Last week a lot of discussions on tech came out of Victoria Falls when it hosted the Innovation Africa Digital Summit (IAD). That’s pretty common; the resort town is the go-to destination when we want to charm and disarm any army of international delegates at a conference.
Besides the summit itself, the other tech highlight was the announcement by Liquid Telecoms that it was introducing Fibre to the Home in the resort town. In fact, delegates at the IAD Summit were using a Liquid Fibre connection.
It’s not surprising then that other operators were parading their services. As an example, TelOne, the fixed mobile network operator that has gone all out to morph into an Internet services company, made its WiFi hotspot service available.
This is a pretty standard marketing strategy especially if you have a service that is meant to go national. You boost it on the back of a huge tech conference which will help distinguish your brand to every decision maker in the vicinity.
Prior to the official launch of the TelOne WiFi hotspots for the Harare area, Victoria Falls was the first municipal area to receive this service in 2013 for the UNWTO General Assembly. It was on a promotional basis with low rates designed for the duration of the UNWTO conference.
Now its 2015 and these TelOne WiFi hotspots as well as the Fibre to the Home promise from Liquid make Victoria Falls a recipient of two broadband services that haven’t been introduced anywhere else in Zimbabwe besides the capital city.
Besides the conferences that served as forerunners for the introduction of these services, there’s a lot of reasoning behind this.
As a tourist destination, (and Zimbabwe’s leading destination at that) the town of Victoria Falls has a high concentration of businesses. Most of the businesses’ clients use the internet liberally and as tourists, they are expected to pay for it willingly. That’s a winning formula for anyone trying to sell internet services.
Is this enough to make Victoria Falls a local hub for technology in the near future? It’s hard to say yes or no to that really, which is something we discussed in our most recent Techzim podcast. But before startups flock to Matebeleland North, there are other things to consider such as cost of living and proximity to other business services.
Still, it does make it interesting to note how one town can become a potential tech business centre if the right utilities are made available. Perhaps internet service providers should consider doing that for Bulawayo. Who knows, with the right services, plus its strong tech heritage (kudos to NUST) It just might turn into ZImbabwe’s tech centre.