Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates

Zimbabwe remains in bottom ten of ICT Network Readiness Index

The just released (World Economic Forum) Global Information Technology Report for 2010–2011 ranks Zimbabwe 132 out of 138 countries in the Network Readiness Index (NRI). This is Zimbabwe’s third time in a row at this position.

How cheap can a voice call get? Valley Technologies might set new standard

Last week we ran an article titled “Africom and Valley Technologies to launch mobile phone networks”. In it we said that the two Internet Access Providers will be launching networks in the coming months and that they are currently conducting tests and finalizing interconnection with other telecoms providers.

The rise of 3G – (ITU 2010 World ICT facts and figures)

We just thought we would post here an ITU depiction of 3G connectivity world over from a report titled “The World in 2010, ICT facts and figures”. We were quite struck with how Zimbabwe compares to the majority of African countries.

Mobile data services: Challenges and opportunities

As I take a look at the local mobile application emerging market and use of cell phones, I will start by warning our mobile operators that their business can be easily shrunk by highlighting the threat in Bill Gates and Craig Mundie statements. “PC is the phone and phone is the PC.”and “People in those rural environments are already buying computers. They happen to call them cell phones.”

Africom and Valley Technologies to launch mobile phone networks

News tips we’re getting are all suggesting strongly that Internet Access Providers (IAPs), Africom and Valley Technologies will be launching mobile phone networks soon. “Soon” here could ofcourse mean anything from a couple of weeks (at best) to a few months. We’re guessing, from what we know so far, the most would be 2 months.

Techzim Exclusive Interview with ForgetMeNot Africa COO, Jeremy George

We had an exclusive interview with ForgetMeNot Africa’s Chief Operating Officer, Jeremy George. We discussed the Message Optimiser (MO), the company’s flagship product. We also discussed its implementation on mobile networks in Africa and the SMS traffic the system processes. At the end of the interview, George give us his opinion on mobile solution trends in Africa especially for basic mobile phones and how he sees tech entrepreneurship in the mobile space.

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.

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.

Econet launches eTXT, erases line between SMS and the Internet

A little more than 3 weeks ago, we reported that Econet was working to launch eTXT, an application that allows you to communicate seamlessly with Email, Chat, and social networks through basic SMS. The service was live when we posted the article but you could only access it if you knew it existed.

Mobile Value Added Services on a steady increase locally

There’s a growing reappearance of value added services (VAS) on the local mobile networks. Entrepreneurs are seeing this and you can see the increasing number of adverts in the local press like the current itllusion mobiplay one which reads:

Econet’s intention to launch BlackBerry courts the state’s interest

Over the past few months, information in the ICT sector has been suggesting Zimbabwean mobile operators are working to get RIM’s BlackBerry services on the local networks. Reports like this one on Telecel we did in December last year.

It’s not clear how much progress Telecel has made seeing the engineer said to be working on the Blackberry project ran into some nasty problems with Zim’s immigration authorities in January.

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 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.

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 The map clearly illustrates details about the cables without complicating the graphic.

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.

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.

Review: PowerTel Mobile Broadband

Two weeks ago, Techzim got the opportunity to test the PowerTel mobile broadband service. We’ve been using the connection as a primary for one of our laptops at the office, taking it through the paces and below is what we think about it.

Econet hosts Econet Mail outside Zimbabwe, and they explain why

A friend pointed us to something strange the other day: Econet is hosting Econet Mail outside Zimbabwe. The webmail system is hosted at Rackspace in the United States.

Botswana telecoms regulator issues price reductions directive

The Southern Times posted today that Botswana’s telecoms regulator, Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA), has issued a directive to telecommunications operators in the country to effect price reductions on telecoms services. Services to be affected by the directive include wholesale ADSL (broadband Internet delivered through a standard fixed line), mobile termination and fixed termination among others.

Telecel quietly opens up test mobile broadband to the public for free

As you may remember, in December last year, Telecel Zimbabwe extended its mobile broadband test to a wider group of Telecel subscribers. Not all subscribers, just a larger group. We’ve just learnt that during this period Telecel quietly opened up mobile broadband to non-Telecel subscribers as well.

Spiritage owned Valley Technologies to launch voice and data network in Zimbabwe

We’ve been trying to get information about the company called Spiritage for some weeks now. What caught our attention (and that of many of you asking us about Spiritage) were the Spiritage ICT job vacancies in the press. The company is clearly on a massive recruitment drive. Fortunately, a few days ago, some information started trickling in.

Zim’s Internet slows down as PowerTel & Econet fibre cables experience outage

PowerTel and Econet, Zimbabwe’s main suppliers of international internet bandwidth both experienced some downtime on their fibre cables yesterday.

Aquiva Wireless now offering WiMax, Fibre and VSAT connectivity, to launch VoIP

We were at Aquiva Wireless in Harare the other day, talking to the founding team about developments at the Internet Access Provider. There are some interesting developments alright; it’s Mobile WiMax offerings, fibre, VSAT and some VoIP services to launch in a few months.

How to not quickly use up your mobile broadband bundles

We list below, a few bandwidth saving tips. We know some readers have even more tips. If you’re such a reader, please add in your tips in the comments. We’re going to assume you use a Windows machine here because that’s what most people use, and also because if you’re on a Linux box, chances are you‘re a savvy enough and don’t need us lecturing you on this.

Masawara Telerix aquisition. Which ISP is Telerix?

Many of you saw the Masawara press release on Tuesday, and like us, most of you went into looking for who Telerix is. This is because Telerix is not on the list of official POTRAZ licensed Internet Access Providers. We thought it’d be a typical walk in the park verifying this information with the concerned parties. We were wrong.

PowerTel launches mobile broadband in Bulawayo. Gweru & Kwekwe to follow

State owned backhaul Internet Access Provider, PowerTel has launched 3G CDMA mobile broadband in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo. The official launch took place at the close of 2010 and the mobile internet service is now fully operational.

Telecel mobile internet access ‘satisfactory’

Feedback acquired by TechZim from Telecel Zimbabwe subscribers who have been selected to test the Telecel mobile Internet platform launched towards the end of last year has been mixed.

Powertel Outage slows down internet in Zimbabwe, Techzim affected

Since yesterday morning, we noticed traffic on the Techzim local site wasn’t replicating to the International mirror. Experience has taught us that when this happens it means our webhost, Webdev, doesn’t have International internet.

ICT developments to watch out for in 2011

2010 brought so much positive change to Zimbabwe’s ICT landscape. An exciting year indeed. But it’s behind us now and 2011 has just started. It remains to be seen if growth in the sector this year will happen at the same 2010 leaps-and-bounds rate. Still the new year looks promising from a couple of fronts. Especially the connectivity one.

ZOL and Yo Africa announce strategic alliance

Today, ZOL and Yo Africa, two of Zimbabwe’s biggest ISPs have announced that they have entered a “strategic alliance” in which the two ISPs will combine some operating resources to lower the costs of service delivery.