Following the massive blackout of services across their network today, Econet has sent out an apology to some of their subscribers. The message sent out by Econet says:
We apologise for intermittent services experienced on the network. Normal service has been restored. Any inconvenience caused is sincerely regretted.
Not yet normal
We are not sure what Econet means by normal services being restored. Our random checks with their subscribers to different services shows that things are still very far from normal.
Calls are now sometimes getting through but not consistently and when they do sometimes the connection will be terrible, you can’t have any conversation. SMS service seems to be near OK, at least with the handful of tests we have done. Messages were being sent and received almost all the times but still not 100% of the times.
Internet connectivity is not yet up generally. The most important service: EcoCash is still not accessible to any of the people we tested with. No doubt a lot of activity has come to a halt due to no means of payment given that EcoCash is de facto cash in Zimbabwe.
Other USSD services whether Econet’s internal services like balance enquiry etc or third party services like mobile banking menus are still not accessible too. So yea we appreciate the apology from Econet but saying normal services have resumed is just not true, it’s an insult.
What happened by the way?
Econet said backup generators at their core network facility failed to kick in when power was cut this morning. Zimbabwe has been experiencing massive power cuts lasting up to 20 hours or even more daily for several months now. This means all network operators have had to rely on generators that run on diesel to keep services up.
Some reports last week suggested that telcos had said they were considering switching off their networks during the load shedding hours because they could not afford to run on generators.
Weighing in on all this, Econet’s founder, Strive Masiyiwa has said that he had offered to solve Zimbabwe’s power crisis more than a decade ago but corruption in the country had gotten in the way.