An open letter to Econet Zimbabwe

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Dear Econet

The management, technical and support teams.

This is a letter based on experiences using Econet products by Van Lee Chigwada. I am a software developer.

I have been an Econet subscriber since 2010. According to usage statistics developers get from Google, you account for over 75% of the traffic they handle. You have monopolized the field.

Who doesn’t associate mobile money with EcoCash? Or start with 077-something when asking for someone’s mobile number?

Thank you for the products and services. However, with great power comes even greater responsibility. 

The EcoCash debit card

The EcoCash Mastercard does not work for Google Play Store payments. Google simply rejects all payments. Please fix this. A handful of banks issue Visa cards by default. And those have some high charges, Barclays’ up to $5 per transaction. To pay for a $0.99 purchase that is too much.

The card also refuses to work for bill payments with American companies, Hostgator is one.

Network coverage in Bulawayo

It is the second largest city in Zimbabwe. I have contacted customer care more than twice about this. In the Nketa area the reception is bad. I have since relocated to Bradfield and the story is the same. The best response I got was, “These are problem areas.” Please look into it some more. I tend to purchase daily data bundles that I end up not using.

While on the broadband topic, if Broadband was a person I would have blocked them. Sadly I cannot. I get three texts notifying me that my data bundle has been exhausted. The same three texts for one notification.

Also, I get a text notification at 1049hrs that my 1Gig bundle will expire at 1129. The system could maybe notify earlier for larger volume bundles?

I am not well informed on the workings of the infrastructure but I will take a shot at it. Please upgrade some areas from 2g edge networks to 3G. We have proved we are loyal, we purchase bundles on a regular basis, we make calls too now and then. The people I interact with on a day-to-day basis use Econet sim cards. If not for the web, it is for EcoCash.

Last is the missed call alert system. Sometimes it just goes on leave altogether. Then when it gets back in office I get notified about missed calls from two days back.

Outside of that good job to everyone and thank you for the awesome service.



  1. dev

    LOL.. You’ll be heard..

  2. Ngoni

    I think the debit card does work with Hostgator

  3. Nhlanhla

    in 2015 I complained about the poor network coverage in Nketa.2 years later nothing has been done about it.

    1. Mirriam

      Think it can be sorted, follow them on Twitter and I believe you won’t be disappointed. The team came through to me when my area was experiencing network challenges.

  4. Kevie

    i started using ecocash VCN since its inception and i have noticed many big companies out there don’t accept virtual cards, especially those with strict policy’s on prepaid cards or cards not linked to a bank account

  5. tinm@n

    You had my attention when said you were a software developer, quoted Econet originating traffic stats and correctly stated it’s monopoly…

    …I was expecting a plea for them to open up their services through APIs and what not…but got seriously deflated.

    Its more of a customer/user complaint.

    After all the trouble introducing yourself!

    What a yawn

    1. tinm@n

      Not to say the issue isn’t valid though.

    2. tj

      same with me, i was expecting more of API talk.

    3. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

      Yeah. Being a developer was of no relevance to the article. I thought it was USSD platform or API related too.

      1. Calvin

        You didn’t have to say that….

  6. Garikai Dzoma

    You are right VCNs have an expiry date that is too close sometimes the same month. That can expose the seller to a whole lot of risk with refunds etc. So most long term hosts don’t accept them. Try using OVH it should work.

  7. Nancy

    Doubt if econet can do anything on the Google issue, maybe our country is restricted. But if they can, I bet they Will.

  8. SoTypMe

    Is the Google Play Store problem universal? I personally haven’t had any trouble buying apps for my phone using the debit card. I’ve only purchased about 5 apps to date so I might not be enough to make a case for it’s efficiency

  9. Prince

    I think this is not going to go un-noticed these are very valid complaints i too am especially covered about the MasterCard situation , it is so lazy for them not to ensure that the card works for the most basic transactions that one could possible want to do on their phone, that is to purchase apps, i mean come on we need better service. About your software development what is it that you develop if i may ask Guest Author (@techzim)

    1. van lee chigwada

      You can swing by my website, to check out what we have done and are working on. There are a lot of projects not listed on the website though for one reason or the other.

  10. van lee chigwada

    I see some comments showing disgust at this letter because they want an API or other. The letter addresses some issues that I have personally called customer care for on several occasions and gotten what I felt wasn’t good enough attention to address them.
    Guess what, it’s 1035 and I just got notified my 250mb bundle expires at 1037. Twice.

    For those who feel they need an API to Econet’s services be it GSM or other please drop me a line (you can get my contact details on my website –
    If you can convince me the API is something needed I will personally contact Strive Masiyiwa and bug him until we get something. I have yet to come across a need for such an API though.

    1. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

      Are you really a developer? Seeing as you don’t even understand the API relevance.

    2. Mwanawevhu

      you are far from civilisation

  11. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

    The high charges on Google Play are from the underlying VISA or Mastercard charges. Google has a wallet, put money in there from your debit/credit card, a reasonable amount like $20, get charged once, then buy your apps as you need.