Zimbabwe’s second-biggest operator, the state-owned service provider NetOne, is expecting a rise in subscriber numbers after the announcement of a recent government initiative.
The Zimbabwean government has announced that grants for up to four million vulnerable individuals will be paid via NetOne’s One Money mobile payment system.
This will not only very likely boost subscriber numbers but also help a struggling service. It is estimated that One Money currently accounts for about one per cent of mobile money transactions carried out in Zimbabwe. The biggest service, EcoCash, which is run by market leader Econet, apparently claims 98 percent of users.
This may also explain the government announcement that One Money offers a better deal as its charges are lower.
The process is fairly simple. People are being invited to register for the grant – worth about US$8.00. They are then given a NetOne SIM card. The government is offering grants to 450,000 people in the short term, but says that up to four million individuals could be eligible for the scheme – a significant number in a country of about 14.4 million people.
There are three GSM mobile network operators in Zimbabwe: Econet, Net One and Telecel. Front runner Econet has over two thirds of all subscribers ( a little over nine million). NetOne has just under a quarter. Telecel with under 10 percent of subscribers, according to some estimates, is third and has been experiencing a number of problems, both financial and technical, in recent months.