The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Ecocash Brings Relief to Rural Folk

The rapid movement of cash from urban centres to rural areas using EcoCash has made a significant impact on the rural economy in the country. Figures released by Econet in October last year show that at least US$100 million is moving from urban to rural areas every month.

However, because of liquidity challenges, rural folk have not been able to access their money in cash but instead have been using the money to buy goods from local shops and also to pay for services including school fees.

In a statement, Econet Wireless Services chief executive Mr Darlington Mandivenga said EcoCash has been opening up new economic possibilities for people in rural areas who up to now have struggled to see money circulate to them.

He said this development is in line with other African countries that offer similar services.

"Mobile money benefits people in rural areas. It helps them access financial resources even in very small amounts, and this all adds up to a healthier economy all round," he said.

Mr Mandivenga said Econet was already tackling the challenges that were being faced by consumers in accessing their cash from agents by getting traders to accept payment in EcoCash and then get their money from Econet and the company was also pumping cash to its agents.

So far Econet has entered into partnerships with banks, supermarkets and other service providers including kombis who are accepting payment for goods and services via EcoCash.

"We are systematically tackling these problems, and the growth of the amounts being transacted shows people are gaining confidence," said Mr Mandivenga.

He noted that Econet was now working on introducing a platform for people in the Diaspora to send money home.

"Within a few months, we will make it possible to send money from anywhere in the world at a fraction of the current cost and in an instant," he said.

He said that money from the Diaspora was key to fuelling economic growth but a lot of it never gets into the country because it is being taken up by middlemen.

Mr Mandivenga added that Econet believes that money from the Diaspora will double or treble if a cheaper, faster solution to sending and receiving money from the Diaspora is implemented.

He said this alone could eliminate problems of liquidity in the country and further boost economic recovery.

"We know its importance to the country and we are working hard on this solution," he said.

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