ZIMBABWE’S largest mobile network operator, Econet Wireless, has unveiled a new low-cost 4G enabled smartphone as part of efforts to increase mobile internet adoption across the country.
Designed to allow subscribers to connect at faster speeds, the new 4G MIFI “Kambudzi” runs on the KaiOS operating system and can be used across all networks.
In a latest update following the unveiling of the new product at the weekend, Econet said the new device product was created to suit the communication needs of first-time users and of customers in rural and marginalised areas.
“No one should be left behind in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (driven by digital connectivity). We believe the new 4G MIFI Kambudzi will increase digital literacy across our entire market,” said Econet in a statement.
The company has said it was targeting an increase in smartphone penetration by deploying low-cost devices.
Zimbabwe’s smartphone penetration currently hovers around 52 percent, compared to about 90 percent for South Africa.
This has remained a barrier for the adoption of digital services, which Econet hopes to scale through the low-cost device rollout, said the company.
“The introduction of the 4G MIFI Kambudzi will help increase the uptake of digital products and services, and help promote a digital lifestyle among our customers,” Econet said.
“The new device, which can connect up to four devices through tethering, was designed for people who are unable to afford smartphones but have the need to go online.”
According to the company, the new device has a user-friendly interface optimized for first-time internet users and comes preloaded with some popular apps.
Econet has said the new phone will go a long way in decongesting the lower bands of the network (2G and 3G) by increasing the utilisation of the LTE (4G) network in the country, which is a lot faster than the former.
The Econet group has in recent years made significant investments in LTE and 4G infrastructure, making it the most reliable digital and Internet service provider in the country.
“The 4G MiFi Kambudzi has a long battery life that solves connectivity problems emanating from power shortages in under-served communities and in remote areas. Customers can enjoy Internet access for long hours without having to recharge,” said Econet.