Econet Executive, Norman Moyo talks about the uberification of government among other things at the Mandela Washington Summit

Tinashe Nyahasha Avatar

Norman Moyo is the CEO of New Enterprise Business DPA and Cumii. Yes, that is not easy to wrap one’s head around so let’s just stick to Norman being the man in charge of Econet’s startups dedicated to the internet of things (IoT) and other exciting stuff. We could say he has been given charge over the innovation and startup side of things. So, Norman spoke on a panel at the Mandela Washington Summit in Washington DC last night (or whenever it was depending on time difference).

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is an initiative by the US government where they recruit 1000 young persons from across Sub-Saharan Africa and get them to the US for an internship that lasts several weeks. This then culminates in a summit that is held in the US capital. This year Norman Moyo was part of a panel that discussed leadership.

I had never heard the man speak. He is quite funny and has these punch lines that punctuate most of his statements. I was a bit disappointed though by the quality of questions that the moderator and the rest of the fellows who participated in the Q&A asked. To me, that is also a critical challenge in the leadership discourse on the African planet. We do not ask good questions. I felt like Norman was a bit under-utilised, they failed to draw out concrete practical insights out of his vast experience leading a global business in Africa.

He has worked for the Econet group in a total of seven African countries and mostly in very senior leadership roles. To digress a little, Norman says his best African country to work in so far  is Nigeria! Anyway, there is one thing that I just thought I would share that Moyo mentioned in DC: the uberification of government.

Well, he didn’t call it that but he did draw parallels between what he was talking about and Uber. Norman says he is launching a platform called AGIP Zambia (Any Government In Power, Zambia). This is a platform that will attempt to bring accountability within politics and government using mobile and internet technology.

He didn’t elaborate further on what this platform will really do but he gave an example of its use. Say, a president has been elected, he then gets interviewed on video to lay out what he will do and how his mandate will be executed etc. This will then be shared to the different users of the platform (Norman said there will be 2 million of them). I don’t know how much this would help and wish the moderator had probed more into this to really understand what AGIP would do and how it would improve governance.

My thoughts are that a platform like this will do well as a tool to involve the greater population in the day to day of governance. Right now even in the most democratic of societies the best a population gets is to participate by proxy. Once we have elected people into parliament or once they find themselves there by other means our participation ends there until next election.

With technology and the internet particularly there is the possibility of more active participation, let’s call it more democratic democracy. This is simply through an uber-like solution. What makes Uber work despite the company’s ethical problems and what is happening in South Africa is that users of the service rate their experience and potential users will choose to acquire or not to acquire services from a particular person based on these ratings.

In politics and government the system would allow lots of people to share their experiences with government departments or officials in their everyday business with other lots of people. This may encourage better service delivery and discourage other undesirable practices like bribery for example. Of course this may at the beginning only weed out offenders in very junior positions within government but taking these ones out early on will mean that they will not grow within the system to become the corrupt leaders of government in a few or many years to come.

I wish this had been explored further by Norman and will probably reach out to him to have him explain AGIP but hey I think it’s a good thing that corporate leaders like him are thinking of how to solve these systemic problems in Africa.


  1. MacdChip

    As long as we do not respect the laws(rule of law) we put, it will come to nothing.

    Ministers and government in Africa and Zimbabwe in particualar do not follow the laws they put in place. Technology is not going to change that no matter how good it is.

    When is the last time a Minister or government official resigned in Zim or Zambia because they were caught on the wrong side of law? They all run to chant Party slogans very loud to benefit from protection.

    1. Tinashe Nyahasha

      Sadly I have to agree. Technology could help but without a willingness to change practices and nyadzi chaidzo hapana dhiri

  2. @Streamer

    Great stuff, where can I watch Normans talk?

    1. Tinashe Nyahasha

      Unfortunately I watched a low quality stream that was done by a hand held smart phone


    I have had the privilege of meeting and chatting to Norman while he was in Tanzania; he is a positive spirit and a born leader. While the panel may not have fully exploited the chance I would encourage those who may want to get insights into Norman’s thoughts to read his book “Rumble in the Jungle”. It is a good read for all leaders…