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EcoCash glitches leave thousands stranded

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EcoCash Mobile Crash

THOUSANDS of Econet customers have been stranded in recent days as the popular EcoCash mobile money transfer platform has been misfiring. Subscribers have been struggling to make payments via EcoCash since Friday last week.

The problem intensified on Monday where there was an almost total blackout with intermittent transaction challenges continuing until the time of going to Press yesterday.

Disgruntled customers have since Monday been thronging the main Econet offices in Bulawayo along Leopold Takawira Avenue to vent their frustrations.
A majority alleged the system sent them messages that they had failed to complete transactions but later deducted money for the transactions multiple times.
Others said they were completely shut out and could not access money in their EcoCash wallets.

Subscribers said they experienced major challenges as most transactions were now done via the mobile money service.

“I kept on trying to complete a transaction at Greens Supermarket and the network was bad. I was buying groceries for $16 but I realised today that $64 had been withdrawn from my wallet. All the times when the system reported that the transaction had failed, it was actually deducting my money,’ said Mr Nkosilodumo Mzaca, a shopper

Business people were also affected as most people are using plastic money due to the scarcity of cash.

“This is bad because people now generally buy using EcoCash or swipe. This puts us out of business because a huge number of our customers make transactions via EcoCash. We hope that Econet rectifies the situation rapidly because we are running losses,” said Mr Tapiwa Rujeko, a manager at a local fast food outlet.

EcoCash clients who spoke to The Chronicle called for the mobile money services provider to consider innovating and finding ways of reversing transactions without them having to go through cumbersome bureaucratic channels.

“We have been queuing here since yesterday trying to get reversals for the money that has been deducted and the process is very slow,” said a man who declined not to be named.

Mr Knowledge Dube said he had been waiting in a queue to reverse transactions for more than three hours.

“It is a tedious process. I took time off work. I have been waiting since morning and we have since been given some forms to fill in and submit so that we can get some statements to take to the shops that were allegedly credited with our monies,” he said.

Customer service advisors at the Bulawayo branch confirmed that there were network disruptions which resulted in the long queues as a lot of people had been affected.

Efforts to speak to Econet Bulawayo Main Branch Manager Mr Mpumelelo Ncube were futile as he was said to be “overwhelmed with work.”

In a statement in response to inquiries from The Chronicle, Econet Group Public Relations Officer, Mr Fungai Mandiveyi, said: “EcoCash advises that following scheduled system maintenance work, some customers have been experiencing intermittent transaction challenges.

“Our technical teams are working to resolve the challenges as soon as possible. EcoCash sincerely apologises for the inconvenience caused”

The Chronicle

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BUSINESS

Two killed, 20 feared dead in Globe and Phoenix Mine in Kwekwe collapse

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Globe and Phoenix Mine

Two miners died and two others were injured, while more than 20 others are feared trapped underground after a tunnel at Globe and Phoenix Mine in Kwekwe collapsed yesterday.

By the time of going to print, the actual number of trapped illegal miners was not clear, but indications were that about 25 miners were underground at the time of disaster.

Chief Government Mining Engineer Michael Munodawafa, confirmed the accident, yesterday.

He said rescue efforts were ongoing.

Eng Munodafawa said mining inspectors were still trying to gain entry into the collapsed shaft through other channels.

“We can confirm that two artisanal miners died while two others were injured and taken to hospital, after a mine shaft they were working under collapsed,” he said.

“We are still to get more causalities but there is a possibility that those who are said to be missing could have found their way out through other entrances and exit points.

“We are not ruling out the fact that there could be scores others missing, but they could as well have managed to escape; we will give a final update once the operation is over.”

Various groups operating at the mine were trying to account for each other with unconfirmed reports saying at least 20 were still unaccounted for.

It also emerged yesterday that Globe and Phoenix Mine ceased operations in 2007 following an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which showed the shafts, most of which were right underneath Kwekwe central business district (CBD) were posing danger to the city.

Kwekwe District Administrator Mr Fortune Mupungu, who is also the District Civil Protection Unit chairperson, said scores of artisanal miners were operating at the mine illegally.

Some of the artisanal miners were evicted from Gaika Mine.

“We received the sad news that several miners were trapped underground following the collapse of a shaft this morning (yesterday).

“A team which went underground to assess the situation only found two bodies,” said Mr Mupungu.

Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) president Ms Henrietta Rushwaya could not be reached for comment last night as her mobile phone was unreachable.

Police only arrived around 3 pm while officials from the Mines and Mining Development Ministry arrived at 4:30 pm.

The police were assisted by some artisanal miners to retrieve the bodies from the shaft, before loading them into their van and left.

It was a tense atmosphere with some self-styled security personnel at the scene threatening to beat anyone who dared to take photos.

Some of the artisanal miners who had gathered outside the mine were ordered to leave.

“We don’t want any pictures taken from here. Those who came out of the shafts, please go home. We have stopped operations here. We only want to see relatives of those missing, everyone let’s go,” said one of the security people.

Eyewitnesses said the two miners, whose bodies were retrieved, were crushed by a boulder which fell off the collapsing shaft.

“The two were at the entrance of the shaft so there is a boulder which fell on them as the shaft collapsed, they were cut into halves but we don’t know what became of their colleagues who were inside the shaft, about 20 of them,” said an artisanal miner, Mr Mthokozisi Moyo.

Mr Moyo said the shaft where their colleagues were trapped was over 8km long.

“From outside up to the entrance of the shaft which collapsed, we need to walk for about 4km while underground, but the shaft itself is over 8km,” he said.
The Herald

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BUSINESS

African leaders boycott WEF Africa over xenophobic attacks in SA

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World Economic Forum on Africa

The presidents of Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi have decided not to attend the World Economic Forum on Africa hosted by South Africa in the face of ongoing looting and burning of small businesses in that country, owned largely by African immigrants, local media reported on Wednesday.

The chairman of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat has condemned the attacks, which have seen scores of people arrested in Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria.

Reports said Zambia had also cancelled a friendly football match with South Africa’s national men’s team Bafana Bafana scheduled for March.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari instructed his foreign affairs minister to summon South Africa’s high commissioner to Nigeria over the violence.

Some South Africans say they are retaliating against crime committed by foreigners and the sale of illicit goods by foreign shop owners, but political analysts say African immigrants have become scapegoats for rising anger over joblessness and general economic woes.

In a statement on Tuesday, the African Union Commission’s Faki called for “immediate steps to protect the lives of people and their property, ensure that all perpetrators are brought to account for their acts and that justice is done to those who suffered economic and other losses.”

“The chairperson reiterates the African Union’s Commission continued commitment to support the South African government in addressing the root causes that led to these despicable acts, in order to promote peace and stability, within the framework of the African Union’s longstanding principles of continental solidarity,” his spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said. African News Agency

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Econet goes into forex exchange. Launches bureau de change

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Ecocash Zimbabwe

ECOCASH has launched a digital mobile phone-based bureau de change in a move set to increase competition in the foreign currency exchange business.

The innovative facility, a first by a mobile money service provider, will likely revolutionise the business by providing the much-needed convenience to the platform’s 10 million registered customers.

According to the company, the new service will allow EcoCash customers to sell foreign currency in real-time and instantly have the local currency converted and credited to their wallets.

The move follows the granting of an operating licence to EcoCash by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which has an effect of increasing access to specialised digital financial services to millions of Zimbabweans.

Speaking at the launch of the service in Harare yesterday, EcoCash chief executive officer, Ms Natalie Jabangwe, explained how the service would work.

“Before performing a currency conversion transaction, one needs to fund their EcoCash wallet,” she said, adding that a wallet could be funded in a number of ways.

“You fund your wallet by doing a cash-in of physical US dollars (or forex) into the wallet. Or you fund your wallet over the counter, at any Econet Shop. You can also fund your wallet through a direct in-wallet receipt of remittances from the diaspora into your EcoCash wallet. This could be through existing EcoCash remittance partners, which include Cassava Remit, World Remit, Mukuru, Western Union, Money Gram, Orange Botswana and MTN.”
Ms Jabangwe said an EcoCash customer could also fund their wallet via a Nostro bank-to-wallet transfer on their phone, from their respective FCA bank account linked to the EcoCash FCA wallet. She said once the wallet was funded, a customer could then proceed to dial a dedicated EcoCash Bureau de Change menu on the access code *150# to carry out their transaction.

“Customers will be able to check the rate of the day, get a quote for the amount to be sold and receive instant ‘confirmation of sale’ of foreign currency and the ZW$ conversation amount – all this happening via their mobile phone,” Ms Jabangwe said.

Cassava Smartech CEO, Mr Eddie Chibi, the parent company of EcoCash, said: “We are excited to be the first and only mobile financial service provider in Africa to offer this innovative service to our customers, empowering them with a simple, convenient, fast and real-time Bureau de Change service that they can access and use to transact anywhere, anytime.”

He said the service will help customers access competitive exchange rates quickly, convert or change their money in real-time, and transact on a secure platform that they have come to trust.

Ms Jabangwe said EcoCash Zimbabwe continued to leverage on the dynamic innovation capabilities that technology gives by building new products and services that go beyond the early services of financial inclusion.

“The advantage of having a scaled transaction platform is that you can build new services in line with a changing market environment. Accessibility of these services on the mobile phone enables us to travel the journey with our customers towards more complex but necessary financial services in the future,” she said. The Chronicle

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