Everyone in Zimbabwe is in a constant state of frugality and everything that is supposed to be paid for is measured against the value it offers. The same applies for events. Startup entrepreneurs are even more frugal, I’m starting to see that as I interact with them more and more.
Last year, I attended the Broadband Forum out of curiosity, as any tech enthusiast would. It proved to be a valuable event because I got to understand some opportunities being created through the investments made in the internet.
For example, with Liquid Telecom, Powertel and TelOne connecting to offshore subsea carriers we had so much backhaul fibre connectivity that the major parts of Zimbabwe could draw comfortably from and connect easily with the rest of the world.
It was no surprise therefore that a few predictions from the event started to materialise like the battle to bring the best FTTH solutions, the decline in the cost of data with an upsurge in consumption via mostly mobile.
One particular development that excited the industry was the launch of Telone’s Metro WiFi as a permanent non-promotional feature. Other indicator of where prices are going is the Econet Daily and Dream bundles which bring the cost of mobile data to just $0.025 per megabyte, and the Powertel Earthquake promotion as a home solution bringing 1 Gig down to a mere $2.
For startups who have been following the development as I have, this year’s Broadband Forum will be more interesting as it seeks to unravel the opportunities that are brought forth by the availability, capacity, predictable surge in data and continuously reducing costs of connectivity.
There is the dimension of digitisation in broadcasting and the sharing of infrastructure, all of which will create a demand for local solutions. Startups should be able to get an understanding that will unlock that formula for making it in this developing space.
More than just awakening entrepreneurs to the opportunities, the Broadband Forum will also be a place to obtain skills required in the startup ecosystem.
The panellists themselves are an assortment of successes in their own right. The likes of Mark Essien (Hotels.ng), Vusi Ndebele (Paynow) and Emma Kay (bozzi.mobi) participating to explain and share experiences on how the environment allowed them to start and operate successful businesses. Local entrepreneurs will be able to emulate and exploit the lessons learnt by these pioneers.
To top it up, the Broadband Forum will also give startups an opportunity to learn what investors will be looking forward to in the coming years, especially with some guarantee and confidence in the unraveling enabling environment and recognisable opportunities that exist and are waiting to be exploited.
These panelists have had to woo investors at some point and their testimonials are valuable contributions.
All this translates to value that startup entrepreneur, or the everyday frugal Zimbabwean, should be able to see.
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