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Chat apps provide an alternative to the exorbitant cellphone tariffs in Zimbabwe

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To have a smart phone is no longer a luxury for the elite only but a solution to the exorbitant charges of sending a short text message (SMS) using the services of the cellphone network service providers in Zimbabwe. It costs 9 US cents to sent a local SMS and 23 cents for an out of Zimbabwe SMS chat. Running on economics partly sustained by remittances from abroad most Zimbabweans had to rely on SMS to avoid the high long distance call tariffs when chatting with loved ones abroad. The introduction of chat applications like Whatsapp on mobile phones is now forcing people to switch phones to the latest smart phones compatible with chat apps. My last visit to a local cellphone dealer shop in town gave me an impression that when buying a phone it’s no longer about the looks but the service and functions the phone can give to a customer. I was told the first thing a customer now asks before making a purchase is whether the phone is compatible with Whatsapp. Apps like these have made it easy to chat with people outside Zimbabwe, send pictures, audio and video files for as little as less than US0.10. The young with technology at heart in schools or out of employment have been the major consumers of these social apps because of the cheap charges. The benefits of the chat apps could be small to network service providers in terms of data usage but to an ordinary person with less than 23 cents in his/her phone itching to make contact with someone it’s a huge success. The latest to adapt to the new communications trends are the upcoming entrepreneurs who are still battling the liquidity crunch in the country are also enjoying the benefits of reaching out to potential clients at low costs.

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