Econet kills the Business Partna brand, replaces it with expensive “Premium”

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar
Econet Chief Commercial & Customer Services Officer, Stanley Henning and Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira (Econet’s Premium brand ambassador) at the launch of Premium yesterday

So, Business Partna is out. In its place comes Econet’s new “contract” (postpaid) service called “Premium”. The Business Partna brand, according to Stan Henning at the launch of Premium yesterday, sounded too much like at an enterprise package, so they needed to bring out the sense it was for high value individual clients too.

Premium is a lot like your typical packaged contract service of this era; a fixed monthly fee for a package that has a voice component, data and unlimited SMS ofcourse. In terms of what’s already on the market, the structure is very similar to Telecel’s Red service.

With Econet Premium you get two categories: either just Premium and you bring your own device to the network (that iPhone 6 your US cousin smuggled into the country, or is planning to later this month), or Premium Plus and you get your device on the contract. Both are 24 month contracts.

If you choose to bring your own device, here’s an idea of what’s on offer:

  • The lowest priced packages is $15 a month for which you get 40 minutes voice Econet to Econet calls, $5 voice to the other networks, and 120MB data.
  • The upper end is a $200 package that gives you 1,400 minutes on-net voice, $50 to other networks, and 1.9GB data. Why anyone would pay $200 for just 2GB of data a month ofcourse beats me. But I’m not the market, and this is Zimbabwe; we do crazy stuff like that sometimes.
  • Between those too extremes are the following packages: $35, $40, $50, $90 and $120.

If you’re getting a device from Econet then you have the range Econet has been selling except this time you also get an iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus if you prefer Apple’s latest. This time from highest to lowest:

  • A $250 monthly payment buys you an iPhone 6 (or Galaxy S5, Note 4, or iPhone 5S) and you get 1,400 voice to Econet numbers, $50 other calls and again, disappointingly, 1,9GB of data. it was a bit of a surprise that the iPhone 5S and 6 have the same price tag but we hear there are many people out there that still prefer the 5S over the 6 for size reasons and don’t mind the price tag.
  • A Premium Plus 130 packaged ($130) buys you an iPhone 6 Plus, 400 minutes voice to Econet numbers, $25 to other networks, and 830MB data. Yup, pay $130 and get less than a Gigabyte!
  • $80 is 115 minutes voice to Econet numbers, $7 to the other networks, and 250 MB data.
  • Finally, on the extreme low, the Premium Plus 5 package, you pay $5 a month and get a ZTE V795 (a hello-smartphone-world device), 5 minutes voice on the network, a dollar to other networks, and 30MB data.

There’s actually a third category (the most unattractive in my opinion, but maybe that’s because I don’t sit at the top of the food chain at some big listed company) called Premium Unlimited, designed for guys that never watch their balance, or even get to see their monthly bills – this type of guy the MNOs love ofcourse!

We’re still looking at the numbers to see if there there’s something in there you readers should rush for and buy. So far, there’s nothing we’re excited about. And actually we don’t think it’s Econet’s fault; they’ve had to adjust their offerings because of the realities of regulation and taxing of the internet and airtime that our government has decided needs to be done if an economic something called ZimAsset is to be accelerated! Madness in policy, begets madness regulation, which begets madness in pricing, itself begetting other ugly scenarios in a vicious cycle. Yes, that’s indeed how economies get accelerated, to their knees.

But back to tech: here are a few more pictures from the launch of Premium yesterday. We follow later with another look at the long term of Prepaid vs contract, maintaining ARPUs and please do bring your own device from wherever it is your cousin is making a living.


  1. ic0n1c

    I think I should go for that contract now… but $80 is still ridiculously high… Maybe they will reduce the 5 to $50 contract???

  2. taraz

    A good analyses LSM but please attend to this: ” There’s actually a third category (the most unattractive in my opinion, but maybe that coz I don’t -…” COZ there.

    1. L.S.M Kabweza

      lol, thanks. fixed

      1. Brian

        You have ‘moonth’ at the end of the third paragraph too.

        1. L.S.M Kabweza

          thanks @Brian

  3. mesh

    This new package just confirms the arrogance that now rules at Econet. The bulk of the Econet calls are now carried as VOIP yet they still charge cell rates which are very high. If you buy data bundles and you have voice airtime, they chew you airtime first before going to your data bundles for internet use. When you complain they tell you its your phone and others are not complaining. Customer Care is gone down the tubes..Henning wake up..

    1. Me Too

      I’m not crazy, thank goodness! I thought I was the only one losing my airtime before my data bundles kicked in

  4. Terry

    Hi L.S.M. Kabweza

    Thanks for the article but i dont want to agree with you on the issue of people who go for the US$200 and US$250 as being “crazy”. Lets break the math down. 1,400 minutes using the US$0,23 per minute costs you US$322. When you add the US$50 for calling other networks plus 1,9gig of data worth US$75 that gives you a total of US$447. And all you pay for this package is US$200 for US$447 worth of Econet’s services. If you go for the US$250 then you can enjoy the best of Apple’s latest smartphone and others as an added bonus. Unless there is something i have missed in the description you have given on this offering, then this is absolutely a great deal.

    Lets say you decide to go the bundle route and buy the US$20 Bundles of Joy which is the largest denomination Bundles come by(I’m also assuming this deal gives the largest discounts). For US$20, you get 190 minutes, 170 MB of data & unlimited SMS, multiply this by 10 to equal the US$200 deal translates to 1,900 minutes Econet to Econet, 1,7gig of data and unlimited text. So you get 200 minutes more Econet to Econet talk, 200mb less data, no airtime to call other networks and same old unlimited texts. You can take your pick but to me Econet Premium is the clear winner on this one. I think Econet Premium is an awesome and fair deal.

    What i would have liked to read in your piece is more details on Econet Premium Unlimited in terms of pricing and usage of that deal, together with details of whether there will be any discounts when roaming outside Zim and in other nations where Econet is active. Otherwise thanks for the update.

    Would also like to hear your thoughts on my line of thought

    1. L.S.M Kabweza

      Hey, thanks for the comment. Crazy for me is in relation to the data because data is worth much more than voice in a lot of ways. A lot of what voice gives, I can do on data using Facebook Messenger calling or Viber or even voice messages on WhatsApp. I use Facebook calling a lot on Econet 3G and it works perfectly, especially as it can continue where an IM discussion left off.

      Now, data is too limited on pretty much all the Premium packages. If anyone is looking to save money on their communication, there are many more options to making a call than via regular GSM. In terms of roaming, who needs data roaming when you can easily buy an MTN, Safaricom or whatever SIM (quickly switch to it since smarpthones are hot-swappable now), buy 2GB Data for just $15 (in SA) and continue with FB and WhatsApp calls without worrying about data roaming and indeed without worrying about voice roaming except when they need to communicate with someone not on FB messenger or WhatsApp?

      That’s why I think it’d be crazy to pay $200 in voice calls a month. But look, there are probably many people out there who don’t want to save money or swap SIMs.

      1. TK

        Sounds like a good deal to me. Now I understand when you say you would rather use VOIP as in Facebook calls etc but to be honest the data network is not so great at times.

        1. L.S.M Kabweza

          True, 3G is not always great, and some places permanently have poor signal (like my home in Harare, so have to use WiFi) but I still don’t find how one would need to buy $200 worth of voice.

          1. TK

            Agreed I 200 dollars of voice is definitely too much.

          2. Terry

            Maybe its too much for social communication.. But for business, where you cant Facebook, Whatsapp or Viber your prospective client or prospective business client, to that clientelle US$200 worth of voice calls is actually too little.. I know people whose bills are twice that amount in a single month on calls alone.

          3. L.S.M Kabweza

            @Terry, what work do these people do? the ones that spend $400 on calls. Don’t they have Skype, or VoIP lines, landlines?

          4. Terry

            I work at an investments management company here in Harare. Even though here and there we use Skype and Viber to communicate, some of the Directors business partners are not as tech savvy and ordinary voice calls and sms are used to communicate. Bills can run quite high. Also, when courting for new business partners or investors, you dont know someone’s Skype id, whatsapp or Viber number so you have to call the number on the business card which is either a cell or landline number. Same applies when calling people outside of the country. Bills can run as high as just being shy of a grand per month otherwise they average around $400 – $600. And this is after we have started using Google Hangouts and Skype for communicating which have halved our bills, but for the people we interact with in this business, using Whatsapp, Facebk calling etc has not yet been adopted at that level. Thats why i say your views are appropriate for social communicating but for business its not as simple.

            Simply put, if you want to talk to Hon Patrick Chinamasa, Shingi Mutasa, Philip Chiyangwa etc, do you think you will likely catch them on Skype, Facebk calling or on a regular voice call??

  5. Terry

    Like your way of thinking. Very insightful. Thanks.

  6. TK

    Econet should also introduce options for upgrades on handsets. I would want to wait a full 2 years to be able to upgrade my handset

  7. SirDownloadAlot

    I use VoIP, $15 per month unlimited world calls 🙂 beat that econet…. use any phone Android/IOS or PC…..

  8. Anonymous

    some real ugly branding

  9. Robert Ndlovu

    This really confirms what I have been observing from a call quality point of view (QOS). As a means to cut costs operators now use IP connectivity to route their calls.There is a delicate balance between achieving high quality calls on one end while trying to cut costs on the other.Now who is abusing VoIP ?

    VoIP is here to stay !

  10. Sim

    Great article. I think the time is coming when true data and voice convegency will pull down these prices

  11. ic0n1c
    1. L.S.M Kabweza

      Shocking indeed. Why would I tie myself to a contract that will cost me $2,400 to get an iPad air and 1.2GB of data a month for 2 years? Event by Econet’s own standards, this is too expensive. I could just buy the device from their retail partner (Solution Center) for $1,200 cash and then buy 2.5GB of data instead, every month from Econet ($50) for the 24 months = more for the same amount. In fact since I’m not on contract, if prices come down, which they definitely will, I benefit. Plus I get to use all the free WiFi around.