Pearson Pfavayi

By Alfonce Mbizwo, Harare, Zimbabwe

A newcomer to Zimbabwe’s telecommunications sector, Free SMS Zimbabwe (FSZ), has launched a free text-messaging service to challenge the hegemony of the major companies.

Zimbabwe’s mobile telecommunications sector is dominated by the privately owned Econet and Telecel as well as the state-controlled NetOne. FSZ’s service is available through the internet platform.

“Zimbabwe has a ratio of 6:1 of mobile phone users to PC users in Zimbabwe and following the introduction of the 3G network and fibre optic, the mobile web is growing and its a platform that we are taking advantage of,” the project manager Pearson Pfavayi told Biztechafrica.

Pfavayi believes that the high tariffs of a local SMS at USD0.10 opened the market for his service, which Zimbabweans can use to send messages even to friends outside the country. Users can send up to 10 messages daily and about 3 600 annually.

“The service generates revenue through advertising. A normal text is 160 words, but we limit the texts on our facility to 100 words, and we use the remaining 60 words for advertising. We have companies that advertise on every message,” Pfavayi said.

Pfavayi believes the model of using ads to pay for the cost of sending an SMS will be successful because of the rate of mobile penetration in the country and already 17 000 users have subscribed t the service in the first weeks of operation.

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