Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates

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Telecel offers free data for every voice credit purchase

Recently, Telecel introduced a voice for data promotion. For every $1 worth of airtime purchased, subscribers receive $1 worth of data for free. The company has not yet rolled out a formal campaign to launch its data services which have been operating under the radar for nearly two months. Prior to this the network has […]

Dzikwa Trust: Finland’s contribution towards grassroots ICT

Techzim recently visited the Dzikwa Community Centre in Dzivarasekwa, where an orphanage and ICT development initiative has been setup. At the time of our visit, the centre did not have an internet connection, however we believe something is being done about this. After the tour, we were able to get in touch with Anu Ala-Rantala – the program officer responsible for the project under the Finland Fund for Local Cooperation. Anu and Eki Enkenberg were able to answer the following questions for us:

Zimride: The Silicon Valley Start-up inspired by Zimbabwe

In 2005 Zimbabwe was halfway through it’s nearly decade long economic crunch. Hyper inflation was well on its way to breaking records in an experience few would want to relive. If the timely adage that necessity is the mother of all invention holds true, then the following story is a perfect indicator of the ‘greatness’ that can be found in or through Zimbabwe.

Airtel, MTN and four others court Netone

According to a story by Godfrey Marawanyika on Bloomberg, Reward Kangai, the CEO of Netone has revealed that the company has been approached by six foreign investors with four having communicated within the last two weeks. Of the six, Bharti Airtel and MTN Group are front runners as they are spread across more African countries than any other operator on the continent.

Consumer rights and Zimbabwe’s telecoms sector

A free market economy is a sound development catalyst as jobs, opportunities and wealth are created. Unfortunately; as has been the case with anything unbalanced, capitalism can be downright devastating if left to its own devices. One cannot help but to think of scandals like Enron, Worldcom, Renaissance Zimbabwe and numerous others. Insatiable greed is a reality. Conversely too much government control in any economy can result in stagnation due to a lack of incentive and purpose. A fine balance of the two is a trusted success formula.

Africa’s Telecoms Titans: Vodacom Group

Africa’s Telecoms Titans is a series by Techzim profiling the top 20 leading mobile operators on the continent. Each segment focuses on a specific mobile operator with insights into services provided including marketing and technical competencies.

Econet chairman: Cut us some slack, we’re doing the best we can

Econet had an AGM on Friday which brought out very interesting information, Newsday has a story on this. For starters NetOne and TelOne reportedly owe a collective $70million; the said debt has been outstanding for a while now such that Econet has approached government to assist with recovering it. TelOne is acknowledged as admitting its liabilities and actually paying, albeit in small amounts. NetOne on the other hand is being taken to court.

Econet reduces price of Huawei Android smartphone. Accidentally promotes competitor.

According to a press ad published in yesterday’s Sunday Mail, Econet Wireless has reduced the price of the Android powered Huawei U8100 from $249 to $200. This is a very positive move on the part of the operator. Huawei is by design a consumer brand targeted at the mass market and not the premium market.

Western Union introduces domestic money transfer

Techzim has just found out that Western Union has been offering a domestic money transfer service since the 16th of May 2011. It appears as if not enough PR work was done in this regard as even an online search did not yield any information. The money transfer service enables locals to send and receive money within Zimbabwe without the need of a bank account. A receiver is able to access money within minutes of sending and is subject to agent locations. Western Union’s local agents are Microking (a subsidiary of Kingdom Bank), Easy Link, POSB, and FFS.

Social Media: What Facebook and Linkedin’s Africa partners are saying

After publishing a couple of articles focused on how local businesses are using and not using social media, we recently had a telephone interview with Adrian Hewlett to get an expert opinion. Adrian is the founder and CEO of the South African based Habari Group, which has a division (Habari Media) dedicated to Social Media sales and consultancy services. The company works directly with Facebook and LinkedIn across the African continent and has gained headway in prime markets like Nigeria and Kenya.

Internet provider emerges to offer 4G services

Valley Technologies, one of Zimbabwe’s 15 licensed IAPs, has started an ad campaign to launch its 4G internet services. A local teaser ad titled “What would you expect from a TRUE 4G NETWORK” appeared in today’s papers. The ad’s call to action is for consumers to define what 4G means to them. It invites readers […]

Econet offloads Rainbow Tourism Group – hopefully to focus on core business

According to a press release we received on Thursday afternoon, Econet Wireless has sold its shareholding in Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG). A senior Econet Wireless Group Executive, Tracy Mpofu, confirmed the sale. Techzim believes this is a progressive move on the part of Econet as it should be focused on improving the quality of its network. While it is good that Econet Capital has been playing an investor role in the local financial markets, it has not benefited Econet Wireless nor public investors but actually damaged its brand equity.

Huawei Tablet PC launched in SA. Africa calling

Huawei, China’s ICT giant recently launched its Ideos S7 Tablet PC to the South African market. Huawei is well known as a telecoms infrastructure and enterprise hardware producer and has been moving into the consumer segment in recent years. Along with ZTE, the company is among a crop of Chinese brands that have gained ground internationally and intends to build on this while aggressively competing on pricing.

Green Fuel interview podcast

This post is part of the report back for Techzim’s tour to Chisumbanje and Middle Sabi, where Green Fuel is setting up a large scale Ethanol production . We managed to sit down for an interview (over lunch) with Graeme Smith who is the company’s GM. Finding another time would have been disastrous due to his busy schedule and the needle eye timeframe of our tour.

Africa’s Telecoms Titans: Airtel Africa

Africa’s Telecoms Titans is a series by Techzim profiling the top 20 leading mobile operators on the continent. Each segment focuses on a specific mobile operator with insights into services provided including marketing and technical competencies.

An overview of the Chisumbanje Green Fuel ethanol project

Having woken up at 3am to make the trip to Chisumbanje and Middle Sabi, we arrived at about 10am courtesy of our host- Lilian Muungani (Green Fuel’s communications manager) who led the way in her bakkie. After snaking through numerous twists and turns (including ‘crossing’ the historic Birchenough Bridge) we eventually descended on an endless carpet of Sugarcane. This was the perfect arrival, much like reaching an oasis in a desert as this part of Zimbabwe’s lowveld is semi-arid.

Startup focus: and your wallet

Winston Taylor, founder of the relatively new startup, came by the office last week Friday for a short discussion about his startup. We are always excited about local startups of all shapes and sizes and quickly delved into his. To begin with, is a month old trading division of Rollout Ads.

Dandemutande speaks

After last week’s announcement of Utande’s connection to the SEACOM undersea cable along Zimbabwe’s border with Mozambique, we visited the company for more information. Prior to this, efforts to get even the slightest of a whisper from Utande were mostly unsuccessful, apparently due to acquisition negotiations with now majority shareholder, Masawara plc. We were thus glad to meet Colin Franco, the company’s chief technical officer, and Russell Clinton the Utande CEO, for a discussion and tour of the Utande data centre.

Dandemutande finally emerges

In a positive development to Zimbabwe’s ICT sector, one of the 15 licensed IAPs has finally emerged. Dandemutande, a part of Telerix Communications (50%owned by Masawara PLC) published an advertorial to all local media outlining its current accomplishments and intentions. According to the release the company (under its Utande division) has connected to the SEACOM cable on the coast of Mozambique at a cost of $9 million.

Pictures: The Green Fuel Chisumbanje site tour

After setting off on a 500km journey this morning, we arrived in Chisumbanje and Middle Sabi to witness sheer miracles at work. Green Fuel Zimbabwe is hard at work building Africa’s biggest ethanol plant. We’re still touring the place and managed to get a good VSAT connection to upload the following pictures:

VimpelCom Group: Telecel’s new Russian Parent

We’ve just found out that VimpelCom; the Russian based telecom’s giant recently merged with Egypt’s Orascom. What this effectively means is that Telecel Zimbabwe is now part of the world’s sixth largest mobile services group (with over 186 million subscribers worldwide). Orascom has a 60% stake in Telecel Zimbabwe. The local operation falls into the Orasom-VimpelCom group’s African interests along with Leo (Namibia), Telecel (Burundi & Central African Republic), Djeezy (Algeria), and Mobinil (Egypt).

In depth focus: Zimbabwe needs to embrace cloud computing

Information management has never been as hot a subject as it is today. In such a context cloud computing is revolutionising the way the world operates by reducing costs, risks and exponentially scaling capabilities.

Dotmore: Telone’s branded broadband services unmasked

A big blue dot has ‘graced’ local papers over the past month with nothing more than a coming soon tagline. Yesterday’s Sunday Mail finally unmasked the dot that had aroused a lot of curiosity, it seems that even non techies we spoke to were trying to figure out its identity. Dotmore is TelOne’s branded offering for broadband.

SEACOM: Mozambique agrees to Zim connection

Zimbabwe is poised to benefit from a deal announced yesterday between SEACOM and Telecomunicacoes de Mocambique (TDM), Mozambique’s telecoms parastatal. The company has been granted the go ahead to connect our landlocked country to the undersea cable. This is expected to have a positive impact on corporate and individual consumers in the not too distant future.

Africa’s Telecoms Titans: MTN Group

Africa’s Telecoms Titans is a series by Techzim profiling the top 20 leading mobile operators on the continent. Each segment focuses on a specific mobile operator with insights into services provided including marketing and technical competencies.

Econet Energy: Well placed to power Southern Africa

Renewable energy is a sector on flux. Global greats like Google have risen to the challenges imposed by global warming and rising demand for energy through investments in sustainable power sources. Solar City is one such company that has benefitted from the energy race; Google has invested $280 million so far in the company. For the sake of continuity let’s think of Econet as our local equivalent of a Google of sorts; in such a scenario Econet Energy has a very solid shot at becoming a regional energy titan.

Powertel headhunts for troops

A big vacancy ad from Powertel appeared in yesterday’s Sunday Mail, by the looks of it the company is bolstering its forces for a major onslaught. In these interesting of times, Powertel regrets the major advances enemy camps have gained at its expense.

The infamous pirate Jack Sparrow plagues local ISPs

It feels like yesterday when l was starting up an experiential marketing business. One of my clients was Ster Kinekor Theatres. I vividly remember the regional GM regularly flying into Zim for reconnaissance meetings; each time we ran through the SWOT analysis one bugger kept popping up! Ster Kinekor HQ (South Africa) placed a bounty on this bugger by bringing in SAFACT (Southern African Federation Against Copyright Theft) but it seemed like no one gave a hoot locally. After carrying out a research survey we ‘discovered’ that approximately 60% of our market were buying movies on the street, at Avondale or the Village flee market…Those were interesting times…it appears as if they’ve taken a new twist.

Local websites need to shape up

In a bid to improve the general quality of local web products, we have posted articles here before about ‘broken websites’, especially those by ICT service providers. The local web development sector seems to be suffering from a very devastating plague (that is strangely limited to it), this in turn is not doing any justice whatsoever to Zimbabwean companies. We have carried out an emergency diagnosis and discovered the following symptoms:

Cruz Reader tablet giveaway: Spot what’s missing

As you enter Harare’s CBD, a couple of massive billboards scream for your attention. They form a key part of Econet’s goliath advertising blitz. We spotted something missing from this particular ad, and thought of it as a great way to hold a competition.