Econet says it wants to make all remittances into Zimbabwe free

Econet group chief executive, Douglas Mboweni

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, the country’s largest telecommunications and technology company, says its decision to make remittances from United Kingdom and South Africa free has been well received and should remain in force “for the foreseeable future”. 

Econet’s group chief executive, Douglas Mboweni, said the initiative would remain in place for some time, adding that the company was in fact exploring ways of expanding the free remittance initiative to other routes, such as the United States, Europe and Middle East.

“The initiative will continue for the foreseeable future. We are now actually working on expanding the free remittances to Zimbabwe to other source markets, such as the US, Europe and Middle East, so that Zimbabweans with friends and family in those regions can also benefit from our offer,” Mboweni said.

“However, our group currently does not have licenses that allow us to extend the service to all markets at this time. But we are busy looking at how we can do that,“ he said.

Last week Econet achieved an Africa first by opening free remittance corridors that completely eliminate the cost for remittances from the UK and South Africa into Zimbabwe. This followed the company partnering with its sister company, Sasai Money Transfer, to enable individuals and companies in the United Kingdom and South Africa to send money into Zimbabwe free of charge, with the receiver cashing out of their EcoCash US dollar wallet for free.

Dr Mboweni said the market reaction to the initiative had been very positive, adding that he expected many people to start channelling remittances via Ecocash.

He said there were virtually no minimum limits to how little one can send at any given time. “If someone from the UK wants to send $5 to someone in Zimbabwe, it’s ok with us. We can handle small or large amounts and it’s done in an instant.”

“We believe EcoCash’s extensive network, already in use for domestic USD transfers around the country, and in particular in the rural areas, will be key in providing convenience to people in remote villages and districts to access their funds,” Mboweni said.

Last week Mboweni explained that the decision to offer free remittances had been motivated by the desire to help Zimbabweans weather the challenges caused by drought. 

The country recently declared a national disaster over a drought caused by the climate event known as El Niño, which has left more than 2.7 million people in need of food aid. 

Some analysts and experts have urged the government to take advantage of the intermediation role of Ecocash to allow ZiG cash-in and cash-out, thereby building confidence in the new currency.

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