Zimbabweans are starting to explore the freedom to information provided by mobile Internet access. This is one of the findings of the latest Zimbabwe All Media Products and Services Survey (ZAMPS) which showed that 24 percent of adults living in urban centers are using the Internet. This represents an increase of 2 percent in the past three months alone.
Internet usage has rallied since June 2009 when the country’s Minister of Information and Communication Technology ordered TelOne to lower its prices. This move followed an exponential subscription price increase in April 2009, from USD30 to USD300, which led to Internet subscribers cancelling their contracts, and Internet cafes closing their doors.
83 percent of internet users in Zimbabwe access the web at least once a month, using internet cafes, home or office connections. 2 percent are using mobile broadband. The most popular website amongst Zimbabweans is Facebook.
The ZAMPS results show a nine percent growth in readership of all newspapers. The recently set up NewsDay captured 23 percent of the market share. The Zimbabwean and its sister paper, the Zimbabwean on Sunday (surveyed as one paper), achieved a seven per cent market penetration. The survey recorded readership and not newspaper purchases.
The ZAMPS numbers also exposed the failure of ZANU PF propaganda. Viewership of the ZANU PF controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation TV channels slumped significantly. For example only 24 percent of the population now watches ZBC TV, down from 38 percent in 2008. And listenership of the state owned radio channels has followed TV viewership to a new low.
As expected the survey showed the tremendous growth in the use of mobile phones. The number of people using mobiles in the urban centres increased to 86 percent, up from 82 percent. This is good news as it will allow a growing uptake of mobile broadband, providing increased access to alternative news and information via the internet.
Despite this encouraging growth in Internet use, only 12.2 percent of the country’s population has access to the internet.
By Angela Meadon