The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Ecocash Creates 5 000 Jobs

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe says it has invested over US$50 million in its mobile phone based money transfer service, EcoCash, creating more than 5 000 jobs. The mobile telecommunications company said that the service has transformed the lives of many people, mostly in rural areas.

EcoCash, Zimbabwe's fastest growing mobile money transfer service, has allowed millions of people without traditional bank accounts to access basic financial services.

Econet Wireless has since signed up several banks and retailers to expand the distribution network of the EcoCash service.

This has also helped reduce the problem of small change in a country where there is shortage of coins following introduction of the US dollar as the main transaction currency.

The range of benefits also includes more secure ways of carrying money, convenient payment of bills, buying airtime top up and checking of bank balances and statements.

"Econet Wireless has enabled nearly two million Zimbabweans, the majority of whom did not have bank accounts, to have access to basic financial services through EcoCash," Econet spokesman Mr Ranga Mberi said.

"Most of these people live in rural areas where there are no banking facilities and EcoCash has become their economic lifeline.

"Econet has to date invested more than US$50 million to make this possible, in the process creating more than 5 000 new jobs in the economy," Mr Mberi said in a statement.

EcoCash has transformed the mobile phone money transfer landscape much the same way Econet Wireless broke into the telecommunications sector when it started in 1998.

After Econet fought tenaciously to gain space in the sector about 10 million Zimbabweans now have mobile phones.

The success of EcoCash service is shown by the fact that in just over 12 months, an additional million people now have access to financial services compared to less than one million who were serviced by Zimbabwe's banks combined.

EcoCash is providing an essential money transfer service to millions of Zimbabweans and it was confident of further growth this year as more retailers sign to partner with Econet.

Further, other distribution channels are developed, Mr Mberi said. Econet was also aware that there would always be some institutions in the financial sectors that were worried about the impact of EcoCash on their business.

But Econet Wireless was also pleased that the majority of banks in Zimbabwe have embraced the Ecocash service.

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