The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is not particularly pleased by citizens’ low use of internet at city libraries. Not only are people not utilising the services offered but the council also consistently has to pay for these services, so you can see why they are not entirely happy about this situation.
Of the nine city libraries available to Bulawayo citizens, only 3 offer internet services. The libraries pay for the internet access and then subsequently charge citizens $1/hour and it seems there hasn’t been enough activity and the service is proving expensive.
Nketa Library is said to have started offering internet access back in December 2017 (Open for business, they were). So far they have invested $267 for wifi but they have only received $39 dollars. So for every dollar they’ve spent on that, they have lost almost $7. That’s a lot! The situation at Tshabalala is even worse; They’ve spent $89 and only gotten $2 dollars back. Two Dollars! For every $1 they spend they are losing $44.50.
Bulawayo Municipal Library Service (BMLS) is now engaging TelOne to install public wifi services in all the council libraries. If TelOne agrees they’ll bear the costs of installation and then users will pay a $1 for access for the whole day and not just an hour. This could be a great way to increase engagement. In turn, the council will receive 5% for each token (0.05c).
Are ‘internet cafes’ still necessary?
Because Internet Penetration in Zimbabwe is still so low I do think internet cafes and libraries offering internet are still a necessity but their effectiveness relies on other things being fixed. A big problem is that the same people that can’t afford internet access on their mobile devices are also likely to be the same people who don’t have the computer skills to actually utilise the internet anyway.
Another problem in Zimbabwe is that people aren’t really being shown (or they are not learning) how to utilise the internet for productivity and instead, the internet is mostly being used for social media and WhatsApp. Until that utility is clear I have a hard time seeing why one would stop being content with just being on WhatsApp.
In older days there was an incentive to go to cafes as they would enable you to communicate but now even people in remote areas have that aspect covered because of the internet. Where you would go to an internet café for Facebook and to open emails and then stumble on other great things (or not so great things…) on the internet you can now communicate via FB, WhatsApp and Twitter which are all offered as bundles. These bundles limit access o only the services that you pay for and thus; GOODBYE DISCOVERY.
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