ZESA Reverses Decision To Raise Minimum Amount One Can Buy Via EcoCash, Still Disfavouring EcoCash Though

Tinashe Nyahasha Avatar
Man topping up electricity, ZESA Tarrif increase, ZESA tariffs

ZESA had a very bad couple of weeks a few weeks back and of course it made the rest of us have an equally bad couple of weeks and left us in a dark place literally. Star Wars kinda dark side….

The Powertel platform that permits the vending of prepaid electricity tokens was constantly down. I realised how big a problem this was when my cousin told me how several houses in his hood were in the dark. The guy lives in Mt Pleasant so I imagined the situation was probably worse in the ghetto.

The reason was that Powertel did not have enough computing resources to take care of the volume of transactions on the platform. Obviously the problem comes from people frequently buying small denomination tokens instead of buying higher denominations at spaced out intervals. Well, the economy is squeezing cash flow for most households so hapana hapana.

Back up but….

When Powertel announced the acquisition and installation of new servers and bringing their platform to stability they also made an interesting change. They increased the minimum value of electricity tokens one can buy on EcoCash from $2 to $10. It was interesting because the minimum was changed for just EcoCash transactions, on all other platforms people could still buy magetsi epondo.

The discrimination was just so surprising that Techzim initially got it wrong. We reported that it was EcoCash that had revised the minimum upwards and of course we were ready with daggers and I imagine the word greed was being thrown around.

It also makes sense that ZESA targeted EcoCash alone. EcoCash has the biggest payments platform in the country especially for consumer transactions like the buying of electricity prepaid tokens. It follows therefore that the bulk of the transactions that made the ZESA system buckle were initiated on the EcoCash platform. However, it doesn’t sound fair that EcoCash would be punished for having the most customers.

Repentance but not full repentance

Today, ZESA has announced that the minimum possible transaction for prepaid electricity on EcoCash has been revised again. They revised it downwards from the $10 but instead of going back to $2 they have gone to $5.

Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are increasing their capacity gradually and they will be reviewing again as capacity increases.

The EcoCash dominance

Just how much dominance does EcoCash have not just compared to other mobile money services? Viewing EcoCash as mobile money is a huge error. They are a very big player in the payments and transactions processing infrastructure in Zimbabwe. We produced a report on how this infrastructure looks and how the different players relate to each other. You can buy the report for $4.99 via EcoCash below:


  1. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

    It’s sad you view it as EcoCash being “punished”. EcoCash wasn’t targeted because is has a large mobile money user base, it was targeted because it had the highest volume of traffic. Absent increasing their processing capacity, how else would you suggest they reduced traffic to manageable levels?

    1. Tinashe Nyahasha

      I still call it being punished because the responsibility to have sufficient capacity rests with ZESA. If the share of volumes were distributed they would have increased the threshold for everyone right? Then they should have done that in this instance too
      However, they should not have come to this position ever, they know their volumes and resource constraints or at least they should know.

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