SMS fading in popularity in Zimbabwe

The advent of new, cost-effective methods of communication – including Skype, WhatsApp Messenger and Facebook – in Zimbabwe has diluted the impact of Short Message Service (SMS) claims a report in The Standard.


The advent of newly-available, cost-effective methods of communication platforms in Zimbabwe has diluted the impact of Short Message Service (SMS). (Image: File)

Per second billed calls, together with these instant communication platforms, has empowered consumers with cheaper alternatives to the SMS, which is beginning to be viewed as older messaging system technology with limited functionality and high rates.

The report quotes one network service provider, Telecel, as claiming that although it could not provide detailed information about revenues, it can confirm that SMS-generated revenues are decreasing.

The results of Econet Wireless, an established telecommunications service provider, shows that the contribution of SMS and data services to earnings remains strong.

According to the report Zimbabwe’s mobile penetration rate increased to 74% from 66% in 2011 and the availability of free platforms has resulted in a relative lowering of communications costs to consumers.

Although platforms like WhatsApp Messenger has general appeal as cost-effective replacement technology to SMS, the report states that government’s need to control and regulate the ICT sector is hampering the rollout of accessible, cost-effective technology to end users.

Staff Writer


  1. These are internet based Mobile2Mobile(2Machine) apps so I see at least 2 problems in Zim. 1) Not many pple have internet access let alone internet- enabled phones 2) you still have to pay for those high data rates with most of our ISPs… whilst these apps are up the technological ladder, for now SMS still rules the roost in Zimbabwe.

  2. Fidelis – Is that fact or opinion? Your point works when you look at it in regional based case. In the urban areas most people have internet access and internet enabled phones. You will find that in urban areas apps are more in use than sms, whatsapp topping the list. It is in the rural areas where the issue is not of access (because once you are connected to a mobile network you have access) but more of internet based phones. As you rightly pointed SMS rules the roost for now, but like the writer's topic implies it is fading and trust me at a faster pace than expected.

    • I think we are all of the same opinion, but my argument is as you have stated taking a more African perspective…where, in development terms, we have a parallel between the urbanites and the rural people. The latter are exposed to very slow progress in the type of gadgets they use such that there has been a growth in the development of sms platforms that leverage on the Internet. One of the Zim Mobile service providers (who for professional reasons I cannot state them ), has a platform where any gadget can receive email text at low cost (by local stds) and one can configure it to forward email from popular sites like Gmail,Hotmaill and Yahoo. The same service provider, earlier this year, teamed up with some startup company to organise a competition for individuals or groups of developers to come up with other similar platforms. Its a situation wherein the other people cannot be ignored such as when colour TV was introduced it had to cater for black and white TV users i,e, backward compatibility. For interest ske does whatsupp cater for my 8 year old Nokia phone?

  3. All having been said and done I think it will take time for the sms platform to be completely overtaken by events.Not all of us can download and lateron effectively use those applications.

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