NetOne introduces Emergency Airtime. Why is it free?


NetOne ZW Harare BillboardToday state-owned mobile network NetOne introduced its own emergency airtime credit facility that extends 50 cents to any prepaid subscriber accessing the service on the *140# shortcode.

NetOne has made its own credit facility free, meaning that unlike the Econet and Telecel emergency airtime credit purchases, a subscriber who borrows the airtime won’t have to pay any interest on this emergency top-up.

I never thought I’d find myself saying this but…shouldn’t the mobile network be making something from this service? Why should it be free anyway?


I’m not taking anything away from the service. Whoever started the trend before it was copied locally by our operators was on to something. Cell C South Africa has the service running (at a cost of course). There were startups that made something out of this so people appreciate the service.

As a subscriber I think that from a value addition perspective this does so much for rewarding loyalty. After all, it is good to know that your network is willing to bail you out, something that as Zimbabweans hard worn by a brutal economic climate we all appreciate.

However we need to consider the environment NetOne is operating here. From that perspective you wonder whether freebies especially linked to voice services are in NetOne’s best interest.

Voice revenues which have in the past 24 months refused to look as attractive as they used to have been narrowed further by lowered tariffs.

The provision of data services, which is an area that NetOne’s competitors spent the whole of 2014 figuring out, is probably where a decent chunk of telecoms money will come from. NetOne is sadly the least innovative and aggressive in that area.

Even mobile money, which is turning out to be the no-brainer value added service to hone in on in the wake of a weak and uninspired financial services sector hasn’t been fully exploited by our State network. Besides the stranglehold on prepaid electricity which is now being disrupted by bold startups, there is nothing OneWallet has been defined by lately.

Perhaps it’s all a ploy to lure subscribers back to its service from it’s real competitor Telecel, or is it the mechanics of its emergency credit facility that make it difficult to assign a service fee? Whatever the reasoning is, I doubt that a 10% service charge (just 5 cents) would have scared some of us off this NetOne service.

What are your thoughts on this new service? Do you think the other mobile networks should follow NetOne approach and make theirs free as well?

Quick NetOne, Telecel, Africom, And Econet Airtime Recharge

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