by WELLINGTON TONI
HARARE, (ItNews Zimbabwe) – WITH its numerous advantages, a portable WiFi router is a must have as a connection to the internet has become a vastly important aspect of life.
However, as Zimbabwe’s chronic economic problems persist, much to the emergence of a black market for essential products, the use of this key gadget remains a pipe-dream for many.
Not that the handy router is not available in the local market.
Many dealers have it in stock and it sells at between US$50 (R821) and $55 (R903.1).
Accessing the subscriber identity module (SIM) card for the portable router is a nightmare.
From a mere ZWL$10, or 10 bond notes, when first introduced by the government-owned Tel One, the card’s price has shot up hundredfold to ZWL$1 000.
Amid the scarcity of the SIM cards, mobile users are missing out on competitive data prices.
At Tel One, the packages, under their Blaze package, cost between ZWL$108 (for 8 gigabytes) and ZWL$855 (unlimited access).
“We do not have the SIM cards. We are unsure when the next consignment is coming in and whether the price would have changed by then. The last time we had them, they cost 10 bonds (Z$10),” the official said.
The same situation prevails at Zimbabwe Online (ZOL), the internet services provider.
“There is nothing for now. Keep checking,” an official at the reception told this publication.
ZOL offers packages ranging from ZWL$61 (2Gb) and ZWL758,35 (100 Gb).
The shortages raise genuine fears the SIM cards have been diverted to the black market to be sold at a higher cost.
“It is difficult to understand how some companies launch such good products and immediately the SIM cards disappear from the market. Maybe somebody is hoarding and selling them at US dollars,” said one customer.
There is speculation the gadget’s absence from the market is because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) that broke out in China and has spread globally.
The WiFi router is largely manufactured in the Asian country.
Like other key sectors of the economy, the local technology and mobile phone industry depends on supplies from China, which have been impacted.
The portable long term evolution (LTE or 4G) WiFi router measures 6,5 cm and 10cm, hence its other name as a pocket router.
It has a battery with a lifespan of almost 8 hours, depending on usage.
Evans Mangwanya, sales consultant at Graphicate Marketing, a Harare-based company specializing in web design, promotional material, designing and printing, said the gadget was convenient.
“The costs are manageable and I can work from anywhere, home or office. It enables one to plan their daily programmes and respond to clients from anywhere and anytime rather a fixed gadget where you have to be in the office,” he noted.