Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates

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The top Zimbabwe tech stories we covered in 2011

With less than two days left before the close of the year, we thought we’d post a listing of all the top stories we covered this year. This has been our busiest year since.

Entrepreneur Interviews: Lovemore Mukono, co-founder of Mukonitronics (full Interview)

Recently we held an interview with Lovemore Mukono, the co-founder and CEO of Mukonitronics. Mukonitronics is one of Africa’s leading power technology companies in terms of design and manufacturing industrial power electronic products for the local and export market. The range of Mukonitronics products include power electronics for mining, power generation and transmission, electricity distribution, telecommunications, railway and industrial automation.

Now you can Tweet for a cab in Harare

So, how do you currently call for a cab in Harare when you need one? Give the cab driver a call? An SMS? Does it cost you airtime every time to do this? Do you always get a response on time? If you have a smartphone, (or just a regular internet connection at a desktop) there’s a new service in town you might want to give a try. It’s called Tweet-A-Cab.

POSB launches ZimSwitch Mobile powered mobile banking service

Back in march when news first broke that ZimSwitch was working with Telecel to power mobile banking for local banks, the two banks that Telecel confirmed they were working with were CABS and POSB. CABS launched its mobile banking service (branded textacash) in September. As for POSB, ZimSwitch told us exactly month ago the bank was in “live pilot”.

Through adverts in the press today, POSB has announced that its mobile banking service is available to the public.

I’m investing in Zim Agriculture, says African award winning telecoms exec

Last week, we received a press release on the winning of a Global Telecoms Business award by Norman Moyo, an exec at Tanzanian mobile operator called Zantel. We posted the story here. Moyo has worked for Celtel in Zambian and Nigeria, Econet Wireless in Zimbabwe and Zain in Bahrain. He was recognised as one of the top 40 global executives under the age of 40 in the telecoms industry.

For the article, we asked Moyo what he is investing in back home. His response was something we found quite interesting. Here’s an extract:

Digital Forensics: the primer

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are now considered the cornerstone of every economy, transforming the way business is done while significantly impacting governments and communities. ICTs have contributed to the rapid development and reformation of economies while enhancing productivity and remodelling the flow of capital.

Picture: CABS textacash, a ZimSwitch Ready mobile banking service

Following our story earlier today on the coming launch of ZimSwitch Mobile later this month, a reader sent us a picture they took of a mobile banking advert by CABS in their Sam Levy’s Village branch in Borrowdale, Harare.

The difficulties of registering a local domain in Zimbabwe

The need to have local Zimbabwean content on the internet has been widely discussed. The main idea being that the internet will become more relevant to locals if it has content people have traditionally consumed on platforms like TV, radio, newspapers, books and so forth.

FBC Bank introduces MasterCard Prepaid services

FBC Bank has begun offering a MasterCard Prepaid service that enables locals to shop online across various platforms worldwide. In a campaign dubbed ‘Load & Go’ the bank initially introduced the campaign through the endorsement of local music icon; Oliver Mtukudzi, advertising the service’s access to leading merchants around the world.

Pictures: the Startup Challenge on 15 August 2011

We spent the better part of today at the Startup Challenge interacting with tech startups and watching them demo. It was an exciting day, filled with a lot of great ideas presented by some of the most interesting Zimbabweans in tech. It’s not easy to explain how it feels to be amoung such amazing people and watch them passionately talk about their startups.

Zimbabwe paper’s questionable attack on Trustco

As Techzim we are obliged to promote debate and dialogue. We were surprised to read an article in this morning’s Daily News (A Zimbabwe daily) that we believe was not generous with facts. The article’s opening shot begins by describing Trustco as “a company that appears to talk very big about itself”, and proceeds to stage a series of assaults on the company, most of it factually incorrect and misleading.

Of prophets, spiritual airtime, VAS and POTRAZ

We too saw last week’s story on spiritual recharge cards by a Zim church leader, Emmanuel Makandiwa. We too found the story somewhat confusing and were eager to find out more so we could write a short ‘explanation’ of how it works, technically. Yes, just the technical side of things; it’s not our place to try to understand and explain the spiritual side.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The TrustCo side of the story. TrustCo to protect its intellectual property rights

Since TrustCo terminated the Econet agreement some 2 weeks ago, TrustCo hadn’t spoken about the issue. It is Econet Chairman, Tawanda Nyambirai, who gave the Econet side of the story which basically amounted to: TrustCo demanded more money than was due to them, spammed Econet subscribers, threatened to terminate the agreement when Econet complained about all this and when Econet called their buff, they backed out but Econet wouldn’t have it.

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.

G-Fuel set to revolutionise local energy sector

Zimbabwe’s erratic energy supplies are a stumbling block for the proliferation of ICT to propel the economy. The country is dependent on its neighbours for fuel supplies and owes mammoth debts to regional electricity producers. It has also not kept up with rest of the world’s quest to find sustainable energy sources. Fossil fuels are key culprits of global warming and finite in the sense that they are running out.

How artists can use new media to survive music piracy

It happens all the time; a comfortable status quo gets disrupted by new convenient ways to go about doing everyday things. For people benefiting from the status quo, this usually means having to somehow find a way to play the new game. But dealing with change when it threatens your livelihood is not always an easy task.

ForgetMeNot Africa processing hundreds of thousands of eTXTs per day from Zimbabwe

According to ForgetMeNot Africa’s Chief Operating Officer, Jeremy George, the company is already processing hundreds of thousands of eTXTs a day from Zimbabwe just two weeks after launch on the Econet network. Approximately 35% of those are SMSs initiated from mobile phones to the Internet.

Jeremy George revealed this to Techzim in an exclusive interview we had with him yesterday.

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 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.

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.

Econet to launch Econet Energy

We just received an invitation from Econet to attend the launch of a new venture called Econet Energy. The launch is today in Harare. The Econet Wireless Zimbabwe CEO, Douglas Mboweni, will make a presentation at the launch. Here’s an excerpt of the invite:

Politics and technology: the goings on at Telecel

Normally we like to keep clear of non-technology issues. It allows to focus and write about the things we know best. People at Telecel (or just people with interests in Telecel) however keep spending generous amounts of time generating news on the other side of the line. And it clearly affects the technology side of things at Telecel.

The Winners of Zimbabwe’s ICT 2010 Achievers Awards

Some 3 weeks ago, we posted that nominations were underway for the inaugural Zimbabwe ICT Achievers Awards. The awards ceremony was held last night at a hotel in Harare. This year’s ICT achievers were announced and recognized for their shining contribution to the country’s ICT sector.

The Zimbabwe 2011 National ICT Budget Statement

We share below the IT excerpt of Zimbabwe’s 2011 National Budget Statement presented on 25 November 2010 by Zim Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

Our Quiet Week

Over the months since we started this blog, it has grown from a small blog followed by a few people that know us personally, to one followed by thousands of Zimbabweans worldwide and viewed thousands of times each day. Resultantly, when we don’t post anything for several days, people notice and send us emails.

Thoughts On Loving And Leaving Your Employer

Some time, not too long ago, I had the opportunity to pass on some advice to a young software developer. He sought my opinion on a decision to move from his employer to a new company.

The Remains Of The Homemade Helicopter

We came upon (what remains of) this chopper while driving in the city today, and thought we would take a few shots for those of you that haven’t seen it yet. The homemade helicopter sits conspicuously outside the Exhibition Park in Harare, probably its final resting place.