The fight against music piracy will be one of the topics discussed next week at the first conference for the various sectors of the South African music industry.

JOHANNESBURG -- The fight against music piracy will be one of the topics discussed next week at the first conference for the various sectors of the South African music industry.

Moshito '04 -- named after a Sepedi word from the province of Northern Sotho meaning "beat" or "rhythm" -- will bring together for the first time all music-related organizations in the country, as well as the Department of Arts and Culture. They will take part in a public/private initiative to tackle pressing issues facing the domestic music industry.

The conference is set for July 21-23 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. It is organized by Moshito Music Conference and Exhibition, a non-profit company established to stage the planned annual event.

Nick Motsatse, chairperson of Moshito, describes the conference as "the first step toward achieving unity on a number of challenges facing the music industry. These include ways of penetrating the global music market, perhaps through an Export Council; the urgent need for social welfare for musicians; and of course, unifying the industry in the ever-increasing fight against music piracy."

Among the organizations on the board of Moshito Music Conference and Exhibition are the Recording Industry of South Africa, the Southern African Music Rights Organization, the South African Recording Rights Assn., the South African Music Promoters Assn., the National Organisation for Reproduction Rights in Music in Southern Africa, the South African Roadies Assn. and the Musicians Union of South Africa.

Key speaker at the event will be Dr. Pallo Jordan, the newly appointed Minister of Arts and Culture, who is expected to address the role the music industry will play during his five-year tenure. In a statement, Jordan expresses his support for Moshito, which he describes as an "important initiative which will, as a public/private partnership, assist in shaping the South African music industry to the benefit of all stakeholders."

Other speakers will include Keith Donald of Irish performing-rights societies IMRO and MCPSI; Jean- Fran?ois Michel, secretary general of the European Music Office in Brussels and director of Bureau Export de la Musique Francaise and Jeremy Fabini of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers.

National speakers will include Justice Albie Sachs of the South African Constitutional Court and kwaito musician Kabelo Mabelane.

Organizers say the intention of Moshito '04 is to come up with action plans to be implemented before the 2005 conference.