Zimbabwe could lead growth in internet in Africa, contributing significantly to the country’s economy, an Econet Wireless executive has said.
Econet Service CEO Darlington Mandivenga predicts that the internet’s contribution to economy growth on the continent would increase dramatically over the next decade, with Zimbabwe being a significant player.
¨Our internet penetration is nearing 40%-one of the highest in Africa. We are not only going to empower our people with internet growth but will also be a major player in Africa in that regard, ¨ he said
He said in 1998 about 75% of Africans had never seen a mobile phone and let alone hear it ringing. But things had changed.
¨We will drive economic growth both in Zimbabwe and Africa. Few people know that the first mobile phone to ring in Botswana and Nigeria was from an Econet line and we have now made it possible for internet to be free of charge through Eco School, ¨ Mandivenga said
Eco School allows all school going children to surf the internet for free on about 50 educational websites. The product dubbed Econet Zero, is aimed at transforming the lives of school children.
A veritable transformation of Zimbabwe’s economy could be just around the corner if the internet achieves the same kind of scale and impact as the spread of mobile phones.
Following a decade of rapid urbanisation and strong economic growth, Africa is aggressively going digital. Last year, it was estimated that about just 16% of the continent’s one billion people were online but the picture is changing rapidly.
Africa’s ¨iGDP¨-the per cent of gross domestic product that is contributed by internet related activity-currently stands at 1.1% , just over half the levels seen in another emerging markets and well below the average of 3.7% in developed economies.
¨What we need to ask ourselves is what we are browsing, is it adding value to our pupils, corporates, economy and more importantly our children? As Econet we will be part of that history as we always want to be the head not the tail. If we have to make positive changes we have to make some people uncomfortable, ¨ Mandivenga said
If internet take up mirrors that of mobile telephony in Africa, growth could be much more dramatic. To put the internet’s potential for Zimbabwe into perspective; it is helpful to consider the impact of mobile phone, which has revolutionised the way individuals interact and the way SMEs, farmers, and informal traders operate.
Africa’s iGDP could account for as much as 10% of total GDP or 300billion by 2025, with increased internet penetration and use driving private consumption 13 times higher than current levels
Credit : Financial Gazette