I’ve been doing a lot of research over the last few months to assess where Zimbabwe currently stands in the Digital divide. The first astounding thing I figured out is that we’ve made really amazing strides over the last few years particularly between the years 2009 to the current year 2017.
I wouldn’t say that we should be satisfied though because even though it may seem as if we are getting there, there is still a lot of work to be done and the Zimbabwean Digital Space is not yet that competitive, something that I believe will sooner or later change as we move further ahead towards the year 2020.
Currently, according to a latest research by research Website, Global Stats, there were 3 356 000 internet users in Zimbabwe. If you can agree with me, that’s a really depressing number, 3 out of 14 million means that Zimbabwean internet users are less than 40% of the entire population.
Poor internet usage statistics as the ones highlighted above can easily quell the hopes of E-Commerce business owners, bloggers, and Digital Marketers but before you start being skeptical of the Zimbabwean space, just hold it off a bit. I might have something that might be of interest to you. In 2000, there were only 50 000 internet users in Zim. Now do the calculations.
- The Rise of Content Sharing Platforms.
I used the phrase Content Sharing Platforms instead of Social Media Largely because there are a lot of variables involved here. Like I said, we have 3 million active internet users in Zimbabwe, the question now is, “Where are they spending their bandwidth or data?”
Whatsapp is an app and not a Website and therefore irrelevant to my heading. According to semrush.com, the top 3 most visited content sharing websites in Zimbabwe are Facebook and Youtube as reflected in the picture below. Facebook receives around 2 million visitors from Google each month whilst Youtube gets 893k.
For Facebook, the numbers may not be that relevant but for Youtube, the story is different. Why are so many people visiting such a data-heavy site, a pattern that keeps on recurring each month? The content producer who’ll be able to answer that question will indeed hold the future in his/her hands.
Apart from the SEM rush analysis. Here are the Social Media usage stats in Zimbabwe. I had to get these by making mock ads on popular Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. The process was, I made an Ad and set Zimbabwe as my target location. The numbers are interesting. Facebook has 900 000, Twitter is now at 500 000 and LinkedIn at 250 000. Instagram is can be pretty difficult but the last time I checked, it stood at 300 000.
The number for Instagram is likely to increase as we go due to its highly appealing nature especially to youths between the ages of 19-24. One platform that is more/less similar to Instagram but highly ignored is Pinterest. According to globalstats.com, Pinterest is second only to Facebook, I couldn’t get the actual stats but here is a snapshot of the claim.
One thing is certain, content sharing platforms are rising pretty fast in Zimbabwe and this trend won’t end any sooner.
I’m not being sarcastic or anything here, no, not at all. E-Commerce is really a thing and we can’t continue to avoid the subject because we are used to the 20th-century methods of selling. No!
Believe it or not, Zimbabweans are shopping online and this can be evidenced by the rise and survival of platforms like 10ngah, Zimazon and Hammer and Tongues online.
If you notice, I did not include Ownai, why, it’s still a classifieds platform but no doubt, whatever Econet is doing with Ownai, it’s going to be a game changer in the industry. We all know Econet for being sinister and very good at keeping people in the dark and then suddenly hitting the market with an irresistible product. Remember, Wifi in Kombi’s, that’s another game changer.
Apart from that, there is a type of E-Commerce happening in Zimbabwe that I’m certain about 90% of you don’t know of. It happens on Facebook and it’s called Harare Bidding Wars. It has the E-Bay business model, you auction your old stuff and the highest bidder wins, you arrange payments and shipments and it’s done, that simple.
People are buying and selling online and very soon, large-scale models of small initiatives like Harare bidding wars will be put in place. The game will change.
- Digital Marketing
It’s a fact, as more people begin to get familiar with Digital Platforms and Digital Media, it becomes vital for brands to be able to connect with those individuals. Now, forgive me if I describe this section with passion because it is what I do and I love it.
Businesses are understanding the value of Digital Marketing and most business that have been doing this are getting results and easily growing their customer base, Steward Bank can testify to this. You can read my detailed article on Digital Marketing here.
But why is Digital Marketing now being preferred over other forms of traditional Marketing? It’s because Digital Marketing is highly measurable, cost effective and you pay for value delivered unlike in traditional forms of marketing where you pay for perceptions and guesses.
Platforms like Google AdWords and Facebook ads use a CPC(Cost per Click) or (vCPM), cost per Viewable thousand impressions where you pay after you’ve seen the performance of an ad.
Here is a snapshot of an Ad Campaign I recently ran.
To explain the numbers briefly. For $3, 1 677 people saw an ad and 34 of those people indicated interest in the product being offered. Now comparing to traditional flyer distribution, it costs roughly $33 to print 250 A5 flyers. That should show you the whole picture. For that $33, we’d have reached over 15 000 people and got 340 new leads compared to the 250 or even less we’d have reached through flyers.
The other thing about Digital Marketing is that it is customizable and highly targeted. If I wanted to sell a complicated B2B product that has a lot of Beurocracy involved for a company to buy from me, I’d just set up an Ad and target the CEO’s here on LinkedIn, by doing that, I’ve gained the opportunity for my product to be seen by the key decision makers which is a plus for me.
Now apart from all of the above, with enough tenacity (this is the tough route). Digital Marketing can be done for free. How? Your company website. Most Zimbabwean businesses don’t yet understand the purpose of a website, the beauty in all this is that those businesses who do are making a killing through SEO. Oh, yeah, nothing is really free but it’s worth a try. I’ve seen results myself.
If you want to learn more about Digital Marketing, the visit this page to register for the Zimbabwe Online Marketing Indaba taking place in June.
Most people may say FinTech is closely related to E-Commerce and I wouldn’t agree less. As you can see, FinTech is a short acronym for Finance and Technology and this is going to impact our country, and the impact is will be deeply felt.
Some may say why. They answer is pretty simple, the cash challenges that have rocked our country over the last two years have seen banks wildly adopting alternative forms of transactions, one of those being Digital transactions.
It seems as if all banks are now in sync and people are gradually beginning to trust Digital Transactions. This wave won’t end anytime sooner, in fact, it’s going to be more popular. A cashless society or at least a 50+% cashless society can be achieved maybe in 10 years but it’s a start.
In addition, the rise of Cryptocurrencies is somewhat disrupting the Financial Sector but on a small scale. Everyone is witnessing with great awe the rising popularity of the bitcoin and it’ll keep on becoming more popular with time. There are even companies that have arisen particularly BitFinance, which specializes in Bitcoin exchange.
Before I came to this. I had to do a mini-debate with myself to make a choice between E-Learning on Online Media, but I’ve agreed to go with E-learning.
I’m sure most people are familiar with the name Ruzivo, an E-Learning platform owned by Econet Wireless. I wanted to see how many people actually use it and the stats from my research via Similar Web shocked me. Here is a Snapshot.
In April, the site had 7 000 visitors with 13 minutes per session and a bounce rate of less than 5%. Tell that to any experienced Digital Marketer, they would tell you that it’s a lie.
Having such an engaged audience on an E-Learning site is a clear indication that E-Learning is just a starting out Digital Trend that’s not going anywhere. With a bit of scale, we could have a sizeable chunk of our students studying online.
Although these are the top three Digital Trends, there are other things that I haven’t included in this article. To briefly list them, things like the growing popularity of Bitcoins, the rising number of I.T Students and entrepreneurs, the draft cybercrime bill, the growing number of online publications, artificial intelligence, and several other trends.
I might have left something out, let’s discuss.
Tamuka James Chinzvende is a Google Certified PPC Consultant and Partner. He is also a WordPress Developer and a Hubspot Certified Online Inbound Marketer.