and backward government policies on digitisation.
“These are some of challenges that SMMEs (small, medium and micro-sized enterprises) are faced with. This is also to voice the cries of students out there. Data is as essential as food, shelter and clothing,” said Molefe.
He wants data costs cut in half. Why not!
Emphasising that his fight was neither against the networks nor the government, he displayed the brilliance of a campaigner with abundant diplomatic touch.
His lone rap was soon transformed into a chorus.
The SRC president at the University of the Western Cape, Lukhanyiso Matebese, decried the manner in which the lives of his fellow students – without data – come to a standstill.
Even the Department of Postal Services and Telecommunications chipped in. Acting deputy director-general Joe Mjwara virtually accused the network operators of compensating for lower revenue from voice calls and text messages to data so as to maintain their profitability.
Talk about crying “havoc” to let slip the dogs of war. Now Molefe can sit back and watch the network operators trading blows with the government and the incited public.
Since the network operators cannot really sustain their defence, regardless of their spurious explanations to justify milking us some more, Molefe’s Touch Central will soon get a boost to gain significant market share.
Data will fall; and Touch Central will sing, in dollar signs.
Joining him and his business partner in the glee of #DataHasFinallyFallen will be the droves of grateful South Africans.
Our economy at last will stand a chance to get on board the e-commerce train and the mobile telephony revolution.
South Africa has needlessly lagged other African countries because of our archaic attitude towards the Internet of Things. Telecommunications companies – including Telkom – grotesquely believe that they can truly make sustainable money from selling data, instead of support for online business. This was because of the failure of the government to appreciate the urgency of implementing policies conducive to high speed internet and digitisation.
See why I trust artists (including radio jocks) more than politicians and businesspeople?