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ICT Africa 2011 versus Econet’s Experience Expo

A few weeks ago we learnt that some local ISPs were considering not exhibiting at ICT Africa 2011 after finding out that Econet Wireless had snapped up 23 stands for the event, thereby dwarfing every other exhibitor by an epic scale. Things like this happen and are not surprising. However I was very disappointed by yesterday’s supplement featuring companies that are exhibiting at the event. While other companies proudly underscored their support and participation at ICT Africa, Econet had a full page ad promoting the “Econet Experience Expo” without a single mention of ICT Africa. It turns out that Econet Wireless not only snapped up enough space to run an event of its own; they are actually doing it parallel to ICT Africa!

It might just be an ad, what worries me though is the message I read between the lines. When everyone else is coming together in support of the work done by organisers and the Ministry of ICT in planning and coordinating it, Econet Wireless or the people responsible for this tasteless move want to run their own event. It also seems they want to do it on a grand stage where all the “small” players are gathered  so that the message is clear, Zimbabwe’s ICT sector is divided by a fine line. There is Econet Wireless and its “experience” expo and then there’s everyone else. Everyone else includes all the IAPs, ISPs, COMSA, the Ministry of ICT, SIRDIC, software developers, support services providers etc

If the company had just practically taken over ICT Africa I wouldn’t have any problem at all with that. But in running its own show, I believe this is not a progressive move as it ran its own standalone Experience Expo last year. Operators in Zimbabwe’s ICT sector have always complained about many things beyond their control, it is now apparent that a bigger underlying problem is the fact that there is no holistic effort to work together. It’s all about company X doing its ABCs . The health of the sector doesn’t matter. Look at the issues of infrastructure sharing and the recent story we reported that ZISPA turned down an offer by Google to host a cache server.

Econet Wireless’s near monopoly status in Zimbabwe doesn’t make things any better if they are behaving like this. Simply because they command such a significant share of the local ICTs sector, their attitude and behaviour as a company can determine the health of the sector as a whole.

So far I’ve met and interacted with surprisingly progressive attitudes at the company, they almost realise that Econet Wireless is not an island and are open to working with stakeholders in the ICT sector. Sadly the company also has a half that doesn’t seem to care for anyone else but themselves. Econet Wireless happens to be the one at fault here but most ICT players behave like this in one way or another. Surely such attitudes are not good for the country as a whole and need to be done away with.


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28 thoughts on “ICT Africa 2011 versus Econet’s Experience Expo

  1. Its called competition. If you ask me the rest of the so-called ICT players have no clue how to position themselves in the market. This is why the ICT Africa Expo will be luck-lustre as usual – we don’t have enough “Econets” in the market.

  2. I think this is good apart from the fact that Econet is calling it an expo, i feel they should have just called it the Econet Experience. I’m very happy that Econet bought 28stands, it shows that at least 1 company is excited and investing a lot into this. Instead of the other companies sulking they should also buy 28 stands of their own and if they can’t afford them then it means they are small companies and they shouldn’t expect big companies to act small for them. I’m sure the Econet stand will ultimately be the only thing worth visiting. This is similar to saying Mercedes Benz should demolish their Zimbabwe Agric Show stand because its too grand.

    There is an unfortunate notion amongst Zim companies that they deserve protection and credit for doing nothing. Imagine if Google comes to the expo what do you think their stand/s would look like? It will be freakin bigger than the reserve bank of Zim.  Viva Econet, where is Telecel and Netone???? Econet is at least 1 company that does spend the money it makes towards it’s business. The money for those 28stands in the hands of one of the ISP’s could have been some excutive’s  next  2nd Land Rover Discovery.
     
    For those companies that are considering sulking, well go ahead because when consumers come to the expo they’ll see what’s there and they won’t lose sleep about whose not there, in fact they probably won’t even notice whose not there. Sorry for your brand. There are some ICT companies in Zimbabwe that nobody knows about. There are just there in the shadows like cockroaches. Well let the big guns squash you then if you going to be sissies about it.

  3. Ok, let me get this straight? Econet is “running its own show”, but still gets stands from ICT Africa? And, two, would you have been happier with Econet taking a tiny, teeny-weeny stand? Is this how far we’ve fallen, that we demand mediocrity? I hold no brief for Econet, but this is a pointless rant and rave from Techzim.

  4. Folks, you may be missing the point slightly. I appreciate the move by Econet to hold its own expo/board meeting or any other event that they like concurrently with x and z event. It’s really their right. No qualms with that but….

    Commercial interests aside, it does go against supporting the little collective efforts present in our industry to take it forward. As a big player with a valuation that’s soared, Econet has to act more responsibly and set a good example. Appearing to compete with the community at large because of a “we got em by the neck” attitude will only build resentment. It’s myopic for Econet to think it’s done something so big that no one can catch em. Econet, you’re greatly positioned for the tech bubble that’s coming so don’t let people hate you, rather draw from people’s dreams because without them (dreams included), you wouldn’t exist. Personally, I expected you to ride this wave and help Zim get on its feet. Put your commercial interests aside (actually, this move shows you don’t even care for your business because it’s moves like this, that destroy the values people associate with your brand.)

    If there’s anyone who felt let down or surprised by Econet, don’t despair. Great things are coming. We will succeed if we push forward as one.

    LOVE TECHNOLOGY.

    1. Despite your fancy words @ Chikho your point is some what invalid, if not completely so. I don’t see how investing heavily in marketing and PUBLIC relations can alienate well… the PUBLIC . It goes without saying that the community does not exhibit at ICT Africa my friend so no exhibitor by exhibiting at ICT Africa in anyway competes with the community/public. If anything they engage the community. Why would the community hate Econet for putting on a grand show?  You said: “actually, this move shows you don’t even care for your business because
      it’s moves like this, that destroy the values people associate with your
      brand.” With what Econet did your statement is just about the most ignorant and irrelevant comment on this post so far. The only people that are complaining are other companies the public isn’t!  Out of interest’s sake just how big is the stand suppose to be to be ideal and none threatening.

  5. Techzim give us a break.. you cannot sweat a company for investing in marketing!!! If they were using their network to gain an unfair advantage like Google tweaking their servers and placing Ads for its websites before other competitors then maybe we would be worried. But spending money on marketing…comeon guys how low can we sink in Zimbabwe!! No to crab mentality please…

  6. Hi Clinton,Thought it would be best just to clear up the apparent misconception about what the Econet Experience Expo at the ICT Africa is all about. Comment is welcome, but surely it should be fair, and, importantly, based on fact.From the outset, the entire assumption upon which you base your whole article – that this is a separate exhibition, or, as you put it, “running their own event” – is entirely incorrect.Econet is very much a PART of ICT Africa, and is not running a “parallel” event. Perhaps there is a misunderstanding as to what the “Econet Experience Expo” is about. It is less an event in itself, than Econet’s platform for interaction with customers at various such exhibitions. It has indeed been held as a standalone exhibition or, as we did at the ZITF this year or now at ICT Africa, as part of a larger exhibition featuring other players.How else can a company “support the work done by organisers and the Ministry of ICT in planning and coordinating (ICT Africa)”, as you say, if not to actually participate in it – and to give it our all? This is precisely what Econet has set out to do.Should our “support” for ICT Africa have been better demonstrated by taking up smaller space? Our range of products and services has widened, and our only intention in participating at ICT Africa, on the scale that we have done, is to ensure that visitors to ICT Africa ‘interact’ with each of our brands individually. It’s not some muscle show, and certainly not “having ‘em by the neck”. It’s about Econet making that extra effort to go big at the one major national tech exhibition we have. All Zim ICT companies and regulators have worked hard to get our industry growing again. Shouldn’t we be cheering every ICT company out there to take up larger spaces at ICT Africa, instead of bashing them for it? 

    1. You are not saying anything (hapana zvawataura apa).
      However, I do not see anything wrong  with what Econet has done. Their PR/Marketing dept. has done what responsible companies do. The rest of the guys should quietly fire their respective PR/Marketing executives.

  7. Econet PR Perhaps the problem here is one of semantics and ineffective communication on the part of those responsible for your advertising. The word expo is misleading, as far as l know it is always used in the context of a standalone event. More so your FULL PAGE ads in today and yesterday’s papers went on to promote the Econet Experience Expo and DID NOT in any way reference ICT Africa. I believe this can create confusion as it dilutes the ICT Africa event. Have a look at the ad/s and you might see what l mean. Why not strike a balance by vigorously promoting your “extended range of products and services” while also at least referencing ICT Africa.

    For those who did not understand the gist of the article, l clearly mentioned that we were aware of Econet’s 23 stands a long time ago. I also mentioned that we did not see anything wrong with this despite the fact that some players had other opinions… At TZ we live and yearn for the day ICTs in Zim are at an optimum level. Bashing is totally unprofessional and against our ethos.

  8. TechZim shld grow up and stop being a baby sulking about nothing…..Econet shldnt stoop low to protect the egos of the smaller companies. if they fail to find motivation and competition from Econet, they might as well not exhibit. we’re alredy 10years behind as a country and if we all wait for small companies or suppressing big companies in ICT, then we’ll b 25 years behind inn no time. i thought techZim wld be happy about econet’s move and encourage other IT companies to do their best to market Technology in this country. why should we limit everyone? 

    Another first from Econet, inspired to change your world!!! (even you TechZim…you also need to improve on your site, for a techNology News site, its a disappointment. might as well have been constructed by a form four student. 
    Or maybe you are waiting for other to catch up)

    to Econet i say…..keep on doing good and rise to every occassion. you have changed our lives greatly (we look forward to cheaper prices on broadband and better network coverage and service)

      1. My IP does not say, who I work for, my public IP will say who I buy Internet and get connectivity from or who I bought/rented the IP address from.

        My public IP (in my case from my machine, because I have one,  or from my ISP’s proxy server) does not mean I work fro my ISP, I am just but their client.

        Someone having an Ecoweb/Econet/Liquid assigned IP does not mean that person works for Ecoweb/Econet/Liquid

  9. Oh come Techzim, you’ve let me down on this one, lol. I have my qualms with Econet, plenty, but this is definitely not one of them. I do not see any wrong doing or isolation by Econet in this one. It’s a dog eat dog world out there. Competition defines business and staying ahead is everything. If Econet decides to put one full page in the press or buy out the whole newspaper for a day to market themselves, then so be it. As long as they are paying for it just like everyone else. Econet has no legal or social obligation to promote the ICT event. They are out there to showcase themselves. If anything, the promoters and event organizers themselves have the duty to do that. Econet does not even have to mention the name of the event, they are only promoting their experience. 

    I have been fortunate enough to attend some of the grandest of such events like E3 and DEMO the past few years. At E3, trust you me, the big guys like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo go all the way to make a stand. The 3 alone can occupy more than half the space available yet they are more than 500 companies there. In their advertisements for their presentation and stands, you will never here the promotion of E3. Worse still at DEMO where the playing field is more balanced (startups mostly), it’s all about the resources a team is willing to use to showcase their product, not trying to feel sympathy for the next guy, promoting DEMO or whatever other soft-hearted cause. 

    Econet is the front runner in ICT and their marketing and stand size should show that. If that bothers the small guys, then they should work harder or at least bring a product that will pull visitors. At the end of the day, it’s not about the size of the stand but the quality of the product. At an expo, a good product will be seen so all minnows should learn to make use of the little they have and stop whining about Econet. Chances are their product is somehow reliant on the Econet anyway and Econet is not just showcasing one product but many different ones.

    So yeah, Econet really has done nothing wrong here. They are just paper chasing, just like all of us.

  10. @facebook-1318248:disqus …wrong..lol. i use econet Wimax and i suppose the IP is an econet one. i wish i was an econet staff personel though. @kabweza:disqus …..same to u

  11. Econet well done. ndiyo inonzi competition.

    Econet please acknowledge that you are part of ICT Africa, give credit to the organizers.

  12. Econet put an advert in the paper acknowledging that you are part of ICT Africa. you are not the organisers or owners of the event

  13. Problem with Zimbabweans is we want people to play fair. However fair does not encourage progress. Well done Econet Wireless for being trend setters. We need more of you for us(Zimbabwe) to realise international standards for Zimbabwean communities can be a reality.

  14. Econet is a giant in the IT industry and therefore must act like one, this is certainly the way to do it. They have created for themselves a stage that is fit for a company of this magnitude, lets just wait and see if all this noise they are making is really worth it. @Kabweza good article you are entitled to have your own opinion.

  15. ANYONE BEEN TO ICT AFRICA AND ECONET EXPERIENCE EXPO. HOW ARE THE TWO EVENTS GOING ON? The truth of the matter is that Econet hijacked this year’s ICT Africa, whether they are big or what…they are just being bully and monopolistic. Guys analyse this text I just recieved from Econet and tell me wat u think…

    “Come and enjoy with us at the Econet Experience Expo 2011 edition to be held at Rainbow Towers 5-7 October. Lots og giveaways don’t miss out! See you there!”

    So at the rainbow towers we have two separate events going on, at least that is what Econet are saying from this text

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