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Zimbabwe’s Broken Websites: Telecoms Operators

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This article is the first in a series of “Zimbabwe’s Broken Websites” articles. Links to future articles will be inserted at the bottom of the post. Last week, we posted an article titled “Zimbabwean Business Should Take Its Internet Image Seriously” in which we criticized Zimbabwean business for a sluggish approach to building an online image that matched (or better still, helped to up) its success offline. we promised to go over some ‘big company’ sites and point out some of the most glaring errors on them.

This is not about poor site design, it’s about broken functionality. we don’t have a problem with how ugly a site looks, the links should work, the forms should work, and the information shouldn’t sell out that you haven’t updated it in ages; it should be online…. So here goes:

Telecel, www.telecel.co.zw

The contact form is dead. When you click submit it gives a “page cannot be found error” on http://hepta.designat7.co.zw/form_mail/formmail.php. Looks like the developers of the site, Design@7 do form processing on Telecel’s behalf. The Design@7 website itself has the Telecel website on their portfolio with “Check out the new Telecel website, its fresh and exciting…” well, and not working. Design@7, we know you’re among the best web design (especially flash based ones) companies Zimbabwe has, this kind of stuff right here needs your immediate attention. If it’s not within your powers to do anything, ask Telecel to take your name off the site. And Telecel, please, you’re bigger than this.

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Econet, www.econet.co.zw

While the tariffs links on the homepage all work, on all other pages the menu bar at the top has two separate ‘Tariffs’ links placed next to each other. See picture below. The first ‘Tarrifs’ link points to http://www.econet.co.zw/inside.aspx?pid=17 a blank page. The second one points to a pdf file, http://www.econet.co.zw/document_files/tariffs/TariffJune2006.pdf from days gone by. The file itself doesn’t exist anymore.

The “Investor relations” link which points to http://www.b2i.us/irpass.asp?BzID=1685&to=cp&Nav=0&S=0&L=1&ID=9346 on the homepage is the only one that works. All other “Investor relations” links are broken and point to a non-existent http://www.econet.co.zw/inside.aspx?pid=thecurrentpageIDhere# .

The network coverage map on http://www.econet.co.zw/inside.aspx?pid=21 is a whopping 918KB and the reason is no mystery, it’s a bitmap image. It naturally is nightmare to download the image on a typical Zimbabwean Internet connection. Converting it to jpeg will easily reduce the image’s size by 90%.

Econet World, www.econetworld.co.zw

This website was launched when Econet launched 3G services. Arguably one of the slowest local websites we‘ve visited in the last few months, the website has three articles in its news section. One of the three is an article pulled word for word right out of http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/aug/27/nokia-n900-launch and the ‘author’ forgot to mention his source, a cardinal sin in news matters. Another article was pulled from http://www.samsung.com/us/consumer/mobile/mobile-phones/verizon-wireless-phones/SCH-U960ZSAVZW/index.idx?pagetype=prd_detail again with no mention of the source.

ZOL, www.zol.co.zw

One of the fastest sites we’ve visited recently. To be fair the site is mostly functional. Except for a link that says “ZOL Virus centre”. It links to http://www.tucows.com/?_mid=000006618 a Tucows page that has nothing to do with ZOL or viruses. It’s not clear what the ZOL Chat page was meant for. Clicking on the link produces a red-all-over ‘Could not connect to database!’ error. We’re told it’s been like this for a while.

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TelOne, www.telone.co.zw

Their VSAT tariffs page has Zimbabwean dollar prices. Zimbabwe switched to the US dollar a year ago. We told them about this through their contacts page two weeks ago, so seeing it’s not changed yet, somebody sure is sleeping on the job. The internet tariffs link on all pages is broken.

POTRAZ www.potraz.gov.zw

The Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) website has been offline for a few months now. Somebody just flipped the switch off on it and forgot to advise us why. Something like “Our website is currently offline because we’re reconstructing it” would have helped.

TELCO Internet, www.telco.co.zw

The Intranet Log-in link gives a Joomla ‘site is temporarily unavailable” page. The poll “Do you think internet access at home is neccessary?” has been running since 07 August 2007. The ‘Latest Projects’ page hasn’t been updated since 07 August 2007. Why the webmaster chose to leave the Joomla ‘date’ and ‘author’ tags intact to tell this is baffling. More pages reveal this site was put online on 07 August 2007 and no one has been back to update it since.

Africom, www.afri-com.com

Africom don’t date their news articles. For example, their article Africom brings fast wireless broadband to Chitungwiza doesn’t say when the article was posted. Without a date it’s hard to figure out when Africom ‘brought fast wireless broadband to Chitungwiza’. They’d do good to replace the Joomla fav icon with an Africom logo. Clicking on the “Technologies” link from anywhere on the site takes you to a blank page. Same thing happens with the Network Monitoring link. Somebody forgot to upload the pdf refrenced by a link on the site http://www.afri-com.com/images/stories/domain_transfer_letter.pdf

Ecoweb, www.ecoweb.co.zw

Mostly fine except for some strange reason, ISPs love that Joomla fav icon and prefer it to their logo.

PowerTel, www.powertel.co.zw

The url redirects to http://www.powertel.co.zw/webmail/index.php, a webmail interface for presumably Powertel employees. I’m not sure what Powertel’s official web address is but logic says they should put it here.

Net*One, www.netone.co.zw

I can’t access the Net*One website today. It’s unavailable. We hope this is just a momentary glitch to be fixed shortly.

I will try to communicate with the owners of the sites to tell them about this so they can fix it. Let’s revisit the same sites after 2 months just to check if the most obvious stuff has been fixed. Again, if you have more examples of such clearly avoidable and fixable issues please share below.


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7 thoughts on “Zimbabwe’s Broken Websites: Telecoms Operators

  1. hey dusty,
    thanks for bringing that to everyone’s attention. We think if people continue to talk about it, the owners of the websites will get serious and address the issues.

    We’re working on a follow-up article to this one.

  2. Webdev, who is supposed to be one of the best web design companies in Zim (lmao) has a website that is ugly and barely works.

    Don’t get me started on africom, ecoweb, econet…Pretty much every site in Zim doesn’t work.

    How are we paying ISPs for internet when they can’t even get a proper website themselves. No wonder the state of Zim internet is so bad

  3. This is one subject that bothers me everyday, If the websites are working there is no interactiveness, its like reading a newspaper any moving thing is flash or gif and its bad.

  4. This is a good article, put up a few more companies maybe you can force them to act.

    And also simple things as changing favicons, put highlighters as to how simply it can be accomplished. Maybe some of the administrators runnings these things have no idea.

  5. I do not suppose companies like design/development companies like webdev invest much resource on proper interaction design and user testing. And that is where it is all going wrong. 
    Also given that the majority of the population is accessing the web via the mobile platform you’d be forgiven for assuming that the majority of websites have a ‘mobile first’ offering. If you are on a mobile you’re stuffed…

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