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Zimbabwe Welcomes New Media

Rapid growth for new media and satellite dishes in the Sub-Saharan country

Although word of mouth and radio are still the primary ways of receiving news and information in Zimbabwe, recent data issued by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and Gallup, shows that satellite ownership, and mobile device usage to access the Internet are growing rapidly.

Mobile phones are the most popular platform for accessing the Internet in the country, said the report, with about 75.6% of the population reporting that they have a mobile phone in their home. That figure rises to 100% in urban areas.

Even so, approximately six in 10 Zimbabweans say they have a working radio in their home, and half have a working television. “Even youth are still turning to radio to get the news on a regular basis,” said Jenna Levy, consulting specialist, Gallup, “though they are more likely also to use new media.”

Zimbabwe has lead the way for Sub-Saharan Africa for several years as regards satellite dish ownership with about two-thirds of Zimbabwean television owners reporting that their TVs receive its signal via an individual satellite dish or shared satellite dish.

Internet use in the country now stands at 22%, said the report, more than doubling during the last year, and nine in 10 regular Internet users go online through a mobile phone. More than eight in 10 Zimbabweans who own mobile phones or have access to one say they used their phone to send an SMS/text message in the last week. Approximately one in four people access the Internet, Facebook or other social media, or listened to the radio on their phones.

“The notion that Zimbabwe is a radio-only market is outdated,” said Sonja Gloeckle, Africa research analyst, International Broadcasting Bureau, adding “new media helps us reach out directly to people in Zimbabwe.”