Will Econet ever learn?

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Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, Econet Logo, Zimbabwean telecoms, Zimbabwean mobile operators, African telecoms, Zimbabwean Blue chip Counters

It’s a normal day for an Econet subscriber, you get ten plus promotional text messages about the fifty services under the Econet/Cassava umbrella. Just like how the text messages from Econet are an annoyance, we will now proceed to list each and every one here (not to annoy you of course): we have two from EcoCash, one about Sasai, one from Vaya, one from Ruzivo, another from Moovah, then Ecosure and lastly Econet Data. Then they also let NSBZ, UNICEF and others advertise in my inbox too. 

Before this turns into a rant about Econet and their spammy ways, let us get to the issue at hand: Econet (we will call them Econet for the duration of this article, we know it should be Cassava) is spreading themselves too thinly to effectively manage all these platforms. What will it take for them to learn – you cannot spread yourself so thinly, while greedily trying to take all the pieces of all the pies there are?

Just last month, I accidentally sent $80 to a stranger and quickly headed over to Twitter to talk to customer care. The response I got was, “Please remind us later, our Eco Cash platform is down.” This was the response I got for several days, until I decided to just call the person and ask them to send me back $70. A few weeks later, I get a text message saying the transaction has been reversed and my account is credited with $80. I had clearly told them that we have resolved the issue, but now, I had to file another query, and guess what the response I got was…

If your core and regular services are not working efficiently, is it wise to keep adding more systems that need maintenance and delegating that to the same people?

The word from Econet employees, and our own observations is that when Strive Masiyiwa or whoever heads the innovation department decides to start something new, the same employees that work on the core of Econet’s mobile network services are also given the new tasks on top.

Back when Kwese TV was a thing (if we can call it that, but more on that later), you would walk into an Econet shop and everyone is putting on Kwese promotional material. It would take you several minutes to get into the correct queue for the service you need, after which security personnel will come and tell you that you are in the wrong queue. This rings true for everything from Sasai to Vaya. It makes it very difficult for us as customers to identify the correct person to approach for assistance and makes it even harder for your team to execute their jobs efficiently.

The behemoth that is Google also wants all the pieces of all the pies, and when it seemed like Facebook would take the social side of things, Google responded with Google+. For Google, this was a product of pure work politics and greed. All these platforms and services should be developed with solving problems as their core function. Just like Google+ did not solve any problem that anyone had, ask yourself, what problem did Kwese TV solve? What problem does Sasai solve?

The answer, of course, is none. Just because they have the money to throw around, they never stop to ask if they should. Kwese TV may have failed due to several reasons, but I remember visiting my parents and seeing them switch around decoders between Kwese and Multichoice several times. What I did notice was that the Multichoice decoder spent more time plugged into the tv set than Kwese’s. Sasai is not going to gain much traction unless WhatsApp gets banned in Zimbabwe (and here I go giving the government crazy ideas). Vaya might take off for some, but the people who would use or afford ride-hailing already have their own cars and have no incentive to leave them at home.

If I was Econet what I would do is let the little guy do all the work, then swoop in and take all the money. There are several talented young people in the wild who have created platforms that are taking off. Instead of trying to create your own, buy them out and make them yours.

Sometimes Google is wise, sometimes not. Everything they have that is big now was bought from someone small (Android, Youtube, Admob for example). Google bought a little-known piece of software called Android, while Microsoft was busy trying to make us install Windows on our phones. I wonder what happened to either of them.

Before I leave you, one last piece of advice for Econet, giving people free stuff does not mean they will jump onto your platforms. This is a very bad business model and once the free stuff stops, they will ditch you.

About author

Van Lee Chigwada is a software developer at Age-X. You can find him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/agexdev


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  1. Santos

    Great article… The thing is Econet vane makaro, Masiyiwa is on FB acting like a saint who wants to help young Africans make it but on the other hand he is busy trying to take on everything for himself, small guys cant even think of a space that Econet will not try to penetrate.
    If he was really sincere and what he cared about was development, why not fund these young talents who are already doing what they are trying to do instead of parading monopolistic tendencies and using their huge network to try and squeeze them out of existence?
    I am telling you, if Econet ikasiiwa yakadaro its gonna be hard for other new players who don’t have the resources to even wanna try coz two minutes VaMasiyiwa paFB yavo vanenge vakutoti tauyawo!!

    1. Anonymous

      Yes, Masiyiwa does not have enough hands on his business and the rest of the yes men there have no guts and/or are fast asleep at the wheel to tell it like it is!

  2. Anonymous

    I wholeheartedly agree. Econet in its various forms is very bad at customer service and very bad at keeping tabs on its agents and very bad at keeping all those balls in the air. I think also that has a bad culture at the top where managers cannot properly inform higher ups of the consequences of the next ‘innovation’/ decision they take. Everyone needs to learn to say NO in the proper way!

  3. Anonymous

    Econet only survives because the alternatives are also extremely poor!

  4. Anonymous

    PLEASE NOTE! “putting on” signifies a CURRENT ACTION. So “putting on Kwese promotional material” would only apply when the person was actually getting dressed in the morning!

    1. Amos

      Mmmm google says (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) putting on means 1a : to dress oneself in : don. b : to make part of one’s appearance or behavior. c : feign put a saintly manner on. 2 : to cause to act or operate : apply put on more speed.

      1. Anonymous

        Yes all ongoing action. NOT something that has already happened!

    2. Eddie

      Government ngaichivhura zvikoro 😂 Why does that even matter?

  5. Anonymous

    WEARING Kwese promotional material would be the correct expression

  6. Anonymous

    well said for sure.take a look at maisha medik it has launched three times!

  7. Phidza

    I don’t see anything wrong with Econet trying to take a bite of everything, however, what is wrong is the constant spamming and the bad customer service. Sometimes the Econet Customer Care agents are not even aware of some of the products being sold by Econet. Surprisingly, Econet is trying to get into the call centre outsourcing game. They want other companies to outsource their call centres to them, which boggles the mind considering they can’t even handle their own traffic.

    The problem, in my opinion, is that there is no solid structure behind every product they launch. Almost all their products lack customer support.

    Most Econet decision-makers live in a bubble, they are not in touch with reality. Kwese failed because of this. They failed to realise why people subscribe to DSTV and failed to capitalize on why some people ditch DSTV. Pay TV is all about content. They failed to separate markets. They had news readers with West African accents for a Southern African market for example. They had no real content to entice subscribers. They were heavily investing in satellite when even giants like DSTV want to ditch it in the long term.

    1. Anonymous


  8. Cosmas Mavhunga

    Ooo you are lucky you got your 80bond back. I had a 450bond failed transaction on 10 March 2020 at Edgars and I submitted the paperwork they required and there were 2calls from them promising to process the refund and until now I have not received anything. I have also had airtime purchase failures of 20 and 25 bond and i only got the refund for 25. Have tried their Help message to their watsup number as per their messages and noone ever bothers to call within 24 hours as per their promise. Thank you Econet for your false promises.

  9. Anonymous

    I agree with this. Frankly, I wouldn’t go to Econet with an idea, because I once had a meeting with some employees, one of the guys there went on to spearhead one of their companies which I won’t mention here. Basically, it’s a method they use for market research they call you in ask questions take you for a ride and ditch. For which some I did not fully answer and then once they have all the info they need they ditch you. It’s a bad reputation they are building if you ask me. Why not just copy from a distance if you are going to copy. Whoever said if you can’t beat them join them was right. lol, Econet should buy into the startups and help build them whilst having a piece of the action.

    I like Econet because both my sima cards are Econet. My wifi is ZOL (by the way ZOL is doing well because they bought into it). You have said it well that Econet needs to learn from Facebook and partly google and the likes. Facebook bought Instagram, WhatsApp, Google Youtube, Android, and more apps simply because they wanted to have a piece of the action and these businesses have never once gone down because they still have the core thinkers behind them, whilst leveraging the expertise of the big company that bought them out.

    Its a selfish Zim culture or African rather where one wants to succeed on their own, and it’s becoming evident even data company level. The only reason America and other countries have millionaires and billionaires who are young is that the young guys were not pushed out of business. They are celebrated. They are not swindled by a competitor who went on to form another company, but because the MNO, bought into their company they succeeded more times than not.

    If only they realized that wealth is to be shared and this would make Zimbabwe more affluent and the ripple effect would go on in full circle to strengthen our business industry they would buy into companies instead of stealing ideas.

    As the word of God says, where there is no vision the people perish. I’ll be honest most projects that are taken on by Econet specifically, lack vision. As long as the visionary is not in it, there will be a lack of vision, and hence it perishes. Seldom in business do you start your own. You make others stand on your shoulders.

    If the idea originator is kept in and his original team, you will find that Econet’s projects would succeed more often than not. Sasai will be next too, though I pray not. But already I can subscribe to it, get 20$ airtime and uninstall, how difficult is that and continue using Whatsapp. all I am now waiting for is Whatsapp to have payments, gosh if our government could fast capitalize and haul them into the idea of launching payments in Zim, that would be a bonus.

    The only time you may start your own is when the originator does not want to sell. Then in that case you are left with no option. This article actually helped me realise that as a business person, you can collaborate, and still do well. Thanks to lessons from Facebook, google etc.

    1. TheKing

      Why not sell products, not ideas though? I agree with you on not “sharing” your idea with Econet, not because they will “steal” it, but because you will think they stole your idea. Truth is, you went to Econet hoping to get free funds to then hire people to implement your idea. You wanted zero-risk profit. Why don’t you put up your own money and implement your ideas?

    2. Tinashe

      The bane of the African man – the Zimbabwean child. To hate that which is theirs. To admire those who treat them as lesser men. To beg for the ranks of those who took their grand-parents as slaves. To worship the very same creed that, not less that 40 years ago could not allow us to walk the same streets they walked.

      WhatsApp, is a better product right now. But it does not have a monopoly on being the best. Why can’t we embrace a product made by our kith and keen? Why can’t we push the product and ensure it matches, rivals and beats WhatsApp? The Chinese have done so, and the whole world is banning their products (who has concrete evidence of spying? Even for Huawei that was inconclusive). Before commenting on some of these aspects, let’s take a long hard look at history and the future. Who benefits the most if WhatsApp spreads across the globe? It was bought for 19 billion, not a single cent came through to Africa. But I bet you you know a couple of people employed by Econet and Cassava who are fending for families. Heck, the a single employee of Econet and Cassava pays enough taxes to pay for a couple of nurses.

      My wish, let us put our heads down and support the black man’s effort – the African man’s effort. Not just from a tech perspective but every sphere of life. Until we get to do that, every dollar in Zim will be shipped off to Europe.

  10. Bhinikwa

    Econet are well within their rights as giants to take up what they wish to. One issue is that our local so called “startups” are not really startupnin the original sense but copycat pseudo coders to download code templates online & tweak one or two features. So all Ecinet does is to go to the original source. Much like our local dancehall artists, they are mere copycats of Caribbean dancehalls players. So their music will never appeal further than our borders. A true original product will attract buyers for its uniqueness. So to local coders, give us real code & you ll make money. No cheap copycats.

  11. Anony

    Ahmen to this article

  12. Nelson

    Econet raised its tariffs during lockdown, hurting students and families in remote areas that relay on cell internet. Other countries gave free bundles to help schools cope, econet sucks more out of the desperate. #ecoGreed

    1. Phidza

      You seem not to understand capitalism. Trying to make a profit is not greed. Noone owes you anything. In some countries, government subsidised MNOs, why don’t you expect the same here?

      1. Anonymous

        There’s a fine line between profit and greed! Companies are well within their rights to make as much profit as they want but ETHICALLY and without alienating their customers. This is exactly what many businesses here have done and the only reason they survive is that there are not any decent alternatives

  13. Basil mavangira

    So true I remember I registered for Econetmail. It worked for sometime and had lots of e mails on that platform, then 1 day 6 years ago it stopped working. We were assured that we woould be given a time frame in which to access our E mails and be able to save Then onto gmail. That never happened up to now n queries in that regard r never attended to.

  14. Anonymous

    Some of the points might be true but they well overridden by loathing and a touch of envy. It’s Van Lee Chigwada by the way so am not surprised. Be humble and just ask them to buy one of your many accomplishments, you never know you might write another one praising the same people.

    1. Phidza

      True, the man competes directly with Econet so it’s only natural that he doesn’t like his biggest competitor.

  15. ruzivo

    i simply fail to understand why we fail to accept innovation and thanks the organization for bringing it to us…sad 😔

    1. perfect

      True, and wasting our time writing about this nonsense.

  16. Takudzwa Ndengu

    Ideas are for everyone.If you have your own idea just implement it.Why go to these Giants.Unobirwa!

    1. Hazzel Mukoma

      Kubirwa here or kupusa! Thats why they come here and write Nonsense articles like these for attention. Look, these guys are are also in business & they know that failing to adjust & adapt & u will be over taken. Iam sure, Techzim want to dominate also & well know like many online Tech platforms that we know & they are thinking it will only happen easily. I wonder why the guys at 263Chat & TechNoMag vane chimuti, its coz of these articles that lack credence.

  17. frank

    The option to deactivate is on 30440 or call them to deactivate.

  18. Persly

    Big innovations come from trial and error why not experiment if you got the resources 😂 I see this article as utterly lacking credence .

  19. Seth

    The guy who wrote the article is hurting. You have scores to settle i can see. Open your own company and see how it goes. Simple..Ndimi mowisira nyika pasi imi.

  20. melody

    Unfounded allegations as usual. Techzim u never cease to disappoint us.
    #Research first

    1. Farai Mudzingwa

      Lol Sasai was a flop, EcoFarmer tried to copy Fresh In A Box they flopped, Kwese TV and iflix – flops, EcoCash rewards – flopped. You can be disappointed all day but the fact of the matter is 8/10 Econet products flop. Can’t argue with facts

      1. Kamonera Tapiwa

        Mr Faria, u are also hurting. They have cash & let them do what they want. The road to success is always under construction & u know that. How may years have you been in existence & still you are struggling one way the other. My advise is .Let them explore & pioneer as much as they want.

        1. Farai Mudzingwa

          Even if I did not want them to explore and pioneer I cannot stop them. But where they fail we can criticise and where they have done great we can praise. Problem is when you mistake criticism as a personal attack. It’s nothing personal. Van Lee just offered his opinion and you offered yours, no one attacked you for it. Grow up!

  21. Zengeya

    Who are you to quote scriptures now against someone. Emotions directed to the wrong people.

  22. presa

    😀😀😀 amana how can you say watonyora ipapa. Government must open schools now 😂 ndapera simba 😂 😂

  23. Adams

    Kkkkkk Zimbo writers never learn. What’s the issue here really? You are ranting over someone’s company and products?????? Are you serious ummm

  24. Tapiwa Shoko

    How can you subscribe to Sasai, benefit from their airtime offer and then you uninstall the App?

    And you have the guts to call them selfish!

    Can’t you see that you are wicked and selfish your self?

    What lesson are you passing on to the next generation?

    Ndanyara sterling

    You are suffering from the pull them down syndrome. Simple

    1. Amina

      That’s why Zimbabwean don’t go far in life especially in making their country great. Busy writing these negative articles against a fellow brother. You are not busy brother.

  25. Zoe

    After reading this article 😂 i came to a conclusion that you are a software developer that is hurting over something. You are frustrated with what you are doing. I advise, you make a detour in your career now before its too late.

  26. Master Mataga

    If you can’t beat such a Giant, just join them bro. Its the only entity that has survived the test of time and pionerred alot of innovations in the market. Zimbabwe is where it is today because of Econet and their Ecocash.

    What have you brought in to make zimbabwe great?

    Strive has done so much that we can’t even thank him for.

    What about you?

  27. Emmanuel

    This article can be edited to say.
    Things that writers can’t learn.
    You can write better than this bro.
    Your area of discussion doesn’t explain the truth but you chose what you wanted and ignored the bigger picture. We at least must be grateful at what Econet has done so far than this rhetoric that u r pushing

  28. Kelsy Moyo

    Strive Masiyiwa donated ventilators in Covid-19 response worth of millions of dollars & what have you personally done as an individual than writing articles for us to read. Someone asked on this platform what exactly have you done & we are waiting for answers. We bought airtime via TechZim and it never came. Did we receive a call from You? No & we let it go but here you are now hehede. Lets appreciate others and not attract attention for the wrong things. Iam an econet fan & i enjoy the SMS broadcasts so u see how different we are.

  29. Godknows Chadzika

    The very technologies and social media platforms that were supposed to bring us together have been used to sow division and undermine our rights to brands & products that we love so much. You can write better than this. Your article has alot of errors and confusion in it. Did u check your points well.

  30. Sedza Kalos

    Hey Dude! Look, more than ever, the truth matters. Facts matter. Values matter. Whatever organization, business or institution that we’re a part of, we need to realize that we are not separate from the larger social issues and readers that surround us. We have a responsibility not simply to make a profit from writing, but to make the world a better place. What has these Econet guys done to you that you go on a rampage against them like this? I wonder myself. Some positivity is needed in Zimbabwe for now not all what u r writing. Paid media is now a challenge in our world today.

    1. Farai Mudzingwa

      Mr/Mrs Kalos, 1st off all this article wasn’t paid. Do not assume if you’re willing to get paid to do things you don’t agree with everyone else does the same. It’s a bad assumption.
      2nd whenever Econet does positive things we are also there covering them and celebrating that so refrain from being in the habit of taking things so personally – it’s not that deep. This is just someone else’s opinion and if you’re willing you can also do a write-up and if it meets our standards and we believe it stimulates conversation then we will publish it as we did the above.

  31. Mr Saidi

    kkkkkk Asi dai wanyora article selling your work & all articles that u have done so far they would have peeped in to check & maybe assist You Van Lee Chigwada
    @agexdev. I see you are struggling to sell your Apps, they can help you. If u r young visit their elevate platforms and get help there.

  32. Anonymous

    People rant. Lift your hand if you’ve ever built a product that has 10K paying customers. You want someone to pour money into your idea, an idea that is not proven that noone is paying for. Guys, let’s not be cry babies. Put in the work, WhatsApp was bought when it had millions of daily active users. Same as Instagram; this is true for any company that is bought. You want Econet to be an Angel investor, that’s not the space it plays in. Look for Angel Investors or work hard and build companies that are worth a billionaires time – the sense of entitlement is unbelievable. Just because you have an idea and a business plan you think Econet owes you… Lawd…

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