By NAKUBIANA SHABONGO
FOR centuries, the tradition of disseminating information has largely been through print and broadcast but with the rise of Information and Communication Technologies, (ICTs) online media has taken over because of the remarkable benefits it offers.
Times Printpak Zambia Limited, the publishers of the Times of Zambia and Sunday Times of Zambia recently introduced the electronic versions of the two papers to maintain the clientele and remain afloat.
The electronic version of the two papers has various remarkable and satisfying benefits as they enable an individual access to the paper on the eve of the hardcopy publication.
This is because the readers receive their online copies between 21:00 hours and midnight for the following day after subscribing.
Times Printpak Marketing and Sales Manager, Mark Nyasulu says the Times of Zambia and Sunday Times of Zambia are the first electronic paper in Zambia after the publisher came up with the initiative in January this year.
Mr Nyasulu said the e-paper can be accessed through a subscription fee of only K2 per day.
Previously, the subscriptions were solely made by going to any of the Times offices dotted around the country but the situation has now changed, thanks to technology.
Clients can now pay for their e-paper through the MTN Mobile Money services and using their VISA cards.
According to Mr Nyasulu, the product is now highly portable, requires less labour, has fast access of less than 20 seconds internet speed which makes it less costly compared to the hard copy.
“The beauty about this e-services is that you do not need to go and look for the paper at fixed outlets but can access it from anywhere in the world as clients could use their phone or laptop to read it.
“It also requires less labour, it is comfortable and inexpensive with regards to production. As you know, information is critical to anyone so we have no fixed market perse but we have pupils, students and embassies so far,” he said.
Recently, MTN Zambia and Times Printpak Limited signed an agreement to enable customers buy the copies of the two publications and advertisements electronically through the mobile money promotion.
MTN Zambia chief sales and distribution officer, Amon Jere said during the signing ceremony that the partnership will allow customers to pay for the Times e-paper and advertisements in a convenient manner as they will not be required to physically pay for the services.
Mr Jere said the economy is becoming digital which is a challenge for various organisations with regard to the collection of revenue having provided a service as the country lacks a robust credit system.
He said through the system, transactions will be fast and assured that the MTN Mobile Money revenue collection is fast and reliable.
“Great strides have been made in technological development resulting increased e-commerce and requirement for faster, secure ways of carrying out business transactions,” he added.
Times Printpak Acting Deputy Managing Director, Venarcious Mwansa said the agreement will ease access to electronic services of the paper anywhere, especially in the remote areas of the country.
Flanked by Mr Nyasulu and Times Acting Business Editor, James Muyanwa,
Mr Mwansa said clients can now pay for advertisements, newspaper subscription and the e-paper at either MTN booths or they can use their mobile phones.
“The partnership will improve and enhance services delivery. Our clients can easily send a classified advertisement and pay through the MTN Mobile Money,” he said
He said Times Printpak is ready to partner with other organisations that offer services in various other fields like education and financial sectors.
Mr Mwansa urged both the MTN and Times Printpak teams to ensure that the partnership is a success.
Following the agreement, Mr Nyasulu says the response from clients has been overwhelming translating into a strong audience from around the world.
One of the clients Musenge Sichone said the e-times serves her time to get the paper from the street or outlets.
Ms Sichone said she could easily get the paper through her mobile phone without missing it whereas getting a hard copy is dependent on what time the vendors finish selling the copies.
“It is convenient to get a paper on the phone unlike on the street or an outlet because I have to drive to somewhere if I do not find it in the morning, which is a cost,” she said.
She said the electronic version allows her to acquire current affairs at her suitable time saying all she needs is to subscribe.