Techzim

Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates


Dipleague, how a small mailing list evolved into one of Zimbabwe’s leading classifieds

Of the new electronic classifieds platforms to emerge in Zimbabwe’s during the past few years, Dipleague and classifieds.co.zw stand out and have achieved relative success to Zimbabwean internet users.

It’s common knowledge in Zimbabwe that to get some meaningful response for a classifieds advert you cannot afford to ignore the 2 platforms. And unlike traditional newspaper classifieds posting adverts on these platforms is free.


Kenyans to receive Western Union remittances on M-PESA

In what Safaricom is referring to as “the largest deal of its kind in the world”, M-PESA subscribers in Kenya will now be able to receive international Western Union remittances on their mobile phones. With a total of 13.5 million subscribers on the M-PESA platform, the development is a big milestone for both Safaricom and Western Union.

The Safaricom/Western Union alliance will see Kenyans receive remittances from 45 countries and territories. “No other Kenya operator can receive money from as many countries”, Safaricom boasted in a release.


Google to open office in Harare, recruiting locals (April Fools)

Google Africa has announced that it will be opening an office in Zimbabwe in the coming months. The office will be in located in Harare and will become one of Google’s biggest offices in Sub-Saharan Africa after Kenya and South Africa.

Zimbabwe, Google says, with one of the highest literacy rate in Africa, is a priority location for the web giant. “Zimbabwe has experienced significant growth and stability in the past 2 years. It’s a priority location for us. Rather than stand aside and wait, we’d like to be part of that growth” Google said in the announcement.


TelOne’s fibre connection on EASSy now live, total 2.48 Gbps lit

The Harare-Mozambique TelOne backbone fibre is now live. The state owned fixed telecoms operator has announced that the cable now links the state owned fixed operator to the East African Submarine System (EASSy) undersea cable through Mozambique.

TelOne has taken up initial capacity of 2.48 Gbps (16 x STM-1s) and according to the company the expectation is that this will grow to 15 Gbps in the next 10 years.


Seacom: Our cable has had some challenges since inception

Seacom this week admitted that its submarine fibre cable that landed on the east Africa coast in July 2009, “has had challenges since inception”. The statement was made by Seacom’s head of business development, Aidan Baigriecable.

The admission comes as Seacom considers buying backup undersea fibre capacity from other submarine fibre cable operators.


Telecel on Jane Mutasa’s accusations: We do buy Zimbabwe wherever possible

If you’ve been following the usual non-technology issues that dog Telecel Zimbabwe, you will remember that some two weeks ago, the suspended Telecel acting chairperson, Jane Mutasa, accused the mobile operator of ‘unprocedurally’ awarding tenders to foreign companies at the expense of equally capable local businesses. The tenders, according to Mutasa, are mostly awarded to companies in Ireland, Mauritius, South Africa, Dubai and Egypt.

Mutasa also accused Telecel of breaching the country’s laws by continuing to consult exiled businessman, James Makamba, on key decisions affecting the local operations. The accusations were made before the Media and Communication Parliamentary Portfolio Committee which is looking into Telecel operations.


Econet warns subscribers of disconnections as registration grace period expires

When the mobile registration deadline expired last month, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) conceded to a one month grace period before mobile operators start disconnecting unregistered subscribers. The grace period expires tomorrow.

As it approaches, Econet has started issuing warnings through the press to subscribers that come the end of the 31st, any unregistered line will be taken offline.


Upped to 4.72 Tbps, EASSY now constitutes 70% of Africa’s east coast undersea cables

The EASSy cable, in which local state owned fixed operator TelOne has a stake through WIOCC, has had its design capacity upgraded to 4.72 Tbps. According to the West Indian Ocean Cable Company, the upgrade makes EASSy by far the highest capacity submarine cable on the east African coast.

The recent capacity upgrade follows another upgrade to 3.84 Tbps made to the cable in August last year. The EASSy cable was launched in July 2010 with an initial design capacity of 1.42 Tbps.


Another technology start-up incubator to open in Kenya

Nairobi’s Business Daily has reported that a Kenyan technology start-up incubator, Nairobi incubation Labs (NaiLabs) is due to be launched in May this year. Kenya has in the past few years attracted the attention of start-up seeking out talent and ideas to invest in.

NaiLabs is Kenya’s fourth technology start-up incubator in just 2 years. Existing incubators are FabLab, Strathmore University’s iLab Africa, and the widely known iHub.


CABS, POSB to use Telecel mobile banking platform through Zimswitch Mobile

Telecel Zimbabwe has just revealed to Techzim that it’s working with Zimswitch Mobile to include more banks on its mobile banking platform.

Telecel launched the Skwama mobile banking services in January this year but only provided the service to subscribers banking with Zimbabwe’s Kingdom Bank.


Umbono, Google’s first technology incubator in Africa is launched

South African tech entrepreneurs today just got a huge opportunity to have their startups jump started by Google. The global tech giant has announced the launch of its first technology startup incubator in South Africa. The incubator is called Umbono and is based in Cape Town.

Google is working with Silicon Cape Initiative, a community of South Africa tech entrepreneurs and the Bandwidth Barn, a Cape Town based ICT business incubator. Umbono is open to all South African residents and is currently open to applications for its first round of incubation.

Here are some excerpts of the Google blog post:


Zimbabweans and Mozambicans Googling Libya

Zimbabweans and Mozambicans, according to Google Insights for Search, are searching for the term “Libya” a lot more than other search terms on Google.

Google Insights for Search is a tool to analyse the search trends on Google domains world over. The tool computes the number of searches done for given search terms relative to the total number of searches done on the popular search engine over time.


More information revealed on the Nhava Scandal

On the first day of this month, a local daily NewsDay called out Nhava Global for duping Zimbabweans into thinking they design and manufacture netbooks. We posted our thoughts on what is now officially the Nhava scandal. Today, the NewsDay published a follow-up on the article titled “Nhava Global saga rages on”.


Google launches Gmail SMS in more African countries

Google has announced through its Google Africa blog that it has launched Gmail SMS in Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi. In Uganda Google is working with MTN, Uganda Telecom and Orange, in Tanzania with Vodacom and in Malawi with Airtel and TNM. Gmail SMS has been around for some time in Africa. The service is currently supported in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Zambia.

Basically, Gmail SMS enables Gmail users to chat with mobile subscribers on any mobile phone capable of SMS, which is about every mobile phone out there.


NetOne’s OneWallet running on Gemalto’s mobile money transfer solution

Gemalto, an international digital security company, announced today that NetOne is deploying a Gemalto mobile money transfer solution called LinqUs for the OneWallet service.

The OneWallet service was launched by NetOne to stakeholders in January this year becoming the second mobile money transfer service in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s second largest mobile operator, Telecel, launched the first mobile wallet service in December last year.


POTRAZ licenses Zimbabwe’s fourth mobile operator, TelOne

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has revealed through Zimbabwe’s state owned daily, the Herald, that it granted TelOne a GSM mobile phone license late last year.

TelOne is Zimbabwe’s only fixed line operator and is owned by the government. TelOne becomes the country’s fourth mobile operator. The other three are Econet, Telecel and the state owned mobile operator, NetOne.


New Econet service powered by eTXT. SMS to Email, Chat and Facebook

Today, an email tip pointed us to a new product to be launched soon by Econet Wireless Zimbabwe. We’re not sure what the product will be named but it can be found right now on www.etxt.co.zw and it’s already active.

The service allows you to use SMS to communicate seamlessly with Email, Instant Messaging (Gtalk, Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, Facebook Chat) and social media networks like Facebook. It’s powered by a ForgetMeNot Africa application called eTXT.


Zim university student develops business apps & working on virus removal software

We first heard about Luke Madzedze at the Research and Intellectual Expo at the University of Zimbabwe some 4 weeks ago. At the expo, we saw some desktop and Java mobile applications whose development was attributed to the young man. We arranged to meet Madzedze and finally did last week in Harare.


Reader contributed details about G-Tide Zimbabwe

The brief thoughts we posted last week on the Nhava scandal generated a lot of interest and discussion around the originality of gadgets being sold in Zimbabwe. Just reading the comments today, we came across one by someone going by the name “chimwedzi”.

The comment gives some insight into what and who G-Tide Zimbabwe is. And because it’s buried in the second page of the comments on the article, we thought we’d post it here separately. The words have been pulled as is. We just paragraphed and spaced it a little to increase readability.


A history of Africa’s undersea cables (presentation)

Whenever we need to illustrate something about the undersea fibre cables along the shores of Africa, we use the African Undersea Cables map on manypossibilities.net. The map clearly illustrates details about the cables without complicating the graphic.


POTRAZ gives mobile operators a month to compile registered subscribers’ data

A Zimbabwe government weekly reports today that the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has allowed mobile operators another month to compile mobile line registration data before they start disconnecting unregistered lines.


Weekend event: gaming cafe LAN tournament in Harare

Zimbabwe Cyber Games is hosting another gaming cafe LAN tournament this Sunday in Harare. If you’re a gaming enthusiast, this is of course good news and you won’t miss it. For the rest of you, it’s a great opportunity to network with gamers and the geeks that attend events like these.


Econet reduces mobile data bundle prices, increases bundle sizes

This week, Econet revised the mobile broadband data bundle and the prices. Mostly, it’s an increase in the size of the data bundles by about 20% to 25% but the price kept the same, which per megabyte, is a price reduction of sorts.


Hey Google, Rhodesia doesn’t exist anymore. The country is called Zimbabwe

Today, we woke up to an opinion piece in a local daily newspaper that made us stop. It’s titled “Google is bidding return of Rhodesia”. And no, it’s not just link bait, read the article and visit Google news right now to see that Google seems to think Harare is in Rhodesia and obviously that Rhodesia as a country still exists.


Finally, the Telecel Zimbabwe website is back online

The Telecel Zimbabwe website was taken down in early February last year, and yesterday, more than a year later, the website has been brought back online. This is good; it makes it so much easier to find information about the company; tariffs, services on offer, recent developments, contact information, coverage and other such important stuff.


Zimbabwe’s telecommunication statistics summary (2010)

Last week, we had an opportunity to visit POTRAZ, the country’s telecommunications regulator. There we got some stats of Zimbabwe’s telecommunications as at September 2010 and we thought we would share the data here.


Telecel accuses NetOne of refusing to share passive infrastructure

Telecel, the second largest mobile operator in Zimbabwe by subscriber base, has accused state owned (and smallest) mobile operator, NetOne, of refusing to share tower infrastructure. Telecel Zimbabwe CEO, Mr. Aimable Mpore made the accusation in a response to questions about Telecel’s shareholding structure from the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology.


Telecel reduces cost of calling other mobile networks

In a release we just received, Telecel has announced that it is scrapping the extra cost of calling mobile numbers outside the Telecel network. Effectively, this means Telecel subscribes will now call NetOne and Econet numbers at the same rate they call Telecel numbers.


NetOne introduces new mobile voice package

Yesterday, state owned mobile operator, NetOne, started an advertising campaign for a new mobile voice package called Relaks. The package promises lower tariffs and free SMSes. We contacted NetOne today and they sent us a press release prepared to announce the new package.


POTRAZ authorises mobile operators to start penalizing unregistered subscribers

Zimbabwe’s telecoms regulator, POTRAZ, has authorised mobile operators in the country to start implementing some ‘restrictive measures’ on subscribers. This, according to POTRAZ, will force mobile subscribers to register their lines before the 28 February registration deadline.