It’s only a few days into the new year and a lot of things have started to change in the Zimbabwean technology space. From tariff reductions to promotions being ended it looks like there is going to be a lot to expect. In all of this here are some of our predictions for 2015.
The adjustment of promos,new voice offers from the MNOs
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This is not going to be the only promo to be tweaked or killed altogether by the mobile networks. All things being fair to the MNOs though this is a logical step because after all the promos we have are a derivative from the previous tariffs.
The end result will be new products and services as each MNO tries to sell of new voice packages that factor in any reduction in revenue and still make a decent profit at the end of the day.
OTT Service adjustment: The shuffle of the bundles
In the dying hours of 2014 we saw a combination of Opera Mini and WhatsApp bundles courtesy of Econet. This is likely motivated by a need to buttress one bundle service with a more popular one.
The prediction here will be that one of the networks, (most likely Econet first) will try out other combinations that will likely include a comprehensive social media OTT service. If it works here as it has done in other markets then the other MNOs will follow suit.
All this is because OTT services are now such a prominent feature on the MNO map that they have to be modified to add appeal. This is very important in a market that now has diminishing revenues courtesy of not only tech advances but regulator involvement.
Mobile Money Tariff Reduction
The noise already started late last year with legislation calling on the Competition and Tariffs Commission to look into the reduction of mobile money tariffs. This year will likely see the enactment of this, seeing that these tariffs haven’t come under any downward review since 2013 when the Reserve Bank Governor made a directive in the Monetary Policy. It’s going to be another bleak outcome for the already stretched MNOs that are getting taxed on all fronts.
More Mobile Money related products
2014 had Mobile money services take many forms with the MNOs working with various financial service providers to harness the power of their financial platforms. 2014 was all about remittances, mobile money cards and insurance.
In 2015 look out for a further expansion of the reach of mobile money services. Easy picks would be the integration of payment for basic services and amenities like what has been achieved with ZESA and OneWallet. Perhaps this year be the launch of a service for the payment of taxes?
The rise of the MNO lobby
A lot of developments in tech for 2015 point to the tightening of screws on the MNOs so don’t expect these operators to take everything lying down.
After paying huge license fees (well Econet at least, and to some extent Telecel) and contributing significantly to the country coffers MNOs will state their case regarding changes to tariffs and tighter tax demands. While the legal channel has been used extensively in the past to do this, even as recently as last month, an appeal to legislation will be taken as a way to rein in regulatory interference.
The new ICT Policy
Zimbabwe’s ICT Policy has been on the cards for what now seems like a lifetime. In all honesty the finalisation of this document after so many years of review should be the first port of call for the new ICTPCS Minister Supa Mandiwanzira.
The reasons behind its likely rollout include the proposal for a new Broadband Policy which should come after the main ICT Policy, and the rapid change in ICT’s role in the economy that is now being noticed by other sectors.
Work between MNOs and startups
Let’s not get excited here and expect MNOs to just get into bed with any startup that comes knocking on the door. The story of the big operator that does everything on its own isn’t likely to play out this year, hence the need to reach out.
This will only happen to the handful of startups that can craft services that are viable and can be taken up by any operator that sees a strong business case. The reason why this is likely this year unlike any other year is the changing landscape in MNO services.
These operators now need to come up with products and services that can boost revenue and optimise the infrastructure that has been invested in. It’s a great opportunity for the aggressive startup to take advantage of, as long as they are willing to accept the Ts and Cs presented by the network.
More foreign startups setting up locally
We saw the pattern emerging in 2014 and earlier with startup factories like Rocket setting up shop locally through subsidiaries like Lamudi. This will likely be taken a notch up this year. The monster called the Indigenisation Policy is slowly taking a friendlier form which will mean more of these opportunists landing right in our backyard.
In terms of an expansion strategy the Zimbabwean market does have its merits which will lure these guys. We have an increasing internet penetration rate, zero challenges with currency (until the bond coins become something else) and a competition friendly market (local startups please take what’s yours).
These are just a few of the things we expect to see in 2015. What are your own predictions for the Zimbabwean tech space?