The recent shocking revelations by the Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services, Hon. Supa Mandiwanzira that local mobile operators approached his Ministry seeking a ban on Whatsapp Calling, Viber and Skype is a clear indication that creativity and innovation are lacking in the local telecoms sector.
By Digital Rebel
The previous two years have not been gloomy for Zimbabwean Mobile Network operators in the recent wake up call of social media platforms conquering the modes of communication. We saw the rise of Whatsapp from just an urban communication platform down to the rural areas where our local kinsmen are even making day to day contact with relatives across the globe.
To make the playing ground much more tougher for the local Mobile Network Operators, the world continued to introduce more cheaper communication platforms such as Skype, Viber with Whatsapp Calling already crippling revenues for the mobile operators.
Zimbabwe’s mobile networks have in the past generated bulk of their revenues from provision calling and messaging services which costs around $1 per four minutes and 8c per SMS respectively. But the introduction of Whatsapp and other Over the Top Services (0TTs) such as Viber and Skype came in as a bitter pill to swallow for the likes of Econet, Telecel and NetOne.
#MondayBlues recently came across the shocking revelations that these local mobile network operators approached the government seeking a ban on these OTTs. The firms said these cheaper communication platforms were eroding their revenue streams.
“Sometime last year, the telecommunication players approached the ministry, concerned about the loss of revenue that networks were experiencing as a result of over the top services such as Whatsapp Calling, Skype, Viber and the like. They wanted the government to look at the possibility of either banning or stifling these operations to ensure that they would continue to be profitable – revealed Hon. Mandiwanzira”
Minister Supa Mandiwanzira said at the recently held E – Tech Africa symposium ” We did mention that as a progressive government, which promotes access to technology, we were averse of the idea of stifling these technologies or banning them”
The Minister went on to say they had since then advised the operators to look at the development as an opportunity to facilitate young Zimbabweans to develop applications suitable for local and global use that can rival those coming from abroad.
#MondayBlues does not condone to such mediocrity exhibited by these local mobile network operators. This is a dynamic world governed by cutting edge technology that comes as a result of creativity and innovation. The problem with our local operators is that they are always playing the catchup battle on global communication systems.
To make matters worse, the Zimbabwe telecommunication sector records the highest consumer charges on mobile services in the SADC region. For example, in South Africa, Cell C and MTN charge R5 for a monthly Whatsapp bundle on their subscribers whereas here in Zim, the likes of Econet pegs an unbelievable $3 and $6 for a Whatsapp monthly package.
The idea behind the profitability of telecommunication companies should not be behind crippling innovation and other disruptive technologies simply because they stand to lose revenue. It is their duty to usher in new technologies to the upcoming generation at affordable costs so that we do not always stay behind while other nations are galloping ahead in digitizing their economies.
It will be reasonable advice to our local mobile network operators to start implementing a consumer based behavioral approach when looking at boosting their revenue streams. Rather bullying their local clientèle, it will be good for them if they start revolving their strategic business plans around the local people who stand as their biggest cash cow.
The should start providing solutions that addresses the challenges faced by the locals rather than importing systems from abroad always. By so doing they will be able to see the relevance of taking on board the young Zimbabwean technocrats who are capable of developing profitable business solutions that can address the drawbacks derailing economic progress in our country.
Over charging consumers does not give anyone a long life cycle in modern day business as long as they do not address the technological needs of their customers. Our local mobile network operators must not be blinded by the idea of always looking at opportunities of exploiting the local subscribers but rather look at opportunities of establishing a fair business relationship with their local consumers.
#MondayBlues will always will stand up against poor corporate governance, mismanagement, poor service delivery and most of all we advocate for the promotion of a level playing filed in the ICT sector.