Zimbabwean based start up distributor of solar panels, batteries and solar devices like lights as well as radios and televisions, Zonful Energy, is in a full drive for digital inclusion and breaking the digital divide in Zimbabwe, BusinessMail can report.
Zonful Energy is a profit social enterprise that sells modular decentralized and scalable solar energy systems on Pay As You Go model to rural, urban and peri-urban off-grid consumers in the country.
The company recently received financial backing from the GSMA Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion. With this, the company is working tirelessly towards making Zimbabweans in the urban, peri-urban and rural off-grids digitally included.
In an exclusive interview with BusinessMail, Zonful Energy Chief Executive Officer, William Ponela said after finding out that most Zimbabweans are in the broadband reach but not on internet because the cost for smartphones is high.
“We have come up with a model called Pay As You Go whereby people would purchase smartphones. It needs one to pay a small deposit to own a smart phone and later finishes the full payment in instalments. After paying deposit, one receives it with a certain data package but upon failure to pay the instalments the phone will be automatically locked by a Zonful installed software,” he said.
The term digital divide refers to the gap between the “technology empowered” and the “technology excluded” communities. It has become a popular phrase to describe the perceived disadvantages of those who are either unable, or do not choose to use ICT in their day-to-day activities, decision-making, learning and pleasure.
“Soon there is going to be a strong smartphone suitable for people in the rural areas, it’s robust and very strong. People in the rural areas will pay a very minimal deposit and they will be receiving a monthly installment which comes with 1Gg bytes per month data, ” Mr Ponela added.
Zonful Energy is also in a partnership with Zimbabwe’s largest Internet Service Provider, Econet, and they receive wholesale data packages as well as ensuring the easy distribution of data packages.
As a move to ensure that network challenges are solved, Zonful Energy is in a ‘network slicing’ move whereby a certain network overlays multiple virtual networks on top of a shared network.
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