Techzim

Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates


An Ultra Low Cost Phone For Africa

Vodafone yesterday announced the launch of two ultra low cost handsets targeted at consumers in the emerging markets of Africa and Asia. According to the Vodafone press release, the handsets (Vodafone 150 and Vodafone 250) will launch in the coming weeks in India and across Africa.

The Vodafone 150 will retail unsubsidised at below US $15 and the Vodafone 250, US $20, depending on the local market.


Telecel Unearths Recharge Cards Fraud Worth US$ 1.7 Million

Telecel, the second largest mobile operator in Zimbabwe, confirmed today that it has unearthed a recharge cards fraud case amounting to US $ 1,7 million.

The unscrupulous Telecel employees involved in the case, swindled the company through issuing recharge cards and starter packs using manual invoices, an invoicing method long banned by the company.


How Much Is A 3G Enabled Econet Line Worth On The Black Market? $150!

Ok, it’s official (well, in the unofficial sense), if you have US $150 to burn, you can make a few calls to guys who know guys, who know guys, who know guys that are selling Internet-ready Econet mobile lines and one will be delivered to your doorstep within the hour. The official price of an Econet line is US $5 and internet subscriptions cost a flat $25 a month.

We made a few calls ourselves and got offers ranging from $130 to $150. We tried to negotiate the price down with one guy and got the much expected “either you pay $150 or you don’t want the line, simple!” So business sure is brisk for these dealers from the dark side.


Telecel Slashes International Call Rates To As Low As A Local Call

Starting today, if you have a Telecel mobile line and need to call someone in the US, the UK, Australia, the Emirates, China or India (Update: Canada too), you will be charged local call rates. Calls to these destinations can now be made for as little as 25 US cents. Note though that this doesn’t apply to calls to Vodafone numbers in the UK.

This compares quite favorably to making international calls on other Zim mobile networks (Econet and NetOne) which costs anything between US $0.30 and US$8,70 depending on the international grouping of the destination.


The Zim ICT Minister on AU theme: Information and Communication Technologies in Africa: Prospects and Challenges for Development

The Computer Society of Zimbabwe organized a presentation by the Zimbabwe Minister of ICT, Nelson Chamisa yesterday evening. The presentation was on the just ended African Union 14th Ordinary Summit whose theme was “Information and Communication Technologies in Africa: Prospects and Challenges for Development”

He touched on using Information and Communication Technologies as instruments for achieving peace and enhancing development and disaster response. Specifically, he talked about the following issues:


Telecel Website Taken Offline

The website of the second largest mobile operator, Telecel was taken down this morning. It’s not clear why. We suspect one of two things; either the site’s design and content was now just so outdated it wasn’t doing justice to the name of this fast growing telco, or this could be a security issue,some nasty hacking business. We’ve sent an email of inquiry.

If the first reason is the case (and we hope it is) it wouldn’t have hurt to put some useful info there in addition to the wrongly worded “Telecel Zimbabwe Website is currently under construction”. Maybe a logo for identity purposes and additional text like “You can reach us on the following telephone numbers… and we’re at this physical address.” And maybe some kind of time estimate of how long things will stay like this.


Econet To Introduce A Pay Phone “Call-Me-Back” Service

Econet Wireless is currently carrying out the final tests of a payphone ‘call me back’ service to be rolled out by end of this month. According to Econet’s Corporate Communications Manager, Ranga Mberi, the service is targeted at low income and rural subscribers who may not afford making calls on the network.

The announcement was made in a story published on the Econet investor relations website today. “As most people in Zimbabwe are on the Econet network, the new service will allow most people who live in rural areas, or are unable to own their own cell phone, to send messages to relatives, to call them back, for free. It is also expected to be very popular with students, and other young people, who need to contact parents urgently, but may not have money,” explained Mberi.


Econet Puts A Hand To Mobile Phones

Econet, it seems, has decided to go all the way in providing mobile services for subscribers. It has officially joined the cell phone mad rush, flighting adverts for mobile phones and accessories in the local papers.

Econet started out about a year ago with the ‘Buddie Lite’, a ZTE manufactured low end phone with basic telephony and SMS features. Later in the year it introduced another range of Econet branded mobile phones, moderately basic this time. Both ranges were bundled with the prepaid subscriber lines. With this new offering Econet has unbundled the package; it’s a just a mobile phone now, no line. They’re making a bold statement here to all mobile phone dealers; that they’re seriously interested in a piece of the pie. And that’s no small piece we’re talking here, it wouldn’t be worth their while if it was.


Google Africa Announces The G-Nigeria Event

Google Africa yesterday announced the G-Nigeria Day 2010 event on their Google Africa blog. The event is to be held at the University of Lagos from 18 to 20 February. The main objective of the G-Africa events is to help African developers and entrepreneurs build localised applications and implement business ideas using Google technologies. The event is facilitated by Google engineers who take attendees through sessions on the latest Google tools and hands-on codelabs.


“MTN set to acquire…” Rumours All Over Again. We Hope It’s A Solid Deal This Time.

The rumours about MTN’s interest in acquiring a stake in one of Zimbabwe’s mobile operators have resurfaced, only this time it’s the government owned NetOne up for grabs.

So yes, we’re gleefully wagging our tails yet again, hoping this is not just another Telecel story. MTN was last year reported to be courting Telecel in a deal to acquire a controlling stake in the second largest (by number of subscribers) mobile operator. There was a lot of hype around the deal, with subscribers vowing to switch from whatever network they were on to the new Telecel. But the excitement had to die down. What with the long wait? The then ‘imminent’ deal never was.


Year 2009 In Review

2009 came with a shift in ICT policy direction by the government. Customs duty on ICT equipment for example was suspended and currently ICT hardware suppliers only need to pay 15% VAT on imported equipment. Most positive change has generally been attributed to the energetic Minister of ICT, Nelson Chamisa.


G-Tide Launches Regional Office In Harare

G-Tide, the makers of the locally popular G-Tide mobile phone launched their regional office in Harare on Wednesday at a ceremony held at the Crowne Plaza. The mobile phone appeared on the market about a year ago and has arguably taken up a significant slice of the mobile phone market in Zimbabwe.


Users Love Typing Website Addresses Into Search Engines And Google Understands That

Last week we posted an article on Zimbabwe’s Google search trends in 2009. In the article we noted something interesting about how people use browsers and search engines. The top ‘rising searches’ in 2009 on Google for 2009 are all variations of facebook; “facebook.com”, “www.facebook.com”, “facebook login”, and just “facebook”. Shows just how much more popular the social networking site has become in the past year. It also shows something else; people Google Facebook instead typing it directly into the address bar.


New Facebook Privacy Settings Seek To Do Away With Privacy

On visiting facebook last night, I was met with a prompt to update my privacy settings. Basically, the new privacy settings default your profile views to everyone. Including the boss whose friend request you haven’t responded to in over a year now. And pervy male stalkers crawling the net like search engines. Prospective employers too; they’re in the habit of Googling interviewees these days. The only information Facebook is suggesting you keep to your circle of friends is your email address, phone number and physical address.


What Zimbabweans Searched For On Google in 2009

According to Google Insights for Search, Zimbabweans just love facebook. We love it so much it’s in the first four spots in 2009’s top ten rising searches. At number 1 as “login facebook” then 2 as “facebook.com”, 3 as “www.facebook.com” and 4 as just “facebook”!


Replace Adobe Reader With This Lightweight PDF reader

Whenever my Firefox freezes, I immediately check if Adobe Reader’s trying to open a PDF from inside the browser. More often than not this is the reason and killing the tab (which is not always a click-and-close process) makes the fox happy again. Adobe Reader is THAT bloated, well for me at least.


Net*One Goes Green With Solar Powered Base Stations

It’s quite interesting to read news that Zimbabwe’s second largest mobile operator (by number of subscribers) is now using solar energy to power its base stations. Net*One boasts the widest network coverge in Zimbabwe and keeping its large inventory of base stations powered has probably been a challenge, hence the green solution.


Econet Introduces Airtime Coins To Ease Change Problems

Zimbabwean companies have come up with all kinds of solutions to the change problems that followed the economy’s dollarisation earlier this year. The problem itself is that a lot items are priced with a cents component or just cost less than a US dollar. This is a nightmare because there are just not enough coins in circulation in the country. Some grocery shops issue customers with credit notes, some just ask you to choose an additional item from the shelves to round off the price to a solid dollar. On very rare lucky days you’ll get your change in South African Rands. Indeed some have used the “sorry, no change” excuse to get customers to buy more stuff.


Local Application Developers Should Smell the Coffee

According to the Information Society Statistical Profiles 2009 report prepared by the International Telecommunications Union, in 2008 there were 11 internet users out of every 100 inhabitants in Zimbabwe. 2009 itself saw more Zimbabweans connecting to the Internet owing to the introduction of mobile Internet by telecoms operator Econet. Even more connections will be made over the next several months as the economy stabilizes and ISPs & mobile operators take on more subscribers.


Early Adopters! Get Your Own Copy Of Chrome OS

Tech blogs have been awash with news about Google’s release of the Chrome OS source code since last week. The release announcement itself was made at the Google Chrome OS launch event in Mountain View CA, in the States. Great news indeed and quite momentous for all and sundry in computing. A lot interesting the […]


New Internet Access Provider Calls For Cable Trenches Construction Bids

About a week ago, we saw a call for bids for the construction of long distance cable trenches nationwide. The tendering company is called Aquiva. Virtually unknown in the telecommunications industry, Aquiva proudly asserts that they are “set to roll out services soon”. It’s not clear what kind of communication services this “nationwide cable project” […]


Computer Society Summer School 2009

The 2009 Computer Society of Zimbabwe (CSZ) Summer School will be held this weekend at Montclaire Hotel in Nyanga. The Summer School provides a platform for IT professionals to learn the latest developments in the ICT profession and generally serves as a great networking opportunity with fellow geeks. Normally open to CSZ members only, this […]


Google Uganda Launches Trader On The Web

Google Uganda anounced today that Google Trader, which has been avalable as a mobile SMS-based marketplace will now be availabe on the web. The mobile version of the service was launched in June this year and allows users to buy and sell goods and services using SMS. Sellers register for free and post their items […]


The Zim Ubuntu 9.10 Release Party In Pictures

See and download the full gallery on posterous Posted via email from Technology Zimbabwe Quick NetOne, Econet, And Telecel Airtime Recharge Number to recharge: Airtime amount ($): EcoCash or OneMoney number: Buy Please dial our USSD code *405# on your phone to buy airtime because this page will not work. {{error_message}} {{error_message}}


Econet Suspends Activating More 3G Subscribers Until Billing Is Migrated To Usage Based

We just established that Econet suspended activating more subscribers on their mobile internet services since the beginning of October 2009. Apparently, this was because of an unexpected massive uptake of the 3G, Edge and GPRS services by subscribers which caused some network instability. Activated subscribers are still enjoying the services. Activation of more subscribers will […]


Econet’s Buddie And Libertie Subscribers To Start Roaming

Econet has announced that it will introduce roaming for Buddie and Libertie package subscribers in December this year. Roaming services have up to now been an exclusive for contract line subscribers because of the billing complexities it has with prepaid packages. According to Econet Wireless CEO Mr. Douglas Mboweni, Econet has invested heavily in this […]


Debating How To Lock The Stable Door After The Horse Has Fled

Today I attended “The Transition” televised debate at a local hotel. The topic under discussion was “Free Expression and Freedom of the media are fundamental tenets in a democracy. Does the GPA provide for media freedom?” This, referring to media freedom in Zimbabwe in the current political environment. On the panel was a lawyer Chris […]


Zimbabwe’s Broken Websites: Telecoms Operators

This article is the first in a series of “Zimbabwe’s Broken Websites” articles. Links to future articles will be inserted at the bottom of the post. Last week, we posted an article titled “Zimbabwean Business Should Take Its Internet Image Seriously” in which we criticized Zimbabwean business for a sluggish approach to building an online […]


Zimbabwe Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala Release Party

The Zimbabwe Ubuntu Loco team (website not updated yet) will celebrate the release of Ubuntu 9.10 code name Karmic Koala on the 31st of October. The Loco team has been quite active lately, making quite an impression of the volunteer run Open Source initiative at the 2009 ICT Africa exhibition. In an invitation to Zimbabwe’s […]


Ghana To Chair ITU Council for 2009 – 2010

Ghana has taken over the chairmanship of the ITU Council from Bulgaria. The Council began an annual session yesterday, that runs until 30 October 2009 in Geneva. Council members will discuss the implementation of the ITU’s strategic plan with the objective of responding to the current demands of a dynamic, rapidly changing telecommunications and ICT […]