The creator economy is a dynamic landscape where technology and innovation will continue to play a crucial role in shaping its future. As we move forward, creators, platforms, policymakers, and stakeholders must work together to ensure a sustainable, equitable, and secure environment for creators to thrive.
While challenges certainly exist, the creator economy harbours the immense potential for positive societal impact. Through proactive strategies that address key concerns and encourage meaningful collaboration, we can cultivate a future where this economic model not only flourishes but actively enriches the lives and well-being of individuals and communities.
Finding Balance Between Control and Creation
Telecommunications play a pivotal role in the burgeoning creative economy by enabling the exchange of ideas, information and content. While these present exciting opportunities, they also pose challenges that necessitate a delicate balance between control and creation to ensure inclusivity and sustainability.
- Defining and Measuring the Impact: Diverse stakeholders, from artists to policymakers, hold contrasting priorities - cultural value versus economic growth and job creation. This lack of consensus hinders the development of a common definition and accurate impact measurement, especially in emerging economies like Nepal, where data scarcity hampers assessments.
- Traditional Barriers: Limited understanding of international markets, complex regulations, and lack of connection to international buyers pose significant challenges for Nepali creators seeking integration into global value chains.
- Precarious Conditions for MSMEs: The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) report estimates that Nepal's Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) employ more than 2.7 million people. While they create millions of jobs, they often face instability and lack adequate funding and support. While government initiatives exist, they may be insufficient. Building connections with international collaborators and platforms is crucial for creative MSMEs to gain recognition and reach new markets.
- Limited Infrastructure and Digital Divide: With only 51.6% of the population having internet access, primarily in urban areas, uneven access limits audience reach and hampers engagement due to slow speeds, unreliable connections, and high data costs. Moreover, a digital literacy divide prevents many talented creators from navigating online platforms effectively, exacerbating accessibility issues compounded by high data prices and limited access to affordable devices.
- Evolving Social Media Regulations: Uncertain social media regulations and platform biases further impede diversity and opportunities for niche creators, while balancing free speech with online safety remains a crucial but challenging endeavour.
- Limited Space for Vulnerable Groups: Women, youth, and other marginalized communities may struggle to fully participate in the creative economy due to social and economic barriers.
- Culture-centric approach: Focusing on local heritage can drive bottom-up development and sustainable growth. For instance, community-driven tourism like Ghale Gaun (Nepal) and The Maori Tourism Industry (NZ) empower rural communities to create unique tourism experiences that are both respectful and economically beneficial. This leads to cultural revitalization and economic growth in rural areas.
- Linkages and diversification: Building connections between creative subsectors and other economic sectors can create new opportunities and inclusivity.
- Green economy: With eco-conscious clothing like Upcycle Nepal and innovative waste management solutions like Doko Recyclers, Nepal's creative economy is providing its potential to be a game-changer in the sustainability game. These businesses are seamlessly weaving together environmental responsibility and consumer choices, showcasing the immense potential of creativity to bridge the gap towards a greener future.
- Youth engagement: Empowering young people through interactive training, awareness programs, and project implementation can unlock their potential and drive positive change. The Bagmati River Basin case study (refer to Chapter 18) demonstrates the power of youth engagement in driving positive change, serving as a valuable model for future initiatives.
By addressing these challenges and capitalizing on the available opportunities, Nepal can foster a thriving and inclusive creative economy that empowers its people and contributes to a more sustainable future.
Key Areas for Collaboration:
Here are some proposed key areas for collaboration to address these challenges and unlock the full potential of the Nepali content landscape:
Cultural Sensitivity in Content Moderation
- Develop culturally informed guidelines: Partner with local communities, language experts, and content creators to establish content moderation guidelines that respect Nepali cultural nuances and diverse perspectives. This helps avoid insensitive algorithmic interventions and promotes a more inclusive online environment.
- Prioritize transparency and accountability: Implement transparent oversight mechanisms for content moderation decisions, allowing creators to appeal unfair removals and fostering trust in online platforms.
Bridging the Cybersecurity Divide
- Equip creators with skills and tools: Organize cybersecurity awareness workshops and provide resources on secure password management, multi-factor authentication, data encryption, and backup practices. This empowers creators to protect their data and intellectual property.
- Collaborate with cybersecurity experts: Establish partnerships with cybersecurity experts to develop localized threat awareness campaigns and offer targeted digital hygiene consultations to vulnerable creators.
Building a Sustainable Economic Model
- Champion fair compensation: Advocate for transparent revenue-sharing models and fair payment structures for creators across platforms. Explore alternative monetization mechanisms like micro-patronage and direct creator-supported initiatives.
- Address diversity and inclusion: Promote initiatives that support diverse voices and perspectives in the creator community. Provide training and mentorship opportunities for creators from marginalized groups to access resources and build successful careers.
Empowering Creators with Technology
- Bridge the digital divide: Ensure access to affordable internet and digital technologies across the country, including remote regions, to level the playing field for creators across geographical boundaries.
- Facilitate skills development: Organize workshops and training programs on digital tools, editing software, and creative technologies relevant to various content formats. This equips creators with the skills to produce high-quality content and compete globally.
Fostering a Vibrant Tech Ecosystem
- Support tech startups: Provide funding, mentorship, and incubation services to Nepali tech startups developing content creation tools and platforms tailored to the local context. This fosters innovation and strengths the country's technological infrastructure.
- Promote knowledge sharing: Organize conferences, hackathons, and networking events to connect creators, tech developers, investors, and policymakers. This facilitates knowledge exchange, sparks creative collaboration, and drives the growth of the creative tech sector.
Navigating Regulations and Responsibility
On the policy front, the introduction of the Social Media Management Guidelines 2023 aims to regulate content on platforms like Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube. While the intention is noble - curbing fake content and hate speech - concerns linger about the potential overreach that could stifle freedom of expression.
This directive brings extensive regulations to control content and promote self-regulation, targeting fake content, hate speech, and harmful content.
Social Media Regulations in Nepal aim to:
- Curb Fake IDs/pages/groups & manipulation of content.
- Promote self-regulation by platforms & users.
- Regulate hate speech & harmful content.
- Ambiguous definitions (obscenity, trolling, etc) may lead to the misuse of the laws.
- Restrictions on digital creation may go beyond legal norms.
- Vague provisions concerning comments & monitoring.
Mandatory Registration for Platforms:
- Platforms with >100,000 users must register with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology within 3 months of Nov 10, 2023.
- Unlisted platforms may be barred.
- Platforms must update their registration information every 3 years.
- Platforms involving financial transactions must comply with Nepal's legal and financial framework.
- Social media platforms must set up a contact centre in Nepal to handle user grievances.
- The government created the "Social Network Management Unit" to handle complaints, address unresolved issues, advocate for best practices, and facilitate research and dialogue.
- Platforms are required to remove violating content within 24 hours.
- Fact-checking & compliance with the "Santa Clara Principle" mandated.
- Avoid content harming Nepal's sovereignty, unity, etc.
- Abstain from posting/sharing content disrupting social harmony.
- Do not participate in hate speech based on class, caste, etc.
- Platforms must establish a physical presence in Nepal through a local office or appoint a designated focal person.
- Platforms must protect user's privacy and avoid unauthorized data use.
- Financial transactions are facilitated through the banking system.
- A legal basis for penalties exists in the Electronic Transactions Act.
A "Social Network Management Unit" will be established within the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology to oversee platform registration and compliance.
Overall, the regulations aim to create a responsible and secure online environment in Nepal. Despite these efforts, the regulations have faced criticism for being overly restrictive and potentially stifling freedom of expression.
Looking Ahead: Nurturing Nepal's Creative Future
The government's commitment to bridging the digital divide is evident in initiatives like expanding 4G coverage and broadband access across local levels. Communication Minister Rekha Sharma emphasizes the importance of these efforts, alongside private sector investments, in creating a more connected Nepal where creators in every corner can flourish.
As Nepal navigates a changing landscape, three key actions are crucial:
Empowering Local Creators
The creator economy encompasses various knowledge-based economic activities like arts, design, entertainment, and media, which hold immense potential in accelerating human development. It empowers individuals to take ownership of their own development and stimulates the innovation that can drive inclusive, sustainable growth.
Fostering International Collaboration
Nepal's rich cultural heritage and thriving arts scene provide opportunities for international collaboration. For instance, the Kathmandu International Film Festival has become a significant global event, attracting filmmakers and audiences worldwide. It provides a platform for Nepali filmmakers, artists, and other creators to showcase their work to a global audience and foster increased recognition, opportunities for collaboration, and potential funding for future projects.
Nurturing the Burgeoning Creator Economy
By harnessing creators' knowledge, creativity and cultural diversity, we can bridge gaps between art, culture, technology, and business in rural and urban areas. This creates opportunities for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and employment for women, youth, and other marginalized groups.
A well-nurtured creator economy can be an invaluable resource for structural economic transformation, social progress, job creation, and innovation, all while promoting inclusivity and sustainable development. This presents a golden opportunity for policymakers, researchers, and stakeholders to drive Nepal's robust and inclusive post-pandemic recovery.
Amidst changes, it is essential to rally behind Nepali talent, explore the diverse content landscape, and advocate for a creator-friendly environment. By supporting local creators, we can contribute to a vibrant and sustainable creative economy, painting a bright future for Nepal.
- Online Khabar
- Upcycle Nepal
- Doko Recyclers
- The Kathmandu Post
- Digital 2023: Nepal
- Creative Economy 2030
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