Techzim

Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates


Someone Just Pushed The Wrong Button On The ZOL Site

If you’ve visited the Zimbabwe Online (ZOL) homepage in the last 3 hours or so, you probably noticed something glaringly wrong with it; the website is showing stuff in 2s. There’s a double side menu, double top banner, double adverts, double footer… (UPDATE April 22: fixed)

A bored someone at ZOL must be playing on the site. Or maybe they’re just learning their PHP on a live company site. Hey, maybe it’s just a radical new design!


ZOU Starts Using Open Source eLearning Platform Claroline

On Thursday, the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) officially launched a new Learning Management System website, ZOU Online. The new system uses the open source eLearning and eWorking platform, Claroline, and like typical Learning Management Systems, it allows lecturers to build online courses and manage learning and collaborative activities on the web.

The Zimbabwe Open University has implemented the new system in partnership with a local ICT company. We’re yet to establish which ICT company this is. We will let you know once we find out.


Axis Solutions In New Partnership With The Westcon Group

On Thursday we attended the launch of a new partnership between Zimbabwe ICT infrastructure solutions provider, Axis Solutions, and South African based distributor of converged communications solutions, Westcon. The event was held the Crown Plaza Hotel in Harare.

The event started with a presentation of the Axis’ main current drive and main business focus, which, as explained by Axis support executive Emmanuela Manyowa is information security, ICT service management.


Portnet is HIFA 2010 Official IT Partner

Portnet Corporation this year will be official provider of Information Technology services to the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA). This means Portnet will basically provide all the computer systems running HIFA behind the scenes.

This is your servers, racks, switches, routers, desktops, laptops, networks and the like. Printers and document management equipment and systems as well. Yes, there’s all that going on behind the scenes to make HIFA the perennial success it is!


It’s Six Months Later And Econet Still Has No 3G For New Subscribers

On 28 August 2009, Econet launched 3G services on its network. Then, we criticized Econet for not providing enough information to subscribers about the new service. A little over a month later, Econet quietly suspended the activation of more subscribers to 3G services.

No public announcement of the service suspension was made. You’d just visit an Econet service center and get told that the services were temporarily suspended. And that if you came back after a few weeks, you’d get all the 3G you wanted. In the press, all we read was that the service had received an overwhelming response. Looking back, Econet obviously meant the ‘overwhelming’ part literally.


Update on Zimbabwe’s Broken Sites: Still Broken

Last year we posted an article titled “Zimbabwe’s Broken Websites: Telecoms Operators”. The article basically pointed out some glaring omissions and commissions on the websites of some of the biggest telecom companies. Most of these errors can be corrected easily with a little effort and within a few minutes.

We promised to do a follow-up article on the issues we noted, so here it is. It’s mostly still the same issues we talked about then and the sad thing about all this is that, for the ones we could reach, we even went to the extent of advising them. Nonetheless, for all you telecom companies, here’s some free website quality check, again.


Weekly Roundup – 10 April 2010

TelOne, Telkom Talks
The Herald on Thursday continued with the TelOne/Telkom story that’s been appearing now and again for a while now. This time TelOne spokesperson Mr Collin Wilbes, just confirmed that negotiations are still ongoing but that he couldn’t give details.


ZOL Issues An Update On Disconnections, Warns All Telco Customers About Telco’s Liquidity

We just got another press statement that ZOL has issued on the Telco/ZOL disconnections for publication tomorrow . We’ve uploaded the press statement here, since the ZOL PR page on this issue hasn’t been updated yet (UPDATE (08 April 2010:1300hrs): the ZOL page has been updated)

The statement is titled “Update on unlawful disconnection by Telecontract and disruption of ZOL internet service and response to Telco press statement.” The update: Of the 200 customers disconnected on 25 March, 57 are still offline but will be moved to Africom by the time the statement is published – probably means by tomorrow morning.


Deported Telecel Managing Director Aimable Mpore Now Back At Work

We just got news from Telecel that the deported managing director, Aimable Mpore is now back in Zimbabwe and working at Telecel again. Mr. Mpore’s appeal to the government of Zimbabwe against the withdrawal of his work permit succeeded and he returned to work yesterday (Tuesday), after arriving back in Zimbabwe on Monday.

Mr Mpore left Zimbabwe early in February, after his work permit was withdrawn for failing to reveal some information on circumstances surrounding his expulsion by the Cote d’Ivoire government last year.


Econet Officially Opening New Large Call Center Tomorrow

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is officially opening its new call center in Harare tomorrow. Econet has built a new advanced call centre to handle increased traffic from its growing subscriber base now standing at more than 3.2 million.

Speaking about the opening, Econet CEO, Mr Douglas Mboweni said that massive growth had increased demand for service and support, which Econet has responded to by building a new and larger facility to field more calls from its customers.


5 Handy Internet Apps You Can Use In Zim!

So it’s that time again when, for your health, you’re supposed to take a break and stay away from your PC and your always-buzzing mobile phone.

If you’re like me, you tried that the whole Saturday. You tried to do the other real social (not talking about Facebook here) stuff you’ve been putting off for a while now. It worked. But only for a day.

Or maybe you’re back early from a holiday. Hell, maybe you couldn’t even afford a holiday away in these hard times. Or maybe you’re one of those selfless men and women that have to work during such times.

Whatever your reason, you have some time to kill today so you’re just browsing around.


Telecel Subscriber Base Reaches Almost One Million

Telecel Zimbabwe now has close to a million subscribers, the company’s international partner, Telecel Globe, revealed on Thursday. Telecel Globe chief executive Kai Uebach told a media briefing in Harare that Telecel Zimbabwe had invested heavily in developing its network. It was rolling out in the region of 170 base stations countrywide.

He said the quality of the network signal, which in the past had been poor, was now good. Telecel had also invested heavily in stabilising the network, through investing in generators and batteries so that the network could continue operating well even during prolonged periods without mains electricity.


When Solar Meets Wireless – A Rural Telecommunications Solution – Part 2

Solar Powered Wireless Access

This is a viable avenue of implementing rural telephony in a bid to redress the knowledge and information gap between the urban and rural populations, amongst other things.

There’s no need to explain and expand the clear relationship that exists between information technology and development of a country. Access to information and communication on the fly, bridges the digital divide that generally engulfs the bulk of African countries. This is usually measured as teledensity: the number of connected phone users per 100 people.


Strive Masiyiwa Shuts Down Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (April Fools)

Strive Masiyiwa, founder of Econet Wireless has given instructions to shut down the Zimbabwean operations of the now global telecoms company. The instructions are for the mobile operator to close down business by the end of day 01 April 2010.


Econet Reduces Mobile Line Sim Cards To US$2

Econet announced today the reduction of its mobile line’s price from US$5 to US$2. The US$2 includes airtime worth a dollar. This follows a similar move by its closest competitor, Telecel Zimbabwe, about 2 months ago.

Adverts by Econet in the local press today urge customers to act now as ‘offer’ is only “valid while stocks last!” We’re not sure what exactly is meant by this statement. Maybe Econet will revert to the $5 when they run out ‘stocks’. And the ‘stocks’, is this the physical sim cards itself or capacity on the network?


When Solar Meets Wireless – A Rural Telecommunications Solution

Recently the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) made an announcement that it had committed US$24 million from the Universal Services Fund (USF) for implementing eight projects in the rural areas. No specifics as to which telecoms operators had been tasked to carry out the rural network outreach programs. Also no specific areas in the 8 provinces were made public by Eng. Charles Sibanda who made the announcements.

Studies that have been conducted worldwide have identified that telecommunications is an important tool for the economic development and self-sufficiency in any society. Indeed, mobile and internet penetration are now used as key economic indicators


Telecel Launches ‘Mega Juice Card’, Subscribers Get US $2 Bonus Time For Every $1

Telecel Zimbabwe launched a new promotion dubbed ‘Mega Juice’, at the weekend. The new Mega Juice card, which costs US $1, gives the subscriber $2 bonus air time, effectively giving away three dollars worth of air time for the price a dollar.

The Mega Juice air time however is only valid for 24 hours from the time the air time is loaded or, in Telecel jargon, from the time the mobile phone is ‘juiced up’. As is the case with such promotions, this is valid for calls within the Telecel network.

Using the Mega Juice card they can talk to other Telecel subscribers for about 13 minutes for one dollar. With an ordinary air time card they would only be able to chat for about four minutes.


Weekly Roundup – 27 March 2010

Telecel Zimbabwe Shareholding

The Fingaz on Thursday revealed a new twist to the Telecel Zimbabwe shareholding question. Apparently Telecel International may have to cede more than just 11% shareholding to local entrepreneurs. Telecel International agreed to a POTRAZ requirement in 2007 to give up 20% of its 60% shareholding but it didn’t.

Depending on how the inclusive government deals with this, “The company could be forced to honour its initial deal it signed with Telecel Zimbabwe to offload 20 percent from its current 60 percent shareholding to indigenous players in the venture.”


Canonical Releases Beta 1 Of Ubuntu 10.04

Canonical released Beta 1 of Ubuntu 10.04 today. The latest version of the OS that brought Linux to the people is scheduled to be released on the 29th of April. It’s a long term support (LTS) release, and this time named after a cat, ‘Lucid Lynx’.

The Zimbabwe loco team has been active the past couple of years promoting the Ffee OS, and last year registered a milestone when the Parliament of Zimbabwe moved over all their desktop and server computers to Ubuntu 8.o4.


Chips Computing Services Wins Best Achiever Award For X3 ERP

Chips Computing Services has won the Best Achiever Award for Sage Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) X3, barely a year after the product was launched in Zimbabwe.

Chips Computing Services, which holds the Sage Pastel franchise in Zimbabwe and is the official distributor of Sage and Pastel products, won the award, which is based on sales, ahead of many other participants from across the world, including South Africa and Australia.


Zimbabwe’s Mobile Penetration Doesn’t Stand At A Mere 20%

Casually reading an article posted by the Herald a week ago, I was met with a statement that made me stop:

…Potential for better returns in the sector is abound considering that the penetration rate by Econet, Telecel and NetOne, largely confined to urban areas, stands at a mere 20 percent in a country with more than 12 million people.


Communications Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa Holds Impact Assessment Workshop in Zimbabwe

The Communications Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) will, starting tomorrow, hold an impact assessment training workshop at Elephant Hills in Victoria Falls. The 2 day workshop is aimed at providing forums where awareness of the need for impact assessment in the policy and regulation making processes are discussed.

The workshop is being attended by regulatory authorities and the SADC region telecommunications and internet service providers.

CRASA operations manager explains in the secretariat message for the workshop:


Weekly Roundup – 20 March 2010

PowerTel and the BTC Fibre Deal

There was an article in this week’s Sunday Mail on PowerTel’s fibre deal with Botswana Telecommunications Corporation. Again no mention of the bandwidth capacity being purchased. We searched around and found this pdf on the BTC website. It says “…under the agreement with BTC will get access to direct international undersea connectivity with the SynchronousTransport Module One (STM1) at a maximum of 155Mbps.”

The PowerTel managing director, Samuel Maminimini made the usual promises business leaders make after achieving such milestones:


Telecel Zimbabwe’s Board Suspends Acting Chairperson, Jane Mutasa

Telecel Zimbabwe’s board of directors has announced that its acting chairperson, Jane Mutasa, has been suspended from the board to enable her to defend herself against the criminal charges that have been preferred against her in Zimbabwe.

The following statement was issued after a board meeting that took place today:

“At the extraordinary board meeting of the Board of Telecel Zimbabwe, held on March 19, 2010, the directors resolved to suspend Mrs Mutasa as director of the company to afford her an opportunity to defend herself against the charges that have been preferred against her by the state following allegations of fraud brought to the police by the company.


Pastel Software Zimbabwe Announces Launch Of New Evolution Modules

Pastel Software Zimbabwe, the official Sage Pastel distributor in Zimbabwe, has revealed plans to launch new Pastel Evolution point of sale and branch synchronisation add-on modules in June this year. This will be the first time these modules have been available in Zimbabwe.

Experts from Sage Pastel International’s headquarters in South Africa will present, explain and demonstrate the new modules on June 7 and 8.

Pastel Software Zimbabwe runs as a division of Chips Computing Services and distributes Pastel software directly and through a network of local dealers. It is the only Platinum Certified Sage Pastel Partner in the country. Sage Pastel grades its business partners as Silver, Gold and Platinum, with Platinum being the highest grade. The only other partner in Zimbabwe, Omni Africa, is a certified Gold Business Partner.


Econet Slashes Off-Peak Calling Rates To 10 cents

Ok. The good news first: Starting this week, Econet has slashed its off-peak calling rates to just 10 cents. Off-peak here refers to 10PM to 6AM everyday.

The not so good news:…


Egypt, South Africa And Nigeria Account For More Than 80% Of Google Code Jam Africa Qualifying Contestants

The first round of the Google Code Jam Africa 2010 is over. Of the 54 countries in Africa, only 18 made it through the qualification round of Code Jam Africa 2010 and of these, only 3 countries accounted for more than 80% of the contestants; Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria. This is despite there being no country specific entry restrictions (well, save for Internet connectivity).

An indication of the countries with super brain developers? Or maybe that of those with interest in software development? Maybe of those that knew about the contests?


Weekly Roundup – 5 March 2010

Econet held a breakfast meeting today to give an update to stakeholders on the network upgrade project that has been taking place since last year. We’ll give you an update of the discussions held once we have something.


An Overview Of Zimbabwe’s Telecommunications – POTRAZ Presentation Download

We got this presentation here from a function we attended last week. The presentation was made by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) and generally covers the current state of telecoms industry in Zimbabwe. Coming from them, we’re sure it’s pretty accurate.


Why Google Produces The Most Relevant Search Results

Like many people, for a long time now, Google has been my default search engine. This default state of my online experience makes it easy to forget that there are other options out there; that I could look at the web through a different set of lenses. And that indeed, there might actually be a better experience elsewhere.

I don’t want to use Google just because everyone likes it, so every now and again I like to sample the other popular search engines of the day. The one thing that has made me stick with Google for the past 5 years stills stands out; the priority given to relevant local results.