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Zimbabwe: internet comes at too high a price say tech experts

Zimbabwe: internet comes at too high a cost say tech experts

ICT experts in Zimbabwe agree that internet access and affordability remain challenges and will impact on investment in the country's tech scene.

Zimbabwe' three mobile operators - Econet, NetOne and Telecel - offer mobile internet and the country is home to several ISPS including Africom, TelOne, ZOL, Liquid and Dandemutande.

The country's internet penetration rate remains at around 50% according to stats from the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).

Sonia Jorge, Executive Director at Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) told ITWeb Africa that "internet access remains far from affordable" in Zimbabwe. Recent research by the organisation shows that 1GB of mobile data "costs nearly 45% of a citizen's average income".

Local tech expert Soul Limbikani Kabweza believes the cost of access to the internet in Zimbabwe is driving the use of social media packages because of the promotional bundled offering by mobile firms.

Internet access companies in Zimbabwe charge between US$20 and US$30 for between 15GB and 30GB monthly internet access. The mobile companies charge US$1 for around 250MB in promotional daily data bundles, while they also offer US$1 weekly bundles for WhatsApp and Facebook.

"The high cost to connect in Zimbabwe results from a combination of factors. These include limited connectivity infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, and little incentive for private sector operators to invest money in expanding service to these areas and/or to pursue infrastructure sharing; a Universal Service and Access Fund - designed to fund programs to expand access in underserved areas - that remains mostly inactive; and a national ICT policy that lacks clear, time-bound targets for access, affordability, and service quality," Jorge added.

A4AI's 2017 Affordability Drivers Index, which evaluates countries based on policies put in place to encourage internet affordability, positions Zimbabwe in 50th place out of 58 countries

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