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As We Mourn Kwese Here Are Some Products Econet Has Killed Over The Years

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Econet HQ

So Kwese satellite TV is the service we all liked to hate but now miss terribly. As they say it only takes the rain to miss the sunshine. The thing though is that Kwese’s satellite is not alone when it comes to products and services the international giant Econet has ruthlessly excised. Here are some products they have send to the guillotine or left to starve:

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  • Tengai- launched back in 2015 as Econet’s first crack at the “eCommerce” business although the platform was more of a classifieds site than an actual full blown eCommerce site. For some strange reason Econet treated Tengai like some bastard child as they denied it was their product even though the relationship was obvious and they showered it with some love including zero rating it. The product received a lot of hate from the tech community due to its alleged net neutrality violations. It was repeatedly hacked before Econet simply pulled the plug. Technically Tengai is not dead as it reincarnated and came back as Ownai.
  • Ecolife-in partnership with Afre Corporation ( First Mutual Life Assurance Limited), Econet created Ecolife during the early summer of 2010. The product was marketed as “convenient life cover” which was also free. This was back when Ecocash was not really a thing. All you had to do was SMS yes to 3111 and recharged with at least $3 airtime every month and you could get up to $12 000. Everyone loves free stuff so it was small wonder the the service had 1.6 million members. Despite its success in signing up customers the service was put in limbo as Trustco the platform providers terminated their relationship with Econet. There followed multiple battles with Trustco all the way up to the Supreme Court where Econet lost. Without the platform Ecolife was doomed and in December of 2011 they silently pulled the plug.Given its success it was inevitable the Ecolife would make a comeback in Econet’s product line up which it did in the form of Ecosure. The later is a more refined version bolstered by Ecocash’s success and it covers more than just life. There were a lot of stumbles as Ecosure became the Ecosure we know today.
  • Then there was Ecoshopper-formed in partnership with National Foods. The idea was simple you or someone on your behalf would go onto the Ecoshopper website, order a grocery basket, pick a National Foods depot closest to you and complete payment using Ecocash. The recipient would then go to their nearest depot to collect the basket. The service never really took owing to a number of reasons including:
    • Without delivery people had to find a National Foods depot. The truth is National foods was often far away compared to your local supermarket so why even bother.
    • The service would have been a convenient way to send groceries to relatives in rural areas or for people in the diaspora to send groceries to those back in Zimbabwe. The problem was that it was just an Ecocash thing (no other payment options) and the items for sale were already prepacked in rigid “baskets”.
    • The service itself was poorly marketed and when we conducted a test we never got the basket and it seems staff at the ground at National Foods were not even aware the service existed.

    Ecoshopper was never really explicitly killed though. The webiste lives on and you can actually pick a basket and complete payment! I guess even Econet has forgotten the service exists.

  • At the height of powercuts many of us relied on the very useful Econet Solar lanterns that graced all the shelves of all Econet shops. The effort was under the Econet Energy umbrella. They sold home power stations and Green Kiosks. Then the power situations improved and the whole thing just fizzled. Econet still does solar but under the Cumii brand.
  • Back in 2012 they launched Econet VoIP in a bid to tap into the business/enterprise market. We don’t know how successful they were but we haven’t heard of it since and their VoIP website went through death pains and just disappeared later. Econet still does VoIP through ZOL so it is kind of not dead. Although not traditional VoIP Econet have a web calling app called Econet Plus I guess that counts for something although it’s not a really visible product in the current Econet line up.
  • Speaking of Econet and ZOL, before they got married Econet had their own ISP version called Ecoweb. Even though Econet offered GPRS/EDGE connectivity via phones and modems they decided to launch their own Mobile Wimax and even sold dongles at not so cheap prices. When Econet held their VoIP launch event they gave attendees free WiMax modems. An admission of failure? When Liquid acquired ZOL I guess it was bye bye Ecoweb.
  • Early this year Econet launched a “dedicated business wallet” may be its just me but I haven’t seen or heard a lot of people talking about *152# especially ordinary business man. I guess the business wallet is still a thing although it’s not clear where it will fit in the new wallet line up.
  • Of all of Econet’s failures I think Seldon Investments is perhaps the most dismal. The company sold water purification products that Econet wanted to sell locally and in other African countries. Turns out Seldon’s patented water purification methods where not worth the paper they were written on. $20 million or more in losses later Econet axed the project and auctioned the assets.
  • Technically Kombi WiFi is still alive but for all intents and purposes the project feels abandoned. On multiple occasions I have failed to even connect to the WiFi network despite standing right next to the Kombi with the router.
  • And still fresh in our minds is Kwese.

The truth is large corporations like Econet or even Google and Microsoft have to self evaluate constantly and excise unprofitable services and products. Sometimes they are refined and rebranded with varying success. It is a good thing otherwise if left to fester the services would pull the entire company down.

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3 thoughts on “As We Mourn Kwese Here Are Some Products Econet Has Killed Over The Years

  1. Looking at Econet’s product line-up, the only successful product they have is the Econet Mobile MNO, which bases its success on the lack of competition by others.
    Econet wouldn’t be as big a thing today if it was not for the poor economy Zimbabwe is in.

    A quick survey will show that people only use Eco Cash because of the cash shortages.

    Most of their products are half-…. I mean they lack two things, a real strategy and dedication.
    They all tend to thrive on the off chance that the local situation alters. If you look closely, Ruzivo’s content is poor, Ownai? Kwese was bad, even their iFlix take. The shows I’ve seen on there are way worse than Netflix.

    Econet has now become Nicholas Cage. A whole lot of money that ends up getting spent on private islands and dinasour skeletons.

  2. A good snapshot of Econet’s product graveyard! One other product is the Econet email service. Remember that email which allowed you to use your mobile number as your email address? They closed it without notice. I remember I lost a significant amount of data as a result.

  3. This is how it should be. They are putting skin in the game, taking risks. Some fail and some succeed. It would be good to do a follow up article with their successful products so that we can have a full picture of how they are doing.

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