Entrepreneurs Call For Local Data Bundle To Help Zimbos Access Local Services & Websites

Farai Mudzingwa Avatar

The new data prices have hit Zimbos harder than the army of the dead hit Winterfell and a lot of us are going to have to change our approach when it comes to browsing on the internet using mobile data.

Two days ago I stumbled onto an interesting conversation between two local entrepreneurs who happen to be the founders of Fresh In A Box, Lytee along with eCharges and Zimex App.

The two had an interesting thread with suggestions regarding how mobile network operators can continue charging their normal prices whilst allowing subscribers to access local content for less.

Here are the thoughts shared by Zimex Founder Washington Mkombodzi:

Woke up this morning seeing a great idea from Kuda @
to ask @econetzimbabwe @Telecel_Zim @NetOneCellular to introduce a cheaper local data bundle. Here is a thread why I think it’s important to have local bundle now.

The new bundles have made data very expensive 4 many zimbos & will make it difficult for locals 2 produce content & users to consume it. The previous bundles made it affordable 4 a lot of people to consume e internet and even new users to appreciate the usefulness of it.

Recently we started to see high video views of local video content, new apps developed, novels were written, startups created, local memes. With the new bundles, this progress is going be reversed unless something is done about it.

The new bundles will see less people sharing local videos i.e bustoptv @bustoptv , Lumumba show @acielumumba on whatsapp or youtube. But if bustop tv or other content creators create local websites that can be accessed cheaply it will greatly help local content creation.

Why is Local Content important Biggest reason is, it creates jobs for actors, local developers, local startups, authors, musicians etc. A good example is freshinabox a local internet business, it has created new jobs for a number of people from farmers, accountants, drivers.

In Zimbabwe a single job creation is important and we need as mny avenues as possible to create jobs. Imagine if people start failing to access the internet because its expensive how mny opportunities will be missed. Please lets critically think about this.

A lot of us are discovering local content thru the internet. How did u find out about Winky D @winkydonline new song imajeni, I bet it was thru the internet. Imajeni now how expensive data is now, how are we going consume our local content we love so much.

We need a local bundle 2 access news sites like @WeArePindula @Techzim. Browse online markets like ZimexApp. Buy online from @FreshInABox @PaynowZW & Easily access apps like eCharges that simplify our lives. With this bundle, a lot more local innovation will come.

I suggest service providers bundle free local data when a person buys airtime or any of their services or completely introduce a local bundle like the WhatsApp bundle that can be cheaply purchased to browse locals websites and apps.

The will greatly promote local innovation and content. More people will be able to publish videos, tutorials, books, distribute new songs, develop locals apps, create memes and jokes that make us laugh a lot and be proud of being a zimbo.

This will greatly promote local innovation and content. More people will be able to publish videos, tutorials, books, distribute new songs, develop locals apps, create memes and jokes that make us laugh a lot and be proud of being a zimbo.

Washington via Twitter
A conception of the local bundle

Kuda Musasiwa also shared a thread of the conversation the two guys had:

This will definitely be a good idea to incentivize local content and allow zimbos to continue playing around with the internet. For a long time, our local apps haven’t gained much ground but if access to them is much cheaper than before there would be an incentive for both creators and users to swarm these platforms. Only then can platforms like Buddie Beatz, eMbare and a bunch of others become mainstays on our mobile devices…



  1. Anonymous

    Besides everyday sites like herald, Techzim and maybe newsday what local content does Zim actually offer that can motivate such a big business decisions. Sites like freshinabox, classifieds and even Techzim are for specific niche markets.

    Truth be told most people who use the internet access YouTube, google,twitter, Facebook, whatsapp and instagram. Everything else is just crumbs and highly targeted to a specific few

    1. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

      I agree with you partially. There isn’t that much locally hosted content that is consumed by Zimbabweans. Personally, I visit news sites, Techzim and Technomag on a daily basis, other than that, there is not much else. That is my consumption and this is presuming these sites are hosted locally, TechZim isn’t. I don’t use classifieds, freshinabox e.t.c. I use PayNow on average twice in a year. I agree, my usage habits aren’t a representation of the typical Zimbabwean mobile user, but regardless of that, the fraction of traffic attributable to local hosting is little. Therefore, it might not even justify the creation of such bundles or add-ons. We must remember that it costs the MNO to implement these features.

      On the other hand, if local traffic was cheaper there would be an increase in the consumption of locally hosted content. For example, I know several people who use Ownai over Classifieds.co.zw simply because Ownai is zero-rated on Econet. It’s not about functionality, or popularity, their choice is firmly rooted in cheaper data access. Now, taking that into consideration, Econet for example wouldn’t want Ownai to lose this advantage over Classifieds.co.zw, this might disinterest them for participating. In fact, the whole Cassava eco-system is premised on zero-rating and the absence of net-neutrality. That, alone, firmly guarantees that Econet is not going to buy into this proposal.

  2. Keith Rose

    How would you identify local content – especially when said content is behind a CDN or hosted internationally.

    You can’t change rating by domain, e.g co.zw as that would include several international services including google.
    You could do by IP/AS, but that would exclude sites like techzim.

    A manual list.. would be problematic to manage.

    1. Anonymous

      It would need creating a whole local ecosystem and possibly infrastructure (servers, data centers, cloud storage etc) for that content. You can’t expect to be having local content hosted in thin air.
      These guys dream is out of scope with reality and practical possibilities. This would need to be Gvt lead and financed like China’s internal internet. Simply creating data bundles for local IP’s is not a solution to a very big challenge.

    2. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

      You can identify local content by the IP address of the server. If your content is hosted internationally, it’s really the content providers problem. They should bring the content to local servers/ISPs if the want to benefit. As a side effect, this also promotes local business too. The bundles would be for locally hosted sites, not for locally owned sites.

      1. Keith Rose

        Hosting locally is not a problem, there are many providers offering hosting locally. ZOL, Web Dev, Dande all have local offerings.

        1. Akumudzi

          It’s been expensive. both in price tag terms and in availability. Has this changed?

          1. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

            No, it hasn’t changed. Even in USD terms, it’s more expensive to host locally generally. ZOL has some trickery at play where they claim to provide “free” web hosting with Fibrobroniks, but somehow you end up with a monthly charge equivalent to hosting 6 sites internationally for a quarter year. It’s a bit ridiculous. Frampol had decent prices, I’m not sure about now.

      2. getting ahead of ourselves

        If i am a content maker (singer, actor, producer, game/app maker) producing games, apps, videos or music and want to benefit from the local bundle idea, firstly where will i get a local host who will store my content for free like youtube, instagram, facebooklive, googledrive or appstore?

        secondly, if i manage the feat of getting millions of downloads/views like winky d did for his mugadeni will the local host monetize the views?
        how will that host cover costs of all that traffic?

        people are getting ahead of themselved by demanding local bundles. there needs to be a working ecosystem first of all.

        its like demanding that dstv create a local bouquet when infact there is only one tv station that opens at 5pm and closes at 10pm. One needs to create numerous TV stations that are 24hrs and then the content will come then the bundles in that order.

        Current examples – China and North Korea they have their own internal internet

  3. alwaysofftopic

    Not a good idea at all this smells like some sort of Great FireWall of China thing. NO to internal internet. NO, NO, NO.
    You people are giving government ideas for mass censorship. DATA must fall, not this nonsense. And $US 3 a gig are you serious!!!!!!!??????
    Secondly it does not make business sense because its not like serving the “local” content is any cheaper. The cost to build and maintain infrastructure is still $US denominated. Remember we still have to import all the tech.
    The author talks about locally made apps, excuse me where are those app stores hosted, either on Apple’s or Google’s servers. Are there any locally hosted App repositories? What about content creators, again where is their content hosted? Youtube, Facebook, Instagram. Shu, i rest my case.
    Some one please explain how this will “push innovation”. HOW?????
    Want to push innovation, allow more competition and have a telecoms regulator that actually regulates, allowing companies to build world class broadband infrastructure, not what Potraz does now, which has become a cash cow for government by running telecoms industry as a cartel.