Did EcoCash Lie About Subscriber Numbers? But Why?

William Chui Avatar
Natalie Jabangwe-Morris

Earlier this year Techzim attended the launch of the partnership between EcoCash and ZINARA. The partnership enabled Ecocash users to pay for their toll gate fees using their mobile money account, a service that proves to be invaluable in an economy that is currently facing a cash crisis.

At the said event, Nathalie Jabangwe-Morris, EcoCash Zimbabwe General Manager, released some figures to those in attendance and we were rather impressed by it.

In a nutshell, she stated:

  • 27,000 Merchants
  • 30,000 Agents
  • 700,000 Merchant Cardholders
  • 6,700,000 EcoCash subscribers

This event was on 22 June 2017, just 8 days before the end of the month. You see at the end of June mobile networks were required to submit their figures to the regulator, POTRAZ, in order for them to compile the Second Quarter Sector Performance Report.

The figures are self-submitted by the networks and the regulator, which is giving out a published document does some kind of an audit to verify these figures. Essentially, figures that are contained in the report are highly likely to be true, as there are checks that take place in order to authenticate them.

Now to the interesting bit.

In the recently released POTRAZ Second Quarter Sector Performance Report figures for EcoCash that are relevant to the above were as follows:

  • 23,050 Agents
  • 3,294,659 EcoCash subscribers

These are healthy numbers and speak to the dominance of EcoCash in the market, a position that competitors would need to be aggressive in dislodging them and one that Government may want to be concerned with the “monopoly”.

However, as can be seen, the figures are not tallying with figures that EcoCash openly throws out at their events, by huge numbers!

A quick glance at their announced subscribers’ figures of 6.7 million is clearly them opting to highlight registered subscribers and not the important ‘active subscribers’. I can only suspect that they may have taken the same route when highlighting their agent network numbers. Surely there are no making mistakes to such magnitudes.

Could this be them trying to mislead the public to the health of the service? But why do that when you already have strong numbers?

One signal at least that I got out of it was to take numbers that are issued out by operators with a pinch of salt at their events, as clearly they are nowhere close to what’s on the ground. We reached out to Econet to shed light on these figures, however, no response was given by the time of publishing. We’ll update if they give an official response. [UPDATE: EcoCash have tabled a response to the figures about]


  1. innocent madziya

    I am not an Econet fan, but I also enjoy the benefits brought by Econet Wireless. Your articles are biased towards Econet.

    1. Mhofu

      Lol you are right…they are ALWAYS like I mean ALWAYS against anything written econet…


      1. William Chui

        You think? Always?

    2. William Chui

      I strongly disagree with this. If you’ve been reading our content, I think we give a balanced opinion

    3. Muse

      Wait….what? Are we talking about this particular article where they are actually calling out Econet for lying?

  2. Anonymous

    Very true Innocent..why trust govt when it is also a player with two MNOs trying so hard with their own same kind of services..please if there’s an editor tell your writers to balance their pieces and not conclude on assumptions

    1. Tinashe

      What bias is there in this article. This author is just posing a very important question around announced vs reported numbers.
      I applaud the author for this observation.

      1. Anonymous

        True it happens every wre thats why employment figures are different from wats on the ground even the government does it..

      2. pat

        did econet write the portraz report

  3. MCd

    There is a difference between gross and active subscribers, the bigger number obviously refers to registered subs which are not necessarily active

  4. Anonymous

    No Natalie did not lie, its probably that you were not listening. 6.7m Registered Customers on Ecocash and 3.2m Active 3O days Subscribers. Hope you get it now?

    1. William Chui

      This is not the case

      POTRAZ explains details of what an active subscriber is

      1. Anonymous

        Yes Active is 3.3 and registered 6.7.

      2. Muse

        No Natalie did not lie, its probably that you were not listening. 6.7m Registered Customers on Ecocash and 3.2m Active 9O days Subscribers. Hope you get it now?

        Fixed it for Anonymous.

      3. Ini

        So someone grew 30% of a cup cake while another grew 3% of a kings wedding cake… who is the better baker

  5. Anonymous

    What if the numbers that they presented to Zinara are numbers of both active and in-active subscribers, and the numbers presented to Potraz are for active subscribers only?????

    Do you understand how these things work, did you do a thorough background check on what was required by the two orgs who received diff reports??
    I would love to hear your findings on this story, or maybe you will take it off the wall after a few days

  6. Anonymous

    The Lie we all need to be concerned about is how Netone is reporting to have 5,480,073 connected subscriber and 4,845,458 active subscribers it does not make sense that they is a variance is 12% in such a multisim environment. Econet Variance btw connected and active is 65% and Telecel is 100%. Potraz need to audit those NetOne numbers unless they are also part n pass of the conspiracy. With NetOne number at active 4.8mil subs and an ARPU of $3 they should be making almost $186m annually and apa they don’t pay any tax nor the licence fee. What we can see from the POTRAZ report is that NetOne is a House of Cards soon to crumble.

    1. William Chui

      Yes, still sifting through the report, so more inaccuracies in the market will be called out.

      Where did you get the ARPU of $3 from? Would love to follow this up.

    2. Jay

      I would think Netone has a higher active to total subs because of their massive promotions dollar a day one fusion etc. More of their connected r bound to be active. Their subs are mostly pple who hold have an Econet line as their primary line and also use NetOne to enjoy promotional rates.

    3. Jay

      From what i read the $3 ARPU is the average for all 3 mobiles not NetOne’s. Bet NetOne has very little bcoz of their freebies.

  7. pat

    did econet write the portraz report