Zim government claims Econet succeeded because of protection from MTN competition

Speaking at the Mobile Money and Digital Payments Conference in Harare today ICT minister, Supa Mandiwanzira, said that Econet is wrong to assume their first mover position in investing in mobile money infrastructure means they can close out other players from sharing that infrastructure.

Mandiwanzira was responding to statements made earlier in the day by EcoCash Head, Natalie Jabangwe. The head of Zimbabwe’s largest mobile money services provider (EcoCash has 97% of the mobile money market) had said that at some point in the future, it would be inevitable to share infrastructure, but at the moment, because of the heavy investment they have made into the distribution network, they needed to enjoy first mover advantage.

“If government did not want EcoCash or Econet to be the largest we would have opened our gates for Safaricom to come and operate M-Pesa in this market. We could have allowed MTN to set up in this market and offer the services that Econet offers. And I can assure you they come with a huge pocket to dwarf any player in this market and they have been knocking on our doors. But we have kept them closed because we want to protect them [Econet].


Now it is wrong to assume that you have first mover advantage, and therefore you must close out other Zimbabweans from benefiting from a system which you have been licensed on.”

Mandiwanzira also said he was more concerned that startups innovating in the telecoms and fintech space than established players like Telecel and NetOne.

The Econet group as a whole has been under pressure these past several months to share telecoms infrastructure as well as their soft distribution infrastructure like their more than 26,000 EcoCash agents. The group’s attitude towards sharing so far has been that they have invested a lot of money in the infrastructure while the competition slept and that regulators should let them enjoy the fruits of their investment.

Government on the other hand has emphasized that they are happy for infrastructure to be shared on commercial terms, and that this would have reduced cost benefits for consumers.

It’s ofcourse not clear how sincere the minister is in claiming that MTN and Safaricom have been begging to be let into the Zimbabwean telecoms & financial services market, or at least how sincere it is that the only reason deals haven’t gone through with such continental players is that government is keen to protect Econet.

It’s not a secret how government itself made it difficult for Econet to exist and to the best of our knowledge, no one in government (it’s the same government) has ever acknowledged how misguided they were to fight a 5 year battle against Econet, only to have the same company become the country’s biggest tax payer a decade later.

You can Mandiwanzira’s full speech here.

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14 thoughts on “Zim government claims Econet succeeded because of protection from MTN competition

  1. LSK, well written . Supa cant find ways to appease his boss except by bullying Econet.

  2. There is Government posturing that is has gone out of its way to promote or rather protect Econet. Brother Supa, action speaks louder than words. Econet is the only player who have paid their licence. Econet is not being paid termination fees by Telecel, Netone TelOne. They switch off NetOne, or is it TelOne, and they are threatened. The Zimbabweans and others are watching. To get a licence Econet had to struggle and only getting it after the jonny -come -laties Netone and Telone.

  3. Rubbish all those other networks would not have played games with GVT and would have left
    – “People” should learn to PLAN and not want to ride on the success of others
    – “People” should gain vision for tomorrow not wishes for today
    – “People” should Protect local business and not expect anything from them, since “People” claim they are doing a lot of other things (SI’s included) to protect local business

  4. “…..We could have allowed MTN to set up in this market and offer the services that Econet offers…..” so i read.
    I personally think Econet is more proactive and innovative. For all i REMEMBER econet has initiatited partnership with MTN … To me thats commendable for Econet

  5. What ever their argument, Ecocash is seriously ripping us off. It’s us the customers who have to pay for their cowardice. I mean they are afraid of competing on level terms

    1. well @sekuru there is telecash, onewallet, getcash(nettcash), etc etc. take your pick and jump ship.

    2. You have other options; WU, GetCash , MoneyGram, Telecash, Onewallet, Bank Transfer and so on. Leave Ecocash alone.

  6. Is true that there is infrastructure duplication…But I really feel this should have been addresses before anyone had invested anything…rather to wait for one player to set it up whilst others were sleeping and then conveniently come up with this shared thing. I am not Econet’s fan since the day they fired me and telling e to my face that ‘ we want younger generations’…yet I was only 35 years old! but here they are being unfair to them!

  7. Econet struggled to get themselves license. Let them enjoy the benefits of their investments.

  8. Successfully applied at preferred school, response pending. Experienced network challenges earlier but i persitted. Hope the system will improve on speed. On the date of birth just scroll backwards till you reach the birth year and month your child was born and click on the date, choose set. This is a wonderful system with cost saving convenience to families and the economy in general. I am sure it has eliminated the sickening corruption. It will also reveal the hardworking school, some were just selecting the best students! To me a good school is one which takes even a below average student and make him/her succeed.

  9. Utter nonsense from Supa, since when did gvt protect Econet to begin with they are not the ones who licenced the but the courts and the size of the pocket does not translate to success, gvt has more money at it disposal than Econet yet Telecel and Net One are in shambles. Ecoent has what it atkes to operate even were MTN is no doubt about that

  10. At times “kunyara” and keeping quite helps. Nyepology from a young Minister. Why is NetOne (One Wallet) and Telecel failing to out manouevre Ecocash??

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