Picture: Strive Masiyiwa
Picture: Strive Masiyiwa

INTERNATIONAL - Zimbabwean telecoms tycoon Strive Masiyiwa’s new pay television service, Kwese TV, has kick-started services in South Africa through a partnership with Netflix, it said on Friday as it seeks to claw up an industry dominated by pay per view television service, MultiChoice.

Kwese TV “launched in South Africa on Thursday with an OTT service anchored on Netflix” offering a service known as Kwese Play. This allows viewers to “stream Netflix and 100 other streaming channels starting from about R129.

Under the newest service, South African viewers will be able to “select only the channels they want to watch, and pay only” for these. The company has been offering its pay television services in other African countries through satellite access. However, in South Africa, access will be through streaming as the Econet Group - also owned by Masiyiwa through Liquid Telecom - already has a presence in the broadband internet market in the country.

“Kwese chose to launch in South Africa with a fibre optic based service rather than its normal satellite service, because it is the largest independent provider of fibre in South Africa. “Kwese Play will use any fibre optic provider, and will not be exclusive to Liquid,” it said on Friday.

In this regard, Kwese TV had signed up “other fibre optic companies and ISPs to provide the Service” in South Africa. This comes as MultiChoice is reportedly pursuing to spin off its rest of Africa division that offers DStv access in countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and others. In South Africa, payment for Kwese Play will be in rand, but the option of payment using credit and debit cards will not be available.

MultiChoice has been battling regulatory and liquidity issues in Zimbabwe, with most banks restricting payments for DStv subscriptions. The company has also been taken to court in Zimbabwe for turning down subscription payments using bond notes.

Kwese TV is battling regulatory uncertainty to kick-start its service in Zimbabwe. Officials say payment for the platform would be in any currency in Zimbabwe while access will be through satellite.

- BUSINESS REPORT