With that in mind I did a cursory look at the service providers' websites, my first stop was Econet Wireless, there was nothing fancy, it resembled a website for a very simple company. The services I would have expected to see being offered are:
- Online portal to access one's mobile phone account for itemized billing, call history, recharge history.
- A free email service that can be set-up on a user's phone and accessed on the site.
- Cellphone packages for handsets, broadband services.
- Free SMS service within network.
- A forum for users to interact, post problems and provide solutions.
The Econet website in particular was a shame, with a huge subscriber base they ought to make themselves more accessible. I can imagine someone in a remote location wanting to check their call logs. They might call the toll free customer care line but most often there are calls queued for help, this will put a strain on the user's battery in a country plagued by lack of electricity. So the person might give up altogether or travel a distance to obtain such information.
With Telecel I expected the worst but they actually shown to be more innovative compared to Econet, they have a portal to register a SIM card online though this was not tested. There was an advert for a cellphone they are offering bundled with recharge voucher and a SIM card. The website looks fresh as well. I decided to send an email to their customer care email to see if it indeed works, I dispatched an email with anonymous tracker. After 40 minutes I got confirmation someone had opened the email, I waited another hour before I got a reply and saw there was escalation in between internally. I was chuffed by the response, it changed my perception of Telecel, the company I left with 200,000 subscribers only.
I did not even bother to check the NetOne website since they only offer voice and SMS service. I didn't want to spoil the happiness I had been ushered into by Telecel's service. Despite the fact that Zimbabwe's economy has been bleeding for sometime, the mobile telecommunication companies have been doing well because the TelOne service is non-existent outside the corporate sector. So they should have enough revenue for continual improvement.
Zimbabwe needs to keep abreast of technology if the education we so love to brag about can be converted into anything meaningful. I have seen Zimbabwean graduates fail to configure a cell phone for internet in South Africa, something that an uneducated 65 year old lady in Soweto can do very well. Charity begins at home and in Zimbabwe's case I believe ignorance also has been hard-wired into many of us from home. Never mind a latest iPhone, BlackBerry or Samsung device in a Zimbabwean's hands, its only as good as any other GSM phone, the only thing Zimbabweans can do better on a smart phone like iPhone than on a Nokia 3310 is Facebooking, apart from that nothing else.