Thanks to Nettcash, you can now buy your ZESA prepaid electricity vouchers from another mobile money service that’s not NetOne’s OneWallet. Not a big deal? Actually it is, especially when you consider the dynamics around this sort of arrangement.
If we wind the clocks back by a year and half or so, ZESA, through its prepaid electricity division, Powerplus, was signing up entities that would distribute its prepaid electricity vouchers.
A number of channels were explored, including partnerships with banks like CBZ, ZB Bank and Agribank as well as POS distribution from retail chains like OK Zimbabwe. Even TelOne, another state enterprise, albeit a telecoms operator, was given the opportunity to sell these ZESA vouchers.
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With the extensive footprint mobile money has in Zimbabwe, the channel had to be considered as an option, and it was, but the opportunity was only realised by State-owned NetOne’s One Wallet service. Clearly sidelined were Telecel’s Telecash and Econet’s EcoCash.
There was a lot of grumbling especially from within Econet. The two private mobile money services are the two largest mobile money services, something that most considered as good enough reason to afford the two operators the opportunity to deal in prepaid electricity.
So what’s changed? Well, the sale of prepaid electricity has been opened up to Nettcash, the youngest mobile money service which has no visible ties to the government. In fact, part of Nettcash is now owned by a foreign firm, part of Nettcash is now owned by a foreign firm, Mozido, something that now seems to raise eyebrows for local tech companies dealing in government-related services.
Just how did Nettcash pull this off? According to sources close to the deal, Nettcash got roped in through an arrangement with Petrotrade. Petrotrade (a successor of NOCZIM) is a government agency focused on fuel distribution.
Like other parastatals, it was handed the business opportunity to sell prepaid electricity vouchers. Petrotrade didn’t have the capacity to sell it and made a deal with Nettcash to do this via the Nettcash POS machines.
It would seem that Nettcash had the right relationships at the right time and managed to squeeze its way into a very lucrative arrangement.
It doesn’t seem like this offer from Petrotrade went through a tender process (might not have been necessary given certain circumstances), but effectively EcoCash and Telecash were snubbed yet again in another case of government exclusion.