Econet holds the key to Zim getting a Telegram bundle

Valentine Muhamba Avatar
Telegram, IM platforms, WhatsApp alternatives,, video calls

The consensus we have come to of late is that Telegram and Signal won’t catch on in Zimbabwe. Even with WhatsApp’s privacy policy, it will be difficult to move off the app. There are two broad reasons for this, the first is that people are familiar with WhatsApp and learning another app isn’t something many would want to do. The second and most important is that Telegram doesn’t have a dedicated bundle on any of Zim’s mobile network operators (MNOs).

These problems are, I think, the biggest ones hindering widespread adoption. The second (Telegram Bundle) is probably the domino that could knock over the first problem and possibly all the rest.

So is there is a way MNOs could offer a Telegram bundle?

The answer to this question or a possible solution is by looking at Econet’s combo social media bundles. Econet offers a combination of social media and messaging apps bundled together. For example, for ZWL$17.00 you get 20 MBs for WhatsApp, Pinterest and Sasai.

Since Econet is pushing for Sasai, I doubt they’d want to add Telegram in this arrangement. However, Telecel and NetOne could jump on this and create a combo bundle that includes WhatsApp.

Including WhatsApp means that subscribers have the option of both under one bundle. This also results in Telecel and NetOne subscribers who aren’t familiar with Telegram getting a gateway to it. If they don’t like it they can simply use the data for WhatsApp only.

For those who want to transition to Telegram, they can do so while they slowly wean themselves off of WhatsApp.

It makes sense, business wise… (in my opinion)

In the same way, we don’t know how many people in Zimbabwe jumped on to Telegram this past week. We also don’t know how many people would want to use Telegram but would only want to do so within the confines of a bundle. Creating a bundle that services both WhatsApp and Telegram solves the risk element for MNOs.

They may not even have to change the current lineup of bundles. All they’ll need to do is to add Telegram (and even Signal) to the ones already on offer.

Will this work?

I’ll be optimistic and say maybe. WhatsApp’s privacy policy deadline may have been pushed back. But I doubt that will change any of the stipulations that were in it.

The noise may die down until the 15th of May, but Zim’s MNOs should at least have a facility in place to capitalise on whatever happens after that date (and maybe before).

The MNO that jumps on to creating a Telegram, Signal and WhatsApp bundle (or a combination of any of them) will show it’s customers that it is in tune with times and willing to adapt.



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  1. Tonderai

    This is a good time to bring in the argument of net neutrality. MNOs should rather do unrestricted data bundles and avoid specialised app bundles. By doing this, all apps become equal and it’s up to the user to decide where to “spend” their data.

    1. always off topic

      I totally agree , this whole bundle thing is ridiculous. I believe it also multiplies the effects of fake news. When you are on a bundle tied to a specific site, all your info essentially comes from a single source, with out access to the wider internet you cannot cross check facts using other sources. Its dangerous.

    2. Anonymousx

      That’s is true we need a telegram and signal bundle because I can’t stand it WhatsApp using monetizing my data

  2. Technfoto

    Telegram/Signal and substitutes are all Industrisal alternatives to Whatspp, which is a lost opportunity for 3rd World to develop and promote own local substitutes and counter the belief that technological advance has got boundaries. Its a colonised mental hangover that’s needs cleansing…

    1. Anonymous

      It’s not a lost opportunity

    2. Valentine Muhamba

      Econet has been promoting Sasai and has kept the bundles for it pretty cheap but for whatever reason no too many people want to use it.

      1. TnashMkz

        I have a theory on that. I have used Sasai for the past few months to try understand what all the fuss is about and I came across a few things.

        1. Sasai is a half baked app at best. While there are no major glitches with the app, a lot of the promised futures were walled of with “coming soon” placards. That’s never a good thing for an app. Why advertise an app’s features when it does not have them yet?
        2. Sasai tried to be all things to all men which in theory is great, however it failed to appreciate the nuances of smart phone applications and their users. Eg the point of a banking app is the provision of finance services from the bank to their client full stop. Any feature that does not serve this narrative is not included.
        3. The most egregious thing by far is Sasai failing to cater for the cheapest new smartphones currently on the market, of which they make a significant part of the smartphone market share in zimbabwe. In fact to get the best out of Sasai one needs an phone that is fairly powerful in its specs, a problem not faced by WhatsApp or to a lesser extent Telegram.

    3. Anonymous

      I am not sure it’s a colonial issue because the Indians are doing so well in tech, past the the colonial rhetoric. I agree totally on the idea of developing a substitute originated in Africa. However, the substitute must be competitive enough to be marketable worldwide, not just Africa. As you say, there are no boundaries. The opportunity is not lost. Those endowed with the skill and vision should start on it now

  3. Ashley Musihiwa

    Bundles are ridiculous.
    Data rates should fit within average income levels.
    Telegram bundles will not be possible because ofthe waybit manages traffic (i still remember it being censorship resistant).
    Sasai was *stolen* people lost love for it.Econet could have been less greedy with that guy in 2009*.
    Econet poisoned its meal.

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