Mobile operators given 6 months to phase out airtime recharge cards

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The government has given mobile operators six months to phase out airtime recharge cards as a response to the challenge of litter created by the airtime top-up option.

According to a report in the Herald, this ultimatum was announced by the Minister of Environment, Water and Climate; Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri. The minister has urged the mobile operators to come up with electronic recharge systems as alternatives for the recharge cards.

It is part of a raft of new regulations that will also result in the banning of kaylite packaging which is used in the food industry, the introduction of a deposit on all beverage containers to encourage people to return bottles instead of dumping them and the introduction of fines and mandatory community service for criminal offenders.

All three mobile operators, as well as other telecoms service providers such as Africom and TelOne, have relied on airtime vendors to distribute their recharge cards. This option has provided a cost effective alternative to not only sell airtime but also to create brand visibility for the operators.

The biggest implication of this move, however, will be the loss of employment and income generation opportunities for the thousands of airtime vendors in Zimbabwe.

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In an economy where formal employment opportunities are limited, all forms of vending, including of airtime, have been taken on by thousands of Zimbabweans as an avenue to generate some form of an income.

The government has at some point even considered taxing airtime vendors through a $1 a day levy after having realised the sizeable number of Zimbabweans turning to recharge cards as a form of livelihood.

Is there any hope for the vendors?

To ensure the survival of their businesses, the vendors will now have to change their distribution model to match the electronic requirements. The vendors biggest value proposition has always been ease of purchase and convenience, something that has helped them maintain relevance even in a market where mobile money airtime top-up options exist.

As such they will have to find other ways of selling airtime that are almost as convenient as the recharge card model. Fortunately, there are ways of selling airtime via electronic top-up platforms that have been in the market for years but haven’t caught on versus the convenience of the recharge card.

These include the electronic vendor alternatives from Easi and Hot Recharge, who have so far managed to provide their services to various retail outlets and to some vendors.

There are also alternatives like Telecel’s e-Juice service which was introduced by the operator as an electronic option for selected airtime vendors. Telecel will now have to double down on this option, with other operators likely to explore the same route.



41 Comments

  1. G says:

    is this even legal, plus the revenue losses for vendors, this is disastrous.

  2. Eddy zeti says:

    Anyone with information on sattelite decoders in the markert THE ELSAT OVER HD Decorder.suppliers in the black market claim it is Ready activated with no need for subscription.offers sabc 1,2,3 etv and sports channel giving a total of 18 channels .price 55$ .pliz help ndisati ndanyura

    1. chris mberi says:

      Please try answers.techzim.co.zw

    2. Allaz says:

      Yah its true, its legit – TENGA. But don’t overpay. They will try charge you $65 but shop around. You should be able to find one for $45 somewhere. In SA they only cost R399.

    3. Allaz says:

      But note there is NO SPORTS CHANNEL and also no News channel. Its got the 3 SABC channels, ETV and some other ETV owned channels plus a few other random ones. And they are about 18 -actually 21 I think. But sports channel, there is nothing like that!

    4. Sinclair says:

      it works just fine but it is restricted to SABC1-3, ETV, ETV Kasi, ETV Movies, ETV Africa, Glow (Bollywood basically), a cartoon channel and an educational channel, one “rap” channel and the usual bunch of online preachers. Not bad at all but no dedicated news or sports channel and certainly not the most updated movies etc

    5. Anonymous says:

      buy only the altech or space openview hd decoder dont go for the elles …….. you ll thank me later

  3. chris mberi says:

    Its about time… This is a great idea. Most people fear that vendors will lose business but remember all they need is gadgets and if these can be made around such technologies as NFC then we’ll have a better, cleaner distribution system. STARTUPs you have six months… lets get moving. opportunity, opportunity!

    1. Dhongi says:

      Zimbabwe to become the worlds smartest country, irregardless of the economic impact on its citizens. Impoverishing people in the name of environment.

      1. Longterm thinking says:

        I realise adjusting is hard but its time we understood that fixing the environment is not as easy as switching on a light. We cant wait until everyone is rich to start sorting pollution out. Pollution related illnesses are on the rise (children with mental developmental challenges, allergies, child and adult cancers, physical deformities, low fertility etc) and will linger for many generations. Better to act now

  4. Lez says:

    Not sure about the legality aspect but I believe the onus is upon the operators if they want to maintain the their distribution network, The operators will have to find innovative ways to sell the airtime and increase engagement with the vendor. The vendors will also get an opportunity to gain full visibility with the network operator as some vendors are right at the end of the spectrum in terms of the feeding order. It is an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, keeping the country clean and giving vendors more power to control their interaction with the operator…

    1. Anonymous says:

      How are operators going to sell airtym in Dotito, Magunje, Thuli, Nkayi, and all other remote areas in Zim. I do not see the difference between litter due to recharge cards and litter caused by receipts from supermarkets and stores. I thought the solution to litter was creating an effective waste management system. What about the vendors and their jobs?

      1. chris mberi says:

        Vendors can use hot recharge and so can people in remote areas and in any case anyone can be a vendor via their mobile wallet. All we need is to improve the efficiency by taking advantage of NFC and any such technology

        1. Timmy says:

          NFC is the future but i dont know if all g-tel phones have NFC

      2. Gabie says:

        Alternatives like hot recharge don’t need one to be in an urban or semi-urban area, they can pay for their wholesale airtime via ecocash , in some ways this will make the vendors’ lives much more easier

      3. Dhongi says:

        Reasonable, an effective waste management is what is required not all this bullshit. Plus i cant go around giving people my number to get airtime

  5. Hello says:

    Okay fine but me i work outside town mumaruzevha apo at times im abt 39 km away from all roads and electricity poles how am i going to get airtime?
    Pkus who is going to sponsor all this new electronic methods. Granted startups have a gap to fill bt the gvt must not be excessive in trying to fine (looking at you trandport as well. )
    no dont evem say ku sa or namibia cz last time i checked the median salary for civil servants is over 7000rand and less than 30% unemployment.

    1. mwanamwana says:

      all you need is a cellphone to sell airtime and a bag of change for your customers(or not if its from wallet to wallet), and just like the person who lives in your area boards to buy you more airtime cards they can board to fill up their phone with airtime to transact or even send someone to do it as they do with the physical juice card and its better coz the electronic airtime when juiced can work immediately whereas the juice card has to travel to you first in order to use it.

      The infrastructure already exists in my opinion, the condition is not yet quite right to execute this.

  6. macd chip says:

    This is yet another decision from another minister who is out of touch with reality, but very interested to show off her muscles.

    You claim to represent people bt all you bring is suffering to those who are trying to make a living legally out of the few opportunities left.

    Whilst at it, why not ban raw suwage from flowing in the roads, why not ban dongas in the roads.

    Instead of banning, why not build a vibrant recycling industry to consume the waste thereby creating more jobs for your people.

    1. mwanamwana says:

      I totally agree with you Macd, there a myriad of ways to deal with the making business and the environment better.

  7. Icho says:

    Ko marara efodya ngavaiteiwo electronic cigars to those cigarette manufacturers.

    1. chris mberi says:

      You do have a point

  8. Chino says:

    I thought recharge cards are made from a special bio-degradable paper

  9. mwanamwana says:

    Scratch cards died when the mobile money option became a reality with the advent of Ecocash, Telecash, One wallet and the banks chipping in as well. I would like to think Econet slowed down on the aggressive campaign to use Ecocash for airtime (my thoughts )because the informal sector is a huge network which if they had cut off a couple of years ago would have left a lot of people stranded(and not because they got lazy, Mr Mboweni is on record saying that cash is the enemy they want to get of cash altogether).
    Remember buying airtime on Ecocash with 10 % discount and no scratching, i had no need to go to the guy at the corner except for loyalty and when i had no money in the bank to transact.

    And it is possible to sell airtime in those remote areas as well because of the shops there and also people could become Ecocash, Telecash agents or something better, the agent could actually be given the the power to sell cross vendor airtime. Thats is normal is South Africa, look at companies Blue Label that to airtime distribution both electronic transactions and the scratch card

    We do have bigger problems with bottles and cans than we do scratch cards so i do believe that they are blowing a lot of hot air to make it look like they are actually doing something, why Telecomms first? why not Delta and other beverage makers Honourable Minister? that is the elephant in the room in terms of environment if i do say so myself.

    1. macd chip says:

      That was really my thinking! You have big polluting companies offloading dangerous chemicals into Mukuvisi river everyday, Delta, all cigarate companies etc.

      I bet my last dollar that of all telcos companies, only Econet will be forced to comply.

      1. [email protected] says:

        I know it’s fashionable to worship Econet for some people, but not everything is about them.

        This affects an entire industry.

        There are actually matters that are bigger than Econet

    2. ine mari says:

      nah sounds like fund raising through fines. after all only econet delta etc are the ponly companies still working and a 10 million dollar fine per organisation should work

  10. pee says:

    zvakaoma weduwee. hanzi people should avoid diapers and go to cloth nappies iyo mvura ichinetsa kudai. as much as i hate littering the country yakatoomerwawo zvekuti some of these so called solutions will be a burden to the consumer futi so pakatoooma

  11. Zidane says:

    Majoring on minor things again. Instead of addressing ways and means to encourage economic activity and boosting earning potential for the country, the minister decides to speak about litter. What percentage does those little recharge cards constitute of the overall litter on the streets… And dnt we have more important issues to discuss that are not litter… Like I dnt know… The economy… Nxa shame on you…

  12. Paperchasing says:

    Fundraising prettu sure macopmanies ari connected to the big leagues wont get fined even though they are guilty. So sorry econet and delta and pampers isai kamillion paside yemusana.

  13. Taurai says:

    Ini I use this app inonzi M-vendr. No need for macards and they give better commission. use my Referal code if anyone wants to try it. MV1002369 – download here http://www.mvendr.com/zw/download

    1. macd chip says:

      There are limitless solutions to his issue. But at the moment, we have a gvt making noise noise about Zimasset and creating jobs for the people. Then you have ministers out of touch with reality, ministers who wonder why everyone is complaining about heat wave because they drive 4×4 fitted with air corn and cannt see potholes in the roads because again their luxury cars shield them away from that.

      Imagine how many people are going to loose their only source of income through that if it is going to be enforced?

  14. Vicky says:

    Recharge cards not going any where.
    She is dreaming and would have been fired by then.

  15. idiots says:

    majoring in minor things….idiots

  16. Tau says:

    imi mungatoteedzerawo zvaOppah here people

  17. Ignored Techie says:

    Misplaced priorities by this clueless govt. The councils can’t even collect garbage! Harare water is heavily polluted and you worry abt airtime recharge cards! Lol

  18. Hobbyist Programmer says:

    There goes my weekend project :-(.

    I was planning to make an Android app that does Optical Character Recognition of recharge cards so that you simply take a picture of the scratched recharge card instead of the tedious manual process.

    Syllabus:
    – computer vision
    – AI/Neural Nets

  19. fiend says:

    Very dull.

    Kutsvaga relevance after being ordered to step aside for the First Lady and after having being overwhelmed my Higher & Tertiary Education.

    Focus on elephants, Oppah. You said there were powerful people implicated in the elephant poisoning poaching syndicate.

    You seem to have left out the names.

  20. Zhanu Zhinhu says:

    Zanu kana maiisa pachinzvimbo inokumamirai.
    1. Juice Card haticharide
    2. $100 fines
    3. Kuwedzera maTollGate pasina kana any Road Project inoitwa..Its not surprising to find a pothole paTollGate pacho. Most of them are nolonger functioning well.
    4. Kuda kungoSHarer SHarer maInfrastructure pane zvavasina kushandira.
    5. Kusagara munyika

    Anyway, they should also introduce maElectronic Fines Tickets kumaTraffic Police rather than kunyora muBook if they want to STandardize the cleanilihood of the Environment

  21. Tiki says:

    Ane picture yema dumps ane marara atitaridzewo tione contribution yemarecharge card

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