1,223,947 that is the total number of people in Zimbabwe who have some form of Internet access, whether at home, the office, Internet Café or by mobile. This is the finding of the ZAMPS (Zimbabwe All Media Products and Services Survey) of Q4 2011. Let’s call this group the Online Group.
The other group which we shall call the Blackout Group (like in ZESA blackout) is 5,5 million strong. Bandwidth, or more accurately the access to bandwidth is the passport to the Information age and its humbling to realise that such a huge mass of Zimbabweans, comprising 82% of ZAMPS total population of 6.7 million have no access whatsoever to the Internet.
The research is commissioned by the Zimbabwe Advertising Research Foundation (ZARF) which is made up of various media companies and stakeholders.
Lets look at some of the salient points of the survey
The single leading use of the Internet by Zimbabweans is for communication purposes. This may be for personal or business purposes. Virtually every member of the Online Group lists this form of Internet use a figure that comes to 1,1 million. Not bad.
This is probably one of the reasons a service such as Dipleague has consistently been popular. Contrast this with Banking Transactions/ Shopping + Purchasing which given the convenience promised comprise some of the least conducted activities online with only 14,212 listing this.
It seems there are no compelling reasons for most people to buy products online. Given that making payments by say Mastercard is a recent development we may see an uptick of this figure in future. Hopefully some bright spark comes up with an e-commerce.
I’m sure Zimbabweans are ready to adopt e-commerce in a more robust manner if there is a compelling reason to do so. I recall the days when Zimbabwean’s were burning money. One time I went to a local Internet café and to my surprise I found there was a long queue outside the café as people waited to access machines. As it turns out smart punters where using the Internet banking facilities of their bank to conduct online transfers of funds. External market conditions had provided a compelling reason for users to adopt online banking tools, which had been idle all along.
This is the challenge for e-commerce providers to make the experience of banking or shopping online so compelling that the market migrates possibly en masse as in the cited example, to use their online service.
Taking a look Zimbabwe’s most popular websites shows a remarkable gap in popularity between foreign and local websites. The following are the numbers of people listing each website out of the Digital Group (1,2 million). Results are normalised:
The sheer disparity between usage of local sites and foreign ones is jaw dropping. It shows the lack of brand recognition that local sites suffer from
Here are some quick takes from the ZAMPS results:
A decent directory please
Can someone please make a compelling online phone directory. Telephone directories and yellow pages are so yesterday, literally. Only 23,642 out of 6,7 million people will have checked a telephone directory in the last 24 hours. So does this mean that people don’t want to use telephone directories or there are no directories? Not sure. But I think it’s reasonable to surmise that the basic functionality of looking for a phone number and address is still relevant.
The same can be said of classifieds. These are the low hanging fruit of the Internet yet there is not a single compelling, comprehensive, up-to-date product available out there. I’m sure like many people I have been frustrated by the lack of a great online product in this area. Recently I was frantically looking for the contacts of a IT consulting company. Shock horror they did not have a website, the directory had outdated info and none of the numerous online ‘directories’ including Find it fast, Hello Harare Directory etc had the company’s contact details
It’s also feasible that with the decline of the landline and the pre-eminence of cell-phones as the primary means of contacting people the directory is no longer critical. After-all the cellphone comes with
You already know this, but it’s worth repeating. Of the country’s 1.1 million people who have Internet access 770,000 use the mobile phone as the primary means of access. That’s fully 70% of the Digital population uses mobile, the question then is are you mobile compliant? Most local media and e-commerce sites are not optimised for mobile use. So automatically you have lopped of 70% of your potential user base. That *hides under rock – embarrassed* includes us at Techzim.
Have an intelligent offline strategy
That mass 5.5 million mass of humanity that has never had access to Internet is not going to stay in that state forever. In as much as you can aggressively target those who have access don’t leave out this mob. I’m aware of how some Internet companies have branded kombi’s and handed out flyers possibly to little avail. I was once involved in a local portal that went the route of branding kombi’s but the traffic generated did not result in any meaningful monetization.
I‘ve since concluded that if you go offline make sure you have a specific action point you want visitors to do once they logon to your site. This can include filling their contact details as part of a promotion and so on. The ZAMPS numbers show the enormous reach of outdoor advertising* with 3.9 million (59%) of the total Online and Blackout Groups recalling one in the last 24 hours
*Outdoor includes: Billboards, shop signs (hoardings), On sides of vehicles, Inside buses, outside buses, On bus shelters, Inside trains, on shopping trolleys, On rubbish bins etc
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