The internet came to Arusha some years ago, but it is only recently that Arusha came to the Internet with a real presence in the virtual world. Naomba.com is a new Arusha based web portal set to take its place alongside the Arusha Times and other web sites showing the real face of Arusha and Tanzania to the rest of the wired world.
Background who, why, where
Naomba.com opened for service in November 2003. Naomba.com’s founders saw a need for Tanzanians to connect with each other quickly and easily using the internet, as has happened in other countries around the world. Traditional means of communication, such as printing, take a long time to create and distribute. Control of the publication is often as much in the hands of printers as the person paying for it. Whilst the internet can cut out some of these problems, it remains an expensive option for the smallest of businesses, many of whom find it hard to see how using the internet can benefit them. Why should a Tanzanian barber or fundi pay anything to advertise online? Is it worth even the smallest risk? To allow the smallest of businesses to find out what the potentials for them are, naomba.com’s founders decided to make basic internet services free.
The core of naomba.com’s service is providing its customers with a web presence. People can find out about your business via your web page on naomba.com. They can then contact you via your naomba.com email address. All for free!
Naomba.com will provide every registered business with a simple web page. This features up to five photographs, a description of your business, information about where you are physically located, opening hours and, if you have one, a link to your main web site. You can easily change these details yourself whenever you want. Once the page is completed, your business can be found through naomba.com’s directory – a bit like the Yellow Pages. People looking for plumbers in Arusha can search on naomba.com and find one nearby. Businesses can also tempt customers with printable discount coupons.
Naomba.com offers a very attractive email service – like Hotmail and Yahoo!Mail, naomba.com is free. However, naomba.com give you much larger storage space (10mB per user) and the site has no annoying adverts, meaning it is faster to download – something those of us paying by the half hour will appreciate. Spam and virus protection are included for all accounts.
In addition to the basic offer of a web presence, Naomba have a range of services of great use to Tanzanian communities.
Buy & Sell
Users of naomba.com can advertise things they want to sell, or things they are seeking to buy – a bit like an online version of Dar Advertiser or Arusha’s own Buy & Sell magazine (with which naomba.com share listings). naomba.com’s buy and sell listings can include photographs and are free!
You are not limited to buying or selling objects on naomba.com – users can seek employment by advertising their skills. Likewise, employers seeking to fill a gap in their workforce can find suitable staff through a vacancy notice on naomba.com. Naomba.com has the potential to reach employers or potential staff around Tanzania, not just in your local area. Again, this service is free.
If you want to publicise an event you are organising, naomba.com’s event diary is the place to be seen. Or if you are short of something to do, see what other people have lined up in the near future. All listings are free. If you have photos from an event, naomba.com will show them – the most recent photos appear on the front page! Coverage of corporate events may incur a small charge, but community events can post photographs for free.
Larger businesses may want to advertise their services more prominently. For a fee, naomba.com will include an eye-catching advert on their front page, linking through to your business’s page. You will be able to see how effective
your advert is, as naomba.com keep track of how many people click on it.
News and other content
The front page of naomba.com includes the latest headlines from AllAfrica.com, as well as local weather forecasts for the next few days. Naomba.com also run regular photography and writing competitions which can be entered online.
Plans for the future
In the very near future, businesses listing on naomba.com will be able to list their products on the site, and provide a means for people to buy or reserve these products from the comfort of their homes/local internet cafÃ©. It is already possible to book airline tickets and hotel rooms through the site, but very soon, for example, your car parts store may be able to let customers know what is in stock. Work is also underway to translate the site into Kiswahili.
With so many free services, who can afford not to have a web presence through naomba.com? And since all the information on naomba.com is about your local community – the time has surely come to change your home page from one based in America or Europe to this new home grown site!
Originally published in Arusha Times 322