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South Africa is about to get yet another virtual network operator from a rather unlikely source. Nope, it’s not a retailer, an Austrian beverage company, or even a bank. Instead, it’s Malawi-born church leader, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, who’s entering the market with his own, eponymous network.
The alternatively-titled Prophet Shepherd Bushiri (PSB) Network, according to a press release, will “provide a service to like-minded primarily individuals who were looking for a more community focused, inclusive operation.”
PSB Network will also use Cell C‘s mobile infrastructure and airtime system, which is a route that many other mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) like Me&You Mobile have taken. This will also allow users to use Cell C airtime vouchers on the network.
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But while that seems fairly standard fare for an MVNO in SA, the network’s offerings differ slightly from the norm.
Shepherd Bushiri’s network promises 99c calls, data rates as low as 12c/MB
PSB Network’s initial Limited Edition starter pack, while offering users 99c calls to any network in SA, will also come with “a complete range of fresh online Christian and Prophetic entertainment including the live audio streaming service of Prophet Shepherd Bushiri on Sundays. There is also a free subscription to daily prayers with every recharge.”
The MVNO will also use internet.org from Facebook for basic internet connectivity, as well as its own social messaging system, Bushiri Buzz. The latter will allow users the “opportunity to meet other individuals on the network and contribute to the sense of community.”
Data tariffs quoted by the network’s official website also range between R10 for 15MB, to R250 for 2GB.
Beyond the network, Bushiri has been a controversial and rather busy public figure in Africa and beyond.
According to Malawi’s Nyasa Times, Bushiri recently launched his own Zambian mining company dubbed Shepherd Mining Ltd. Late last year, Bushiri also published a video to YouTube in which he appears to float in mid-air. The video has since garnered over 2.8-million views, with 12 000 downvotes.
Bushiri is also the leader of Pretoria-based church organisation, Enlightened Christian Gathering.
PSB will initially be available exclusively to SA, but there are plans to “expand to other African countries in the future.”
The network will be launched tomorrow, 17 September, at an event in Midrand, Johannesburg.