Internet service providers (ISPs) have made available wireless internet (Wi-Fi) in numerous public spaces, often for free, connecting citizens of Harare to the internet and thus the world.
For arts venues, namely Book Café and the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ), the Wi-Fi connection is provided free of charge by ZOL through the ZOLspot service. This has proved to be of major benefit, especially to the many artists who throng to these hubs to connect to the world.
Poet Robison Shoes Lambanda said, “Free internet means I am now able to communicate with different people who enhance and develop my art. It gives me an opportunity to stay informed on current affairs and trends in the industry while granting me a platform to search for performance opportunities, and I get to do all this in my familiar environment.” Lambanda usually surfs the internet at Book Café.
Another artist and regular Wi-Fi user, Tavonga Mufundikwa, said he used to go to an internet café to use the internet. “The more time I spent on the internet, the more money I had to pay, so in the end I would just quickly browse through stuff and sometimes miss important opportunities that would have helped in my career development,” he said.
At NGZ, all you need to do is spend a little money on a drink or snack in the café so that you can sit and enjoy your free Wi-Fi. Café operator Arnold Rossle said, “Without ZOlspot, most people wouldn’t be coming to my café.” He added that the hotspot has drawn in an influx of new customers, some from other countries, while serving the existing customers with a value addition to their money.
Though serving a great purpose, the free hotspot has drawn some riff raff to the gallery café. “There are some people who just want to come and sit, using the internet without buying anything. It is mostly these people who make unnecessary noise, driving out my paying customers.” The ZOLspot at NGZ is also accessible in other parts of the gallery, thus patrons can also get to use it while enjoying the art.
Internet service provider (ISP) Africom boasts 23 hotspots spread across the city where users can surf the internet for a nominal fee. The spots include: Alexandra Sports Club; Avondale shops; Belgravia Sports club; Charingira West; Chapman Golf Club; Chinamano Heights; Kamuchinda Flats; Longchen Plaza; Megawatt House; Montagu Flats; The Place SSC; Spencer Cook; Highglen Shops; Hilton; Roma; Cappillano Court; Dova Court; Caister Flat; Stanley House; Club Chambers; Africa Unity Square; and Newlands Shops.
Africom’s Progress Nyahuma said, “Our target market is anyone with a wi-fi enabled device, and we do hope to be able to expand to other parts of Harare.” She said their prices are relatively cheaper than using internet cafés. “Our pricing is as follows: 50 cents for 35 megabytes, a dollar for 70 megabytes, three dollars for 225 megabytes, and six dollars for six gigabytes.”