Update: In the first version of this article, we gave the impression that Kwese Free Sports will always be zero-rated. This is not the case. Econet is just zero-rating it for today’s NBA Africa Game from 1600hrs to 2000hrs. We’re sorry for the oversight.
So yes, Kwese Free Sports is here. Via the mobile app, but not via satellite TV.
Zimbabweans can now stream sports games live as well as sports commentary on their mobile phones. We’re not clear how long this has been so but we’re told Kwese opened up the app to Zimbabweans some time this week.
Econet announced on its Facebook page today that the app will be zero rated enabling Zimbabweans to watch without needing to buy data. Specifically, today, Econet subscribers will be able to watch the NBA Africa Game live for free.
You can download Kwese Free Sports here.
If you’re wondering if Kwese/Econet now have a video streaming license in Zimbabwe, the answer is no. Some sources at Econet confirmed this when we asked them today.
But is there such a thing as a streaming license in Zimbabwe? And if there is, do YouTube, Facebook, NetFlix, Showmax, iROKO TV and all the streaming service we can access here, all have licenses. Certainly not.
So in terms of tv streaming does Kwese need and has it been waiting for a license all along. It’s hard to say.
But we can also confirm that the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe does require licenses for things that sound like streaming. BAZ has a license classes for “a datacasting service” and “a webcasting service”.
However, beyond reading words like ‘webcasting’ and ‘datacasting’, it’s hard to interpret what the licensing framework really is and how it works. It may be the case of, “if we can get to you and make you pay a license first, then we will.” YouTube and Netflix then are just companies the regulators here can’t ‘get to’.
Clearly therefore, regulation needs to catch up with the technology as well as the reality on the ground.
That said, it is interesting to note that the Kwese TV app (different from the Kwese Free Sports app) is still not available in Zimbabwe. When we checked the app yesterday, you still can’t sign up for an account from Zimbabwe.