Liquid Intelligent Technologies partnered with the University of Zimbabwe to zero rate the university’s e-learning resources. Students and staff at the largest university in the country will enjoy free access to all online library resources, no data required.
Students will be celebrating this considering the high data costs in the country. More so when you consider that mobile broadband costs are set to rise soon. NetOne showed us just what might be in store for us in the near future, US$800 for 80GB.
Public outcry delayed the inevitable but UZ students can rest easy knowing they won’t have to worry about whatever new tariffs await the nation. At least if they are mostly concerned about school work.
Reads the notice by the University of Zimbabwe:
UNIVERSITY OF ZIMBABWE
NOTICE TO STUDENTS AND STAFF MEMBERS
ZERO RATING OF UNIVERSITY OF ZIMBABWE E-LEARNING RESOURCES
In an effort to ensure continued and sustainable advancement of university education under the COVID-19 pandemic, Liquid Telecoms has offered a generous hand of partnership to the University of Zimbabwe students and staff. In its show of responsible citizenship and all-weather friendship, Liquid Telecoms has zero rated all the Library online resources, the University of Zimbabwe e-Learning Management System (UZ e-LMS), University of Zimbabwe website, RemoteXs and eMhare services.
The University strongly encourages students and staff to take advantage of this great opportunity and use this facility productively in their studies and research.
We would like to thank Liquid Telecoms for their kind gesture at a time when the cost of data has become a major impediment to University education and research.Dr Madambi, Acting Registrar
This is quite the gesture by Liquid Intelligent Technologies. Zimbabwean universities can become world class research centres when students and their staff have access to information cheaply and reliably. So, naturally while we commend Liquid for this, we implore other businesses to step up and assist other universities and tertiary institutions in the country.
It’s crazy how the internet in Zimbabwe is shaping up. It appears that for various reasons, data costs remain higher than in other countries in the region. Whilst the challenging economy makes it hard for the citizens to afford these steep internet access costs. However, the fact is that even if data costs in Zimbabwe matched those in South Africa for example, most still would not be able to afford it.
With many businesses now relying on the internet to market and sell their products as well as handling customer enquiries, this state of affairs is detrimental to their growth and that of the economy.
The solution that the market seems to have settled on is zero rating. Businesses are taking on the cost of internet access and making it free for customers to visit their sites. We’ve seen most banks zero rate their websites to drive use of that channel as opposed to in branch service.
Socially responsible organisations should be rewarded
The UZ zero rating is different from the above as it is mostly just corporate social responsibility. It has little to do with driving Liquid business hence why it should be applauded.
The govt should look into rewarding such initiatives. Should they offer some tax credits or something like that to companies that are giving back to the community, we could see more of this.
In the end this works out better for the economy. We would now be looking to private entreprises to help build infrastructure in the country. Rather than counting on the govt to collect taxes and then fix some of these problems.
The Community Information Centre program by Potraz seeks to provide free internet access to strategic communities. It is nice and all but if the private sector was incentivised to do this, progress would be swift.
The future of Zim internet
We held a Twitter Space discussing the excise tax which led to a 10% increase in fixed internet prices. One business owner called for the government to allow businesses to take on the cost of building and maintaining the information superhighway – the internet. Zero rating is one way businesses are taking on that cost.
This development goes against net neutrality ideals. Zero rated websites gain an advantage over their competition. Therefore we might need the internet service providers to streamline the process for all who might want to zero rate. Again, this is not ideal but we do not have the luxury to chase net neutrality ideals.
The future of Zimbabwean internet might be free internet access to all local businesses and service providers’ online platforms for all. However at the backend, there would be multiple businesses footing the cost of that internet access. That would make businesses the chief customers for ISPs and not the public at large. That would be interesting.