Here is what’s causing the technical challenges on Econet’s network

Leonard Sengere Avatar
people on their laptops

You’ve been asking and we now have a few answers. Econet has been facing some network challenges for a few days now.

This was the communication a couple of days ago:

We are facing a technical challenge, affecting recharge and some banking services. We regret the inconvenience caused and are working to restore normal service. Thank you for your continued loyalty and support.

The problem is yet to be fully resolved, although we did see some services restored.

You can now top up your airtime using recharge cards. Buy airtime from an Econet vendor near you. Dial *121*recharge key#.

In this case, it did make sense to be excited about that particular service coming back because as far as we have observed, calls, SMS and the internet were working as normal for the most part.

So, you could go the physical recharge card route, however inconvenient, and you would be able to do what you gotta do. That’s assuming what you do doesn’t depend on USSD. Yeah, that’s still to be fixed.

So, what happened at Econet?

So, what’s going on at Econet? We asked them and here’s what they told us. The technical challenge was caused by

… a major data centre fault that affected a significant number of servers.

Now, to unpack this, a data centre to Econet is a physical facility that houses critical IT infrastructure, specifically servers, storage systems, and networking equipment.

Econet is saying a fault at their data centre affected several servers and those are high-powered computers designed for continuous operation and data processing. As a result,

It affected ancillary services that are based on applications that run on the data centre, that do recharge channels, USSD-based VAS, USSD-based third-party services and some admin applications.

What does that mean? Well, here are some of the roles that the data center plays for Econet:

  • Housing core network equipment – which includes Mobile Switching Centers (route calls and messages between mobile devices and Packet Core (EPC) (Manages data traffic within the mobile network). Luckily, this core network was not affected like last time because when this is down, nobody’s calling anyone or Googling anything.
  • Service Delivery and Content Hosting – here we are talking Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) which allow Econet to store (cache) frequently accessed content closer to users, reducing latency and improving content delivery speeds. And we are also talking Value-Added Services (VAS), which were affected by the data centre fault in question.

The data centre supports Econet in delivering various value-added services like mobile banking, mobile TV, and USSD-based services. These services often require dedicated servers and storage resources. So, when some servers were knocked out, VAS services were affected.

When will all this be fixed?

It’s hard to say. It’s one of those ‘it will be done when it’s done’ kind of moments. However, Econet says,

We are working to restore the rest of the services on a priority basis (in terms of customer usage).

That sounds like a good way to go about it. Start with those services that affect the most people. Although this potentially means a problem that only requires 6 man hours could wait days to be fixed because it affects fewer people.

The only problem is that they are still people with real needs but they get to play second fiddle because there aren’t that many of them. In fact, that all brings us to…

Any inconvenience caused…

We all know how that statement ends and if we’re being honest, we’re numb to it. Who really believes they sincerely regret these inconveniences? It’s not just Econet here too. I think they somewhat regret it.

Here’s why I think that. Imagine you’re getting a haircut and Mnangagwa tip toes in, yanks the clippers from your barber and runs out with them. Your barber apologises, of course, and Mnangagwa brings them back after 30 minutes or so and the cut is completed.

The 10th time this happens, your barber’s apology won’t be sincere. He’s probably thinking ‘You know that I’m dealing with a sitting president confiscating my clippers knowing there’s little I can do about it.’

Econet and other businesses in Zimbabwe feel like the economy has done them dirty, which it has, and so we should be sympathetic to their struggles. The economy keeps yanking their clippers after all.

That’s all understandable, however, when you miss out on a life-changing opportunity because of a fault at a data centre you know nothing about, you don’t care who yanked what clippers.

I have conversed with several people who have lost days’ worth of business because of this and are livid. So many businesses now depend on *XXX# for their business and having USSD-based services down for days is unacceptable to them.

Some even believe Econet is sabotaging them by yanking their USSD whilst keeping its own up. It would make for a good story but it can’t be true because even Econet and EcoCash’s USSD services are down.

So, we cry out, ‘Why don’t they invest in better infrastructure or improve their redundancy to avoid situations like these?’ They would probably remind us about the forex challenges, high taxes and low tariffs they are contending with, which limit their capacity to repair and maintain their equipment, let alone invest in new and better stuff.

Then the typical Zimbo retorts, ‘Kana zvanetsa chingovharisai zvinhu zvacho (if you can’t do it properly, just shut down the business)’ to which I would reply, ‘I would rather have slow internet than no internet at all.’

Listen, I say this as someone who hasn’t felt the brunt of this but it’s no laughing matter. We need less of these outages. Faults are faults though and they happen with no warning so, it is what it is.

To the NetOne users out there

Techzim is affected too and *405# is down. However, NetOne users are not limited to physical recharge cards.

You can purchase your airtime here on the website (go to the home page and scroll below the article), via WhatsApp (+263717684274), or via our app if you have it installed.

Also read:

The few headlines below on recent Econet outages don’t make for inspiring reading.

69 comments

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  1. Stratofortress

    Hope they get it fixed ASAP we had already budgeted for our airtym and its an inconvenience for one to run around and buy scratch cards

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Yep, we have moved on from scratch cards and it’s annoying having buy some. Especially if you run out of airtime in the evening.

      1. Kobr∆ Kommander

        I think it’s only me, I am still getting this problem on #143, cannot purchase data nor allow our of bundle browsing. I hope it will be fixed soon in time for my birthday.

    2. Don

      Unfortunately, I had to switch to Netone just to get an internet connection. Fortunately for Netone, they just got a new customer!

  2. Blacky

    Buying and Econet recharge card get you charged a handling fee of USD 0.50.
    Sending USD 10.00 gets one charged a fee of USD 1.00 . The agents are are either registered or no but the are branded with an Ecocash logo.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      I was not aware of this ‘handling fee’. What denomination recharge card are the agents charging 50c for?
      Will need to dig into the agent situation.

  3. Blacky

    Buying an an Econet recharge of USD 1.00 from a vendor costs an extra USD 0.50.

    Ecocash agents charge USD 1.00 if you send out money using their services and will charge 10% of the amount when cashing out.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      I see the answer to my question above here. This is ridiculous. Getting charged 50c for a $1 recharge card? These guys are now just exploiting us cause of the demand. Let me see ho many people have faced this and try it out for myself.

      1. Bajie

        Here in Glen view we don’t have such problems
        If u pay $1 u get $1 etym
        Or if you pay $10 you get 10usd etym from vendors

    2. Anonymous

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      1. Nhlanhla Mathema

        fooseki wena Nhlanhla,hambolala!

  4. s.d

    thank you mr Leonard….. at least I hv an idea of wats going on

  5. Always Off Topic

    Leonard, you sly fox, of all the names you could have used ( the tale about the barber) you went straight there. I understand you are doing your blesser a solid.
    But I feel for No.1 , that was a low blow.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Again with the Econet is my blesser slander 🤣🤣🤣. You win this round.

      But it wasn’t a low blow because the MNOs won’t name any names but when they murmur about the economy, ultimately who do they believe is yanking their clippers? Same as the barber 😂

      1. Always Off Topic

        The way you told that story, it implies that No.1 is directly and personally involved in sabotaging Econet, which is a bit of a stretch. That’s why I think it landed below the belt.

        Between staging false flag operations ( bogus bomb threats) and trying to keep his own in line, it just seems rather beneath him. He has bigger fish to fry. Besides, one could argue that Zanu owes Econet, more specifically, Strive, big time. Ahem.🤔

        1. Always on Point

          Bigger fish to fry?

          Like running Gold Mafia?

  6. Anonymous

    Thanks for the explanation caz this side things were turning political kkk

    1. Leonard Sengere

      There were some wild theories going around. But as a conspiracy theory nut myself, who’s to say there’s no truth to them.

  7. Owen M. Tshabangu

    I would like to draw particular attention to Insiza District. I was there in October and a week ago. There was no network on both occassions. The other services are also not available. There are a number of mountains like Nyamime. To me as a laymen I wonder whether boostlers could not be put out there. Hon Sithole is the MP. I have never heard him raise añy service provision issues. This one place where the residents are left behind.

    1. Chibaba

      Chingoudza blaz vaite recall econet visa maface avo

  8. Owen M. Tshabangu

    I would like to draw particular attention to Insiza District. I was there in October and a week ago. There was no network on both occassions. The other services are also not available. There are a number of mountains like Nyamime. To me as a laymen I wonder whether boosters could not be put out there. Hon Sithole is the MP. I have never heard him raise añy service provision issues. This one place where the residents are left behind.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      It’s a tough one Tshabangu because in sparsely populated and low-income areas, the business case for mobile network operators is poor. It doesn’t make financial sense for the operators to invest heavily in Insiza, unfortunately. Which is where Potraz should come in but they are still getting around to it.

      That’s why we believe in Starlink and other low-earth orbit satellite services. They will allow us to serve the likes of Insiza much cheaper than mobile network operators ever could with their terrestrial networks.

      1. D.K.

        Tshabangu should ask PORTRAZ to use funds from a pool they collect from the service providers, specifically for infrastructure development in marginalised areas or areas that the service providers do not break even or run at a loss. There is such a fund, and people with a surname as the writer can ask the one of them who the people at the top eagerly listen to and provide to represent the issue. I am sure that should not be a problem as a lot of funds have been injected into that fund with not much to show yet.

    2. 007

      Vakandibira airtime yangu, kujuicer kusara musina chinhu

  9. Count Von Patrick

    Ngavangokwidza ma prices vakanyarara

    1. Leonard Sengere

      You are out of order comrade 🤣

  10. joe

    Chingotipai StarLink zvipere!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Pakaipa joe. We need that thing zvanezuro chaizvo.

  11. Xon

    They should just bring back 143, 405 and 151/3, zvimwe zvese vozoti zvavo it will be done when its done😂😂

  12. Don

    Unfortunately, I had to switch to Netone just to get an internet connection. Fortunately for Netone, they just got a new customer!

  13. Tkt

    Hello Leonard, mine is quite a different question

    How do I activate International Roaming on both NETONE & ECONET, before travelling to NAMIBIA via ZAMBIA

  14. JesusIsComing

    Come on. This is to wind down empty Kariba fears, and no rains.

    Plus Bitcoin is high so if you are black you don’t have the mark of ze beast (buy/sell).

  15. obvious Maronda

    Inini hangu semugari wekuMasvingo kwaGutu ndaikumbirawo kuti muitewo muchiziva kuti makamisawo mabasa evamwe nekudero kunonoka huvizhura chigadzirai zvakasimba tisawana mamwe matambudziko munguva pfupi inotevera ,ndatenda hangu

  16. Tam

    What about callers going mute on calls and the dropped calls?

  17. Raymond

    Money is best in your pocket, that way it is secure. Two zimpost outlets cannot pay my pension!!!!!

  18. Francis Gabi

    These challenges could be resolved through services providers investing in shared infrastructure. POTRAZ that levies providers could also utilise resources to cover those areas considered to be uneconomical.

    1. Anonymous

      I can see shared towers, fibre, and copper but data centres? Those are best left to their networks. I mean, that’s the core of their services and I can’t imagine a scenario where a company would willingly leave itself and its inner workings that wide open to its competition, no matter how low the theoretical risk is. There’s also the potential dangers of centralising all network operations to a shared backend. One critical failure or error would bring down every network instead of just one. Then there is the simple reality that no data centre on earth is 100% reliable. It’s something you cannot demand or legislate when it’s statistically impossible.

  19. Anonymous

    We are now tired of you ECONET guys, restore Ecocash service now. You introduced Ecocash, now you’re failing to deliver nxaaaaa

  20. Takudzwa Bema

    We are now tired of you ECONET guys, restore Ecocash service now. You introduced Ecocash, now you’re failing to deliver nxaaaaa

  21. Jakara jakara

    Isnt it also incopetence on the part of the Employees and nepotism. Vazukuru vari kungodeedzwa kubasa vasina kana chikoro vachizongoshanda negoogle but zvimwe zvoda Foundation yekunyatsoziva basics at the same time vanenge varipombous vasinga di kudzidza kubva kumaelders avo anenge ari pagraft vanenge vachingonzvenga nzvenga vachingoziva graft ruchazongoitwa nanhingi. Asingade kuzviuprader futi academically and skillfully. Manje kana nhingi wacho azowana magreener pastures manje pasina notice vanosara vase posed basa risisina anoita.

    1. D.K.

      I personally think it is not incompetence, but a lack of manpower (and womanpower) for the day to day running and routine maintenance of equipment and systems. It looks like people are engaged to set up systems and then let go when the system is up and running on its own.

  22. VaMoyo

    Eee although apo vane mari mumafoni muchenjere kunyura 😂😂 jus sayin🤷🏽‍♂️

  23. XXX

    After buying scratch cards, I’m unable to convert to a data bundle. It’s very inconvenient

  24. Kenny Chirombo

    While the report on Econet’s technical challenges is insightful, true and extremely relevant in regards to current economic challenges. The acceptance of “it is what it is” breeds complacency and unaccountability, contributing to systemic problems. However, embodying the spirit of “necessity is the mother of invention” can inspire individuals and organizations to challenge the status quo, dream VERY big, and build resilient institutions. It’s about laying the groundwork for future generations, demonstrating that transformative change requires courage, vision, and perseverance. This approach is not just about immediate gains but about creating a legacy of improved infrastructure, governance, and societal well-being. Building for a future we won’t see is the epitome of selflessness and vision, necessary for transcending the limitations imposed by “too big to fail” entities.

    To which, I really think it shouldn’t be what it is.

  25. Ttarzan

    I think they have been hacked, that’s explanation is fishy and time to restore has stretched

    1. Always Off Topic

      I think so too. From what I have heard, people have been struggling to access *143# for at least 2 days before Econet acknowledged that there were problems yesterday. Personally, the whole of Wednesday I could not buy bundles via ussd, so I used ecocash and it worked. But yesterday morning ecocash was not working anymore. It’s like some one was picking off ussd services one at a time.

  26. Xon

    *405# is now working but *143# is still down. Based on what was said that they will be revampimg the services from the most used to the least used we are safe to conclude that techzim has more customers than econet data. Issa lie 🤣🤣
    Mr Leonard Sengere we need an explanation here😅😅

  27. Nitpik

    Own goal after own goal. Econet us the Harry Maguire of service providers. Their explanation is vague, there is methinks something is afoot. We need more competition and alternatives that are viable. An incident again like this could make things go even more sideways.

  28. Munya

    Wow what an incredibly poor PR job.

  29. Arthur Nyikayaramba

    Can you investigate why TelOne broadbandvservices are going from bad to worse and why they removed the option on their website and WhatsApp bot to chat live with support agents

  30. Cee

    purchase yema bundles ne zwl haisi kuita up to know whats going on asi va bhana hre kutenga nema rtgs

    1. D1vant

      It seems they w3re frustrated with ‘giving’ away rtgs bundles, hence most of them are ‘ Null’, given the runaway zwl exchange rate.

  31. Baba Adele

    It’s unfortunate Econet has no competition for most of their services, bt one day zvichapera. Elon to the world, ndiwo mashoko angu.

  32. Annonymous

    It is disgusting that Econet think that one sms cuts it when the mobile banking apps have been down and the only way you could get airtime was with scratch cards which required multiple entry. No way of topping up Wifi Data … Furthermore it is criminal that Econet give only give a limited amount of ZW Airtime to the Banks that one can purchase on the Banking app or with the keypad codes 🤔

  33. K.Makaza

    Econet has been with us for a very long time, they have faced breakdowns before and fixed them. Am already looking forward to fully restored services. Good job guys!

    1. Anonymous

      Yes their resilience is commendable but one wonders if a large part of that is due to the lack of a decent alternative?

  34. Stan

    I have a zwd in my phone. And I can’t use it to top up whatsapp. Why not?

  35. Sniper.zw

    I hope that econet can call a spade a spade don’t hold back point to the culprits and make them accountable

  36. Kuda

    When are you going to zero rated for Netone

  37. Anonymous

    Econet yadkwa

  38. HotIce

    Truth be told this issue has been going on for a long time now…..before things got out of hand I noticed that econet’s customer care number was down for weeks 122
    then their bundles would buy but then not credited to my accouunt on serveral occasions
    I would communicate with them on whatsapp then they would activate the bundle

    AnyHow……now why do we have only USD bundles
    does this mean USD bundle and RTGS bundle services run on diferent servers???

  39. Eve

    I’ve been trying to send airtime from Botswana to Zimbabwe and operator keeps rejecting my transaction

  40. Jamie Lanister

    It’s me. Yes me. I told them shut it off. They tried to say but it would affect subscribers but I was in a no nonsense mood that day. I told them make sure he doesn’t go online. Then I told the super markets increase the rate so he doesn’t buy in here. Then I told vapfana vangu, makes sure those plants don’t grow in the garden, because I do not like plants you see. Then I told them kill the Bees, yes he got very angry after that, but I don’t care, shut the whole place, down, burn everything. #TheMadKing

  41. Gen. Tekeshe

    BirdBot gets a walk-up start Apparently emus – and ostriches – represent the pinnacle of evolutionary achievement.

    Their legs seem to be backwards, with knees bent in the opposite direction to ours. And, as their lower leg swings forward, their foot f l ops down. Turns out, it’s a technique that’s extremely mechanically efficient.

    Dozens of bipedal robot designs continue to teeter about testing sites after decades of research. Their heavy metal bodies are studded with motors, actuators and gears. Software algorithms are still struggling to coordinate everything for basics such as balance and motion.

    Now the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and the University of California, Irvine have developed a bird-leg inspired robotic mobility system 300 times more energy efficient, and far easier to balance.

    Instead of motors, they’ve applied a network of artificial muscles and springs. The ‘muscles’ are primed when the leg is pressed into the ground and placed under load, releasing their mechanical spring energy as the leg straightens to move forward.

    Only two motors are needed:
    One in the hips to get the legs swinging, the other is in the knee to lift the leg. The rest of the walking action is purely the result of the leg’s shape combined with the tendon-like effect of cables and pulleys.

    The system has many benefits, say the researchers in Science Robotics. Not only do the tendons return energy to the system, the natural mechanical motion dramatically reduces the computing power needed to control its movements and balance.

    Robot demonstrates that avian-inspired gait is energy efficient and beautifully balanced.

  42. Cde. Takawira

    Whoever told you, you should be on TV, Radio and the Newspaper did you a major disservice. You just do not have charisma mate, and I do not think anyone can teach it to you at that age. It’s a cringe moment, when you are smiling and people are suffering. Power has made you think you are better than everyone else. That we are all stupid and weak. When the youth walked 100s of Kilometers to Mozambique 🇲🇿 Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi. You thought they were joking until wave after wave started coming. Look you lads in the eye and see if there is anyone who will take one for you, you will get your answer.

    #Wearelegion
    #AriseDarkKnights
    #Wipethefloor
    #Heblewhischance
    #Begone
    #Lastwenttoschoolwhen?

  43. Matendawafa Joyce

    Work hard to restore network . We trust you as an excellent service provider

  44. Anonymous

    Where are these Datacentres?

  45. Dzidzai 💜

    With that sort of thinking we should have banned Android and let Nokia Symbian rule. We should have banned the the Digital camera and let Kodak survive. We should have banned Netflix and let Blockbuster continue.

    You cannot stop reggae it’s better to collaborate or make sure your organisation changes with the times,because no matter how much protection you get you will disrupted.

    When Starlink phones come to Zimbabwe and connect direct to the satellite without need of a Base Station it’s curtains. Unless we start banning all mobile devices capable of connecting to Starlink, which means we will be stuck on 4G forever.

    If I was part of the Econet board. I would push for us to invest in agriculture and technology.

    For example we own a bottling company, so let us make rum and brandy for domestic consumption and AfCFTA. Rum from our Sugar Cane fields in Chiredzi. Wine and Brandy from our Vineyards in Chivu/Mvuma.

    Why don’t we start making drones for various uses or invest in a local drone making company?

    Why don’t we buy AVM, rekit them and make all manner of vehicles for the domestic market and AfCFTA? Our vehicles can have 4G sim cards and plans to compliment out telecoms business. Our lithium mine(s) then compliment our smart Liz∆rd devices and EVs. Our EVs then connect to our network with various plans for financing, USD 199 per month for 54 months, we have a bank for this. BMW has an investment in a local lithium mine in Zimbabwe, and we are much closer than BMW.

    There was no need to after DsTV in the satellite business they already own the EPL Rights and wrestling them away from them would be a toll order. Kwese should have competed with Netflix,but with the selling point of live sport and events. The Kwese app would be zero rated on the network, and the would less CAPEX on dishes and decoders and less CPE for the user as well. Roku is a closed system, why buy Roku when you can buy a MiBox or a Fire stick then add the Kwese app? If you are on ZOL or Econet then Kwese is 24/7 HD streaming at no extra costs, because the streaming seversvare in our data center, Plex on steroids. Instead of buying expensive rights from the US, why not invest in local sport events and film. Kwese Studios were we make anime, animated series and film and full length and short films? Those on the call home network in South Africa can then watch things from back home and we can tailor our advertising to suit this.

    I’m here, at home waiting for those who want to make big money, and look past my boyish looks.

  46. Takunda Gerald Gahadzikwa

    Econet stop this nonsense at once fix my line 0780995929 from Wednesday u haven’t done anything apa ndorandoshandisa for CBZ and mudzidzise vanhu venyu vekuCustomer Care kutaura please tanzwa nekurafurwa .

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