Yesterday, the state owned daily published an article titled “Low Tariffs Affect Parastatals Infrastructure”. You can find it here. The article mentions Air Zimbabwe, Agribank, National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, Cold Storage Company, Grain Marketing Board and TelOne in a list of state companies that registered interim losses of up to 46.4 million to October last year.
As I take a look at the local mobile application emerging market and use of cell phones, I will start by warning our mobile operators that their business can be easily shrunk by highlighting the threat in Bill Gates and Craig Mundie statements. “PC is the phone and phone is the PC.”and “People in those rural environments are already buying computers. They happen to call them cell phones.”
Zimbabweans have started many blogs on the internet. Some are hosted on Blogspot, some on WordPress, and some on independent blogs. The blogger keep the Internet relevant for Zimbabweans. We decided we’d just list some of the great blogs here.
News tips we’re getting are all suggesting strongly that Internet Access Providers (IAPs), Africom and Valley Technologies will be launching mobile phone networks soon. “Soon” here could ofcourse mean anything from a couple of weeks (at best) to a few months. We’re guessing, from what we know so far, the most would be 2 months.
We had an exclusive interview with ForgetMeNot Africa’s Chief Operating Officer, Jeremy George. We discussed the Message Optimiser (MO), the company’s flagship product. We also discussed its implementation on mobile networks in Africa and the SMS traffic the system processes. At the end of the interview, George give us his opinion on mobile solution trends in Africa especially for basic mobile phones and how he sees tech entrepreneurship in the mobile space.
Local ICT solutions company, Frolgate Technology, will on Monday 11 April 2011 host a Cisco Innovation Tour event in Harare at the Meikles hotel. The event is targeted at ICT and business executives.
A local start-up, TechTribe, has released the first beta version of a virus protection program it’s calling Viral Suppressor. The software is available for free download on www.vs.co.zw, and TechTribe is encouraging visitors to download and try the software.
It happens all the time; a comfortable status quo gets disrupted by new convenient ways to go about doing everyday things. For people benefiting from the status quo, this usually means having to somehow find a way to play the new game. But dealing with change when it threatens your livelihood is not always an easy task.
Of the new electronic classifieds platforms to emerge in Zimbabwe’s during the past few years, Dipleague and classifieds.co.zw stand out and have achieved relative success to Zimbabwean internet users. It’s common knowledge in Zimbabwe that to get some meaningful response for a classifieds advert you cannot afford to ignore the 2 platforms. And unlike traditional newspaper classifieds posting adverts on these platforms is free.
In what Safaricom is referring to as “the largest deal of its kind in the world”, M-PESA subscribers in Kenya will now be able to receive international Western Union remittances on their mobile phones. With a total of 13.5 million subscribers on the M-PESA platform, the development is a big milestone for both Safaricom and Western Union. The Safaricom/Western Union alliance will see Kenyans receive remittances from 45 countries and territories. “No other Kenya operator can receive money from as many countries”, Safaricom boasted in a release.
Google Africa has announced that it will be opening an office in Zimbabwe in the coming months. The office will be in located in Harare and will become one of Google’s biggest offices in Sub-Saharan Africa after Kenya and South Africa. Zimbabwe, Google says, with one of the highest literacy rate in Africa, is a priority location for the web giant. “Zimbabwe has experienced significant growth and stability in the past 2 years. It’s a priority location for us. Rather than stand aside and wait, we’d like to be part of that growth” Google said in the announcement.
The Harare-Mozambique TelOne backbone fibre is now live. The state owned fixed telecoms operator has announced that the cable now links the state owned fixed operator to the East African Submarine System (EASSy) undersea cable through Mozambique. TelOne has taken up initial capacity of 2.48 Gbps (16 x STM-1s) and according to the company the expectation is that this will grow to 15 Gbps in the next 10 years.
Seacom this week admitted that its submarine fibre cable that landed on the east Africa coast in July 2009, “has had challenges since inception”. The statement was made by Seacom’s head of business development, Aidan Baigriecable. The admission comes as Seacom considers buying backup undersea fibre capacity from other submarine fibre cable operators.
If you’ve been following the usual non-technology issues that dog Telecel Zimbabwe, you will remember that some two weeks ago, the suspended Telecel acting chairperson, Jane Mutasa, accused the mobile operator of ‘unprocedurally’ awarding tenders to foreign companies at the expense of equally capable local businesses. The tenders, according to Mutasa, are mostly awarded to companies in Ireland, Mauritius, South Africa, Dubai and Egypt. Mutasa also accused Telecel of breaching the country’s laws by continuing to consult exiled businessman, James Makamba, on key decisions affecting the local operations. The accusations were made before the Media and Communication Parliamentary Portfolio Committee which is looking into Telecel operations.
When the mobile registration deadline expired last month, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) conceded to a one month grace period before mobile operators start disconnecting unregistered subscribers. The grace period expires tomorrow. As it approaches, Econet has started issuing warnings through the press to subscribers that come the end of the 31st, any unregistered line will be taken offline.
The EASSy cable, in which local state owned fixed operator TelOne has a stake through WIOCC, has had its design capacity upgraded to 4.72 Tbps. According to the West Indian Ocean Cable Company, the upgrade makes EASSy by far the highest capacity submarine cable on the east African coast. The recent capacity upgrade follows another upgrade to 3.84 Tbps made to the cable in August last year. The EASSy cable was launched in July 2010 with an initial design capacity of 1.42 Tbps.
A little more than 3 weeks ago, we reported that Econet was working to launch eTXT, an application that allows you to communicate seamlessly with Email, Chat, and social networks through basic SMS. The service was live when we posted the article but you could only access it if you knew it existed.
There’s a growing reappearance of value added services (VAS) on the local mobile networks. Entrepreneurs are seeing this and you can see the increasing number of adverts in the local press like the current itllusion mobiplay one which reads:
Over the past few months, information in the ICT sector has been suggesting Zimbabwean mobile operators are working to get RIM’s BlackBerry services on the local networks. Reports like this one on Telecel we did in December last year. It’s not clear how much progress Telecel has made seeing the engineer said to be working on the Blackberry project ran into some nasty problems with Zim’s immigration authorities in January.
Nairobi’s Business Daily has reported that a Kenyan technology start-up incubator, Nairobi incubation Labs (NaiLabs) is due to be launched in May this year. Kenya has in the past few years attracted the attention of start-up seeking out talent and ideas to invest in. NaiLabs is Kenya’s fourth technology start-up incubator in just 2 years. Existing incubators are FabLab, Strathmore University's iLab Africa, and the widely known iHub.
Telecel Zimbabwe has just revealed to Techzim that it’s working with Zimswitch Mobile to include more banks on its mobile banking platform. Telecel launched the Skwama mobile banking services in January this year but only provided the service to subscribers banking with Zimbabwe’s Kingdom Bank.
Pastel Software Zimbabwe will launch two upgraded versions of Pastel Evolution this year. Version 6.60 will be launched in Zimbabwe in July and Version 6.70 in October, participants in a series of seminars held in Harare were told. The seminars, which focused chiefly on Pastel Evolution and various applications of Evolution, such as Branch Accounting, Retail Point of Sale and Municipal Billing, were held on March 8 and 9.
South African tech entrepreneurs today just got a huge opportunity to have their startups jump started by Google. The global tech giant has announced the launch of its first technology startup incubator in South Africa. The incubator is called Umbono and is based in Cape Town. Google is working with Silicon Cape Initiative, a community of South Africa tech entrepreneurs and the Bandwidth Barn, a Cape Town based ICT business incubator. Umbono is open to all South African residents and is currently open to applications for its first round of incubation. Here are some excerpts of the Google blog post:
Zimbabweans and Mozambicans, according to Google Insights for Search, are searching for the term “Libya” a lot more than other search terms on Google. Google Insights for Search is a tool to analyse the search trends on Google domains world over. The tool computes the number of searches done for given search terms relative to the total number of searches done on the popular search engine over time.