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The African Cyber Cafe of the Future is Here Today

By Wayan Vota on February 15, 2012

econet-cyber-cafe.jpg

If you were to think about what Internet cafes might look like in 5 years, I bet you might imagine something like the photo above. A clean, modern cyber cafe run by a mobile phone provider as a way to showcase broadband Internet and data services in addition to traditional handset and airtime sales.

This future is here now in Harare, Zimbabwe. I saw it with my own eyes at the Econet Wireless’ new Internet cafe in Harare, Zimbabwe. It is a beautiful temple of technology that rightly had TechZim scared about Econet’s intentions:

Initially we were worried that Econet is getting into the Internet cafe business and will be opening several of these around. They’re not. At least the Econet staff we spoke to about it say so. According to them, the cyber cafe is just meant to showcase a world class cafe experience and also provide a means for Econet to sell its mobile devices and assist customers having problems configuring their mobile phones for mobile broadband.

Econet may not be getting into the cyber cafe business, but I am willing to bet that other mobile providers will, if only to showcase and sell more Internet data services to Facebook addicted customers. Traditional Internet cafe owners, it is true: mobile providers are pushing you out of business.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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One Comment to “The African Cyber Cafe of the Future is Here Today”

  1. John Hawker says:

    At the end of the day the sites that survive are the ones that serve their customers best.

    “Bright and Shiny” isn’t always what people want but it sure attracts attention.

    The best service does win though. Maybe that means partnering with your competitors to bundle services.

    Finding new services to add.

    Asking teachers to join you in adding value add services.

    Don’t just be a “Traditional Internet Cafe” or you will fail

    Evolve and change into something the community needs.

    What that is, is for you and your community to work out, but there are needs that you can fill, that a glitzy glam mobile shop with high overheads can’t fill.

    The nitch is there. The trick is finding it.

    That takes business and community community consultation.