Govt rejects WhatsApp proposal ban —Minister

Minister Supa Mandiwanzira

Minister Mandiwanzira

Government rejected a proposal by the country’s mobile telecommunication companies to regulate the use of over the top services (OTTs) such as WhatsApp which they say are eating into their profits, a cabinet minister has revealed. Zimbabwe’s mobile networks have in the past generated the bulk of their revenues from provision of calling and messaging services which cost around 24 cents per minute and eight cents per message respectively.But introduction of OTTs which allow mobile phone users to communicate at far less charges than the mobile phone operators are levying while riding on their very networks, saw hard pressed consumers opting for the cheaper alternatives.

As a result WhatsApp, Viber and Skype are among applications referred to as OTTs that have taken over the communications landscape at the expense of the networks.

Realising that their profitability had been compromised, the operators last year approached Government seeking to have the OTTs banned or stifled, Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira said.

“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 Skype, Whats App Calling, Viber and the like, they wanted Government to look at the possibility of either banning or stifling these operations to ensure that they would continue to be profitable,” Mandiwanzira said at the recently concluded E-Tech Africa symposium.

“We did mention that as a progressive Government, which promotes access to technology, we were averse to the idea of stifling these technologies or banning them.”

Minister Mandiwanzira said Government told the operators to look at the development as an opportunity to facilitate young Zimbabweans to develop applications suitable for local and global use than can rival those coming from abroad.

In line with this idea, the minister said Government has set up an innovation fund that will be funded by the mobile network operators to finance innovations by Zimbabweans.

“We agreed with industry that one percent of the revenue of telecom companies which they generate out the use of telecommunications services will now go into this specific fund for the promotion of the development of platforms, applications by Zimbabweans,” Minister Mandiwanzira said. Government is expecting to mobilise up to $25 million in contributions for the fund in the next two years, he said. — New Ziana.


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  • Wilson Magaya

    Great move. It is time for our business sector to be creative and realize their role in building business in the value chains of their industry. The telecoms industry is extractive unless there is proactive efforts to create products that can go Africa-wide, thus grow the pie. Way to go “Nyika Vanhu, Musha Matare”, Lets get our creative minds to work for our beautiful country.

  • Tinovaziva

    Oh thank you government. One of the few things that u got right. These morons remind me of people who wanted to ban motor cars because they were eating into their horse carriage profits. how dumb is that?

  • The Professional

    If this is really true and was not mere bar talk then the government took a good move. Companies must compete and innovative globally.

  • Kuta Kinte

    This is one of the best progressive moves taken by a government minister. There is no way any country can develop without encouraging innovation and Zimbabwe being very literate, should show something in Africa. Thanks minister and I think you are one honourable who deserves our praise and encouragement.

  • yowe

    Econet has to have led this Cartel of telecoms providers. Mapedza kudaro moti Strive Masiyiwa is a good person nxa

  • calton paratema

    Theses telecommunications companies-especially econet are owned by nitwits. in-place of them being innovative and help in advancing local entities, they are busy hampering it. Employ your own competitive structures and stop day dreaming. Never on your inferior and traditional business means. Better platforms are even to come in the near future. so you better forget about that monopolistic stupidity. Thank you Minister.

  • Agriculturalist

    Apparently the CEOs are schooled and not educated. An educated mind is proactive, and is very innovative. In the face of stiff competition, educated minds devise business innovations that outwit their competitors. Wake up lazy CEOs. Hats off to the government for making this bold move that is pro-people.

  • Happy

    Thanks very much Minister for standing your ground and for being progressive. Makavagona, chavaingoda chete kuti varambe vachi exister at our expense! Hakuna iyoyo, if they have to fold and go kunorima mbambaira coz they cant think, ngavaende!!!! All they think about are the salaries of their 500 or so employees, not how technology is making lives easier for 13million Zimbabweans. Way to go Supa Supa!!!

  • DarkChild

    Just the request by the Telecoms indicates that our industries and businesses in Zimbabweans are led by old school of thought (no offence to my seniors) minds that lack entrepreneurial qualities and have no workings of innovation whatsoever. So just because your old business model is not making you money you want to shut the whole country out from newer, more affordable and liberal innovations? Then you wonder if they got their positions on merit, and why Zimbabwe falls so behind! If they would make use of younger tech savvy and forward thinking minds like myself (please allow me to be arrogant just on this) they would see themselves breaking into new markets!

  • Magaisa anoti…

    Mutikwanire mamobile network operators,manga majaira kudya porridge remwana

  • chichoni

    I think a lot of people who commented hear are emotional since it affects the pockets of individuals. How do you support a competitor who is eating into your market share whilst the competitor did not have to make massive investment that the telecomms companies undergo. Moreover wattsup and other OTTs are not paying taxes in Zimbabwe hence, the government not directly benefitting in terms of Income Tax and VAT . Im not supporting anyone but lets be fare and realisting. If business goes down for telecoms they will retrench and this has knock on effects.

  • mbavhadzawandakudarikavanhu

    MuZimbabwe vanhu vajaira kubira vanhu nema price ekupenga