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Lessons to Learn from Opening the Liberian Telecommunications Market

first_imgIn 2004, the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) embarked upon a great experiment: opening the telecommunications market to competition. The result has been an unmitigated success. We have gone from a landscape of only 5,000 lines when a public corporation called The Liberian Telecommunications Corporation (“Telecom” headquartered on Lynch Street) ruled the roost to a situation where there are almost 2 million GSM subscribers today. The cost to the national treasury has been zero, zilch, nada. But the treasury reaps millions of dollars each year from the GSM companies by way of tax revenue. It’s like belonging to a susu club, to which you contribute nothing but from which you receive thousands of dollars every month. A similar scenario can be brought into being with regard to electricity.According to the folks at Manitoba Hydro, the Canadian company that is managing LEC under a lucrative 5-year contract, financed by the Norwegian government, by which they will have pulled in $8 million in fees by the time their contract ends in a few days’ time, the demand for electricity in Monrovia alone is 120MW. LEC is currently producing only 6MW, just 5 percent of the demand. The rest is coming through self-generation. We are producing our own electricity using everything from small Tiger generators to large Perkins and Caterpillar machines.And why is LEC only producing 6MW of power? Because many of its old generators have reached the end of their useful life. In fact, LEC is producing less electricity today than it did, say, 3-4 years ago. One clever wag has suggested that LEC changes its slogan from “Small Light Today, Big Light Tomorrow” to “Small Light Today, Even Smaller Light Tomorrow”. LEC simply does not have the resources to get the job done. To bring 120MW of current to Monrovia will cost several hundred million dollars. LEC does not have that kind of money. The Government of Liberia (GOL) operating on a shoestring budget of $500 million does not have the millions to give capitalize LEC to level required for LEC to get the job done.  And if we are waiting for GOL come up with the money, we will be waiting another 100 years.Right now LEC is living on life support—-from donors. In addition to the $8 million that the Norwegian government has spent to finance the Manitoba Hydro contract, this same Norwegian government has shelled out an additional $29 million to enable LEC to expand its network. Well, you cannot build a sustainable business on the basis of handouts from donors. Donor programs typically are short-lived. So, what happens when the donor program comes to an end, as they inevitably do? You are left high and dry. If the Norwegians decide not to renew their aid program, LEC will collapse.So, what are the options for LEC? If LEC wishes to remain in business, it should either seek a long-term partner, a utility with bags of money and know-how, a partner which will inevitably demand a controlling interest in the entity. Or, LEC can simply become a landlord, leasing out its assets to another utility and collecting rent. Alternatively, it could simply sell its assets (and corresponding liabilities).But lest we allow ourselves to become too distracted with trying to solve LEC’s internal problems, let us return to our original premise: how can we apply the lessons we have learned from opening the telecommunications market to competition to electricity?The answer is quite simple: set aside the LEC monopoly and allow private companies to come to Liberia, set up shop and produce and sell electricity to us. This is precisely what an NGO that me and 25 other Liberian citizens established in December last year are advocating. Our NGO, “The Coalition to Bring Plenty Cheap Reliable Stable Electricity to Liberia” (“Brescelco” for short) has drafted a law, the “2015 Liberian Electricity Act” that will be introduced into our national legislature as soon as it returns from its Easter recess. We have mounted a vigorous public awareness campaign, going from community to community, to educate the public about the issues surrounding electricity and offering solutions. The purpose of this grassroots initiative is to get the public involved in making representations to their elected officials to act so that our electricity problem can be solved.Next week we will examine the specifics of what actions are necessary to solve the electricity problem.The writer is a businessman. He can be reached at .Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Korkoya Citizenship Saga Reaches Senate

first_img– Advertisement – NEC Chairman Korkoya to face Senate inquest The plenary of the Senate through a unanimous vote yesterday mandated its Committees on Autonomous Commission and Agencies, and Judiciary to investigate persisting reports that Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), holds an American passport, making him a citizen of that country.The decision was taken during the Senate’s first sitting after returning from a two-week Easter break.The Senators’ decision yesterday came after a lengthy debate on if the first branch of the government has the constitutional right to intervene in a matter that lies within the purview of the third, the Judiciary Branch.The debate was prompted by a communication from Lofa County Senator George Tengbeh in which he requested the Senate’s plenary to mandate its committees to thoroughly investigate the allegation and all matters relating to the NEC, including the current status of the Commission, and the total number of registered voters for the upcoming elections.“As we may all know, the October elections are drawing closer each day. Therefore, it is expedient to know the challenges facing the Commission for our intervention where necessary in order to have peaceful, fair and transparent elections,” Senator Tengbeh noted.Sen. Tengbeh chairs the Senate Committee on Rules, Order and Administration. He recalled that during his confirmation hearing, Chairman Korkoya denied being a holder of any other passport besides his Liberian passport, under oath.“In the wake of such allegations by some citizens that Chairman Korkoya is an American citizen, it is prudent that this Senate performs its oversight duties and inform its citizens,” Tengbeh said.He reminded his colleagues that the Executive Branch of government nominates, for which the Senate is mandated to conduct confirmation hearings.“If one of those whom we confirmed is alleged to be what he denied before us that he was not, the right thing to do is cite him to ascertain whether he maintains what he told us under oath,” Tengbeh said.Meanwhile, Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson (PYJ) told plenary that those who have a problem with Cllr. Korkoya have pieces of evidence that will soon be presented to the court, although he did not elaborate.For his part, Sinoe County Senator J. Milton Teahjay, like his colleague from Bong County, argued that the Senate must not be seen doing the work of the courts that have the right to validate or void citizenship.Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, however, challenged her colleagues that the issue about dual citizenship, which is before the Legislature, is a serious matter that needs to be handled now.She said the issue will put to rest ongoing debates on the issue.“Either the Executive investigates, or those who have evidence against Korkoya go to court. It is criminal if proven that he lied under oath to the Senate. The Senate cannot take the responsibility of the third branch of government. This matter does not belong here,” added Maryland County Senator J. Gbleh-bo Brown.Meanwhile, the two committees are requested to report to plenary within two weeks.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Campbellville man on $60,000 bail

first_imgAdrian Cole of Lot 132 Fourth Street, Campbellville, Georgetown, was on Friday arraigned before Magistrate Leron Daly for simple larceny.It is alleged that between November 18 and November 22, 2017, at Campbellville, Cole stole a speaker valued $120,000; the property of Jeremiah Trim. The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge.The prosecution had no objection to bail and Cole was released on $60,000 bail. The case will continue on March 16.last_img

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The XI to send Everton to Wembley at Manchester City’s expense in League Cup semi-final?

first_img 10. Romelu Lukaku (forward) – click the arrow above, right, to see the possible Everton line-up against Manchester City in squad number order 19. Gerard Deulofeu (attacking midfield) – click the arrow above, right, to see the possible Everton line-up against Manchester City in squad number order 11 5. John Stones (defender) – click the arrow above, right, to see the possible Everton line-up against Manchester City in squad number order 11 11 11 11 18. Gareth Barry (midfield) – click the arrow above, right, to see the possible Everton line-up against Manchester City in squad number order 11 23. Seamus Coleman (right-back) – click the arrow above, right, to see the possible Everton line-up against Manchester City in squad number order 2. Leighton Baines (defender) – click the arrow above, right, to see the possible Everton line-up against Manchester City in squad number order 6. Phil Jagielka (defender) – click the arrow above, right, to see the possible Everton line-up against Manchester City in squad number order Everton enter the second leg of Wednesday’s League Cup semi-final with a slight advantage over Manchester City. The first game at Goodison Park saw the Toffees get a deserved 2-1 win against Manuel Pellegrini’s City and they are now one match away from the Wembley final on 28 February.Everton travel to the Etihad two weeks after drawing 0-0 there in the Premier League and manager Roberto Martinez will be hoping his side can bounce back after a home defeat to Swansea at the weekend. The Merseysiders have never won the competition – they were runners up in 1977 and 1984, but nearly 8,000 visiting fans will make the short trip to Manchester hoping to watch their team have another crack at glory in next month’s final. Everton will be without Muhamed Besic (hamstring) and Kevin Mirallas (tendon), so who will they select?  The match is live on talkSPORT, so take a look at talkSPORT’s predicted line up by clicking the yellow arrow above, right.PREDICTED MAN CITY XI V EVERTON 22. Steven Pienaar (attacking midfield) – click the arrow above, right, to see the possible Everton line-up against Manchester City in squad number order 1. Joel Robles (goalkeeper) – click the arrow above, right, to see the possible Everton line-up against Manchester City in squad number order 11 15. Tom Cleverley (midfield) – click the arrow above, right, to see the possible Everton line-up against Manchester City in squad number order 20. Ross Barkley (midfield) – click the arrow above, right, to see the possible Everton line-up against Manchester City in squad number order 11 11 11 11last_img read more

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CO DONEGAL PUB AND RESTAURANT NAMED BEST IN IRELAND

first_imgA CO DONEGAL Pub is celebrating – after being named Ireland Pub of the Year.The prestigious Georgina Campbell Hospital Awards 2013 named Nancy’s Pub in Ardara as the best in the country.And the county picked up a second award, as the Beach House in Buncrana was named Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year. Speaking about the Nancy’s award, food writer Georgina said: “Banning the term ’gastropub’ generated acres of publicity for a UK food guide last year – and they were quite right; it’s unpleasant and over-used – and, like the ubiquitous ‘eatery’, is not in the Guide’s vocabulary.“But we’re all in favour of pubs that do great food, of course – and many of our best had been doing just this for many years before the unfortunate term ‘gastropub’ saw the light of day.“It’s not all about the food of course – character, friendliness, comfort, a sense of community, all those things are part of what makes a great pub – but good food is an important focus for all of our Star Pubs, including Nancy’s Bar, which has been a key part of this little heritage town renowned for its tweeds and handknits for far longer than anyone can remember.“The original Nancy, who ran the pub in Victorian times, was the great great great grandmother of the present owner, Charlie McHugh and, together with his wife Ann (who’s responsible for developing the food side of the business), he has ensured that everything is done just as it should be. “It’s a charmingly higgledy-piggledy place which simply oozes with character and warmth, there’s great live music and the food is traditional Irish cooking at its best: only gorgeous!“No wonder everybody loves Nancy’s, it’s just a perfect Irish pub.”And she heaped praise on the Beach House too.She said of the Buncrana eatier: “The leading restaurants in major cities, and their chefs, tend to hog the spotlight at awards and, while the size of the population means more top rank establishments to choose from, excellence is no respecter of location – or style. The Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year aims to highlight the quality of smaller establishments, especially those serving outstanding daytime food.“Lovely views across Lough Swilly may be the trump card at Claire McGowan’s smart-casual restaurant, but it has plenty else going for it too. Finding this well-named spot is a joy for a lot of happy visitors – who then have the added pleasure of walking off their meals on the lovely sandy beach afterwards. “Welcoming signs at the door ensure that nobody passes unknowingly and, once inside, the stylish yet laid-back two-storey restaurant and a bit of banter from friendly staff will have you hooked.“And they are blessed with their talented head chef, Peter Cheesman, who has an enviable reputation in Donegal for showcasing local produce – and it is well earned, as he cooks with stylish simplicity; everything is freshly made on site, and top quality ingredients translate into very good food indeed. What’s not to like about this charming place.”CO DONEGAL PUB AND RESTAURANT NAMED BEST IN IRELAND was last modified: October 17th, 2012 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:ArdarabuncranaCO DONEGAL PUB AND RESTAURANT NAMED BEST IN IRELANDlast_img read more

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Liverpool unbeaten: PL table according to Mark Lawrenson’s predictions

first_img 20 20 20 3. Manchester City would finish with 86 points according to Lawro’s predictions (City are third, with 75 points from 37 games) – Lawro’s prediction: W25 D11 L2 GD+53. Reality after 37 games: W22 D9 L6 GD+36 20 2. Chelsea would finish with 88 points according to Lawro’s predictions (the Blues are actually champions, with 90 points to date) – Lawro’s prediction: W26 D7 L5 GD+53. Reality after 37 games: W29 D3 L5 GD+48 7. Leicester City would finish with 74 points according to Lawro’s predictions (the Foxes are down in 11th place, with just 43 points to date) – Lawro’s prediction: W22 D8 L8 GD+25. Reality after 37 games: W12 D7 L18 GD-15 19. Middlesbrough would finish with 21 points according to Lawro’s predictions (they are 19th in the real table, but actually have 28 points) – Lawro’s prediction: W4 D9 L25 GD-44. Reality after 37 games: W5 D13 L19 GD-23 17. Swansea City would finish with 28 points according to Lawro’s predictions (the Swans are 17th in the real table, too, but have 38 points) – Lawro’s prediction: W6 D10 L22 GD-35. Reality after 37 games: W11 D5 L21 GD-26 20 8. Everton would finish with 48 points according to Lawro’s predictions (the Toffees are actually guaranteed to finish seventh, and have 61 points so far) – Lawro’s prediction: W10 D18 L10 GD+3. Reality after 37 games: W17 D10 L10 GD+20 11. West Brom would finish with 45 points according to Lawro’s predictions (the Baggies are ninth in the table, with 45 points from 37 games) – Lawro’s prediction: W11 D12 L15 GD-11. Reality after 37 games: W12 D9 L16 GD-7 5. Arsenal would finish with 80 points according to Lawro’s predictions (the Gunners are fifth with a game to go, on 72 points) – Lawro’s prediction: W22 D14 L2 GD+42. Reality after 37 games: W22 D6 L9 GD+31 20 14. Sunderland would finish with 35 points according to Lawro’s predictions (the Black Cats are actually rock bottom, with 24 points) – Lawro’s prediction: W8 D11 L19 GD-25. Reality after 37 games: W6 D6 L25 GD-36 20 20 20 20 20 20 Liverpool should finish the Premier League season unbeaten as they finish top of the pile.That is, according to Mark Lawrenson’s week-by-week predictions.The football pundit’s weekly tips for the BBC have been recorded with each scoreline and a final table has now been calculated.With the final games of the season taking place this weekend, the 59-year-old has submitted his last forecast for the campaign, and once again he can’t see Liverpool losing.It makes interesting reading to see where your team would be based on Lawro’s predictions.Some of his calls have been pretty good, though predicting zero defeats for his old club wasn’t so impressive.Fancy yourself as a football predictor? Try our free game, where you could win £1million simply by predicting Premier League scores. 20 16. Southampton would finish with 29 points according to Lawro’s predictions (Saints are actually eighth, with 46 points) – Lawro’s prediction: W6 D11 L21 GD-25. Reality after 37 games: W12 D10 L15 GD-6 20 1: Liverpool would finish with 92 points according to Lawro’s predictions (the Reds are actually aiming to finish fourth or third, and have 73 points so far) – Lawro’s prediction: W27 D11 L0 GD+55. Reality after 37 games: W21 D10 L6 GD+33 20 20. Hull City: based on Lawro’s predictions the Tigers would finish bottom, with 18 points. They will actually finish 18th, still relegated, but have 34 points after 37 games. Click the right arrow, above, to see how Lawro’s predictions look in the form of the final Premier League table… – Lawro’s predictions have Hull rock bottom, with this record: W4 D6 L28 GD-52. The Tigers’ actual record after 37 games is W9 D7 L21 GD-37 18. Watford would finish with 25 points according to Lawro’s predictions (they are actually 16th with 40 points) – Lawro’s prediction: W6 D7 L25 GD-34. Reality after 37 games: W11 D7 L19 GD-23 15. Burnley would finish with 31 points according to Lawro’s predictions (the Clarets are 15th in the real table, too, with 40 points) – Lawro’s prediction: W6 D13 L19 GD-27. Reality after 37 games: W11 D7 L19 GD-15 10. Stoke City would finish with 46 points according to Lawro’s predictions (the Potters are 14th with 41 points) – Lawro’s prediction: W11 D13 L14 GD-7. Reality after 37 games: W10 D11 L16 GD-16 9. Crystal Palace would finish with 48 points according to Lawro’s predictions (the Eagles are actually 13th, with 41 points so far) – Lawro’s prediction: W11 D15 L12 GD-3. Reality after 37 games: W12 D5 L20 GD-11 6. Manchester United would finish with 79 points according to Lawro’s predictions (the Red Devils will finish sixth, and have 66 points to daye) – Lawro’s prediction: W22 D13 L3 GD+34. Reality after 37 games: W17 D15 L5 GD+23 20 4. Tottenham Hotspur would finish with 81 points according to Lawro’s predictions (Spurs will finish second, and have 83 points to date) – Lawro’s prediction: W23 D12 L3 GD+38. Reality after 37 games: W25 D8 L4 GD+54 20 20 13. AFC Bournemouth would finish with 35 points according to Lawro’s predictions (the Cherries are 10th with 45 points) – Lawro’s prediction: W8 D11 L19 GD-23. Reality after 37 games: W12 D9 L16 GD-12 20 20 12. West Ham United would finish with 37 points according to Lawro’s predictions (the Hammers are 12th in the real table, too, with 42 points) – Lawro’s prediction: W9 D10 L19 GD-17. Reality after 37 games: W11 D9 L17 GD-18 last_img read more

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Donegal players went for pints before All-Ireland final

first_imgEamon McGee has astonishingly revealed that two senior players on the Donegal squad went for a few pints the night before their All-Ireland final with Mayo in 2012. McGee argued that there reasoning for doing so was because it was Mayo they faced in the final!The former Donegal star made the startling revelation on ‘Off The Ball’ earlier this afternoon, saying they were supremely confident they would beat Mayo after defeating Kerry and Cork. It’s hard to believe that McGuinness who was a strict disciplinarian during his tenure as manager would’ve allowed them to go for pints, even though they had a ‘few’.McGee said, “When we got Mayo in 2012, we were pretty confident.“Two of the lads went for two pints the night before because it was Mayo.“In 2014 we feared Mayo and Kerry threw it back in our face.”Donegal players went for pints before All-Ireland final was last modified: September 17th, 2016 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:all-irelanddonegalEamon McGeenewsoff the ballPintsSportlast_img read more

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European giants unveil beautiful new home kit ahead of 2018/19 season

first_img 2 rossoneri return GOING? Milan’s new shirt is back to basics with a simple, stunning design consisting of those iconic vertical stripes.The strip is no frills, no nonsense, just classic Milan, and has received a warm reception on social media. Xhaka latest: Arsenal man on the radar of two Italian clubs for January loan move Zlatan Ibrahimovic ‘being recruited’ by former club, MLS chief lets slip The Ac Milan puma new kit 🔥— Lennox Bacela (@lennoxbacela) July 6, 2018 Oooh I like that new AC Milan kit from Puma. Looks like something from Pro Evo 4. In a good way. pic.twitter.com/KzJne8RKHD— Carl Anka (@Ankaman616) July 6, 2018Puma designed the kit after the end of Milan’s deal with Adidas. vita E bella tasteless Italian giants AC Milan have released their new home kit ahead of the 2018/19 season, and it’s a beautiful one.The Rossoneri (Red and blacks) have of course lived up to their nickname as always, but this year taken things to another level. Top 30 most valuable 2020 free agents – on the move in January? Hilarious moment referee books Kaka and then takes selfie with him THE ITALIAN JOB something’s ron A front and back view Xhaka ‘begins house hunting’ in Milan ahead of possible January transfer The 2018/19 AC Milan home kit Funny ‘WHO KNOWS’ RETURN OF THE ZLAT Latest AC Milan News 2 BARGAINS Ronaldo’s punishment for angry reaction vs Milan revealed as he avoids fine Zlatan Ibrahimovic agrees deal with new club after deciding on future Serie A’s anti-racism campaign blasted as ‘sick joke’ as Roma and AC Milan react ‘I will go to a team that has to win again’ – Zlatan reveals transfer decision Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Italy? Mino Raiola hints at potential transfer plot twist last_img read more

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DONEGAL MATHS BUFF KEEPING IRISH NAVY STUDYING AT SEA

first_imgA Donegal maths buff is helping the Irish Naval Service study for their Leaving Cert exams.The E-learning Initiative was launched by the Irish Naval Service and TheMathsTutor.ie – the idea of Carndonagh man Eamonn Toland.Custom-built for the new Project Maths syllabus, TheMathsTutor.ie system will enable Navy personnel to continue studying while at sea as well as ashore. This means they can obtain their Leaving Certificate much sooner than if they attend a traditional college, which would require that they are shore-based for the full duration of their study.Lt Cdr Conor Kirwan, commanding officer of L.É. Orla, said “The Naval Service strives to provide all personnel with the opportunity for personal development and associated professional experience in order to realise their full potential during their time in Service.“TheMathsTutor.ie system will give people who have not completed Leaving Cert Maths the opportunity to complete this milestone exam for their own development. It will also open up new career avenues for them as Leaving Cert Maths is a key requirement for entry into Naval Service apprenticeship programmes and for certain promotions.”The system is being rolled out initially on L.É. Orla, with the expectation that other ships will follow suit the following year. TheMathsTutor.ie the Leaving Certificate course will be used by navy personnel who are completing their sea rotation on board ship in their own time instead of waiting for their shore rotation and attending a traditional college.Eamonn Toland, founder of TheMathsTutor.ie, said “We are very proud to be chosen to provide maths e-learning support to the Irish Naval Service. This is an organisation which places a high value on mathematical ability and problem-solving skills to fulfil its mission, and which is very willing to invest in appropriate training for its personnel.”Initially supporting individual students, there are currently more than 4000 secondary school students and teachers using the e-learning resource.In its latest phase of development, TheMathsTutor.ie is now extending its reach through licencing to schools and other organisations including the Irish Naval Service.Toland concluded by saying “The aims of the new Project Maths syllabus are to develop problem-solving skills, to relate maths to everyday experience, and to explore real-life applications of maths. The work of the Naval Service is a wonderful illustration of all of these aspects of maths. We are delighted to support Naval Service personnel in acquiring and building these skills, and to obtain the qualifications required for career progression.” DONEGAL MATHS BUFF KEEPING IRISH NAVY STUDYING AT SEA was last modified: May 27th, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:CarndonaghEamonn TolandIrish Navymathslast_img read more

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Movie draws public – and pirates

first_imgElvis (Kenneth Nkosi) and Tumi (Rapulana Seiphemo) on the road in the Eastern Cape in this still from White Wedding.(Image: White Wedding) Kenneth Nkosi, Jann Turner Rapulana Seiphemo together formed Stepping Stone Pictures to produce White Wedding. (Image: Stepping Stone Pictures)Samson MulugetaFind out more about using MediaClubSouthAfrica.com materialSouth Africa’s new comedy film White Wedding has been such an unexpected hit on local screens it has already attracted the interest of DVD pirates – but the film-makers are fighting back.Six weeks after its launch, White Wedding – best described as a road-and-buddy movie – is still on the local cinema circuit, drawing record numbers of viewers and competing strongly with Hollywood blockbusters produced with budgets hundreds of times more.That is a remarkable achievement, according to the local film industry. Normally, exhibitors are quite unsentimental in removing films that don’t perform well.“Usually, a local film lasts a week, and sometimes two,” said Jam Kaunda, a Johannesburg-based director and writer of Proof Positive, a romantic comedy.  “I’m impressed that White Wedding is still showing after more than a month.”White Wedding tells of two friends – the dependable Elvis (Kenneth Nkosi) and womanising Tumi (Rapulana Seiphemo) – as they drive through the Eastern Cape to Cape Town for Elvis’s wedding to the beautiful Ayanda. Their journey doesn’t go smoothly, as along the way they have a series of mishaps and run into a variety of characters, from a young British doctor who is fleeing her fiancé, to gun-toting white farmers.Nkosi and Seiphemo also helped finance the movie, forming production company Stepping Stone Pictures in partnership with Turner.The film hasn’t done better than the Leon Schuster franchise, a slapstick comedy model that always draws the crowds. But it’s outperformed other South African films – including the Oscar-winning Tsotsi.“In our opening weekend we were hoping to come in a comfortable third behind Tsotsi and Jerusalema, which had been the most successful non-Schusters to date,” said Jann Turner, the director of White Wedding.“By Sunday night we switched off our cell phones because they were ringing off the hook with compliments from friends and fans. Monday morning it was clear that we’d taken double Tsotsi’s opening weekend and quadrupled Jerusalema’s take. We came in at number three at the nationwide box office – behind Wolverine at one and Hannah Montana at two.”Coincidentally, Wolverine was directed by South African Gavin Hood, the director of Tsotsi.“That’s pretty amazing, that we came in so close to two movies with monster budgets and established brands,” said Turner. “We’re still in the top 10, but by our sixth weekend we were down at number seven.”Turner said that the film had done well in cinemas that draw very different demographics, from upmarket Sandton to Sterland, Cresta, Southgate, Montecasino, Maponya Mall in Soweto, and Key West in Roodepoort.“We’ve done well in all those places. So we’re pulling in an audience that varies widely across race, age, gender and class.”On the fourth weekend at Soweto’s Maponya Mall, White Wedding accounted for 50% of the total take at the box office even though the film was only one of eight movies showing in the Ster-Kinekor Theatres there, Turner said.Again with the exception of Leon Schuster films, most South African movies lose money.“We have tried to pay everyone and also to keep costs down,” Turner said. So we have spent about R6-million [US$740 000] on everything – from script development to marketing and digital prints“It looks like we are going to recoup that amount and that we’ll be able to pay our investor back.  That’s through local sales – cinema, pay TV, DVD, airline TV, regular TV. Anything we make after that we get to keep a part of – obviously our investor will take a chunk of the profit in return for his risk.“But still, it is possible that Stepping Stone Pictures will see some money from this some time down the line.  And that’s pretty amazing.”She added: “So – in retrospect – we look very clever. And people are talking about White Wedding as a model local film. In truth – at the time – we just tried very hard to keep our ownership structure simple, our costs down and to make the best possible film. “This success is despite the fact that White Wedding has drawn the attention of copyright pirates, with counterfeit DVD copies of the film being spotted in Johannesburg and Cape Town in the past few weeks.The filmmakers first learned that the film was pirated when film’s editor, Tanja Hagen, who lives in Cape Town, was told by her office cleaner how much she enjoyed White Wedding. It turned out the cleaner had not seen the movie in theatres, but watched a pirated DVD.The filmmakers reported the incident to the South African Federation Against Copyright Theft. The federation soon conducted simultaneous raids at train stations and taxi ranks in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria and confiscated thousands of pirated DVDs, known in local slang as “fong kongs.” Among the DVDs were copies of White Wedding.Actor Kenneth Nkosi was stepping into his bank in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, when he was approached by a man offering him an array of DVDs. The pirate realised too late that the man he’d approached bore a striking resemblance to the guy in one of the movies he was peddling.When Nkosi asked the hawker for a copy of White Wedding, the man shook his head and started to back away – but not before Nkosi landed a punch.According to Turner, Nkosi was furious.“Kenneth is a producer of the movie, one of its stars and also owes 25% of the R6-million we borrowed to make the movie,” she said. “He was naturally a bit upset at the idea of someone making money from his hard work. And of course Kenneth knows that we still have this huge amount to pay back to our investor.”The filmmakers scrambled to film public service announcements denouncing DVD piracy, posting them on Zoopy.com, one of South Africa’s most popular video sharing websites.In one of the announcements, actor Rapulana Seiphemo, sitting on a director’s chair at the Joubert Street taxi rank in Johannesburg, looks straight at the camera and appeals to film fans not to buy pirated copies.“If you buy pirated DVDs, not only are you denying me the opportunity to make more movies but you are also denying yourself the opportunity to be entertained by me in the future,” he says. “Please do not buy pirated DVDs. Stop it. It’s not funny.”Turner said the economics of making films is so precarious that a pirated DVD being peddled on the streets could be financially devastating.  A big part of the problem is that average people don’t understand the impact of buying illegal copies. “I think that’s a big part of the problem – people don’t think of it as stealing,” she said.“Imagine we came over to your house, took your TV, your computer, your microwave and your shoes and then set up a stall at the market near the Joubert Street taxi rank and sold your things.”It’s clearly a personal issue for Turner and the other producers, who have all risked their own money on the venture.“This is our baby we worked damn hard to make the film,” she said. “We borrowed huge amounts of money from our investor we took enormous risks and it’s nice to get a bit of glory and good reviews.“It’s really, really cool when people go see it and they pay money to do that – which allows us to pay back our investor and this shows that movies are worth investing in which allows us to raise money for our next movie.”Another part of the problem, Turner says, is the pricing of authentic DVDs.“The pirates have this big advantage – their price is very low,” she said. “I think a pirated DVD costs R30. The genuine DVD goes for around R100. So part of the problem in South Africa is that authorised DVDs cost more than most people can afford. We have to take that on board and try to come up with a strategy and solution.”In a developing country like South Africa, the film industry may have to look at ways of providing low-cost DVDs.“There is much talk in the industry of setting up a distribution network of no-frills DVDs that are good quality and authorised versions that would compete with the pirates,” said Turner.“The problem is that so far no one has put in the capital to make that happen. It’s risky because it involves competing with the vast informal sector. But it has to happen soon.“Stepping Stone would love to take part in that. So perhaps that will be one of our next ventures.”Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Mary Alexander at marya@mediaclubsouthafrica.comRelated articlesTop honours for SA movie African film awards honour SA Gavin Hood – from Tsotsi to X-Men Bang Bang Club lives on in film Hollywood studio for Cape Town Cape Town: Africa’s Hollywood Useful linksWhite Wedding official siteStepping Stone Pictures South African Federation Against Copyright Theft Anti-piracy videos on Zoopylast_img read more

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