Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates

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Zimbabwe’s new online classifieds platform, has finally gone live. A press launch was held in Harare to introduce the media to the site, highlight how it works and to explain aspects of this e-commerce startup.

Tengai offers the standard functionality of online classified platforms. Other than the primary function of searching for whatever is available, users can post listings in any of the 12 different categories that include mobile and electronics, vehicles, property, jobs and services.

The listing of items is free, and the site has been zero-rated for Econet broadband subscribers. Tengai will also have premium listings, with 3 types of adverts for this arrangement.  There is the $3 urgent advert, the $4 top advert and the $4.50 homepage gallery listing.

Registering as Tengai user is a fairly easy process. The platform is heavily geared to the mobile user so you’ll be asked for a mobile number. This ties in with the payment option for premium listings which is being powered by EcoCash. Besides a simple User Interface, Tengai is also selling the ability to contact sellers listed on the site with a free SMS.

On the relationship with Econet, James Gibson, the team lead at Tengai pointed out that is not part of Econet Zimbabwe or the Econet group. There is one other key relationship though. The classifieds startup is owned by an independent trust that Econet founder, Strive Masiyiwa has an interest in.

Econet is set to benefit from this relationship through transactional value created for its mobile money service, EcoCash.

An application is being developed for the service, but the platform has been launched as a mobile friendly, web platform first to accommodate as many users as possible and to harvest feedback from the market. This also explains the launch for Harare users first.

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41 thoughts on “ goes live, offers free signups & free browsing for Econet subscribers

  1. It’s a good article, it’s very nice. is precisely what the everyday person in the house, park, side-walk really wants – to easily exchange or swop something you no longer want with something you want from someone else. Well, with EcoCash of course.

    I’m ready to post a free and wait to see which one of those 6 million ‘free browsing’ users will contact me to buy my stuff. See you on Tengai!

  2. Who is James trying to fool, if he is involved in the project and is employed by Econet then it is related to Econet Zimbabwe and the Econet Group.

    Did Econet & ever discuss a possible joint venture along these lines or is Econet just looking at what’s working out there and trying to own the whole pie? This is not the “We want to work with startups” attitude Econet claimed to have at the Broadband Forum…

    Telecel/Netone/{Telone} how about you guys team up with to make it zero rated and give Econet/ a run???

    1. From what I understand tengai is a private business outside of econet wireless zimbabwe. While partly owned by Econet chairman, strive masiwya, tengai is only operating in partnership with the telecoms operator. Masiwya has many business interests outside of econet wireless. Guess it makes sense for him to leverage synergies between those businesses. I would if I was a successful entrepreneur like him.

      1. Yes that is what the article explains but James’s LinkedIn profile clearly states he works for Econet. If he wasn’t employed by Econet then I might be less convinced!

      2. Raymond is right, it reminds of pathetic attempts made by script writers in movies when trying to explain how clever people exploit the law. Setting up a trust does not work at law, not in real life. The fact remains that Econet and Tengai are related parties.

        ISA 550 defines related parties and arm’s length transactions thus:
        Arm’s length transaction – A transaction conducted on such terms and
        conditions as between a willing buyer and a willing seller who are
        unrelated and are acting independently of each other and pursuing their
        own best interests.
        Related party – A party that is either:
        A related party as defined in the applicable financial reporting
        framework; or
        a. A person or other entity that has control or significant
        influence, directly or indirectly through one or more
        intermediaries, over the reporting entity;

        b. Another entity over which the reporting entity has control
        or significant influence, directly or indirectly through one
        or more intermediaries; or
        c. Another entity that is under common control with the
        reporting entity through having:
        i. Common controlling ownership;
        ii. Owners who are close family members; or
        iii. Common key management.

        I still maintain zero rating this service is a restrictive trade practice without a doubt. The fact that someone tried to create a flimsy trust to hide behind means someone knew this from the onset and they were trying to hide.

        1. Maybe not trying to hide from conflict of interest/net neutrality. Maybe just not wanting to have Econet ZW owners (it’s a public company remember) own/run this new thing.

          1. Whatever the reasons are, it is a very questionable arrangement.

            I suspect Strive wants to capture all the value in the periphery of Econet, and this project is far out of Econet’s wheelhouse they created a ‘brand new’ entity for it.

            Maybe Mr Masiyiwa became wary of partnerships after the Alcatel misadventure? Still, this is disappointing news.

      3. It’s not really ‘outside of Econet wireless’ if tengai has overlapping ownership and management with Econet.

        The arrangement seems very sketchy, especially since there are no explanations for the arrangements (it would be easily explained had it been a joint-venture with an established company like OLX)

    2. EXACTLY – what do they take us for? He was hired into Econet’s E-COMMERCE division, launches an E-COMMERCE platform that gets preferential treatment form Econet, and is linked to the Econet founder – but they wanna tell us its “independent?” They seem to be possessed by the Saith Technologies demon!

    3. Ray, I’ve never been as disappointed in these people or the entire ZimbabweAN ecosystem as I am today. They fool people but in truth, they are trying to carve up the nation using the same tactics the politicians use. Zanu PF and Msasa, in my opinion are one and the same thing. While Strive Masiyiwa is busy “inspiring” young people on social media, they do the exact opposite as a collective. I’m personally not happy with this. Like you, I have the courage to use my real name & identity in saying so. Zimbabwe is broken as a nation, we are all looking out for ourselves and the more we do it, the more damage we inflict. It’s a rot.

      This is cronyism. This could very well be corruption. Econet is a listed company, they hire some guy. Who funds it all? Now it’s a private project… But it’s not. We are told of trusts and all other elaborate rubbish to hide.

      My opinion on Zero rating is that it seeks to enforce the barriers that the internet defeated. Before, you needed an unfair advantage such as corruption, nepotism, race, tribe etc. The internet gave us all hope. But some evil elements who hide behind trusts want to destroy the only lifeline that young people have.

      I gave up on the “real world” a few years ago because I believed and still believe that the internet is the only real equaliser in this world. Actions like this are really sad. Especially the very cowardly action of trying to sway public opinion by commenting behind a veil.

      I blame us as an ecosystem. For every evil that is committed, we sulk and just complain. So the villain becomes more daring. It’s the same thing with politics isn’t it. They want everything for themselves.

      What has happened today is unprecedented, even the controversial folk at Rocket Internet have a clear understanding with MTN & TIGO: NO ZERO RATING. The lie you are told about needing to give people a taste of the internet is rubbish. If that’s true then zero rate all local content. Market forces solve all, including data and consumption.

      These people have not made any investment in the local ecosystem. In fact they’ve done nothing but look out for their own interests. While MTN, Safaricom, TIGO, Vodacom and others invest – they only care about themselves.

      This is sad.

      1. What about OLX’s partnership with Facebook’s to provide FREE access to their site in Kenya? Or MTN allowing its subscribers to download the OLX app without incurring data charges in Nigeria? All e-commerce companies try to partner with telcos to help grow their user base, especially in markets where mobile is the primary access point to the internet. I can envisage more strategic partnerships like the tengai-econet deal in Zimbabwe. Hopefully they begin to knock down some the barriers to e-commerce that currently exist.

        1. If you really want to have an open conversation, why hide behind an obviously invented name like “entrepreneur”. You Msasa people never cease to shock & amuse. So anyway, the examples you brought up:

          1. Actually, MTN Apptitude is a promotion run by MTN Nigeria offering free access to ALL Nigerian developed apps. This was a move to build the ENTIRE ecosystem. It’s called meritocracy, something you guys fought for 5 years to justly have access to… You can read more about apptitude here:

          2. But Facebook is doing it too!!!!! Is that really your point. Well that’s a very silly way to make a point, don’t they call that “finger pointing”. So lets work with your argument and say yes, Facebook is doing it with OLX too. Why? Did it just wake up and decide to “do it”. Lets follow the trail. OLX didn’t get to where it is because of Facebook. Fabrice Grinda and Alec Oxenford built it and didn’t rely on trickery, cronyism and other such ills. They had nothing to hide. Also, Airtel Kenya is the one on, they have ~20% of the market andare so useless they’ve been bleeding money across their entire Africa operations . Safaricom isn’t this corrupt, they actually live all those corporate governance charters you hang up and have shareholders to be accountable to. Who is funding all this? I feel sorry for your minority shareholders. All those people that actually believe in what you stood for.

          When bandits join hands with 53 year olds to do everything in their power to take on kids…I’ve heard this many times before but it seems unZimbabwean to actually invest in the future. All those kids you have at Muzinda and other hubs – what are they there for? It’s a big gimmick right?

      2. Its a capitalist world Clinton, even the Chinese are now fultime capitalist.

        You have valid point, but are we not killing an idea before its even implemented.

        Our gvt which is suppose to give a fair level field for growth is totally confused and employ people in strategic positions like Telcos according to party lines not professionalism.

        Econet regardless of what Masiwa sings loud on the internet, is a capitalist company which is there to make money for its shareholders what-come-may.

        Who in his right sense can offer free services or money in a country like Zim, our gvt and MPs only make noise towards elections, everyone who is putting a dollar is expecting to make 10 dollars profit.

        Having said that, l still believe this is a product which is going to bring debate of net neutrality to full exposure once people use it and see how it works.

        1. Got it. Please see my earlier comment in response to “entrepreneur”. This actually hurts minority shareholders as they likely fund something they won’t own…Minority in this case includes institutional shareholders. In essence, everyone but the “trust”. Guys like this will have more to sulk about.

          This net neutrality discussion isn’t new. It’s been going on across the developed & developing world. Takunda Chingozoh; a 22 year old Zimbabwean actually asked Obama about it and got a response. Airtel India tried it recently with Airtel Zero and backed down after a lot of debate and TRAI (The POTRAZ of that market) held public events about it. For reference sake, here’s a summary: and on Airtel Zero: & :

          To be clear, this whole conversation wouldn’t be taking place had they objectively created and were working to boost their product on equitable terms. The discussion here is not about their product’s legitimacy to exist, it’s about efforts that are being made to game the system through a method that violates universal net neutrality principles and one that law makers need to update their understanding of, so as to appropriately regulate. As you correctly stated, a lack of proactive regulation is partly to blame for this confusion.

          Rocket Internet have a product called Jovago. MTN own 33% of them. The easiet way to kill or greatly dent in Nigeria would have been to Zero rate it. They have 60m subscribers after all…And lesser penetration rates than Zim. Why haven’t they done so? This whole rhetoric of “it’s good for you” is a joke in my opinion, one that is told by parties whose hands are right in the cookie jar?

    4. Here is someone who understands the internet. TelOne executives need to become interns at MTN and the SA equivalent of ZESA. The kind of strategic opportunities the have by being gov owned and having a relationship with the former Post Office are staggering. The only explanation for why they are throwing that all away must be that they are pursuing personal agendas that have nothing to do with telecoms. This is really disheartening. Just imagine what startups could gain if TelOne understood simple business governance and the broader digital opportunities out there! The foray of Econet in Lesoto in its startup phase was through the SA equivalent of ZESA.

  3. Nice. Super easy to use compared to and I like the fact it’s free to list and browse. Didn’t expect them to also offer free sms contacting of sellers – nice added bonus. Should do well in Zim – simple easy and free will go down well in this market

    1. Yeh, looks cool. But I’m in Bulawayo – when will they be launching here. Want to list my products for sale. Does anyone know?

    2. is it not possible in this world to promote your own thing without dissing another? Why don’t we suddenly not care much about growing the cake anymore?

      1. I think you have a good point. e-commerce barely exists here in zimbabwe. Its the duty of all ecommerce businesses to help grow the sector. There’s a long way to go before startups big or small should fear competition. Lets rally together and start the online revolution. Telcoms companies have their part to play and should help build the awareness and promote the beneifts of e-commerce to their subsribers. Hopefully Tengai partnering with econet can help in that regard.

    3. @other tapiwa – tengai ought to compete on their own merits. has network effects on its side and I hope it continues to beat the unfair advantage that tengai/econet have (want to bet that tengai isn’t being charged for the SMSes by Econet, even though tengai is an ‘independent venture’?). As Clinton said: this is cronyism.

  4. Why do they include Harare only as the Location City??? is Harare= Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe=Harare???

  5. Ps if econet isnt careful it cld end up with another ecoweb.
    Cz i see them pouring in a lot of funds to beat smaller companies bt the problem is small companies my become more efficient and beat you out by spending less and producing at the same quality if nt better

  6. There are other better classifieds sites to use in Zim than For me,i use a beautiful site called,its a free zim site and its been there for some months.I have personally sold my items and their team is very good.I dont even understand why these guys at Techzim have not reported about it.

  7. trolls are out in full force today if ya’ll care about net neutrality why aint you complaining about facebook and whatsapp bundles or better yet launch a legal battle and see how it goes

    1. Are you sure you know what a troll is?

      Can you distinguish between trolling and topical debate?

      I know its all nice to throw around new words you’ve learnt but at least use them appropriately.

  8. For some reason l fully behind this who idea. Let econet plant, grow and exploit the idea of e-commerce in Zim.

    Once its fully matured and when people can see benefit of doing so, then we can start to look at what can be done better.

    Talking of net neutrality right now is like trying to cross the bridge before you get there. Its like looking at a newborn baby and frown then throw him her into prison because the face looks like a murderer.

    I see the same issue like what happened with Sim cards, econet grew mobile penetration and yes, they were taking advantage of people, but once other SPs caught up, the prices went drastically down, its a capitalist world we live in.

    1. It will kill other businesses in the process.

      Zero-rating already gives them a superior advantage to the existing classified sites.

      Whilst this may be a win for Ecommerce and getting more Zimbabweans on board, it is still skewed.

      If it’s not an Econet subsidiary/product, then by whatever token they got zero-rated, it should mean other private companies can get zero-rated access.

      If it was an Econet, then zero-rating their own service would be almost a natural (though below-the-belt) action.

      But it is a private company. With preferential treatment by Econet.

      Other companies should also have the right to zero-rate their websites/services, otherwise this is anti-competitive and people (with deep pockets) can actually take legal action… or just lobby for support from an authority

  9. even without the zero rating the tengai classifieds is by far the best classifieds website in zimbabwe. this is a good development that will force to improve their design. on the zero rating we just need to send a petition to econet to remove zero rating of tengai or ping the competition authorities

    1. What do you think about because i think its another very good Zim classifieds site

  10. Can all of saying site looking gd please specify are you just happy with appearance or usability/features.
    And how is it the best site if it just launched today

    1. Firstly I think the site is very visually appealing but it is also simple and easy to use. I like how I can post an advert very quickly. All in all tengai seems like a great service. I’m impressed.

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