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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 I was buying groceries for $16 but I realised today that $64 had been withdrawn from my wallet.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

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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BUSINESS

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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BUSINESS

Eskom Begins 400MW Power Supply to Zimbabwe

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Fortune Chasi

ZESA Holdings has reportedly started receiving 400 Megawatts of electricity from South Africa power utility, ESKOM.

This comes after the latter accepted Zimbabwe’s payment plan which involves payment of US$890,000 per week to settle its long-standing debt with ESKOM.

Zimbabwe is currently generating about 692 megawatts against a daily peak demand of about 1 600MW to 2000MW in winter.
All sectors were projecting fewer revenues this year as a result of the crippling load-shedding which ZESA had implemented due to the power deficit in the country.

Some companies were contemplating closing some of their branches with OK Zimbabwe, one of the biggest retailers in the country, having already closed one of its shops in Rusape.

The main power generator in the country, Kariba South Hydropower plant, has reportedly been immensely affected by the shrinking water levels at the dam whilst Hwange thermal power is underperforming due to ageing equipment.

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