Solar power under repairs

By Marsha Sengwe


SINCE 2016 the Government has been establishing community information centres
within ZimPost offices countrywide.
The centres are meant to help communities to bridge the information, communication
and technology divide by allowing rural people to undertake research in their
different areas of interest – farming, manufacturing, education or health.
All of the centres are solar-powered. However, the solar systems appears to be
slowing down, possibly suggesting they systems need upgrading.
The Bindura Community Information Centre (CIC’s) solar system is also down and in
times of load-shedding, it is serving no purpose.
Marsha Sengwe (MS) sat down with ZimPost acting Chief Executive Officer, Maxwell
Chitendeni, (MCH) recently for an interview.
MS: Solar power at Bindura ZimPost CIC has been down for two years now,
what is problem?
MCH: In 2022, Bindura Post Office experienced an electrical wiring fault that caused
a fire. The incident affected the solar power system and from that incident the
system has had intermittent outrages. Community Information Centre (CICs)
established before 2018 had back-up power in the form of solar systems. However,
on average, the solar batteries lifespan was eight years. It is against this background
that we have been facing challenges with back-up power.
Zimpost is working on a programme to maintain the system on a phased approach.
However, due to cash flow challenges, we are unable to roll out the programme to all
offices at once. We are considering other models for partnership to speed up the
implementation process.
MS: A number of CIC’s that were establish before 2018 and solar powered are
now having problems with the solar batteries. How is Zimpost dealing with
this? Where else are you working on the solar issue?
MCH: Currently, Zimpost is replacing the original batteries on a phrase approach
when they get faulty, but this exercise is expensive as batteries are the most
expensive component of a solar power system. We are trying to facilitate all 250
postal offices who are in need of alternative solar batteries. Efforts are being made to
engage other partners to assists in this regard.
MS: When can we expect the Bindura CIC solar power to be active?
MCH. Repairs of the faulty inverters are underway. The system is expected to be
back in operation by mid-August 2023.
MS: CIC’s were also established to help communities with basic computer
skills training, how many people have attained the training ever since launch
of these CICs?

MCH: Over 100 000 people have received training in Community Information Centre
(CICs). The trainings were conducted to different groups in communities since 2018
in order to ensure that a large number of people appreciate basic computer skills.
We are now grouping people in the communities and training them on different
occasions. The groups include students, SMEs, Women, girls, farmers and
churches. A massive programme is being undertaken to ensure that the training is
done on a large scale though this requires a huge budget. As Zimpost, we want to
bridge the digital divide and also improve on utilisation of the ICT tools through these
trainings. We are also engaging other partners in training so that we assist
communities to learn ICTSs for free as we journey towards Vision 2030.
MS: What other developments can be expected?
MCH: Zimpost remains the centre of activities in every locality in urban and rural
Zimbabwe, offering universal access to a wide range of products and a services.
Zimpost operates more than 129 postal outlets nationwide, giving it an unparalleled
With the growing e-commerce market, Zimpost has positioned itself to offer online
services by developing the Mail Order into an E-commerce platform branded the
Zimpost Online Mall, which is hosted on the Online platform and sitting on the
The dot. Post Top Level Domain Name is one of the safest platforms in the world for
Online shopping at the moment. This platform also enables businesses, other E-
shops and MSMEs to showcase their wares to the world with Zimpost guaranteeing
a seamless last mail delivery service.
The SMEs sector in Zimbabwe is a major player in the economy, employing about
5.7 million people, working in the sector directly and indirectly. SMEs play an
important role in national socio-economic development, through employment
creation, empowerment of women and youths, creation of community stability,
wealth creation and act as a vital engine for economic growth.
As Zimbabwe aims to build a digitalised economy, participation of SMEs is key as
they contribute 60 percent to the GDP. Many MSMEs in the country have failed to
operate successfully due to lack of sufficient knowledge, information and intelligence
on market opportunities and trends. Many MSMEs are also located outside large
cities and this situation adds extra costs and difficulties for small businesses to
access global market places.
It is against this background that Zimpost developed a multi-vendor online store to
enable women and youth entrepreneurs to access global markets through the online
Zimpost utilises its Community Information Centres to train SMEs in business
management, export guidelines, procurement compliance digital marketing and
related logistics services. The one hundred and forty-nine (149) CICs within the
postal network and twenty-three (23) Containerised Village Information Centers,
provide the necessary infrastructure that can be used to support trade facilitation
activities for SMEs.

Providing SMEs with digitalisation and online store capabilities, with vast
opportunities for e-selling, online advertising, and access to e-buyers, with unlimited
last mile deliveries through the robust postal network and extensive distribution
infrastructures and world-wide global postal partnerships.
Zimpost has also partnered with Tanzania Postal services to enable cross border
traders between the two countries to shop online and the Post playing the first and
last mile delivery of items.
Benefits of being an E-seller sitting on Zimbabwe mall
 Access to domestic and international markets
 Zero investment in technology
 Facilitation of customs clearing on imports and exports
 System inter-operability
 Secure internet infrastructure riding on top level of domain (.post)
 Track and trace
 Reporting –sales, payments
 Low delivery costs
 Free support
 Global exposure of brands and products
 No rental fees are charged
 Delivery is automatically charged by system and is paid by customer.

Post Money
ZimPost has also transformed the electronic money order into a digital money
through the mobile wallet services. The Post Money Wallet is an inter-operable
mobile wallet SIM-skin, which works on both feature and smart phone. Inter-
operability refers to its ability to work with any mobile network within Zimbabwe.
Unlike other money transfer services offered via transitory wallets which terminate
upon payout, Post Money is a financial technology wallet based solution which
enables one to send and receive money across the two networks on their mobile
phone wallets using the sim-skin technology. A Sim-skin technology is a wafer thin
membrane which is pasted on the Sim and connects with the network which one is
subscribed to.
The technology does not require data since it uses the mobile network of the Sim-
card. This system is integrated with two leading mobile network operators in
Zimbabwe which enables one to transfer money across the two networks, namely
Econet and NetOne. One can send money to an unregistered user and the moment
money is transferred, the system automatically creates an account which will require
KYC (Know Your Customer/Client) confirmation when one comes to cash out. The
service has a messaging feature which sends notifications when one receives
money and confirmation of funds transferred.
Its features have been enhanced to assist in the Government of Zimbabwe’s drive
towards financial inclusion and improve the contact points, where the company
interfaces with its customers.
MS: Does ZimPost still operate letter boxes/ mailing boxes?

MCH: Yes, we still have letter boxes and mail and they are very functional. In future
we will be launching Digi-boxes at shopping malls, where deliveries are done.
Customers will get pin codes which they can use to access parcels using the self-
service concept.

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