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Country Snapshot: Zimbabwe

Marc Jarrett
As part of my ongoing A-Z country snapshots highlighting the Internet and telecom characteristics of each and every country, Zimbabwe originally shared the same position as it does in our country drop-down list in terms of my keenness to write it.

But given the recent news airtime that this poor African country has recently been receiving after the presidential elections there earlier this year, I have decided to move it up the list accordingly.

For those of you who do not follow world events, Zimbabwe held a presidential election on March 21 of this year; the result of which at time of writing was still not confirmed – with many commentators believing that it was rigged by President Robert Mugabe who has held power there since 1980.

According to www.internetworldstats.com, about 1.2 million people in Zimbabwe, or just under 10 percent of its population, are currently online; with usage growth since 2000 an impressive 2,340 percent – which is almost on par with its inflation rate, which some economists predict could hit 1.5m percent!

The country – once a regional economic powerhouse – recently introduced a 200,000 dollar note so its citizens wouldn't need to carry wheelbarrows full of cash around with them.

Credit card penetration there is negligible and fraud associated with them rampant, making Zimbabwe an automatic candidate for your credit card processor's scrub list.

However, as with other developing countries, cell phone penetration levels here actually rival those in the developed ones. Furthermore, the country's backbone network is being upgraded, including fiber optic links which will also improve Internet connectivity.

So far, we have sold 1263 passwords to Zimbabwe and paid $745 in commissions to webmasters. Not huge numbers, admittedly, but they must be seen in the context of being useful extra money from a 'virgin' market who just so happens to also have English as its official language.

Remember, all the 1.2 million Zimbabweans who are currently online have access to your sites, and practically all of these will also have access to a phone or cell.

By not employing pay-per-call phone billing, you are depriving yourself of additional revenue from countries such as Zimbabwe, whose future can only get better.

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