Econet Wireless

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Econet Wireless
Traded as

ZSEECO (Zimbabwe subsidiary only)

Industry Conglomerate
Founded 1993
Headquarters Johannesburg, South Africa
Area served
South America
East Asia
Key people
Strive Masiyiwa
(Group Founder and Executive Chairman)
Hardy Pemhiwa
(Group Managing Director and CEO)
Revenue Increase US$ 3 billion (2011)

Econet Wireless is a diversified telecommunications group with operations and investments in Africa, Europe, South America and the East Asia Pacific Rim, offering products and services in the core areas of mobile and fixed telephony services, broadband, satellite, optical fiber networks and mobile payment.

The group's subsidiaries include Econet Global, Econet Wireless Africa, Econet Wireless International, Econet Enterprises, Liquid Telecom Group and Econet Media.[2]


Econet Wireless was created in 1993 in Zimbabwe by Strive Masiyiwa. Initially it was meant to be called "Enhanced Communications Network" but was later abbreviated to Econet.[3]

In 1998, Econet Wireless was granted a telephony licence, at a time when 70% of the country inhabitants had never heard a ringtone.[4]

In October 2014, Econet Wireless acquired VimpelCom's Telecel in Burundi (U-COM) and Telecel in the Central African Republic (Telecel RCA) for $65 million[5]

In 2014, the listed Econet Wireless Zimbabwe announced a 14.7% drop in annual profits, from $140 million down to $119 million.[6] In October 2015, due to dropping benefits, following a state regulator-enforced tariff reduction, the company announced a 100-employee layoff to cope with the losses.[7] In 2015, due to increasing losses, the group imposed a 20% salary cut to its employees in Zimbabwe, and negotiated a 15% discount with its suppliers, even though its service EcoCash continues to prosper in the country.[8]

In June 2015, despite the economic turmoil, the company distributed $15 million in dividends to shareholders.[9]

The group[edit]

Econet Wireless is a privately owned group, and is not listed on any stock exchange. One of its subsidiaries, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) and its activities are confined only to the Zimbabwe market.

The group is controlled by its founder, Strive Masiyiwa, and is headquartered in Johannesburg.[10]

Econet Global[edit]

  • Econet (Mauritius) - the holding company of the Econet group, registered in Mauritius.

Econet Wireless Africa[edit]

The Econet Wireless Africa group holds all the African mobile telephony companies. Its subsidiaries are:

  • Econet Wireless Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe's largest mobile network operator, second largest company by market capitalisation, and one of the largest employers (both directly and indirectly in the country). It has subsidiaries such as Steward Health, operating within Zimbabwean borders.
  • Econet Wireless South Africa - a South African mobile network operator in partnership with Cell C, designed for Lesotho and Zimbabwean immigrants.
  • Econet Telecom Lesotho - a Lesotho mobile network operator.
  • Mascom Botswana - One of Botswana's largest mobile network operators, short for "Masiyiwa Communications", named after Econet founder, in which it has a minority stake and pioneered.
  • Econet Leo - a Burundi mobile network operator.
  • Telecel RCA - a Central African Republic mobile network operator.
  • Bharti Airtel Nigeria - a Nigerian mobile network operator, in which Econet owns a minority stake

Econet Wireless International[edit]

Econet Wireless International is the non-African mobile telephony branch of Econet Wireless. Its subsidiaries include:

  • Econet Wireless UK - a UK mobile virtual network operator designed for Zimbabwean immigrants.
  • Trilogy International Partners - a US investment company which owns 2 Degrees Mobile, Viva Bolivia and Viva Dominica. Econet owns a minority stake.
  • 2 Degrees Mobile - New Zealand's third mobile network operator, in which Econet owns a minority stake and helped pioneer.
  • Nueva Tel (Viva Bolivia) - a Bolivian mobile network operator, in which Econet owns a minority stake.
  • Trilogy Dominicana (Viva Dominica) - a Dominican Republic mobile network operator, in which Econet owns a minority stake.

Liquid Telecom Group[edit]

Main article: Liquid Telecom Group

Liquid Telecommunications is a data, voice and IP provider, supplying wholesale optical fibre, satellite and international carrier services to telecommunications operators in developing countries. The subsidiary is based in Mauritius.[10]

Liquid owns and operates extensive fibre optical network infrastructure (in Southern and East Africa) and multiple satellite ground facilities in the United Kingdom, Botswana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, Somalia, Burundi, Niger and Kenya, relying on three satellite transponders. Its worldwide hub is located in central London and serves as an additional point from which to provide interconnections to telecommunications operators worldwide. The company provides a range of wholesale international carrier services.

In December 2015, Liquid Telecom announced the launch of a project to connect eastern Africa and the Middle East with a submarine cable system that will bring high-speed internet to this part of the globe.[11] It has the following subsidiaries:

  • Liquid Telecom - the holding company of the Liquid Telecom Group, registered in Mauritius.
  • Neotel - South Africa's second fixed-line telecommunications operator.
  • ZOL - Zimbabwe's largest internet service provider, formerly known as Zimbabwe Online.
  • Transaction Payment Solutions - a transaction automation systems provider.
  • Hai - a Zambian internet service provider.
  • Liquid Telecom Zambia - a Zambian data carrier.
  • Liquid Telecom Botswana - a Botswana data carrier.
  • Liquid Telecom Rwanda - a Rwandan data carrier.
  • Liquid Telecom DRC - an internet service provider.
  • Liquid Telecom Tanzania - a Tanzanian internet service provider.
  • Infocom - a Ugandan internet service provider and data carrier.
  • Liquid Telecom Kenya - a Kenyan data carrier.
  • East Africa Data Centre - a Kenya-based data centre services provider.

Econet Enterprises[edit]

Steward Bank[edit]

Main article: Steward Bank

In February, Econet acquired a controlling interest in the then TN Bank Zimbabwe, one of the commercial banks in Zimbabwe now called Steward Bank. The bank, whose shares were previously listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE), were delisted when it became a wholly owned subsidiary of Econet.[12]


In 2005, Econet Wireless developed a mobile payment system to help NGOs make cash transfers to refugees after the Burundi war. The model was extended and integrated in Econet Wireless' technology, along with a credit solution.[4]

EcoCash was officially launched in 2011 and is operated by Econet Enterprises. Within 18 months of its launch, 31% of Zimbabwe's adult population registered to the service.[10]

Its focus is on P2P money transfers. EcoCash provides a saving account, international transfers, banking services, payroll services, and became a solution to pay for public transportation in October 2012. Since March 2013, EcoCash is also available as a payment solution for retailers[13]

Econet Renewable Energy[edit]

Econet Renewable Energy is a manufacturer and distributor of solar, wind and off-grid energy products, for the global market, and in particular developing countries. The company's patented new solar product the Home|Power|Station has been installed around the Kwa Mashu area nestled in the valley of a thousand hills in KwaZulu-Natal. According to the company, these pilot units have been functioning well, and changing the lives of the people in the areas of installation. Similar pilot projects are currently being deployed in Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Burundi.[14]

The Home Power Station was first launched by Econet Wireless Executive Chairman, Strive Masiyiwa, in Durban during the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).[15] Following the success of Home Power, Econet has now also ventured into wind energy as well as off-grid power supply.


  • Solarway - a UAE-based solar power products provider.
  • EcoSchool - a Zimbabwean zero-rated e-learning service.
  • EcoHealth - a Zimbabwean mobile phone health advisory service.
  • Ruzivo - a Zimbabwean zero-rated e-learning service.
  • Cassava - a UK-based African mobile transactions solutions provider.
  • Cassava Remit - a UK-based online money transfer agent, remitting to South Africa and Zimbabwe.
  • Ownai - a Zimbabwean e-commerce service.
  • Cumii International - an Internet of Things (IoT) company, with products such as Connected Home, Connected Health, Connected Energy and Connected Car.
  • Imvelo Safari Lodges - an award-winning group of Zimbabwean ecotourism safari lodges.
  • Worldstream Systems and Services
  • Telelogistics

Econet Media[edit]

Composed of two African video-on-demand services which are Kwesé TV and Kwesé Sports.

The founder[edit]

Main article: Strive Masiyiwa

Econet Wireless was founded by Zimbabwean national, Strive Masiyiwa, who first came to international prominence when he fought a landmark constitutional legal battle for five years in Zimbabwe. Strive Masiyiwa left Zimbabwe in March 2000, initially moved to South Africa, and now lives in London with his family.


  1. ^ "Econet Wireless wins Best Telecom Services and Solutions Award - Africa". 
  2. ^ "Econet Companies". July 2016. 
  3. ^ Isha Sesay, Chris Borg (20 August 2015). "'Africa is not going to be left behind or outside the data revolution'". 
  4. ^ a b Anna Leach (18 August 2014). "Zimbabwe's Econet Wireless and the making of Africa's first cashless society". 
  5. ^ "Econet Global buys Telecel East Africa operations". 20 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Zimbabwe's Econet Wireless says full-year profit down 15 pct". 5 May 2014. 
  7. ^ "Econet Wireless To Retrench". 7 October 2015. 
  8. ^ "Econet profits drop 52 percent". 16 October 2015. 
  9. ^ "Econet declares whopping $15m dividend". 2 June 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c "Transaction banking is dead: Econet Wireless founder". 15 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "African subsea cable network capacity to grow up to 30 Tbit/s in two years". 24 December 2015. 
  12. ^ Golden Sibanda (7 February 2013). "TN Bank to Delist From ZSE". 
  13. ^ "EcoCash from Econet Wireless Zimbabwe". 
  14. ^ [dead link]
  15. ^ "Climate change and the private sector". 12 December 2011. 

External links[edit]