Zimfon launches unlimited calling to Zimbabwe for Diaspora customers

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar

zimfonAs promised last week, Zimfon today launched the new unlimited calling service targeted at the Diaspora. The service, if it sails through with no problems, maybe result in Zimfon (and Africom) terminating most of the international calls to Zimbabwe as, from what we can tell, the value proposition is quite significant. That said, it’s not clear if the regulator will let it fly seeing the line between this (international VoIP traffic routed via a local VoIP operator) and “traffic refiling” is quite blurred.

So how does the unlimited calling service work? Like so:

  • A person in the diaspora gets a Zimfon VoIP line along with an app from Google Play or iTunes or any other VoIP client if they want. The service, from the way we understand it so far, is essentially an Africom VoIP similar to a Guro-o line in everything but name and app branding.
  • Via the Zimfon website, the new diaspora client then proceeds to buy an Africom device & sim for their family here in Zimbabwe.
  • In Zimbabwe the beneficiary of the diaspora bought device is then notified by Zimfon and they go pick it up at the nearest Africom or Zimpost shop. Over 100 branches thanks to Zimpost.
  • The diaspora customer is then able to make calls to this beneficiary, and anyone with an Africom line, for a flat monthly of $13.99

According to Zimfon’s announcement today, the service will be available starting tomorrow.

The lingering question right now is whether this is legal according to Zimbabwe’s telecommunication laws. That is, can Africom (or an agent of theirs) legally sell a telecoms service to a customer who’s not in Zimbabwe. What about Know Your Customer (KYC)? A Zimfon representative we spoke to today, Brett Chulu, said as far as they were concerned, Zimfon is perfectly legal.

According to the release today, Zimfon was launched on May 23 at Zimexpo in Dallas, Texas. Aside from the new unlimited calling package, Zimfon already offers calls to Zimbabwe starting at 6 cents a minute (to Africom lines) and 12 cents a minute to other Zim networks.


  1. Tapiwa ✔

    …can Africom (or an agent of theirs) legally sell a telecoms service to a customer who’s not in Zimbabwe. (sic)

    It’s probably a given that the Africom SIM card holder is Africom’s customer – not the person abroad. Things become a little unclear when it comes to the relationship between diasporan & Africom. It could be argued that Zimfon is a foreign telecom company that happens to interoperate with Africom…exclusively.

    If Zimfon is paying Africom per-minute & absorbs the risk of the average user making calls worth more than the $14 flat-fee, then I think it’s pretty cut-and-dry legal, with no grey areas.

  2. Liberty Dandira

    These guys have a lot of potential, but they need to put their house in order. If it is Africom, then it’s brewing disaster for its on business. Someone is going to get one of the lines and make an abusive call to those sensitive sections of zim governance, then all Zimfon accounts will have to be de-registered.

    1. Phona Kuden

      Not sure what disaster you are referring to. This is a simple business model. Diaspora activated by Zimfon, Zimfon routes call via the cloud and interconnects with the Africom switching platform and call is terminated to a Zim phone. How simple can it get. Interconnection happens with a lot of international operators, wholesale and niche carriers who by the way do not need to be licensed by POTRAZ. Are we going to be bogged done with legalities or appreciate innovation which has been tested and working successfully in similar emerging markets. Respect to innovation, cost effectiveness and convenience to Zimbos. Kudos to Zimfon!!!

      1. Liberty Dandira

        Why are your numbers Zim numbers? Cant you see the risk at hand when someone uses that number to make an abusive call. This is very possible. Remember there are a lot of pre-paid VISA/Mastercard Debit Cards which you can get using fake names and be able to get an account through ZImfon. For example, one can create a fake account through Payoneer.com and get a Debit card, and then decides to Jukwalize through buying one of your lines. How are you going to avoid this Mr Phona Kuden. The problem with Zimbos when it comes innovations is that they dont want their work to be peer-reviewed, they just want to have Kudos automatically. Here I am only trying to open your eyes to see possible possibilities. I have one of those fake Debit Cards and I have opened a Zimfon account.Thats why I am concerned. I have the power to terrorize anyone using your service, and when investigations are being carried out your company is the one at risk. I have nothing against you guys,but before the Kudos just put this into consideration. Look at Mukuru.com, ndovatoti varume when it comes to innovation. They have put serious security measures on these things that are very obvious as subject of abuse.

        Your Jambanja way of response will not help you in anyway.

        1. VoIPer

          I think to question the legality of a VoIP service,which is non-geograpghic by it’s nature, when it is operated by a Zimbabwean company to serve the diaspora is misplaced. Telecomms companies are exporting their services to the rest of the world.I do not know of any law, statute or regulation that prohibits the exportation of such services. As far as security is concerned, i think the security sector of the country have to worry about that. KYC is no brainer, Zimfon has to make sure that there is a way to verify that the info that a user supplies is legit.

        2. Phona Kuden

          No words really. Why can’t my no. be a Zim no. That’s the whole point. Cost and convenience vakuru. I think you really need to read more about Voice over IP and understand its merits more than demerits

          1. Liberty Dandira

            I can see you have not read what I commented. You still go your jambanja way of responding. I have given a clear example of how someone can abuse the service without being caught, and since the number is Zimbabwean, investigations will start with the Telecoms company that has been allocated that Phone Numbering Scheme.

            1. Phona Kuden

              Ok. Zimfon ndizvo!!

            2. VOIPka1

              @Liberty….you dont burn down the house becoz there is a snake inside. Whatever security issues you refer to maybe looked at and resolved but the most important thing is innovation and competition should be encouraged to lower down costs for consumers both locally and internationally.

  3. Muti


  4. Wtf

    pips this is VOIP , voice over Internet , the internet is a global network , this is innovation , why is it nobody business that other network cartels charge 30cents to call zw , Go on guys Zimphone , Guru , Guroo , Taname make this legal failproof , and by the way my zimphone number is no longer working , Econet have you done anything , Econet you need to be competitive not what you do. Just a matter of time before a breaking point!!

    1. Liberty Dandira

      Yes..it may be reuse-innovation, but you need to assess your playing ground first

  5. Marek

    Its a Zimfon to Zimfon only service then – not the biggest news I was hoping for. The same can already be achieved with Skype or Google’s Hangouts in combination with any of the fixed monthly internet subscriptions (ZOL, Africom, Powetel). If the Zim contact has fixed internet then there’s nothing stopping free unlimited Skype – Skype calls (including video if the bandwidth permits). The advantage of a fixed internet package is that you can use it for other things – not just making VoIP calls.

  6. macdchip

    Not that exciting bt good for progress and testing the flexibility of POTRAZ.

    This is the very same service like skype, viber, tango where you buy your relative a smartphone, install the apps and get affordable packages like adsl from telone.

  7. Mark Nkatazo

    the zimfon system will definitely put other isp into serious competition. I started using it and the voice quality is good. I had a few dropouts on my first calls and a system failure on connection only. I am closely monitoring the use. I will be coming back with a more detailed analysis after testing the system on different platforms

  8. Mark Nkatazo

    ……. the legality of the system will obviously include politics

  9. re-a-list

    am i the only one who is frustrated that there is no link whatsoever to zimfon’s website on this piece. such a turnoff.