What is Econet Wireless Company?

Econet Wireless (Econet) is a privately owned global telecommunications company with business operations and investments in more than 20 countries in Africa, Latin America, The United Kingdom, Europe, China, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and New Zealand. The only listed entity is its Zimbabwean subsidiary. The Zimbabwean business is often mistaken as the holding company, because it is listed.

What is Econet Wireless Company?

Econet Wireless (Econet) is a privately held global telecommunications company with business operations and investments in more than 20 countries in Africa, Latin America, The United Kingdom, Europe, China, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and New Zealand. The only listed entity is its Zimbabwean subsidiary. The Zimbabwean business is often mistaken as the holding company, because it is listed.

It  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

Strive Masiyiwa owns over 50% of publicly traded Econet Wireless Zimbabwe.

Masiyiwa also has interests in the United States of America (USA). He has partnered with one of America's leading telecoms entrepreneurs, John Stanton, in a venture called Trilogy International Partners, which built New Zealand's third mobile network operator known as "2 Degrees". Masiyiwa's investment in Seattle based Trilogy International, have also helped him secure interests as an investor in Viva's Bolivia and Dominican Republic businesses. Masiyiwa also has a controlling interest in a company based in Vermont USA, that manufacturers nano fibre carbon products, called Seldon Technologies.

One of Masiyiwa's most successful ventures is the London-based privately held Liquid Telecom Group, Africa's largest satellite and fibre optic business spanning over 14 countries.

Other activities of Econet include enterprise networks, financial services, renewable energy, television and media (Kwesé TV).

History

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.

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

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. 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. By November 2017, the service had over 6.7 million registered users, accounting for 80% of adult Zimbabweans or 52% of all citizens.

In February 2013, Econet acquired a controlling interest in the then TN Bank Zimbabwe, one of the local commercial banks in Zimbabwe, and renamed it 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.

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.

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