Econet shelves Kenyan expansion plans


Zimbabwean mobile operator, Econet Wireless announced that it will not enter the Kenyan mobile market as it has sold its license in the East African country.

Econet has been rapidly expanding its network in Zimbabwe and executives at the company say they want to keep ahead of likely competition from new and bigger players.

Kriston Chirairo, executive and finance director at Econet, said plans to enter into the Kenyan telecoms sector have now been shelved.

“We sold our license in Kenya and we will no longer be going there,” he said.

Telecoms analyst, Johannes Kwangwari said that Econet had made a good decision not to move into Kenya, whose mobile market is already dominated by big players like as Safaricom.

“Econet would really have to be innovative and good to enter into a market like Kenya which already has bigger players and make a meaningful profit there,” said Kwangwari.

Kenya’s Safaricom already operates MPESA, a mobile money service that has been a resounding success, in addition to its mobile and telecoms services.

Econet, on the other hand, started a similar venture, EcoCash, which the company recently said has had massive take-up since its inception late last year, with over a million users now subscribed.

Chirairo however refused to comment on what the subscribers on EcoCash are using the mobile money transfer facility for.

“Right now, we feel it is too early to talk about the impact of EcoCash. We are still analyzing the numbers and we should be able to see the contributions by the end of the current trading year,” he said.

Chirairo explained that the EcoCash facility had been put in place to help retain subscribers and to help enhance usage of Econet’s services by its clients.

“It is there to retain customers and to help improve usage in terms of air-time transfers which then enables other subscribers to make calls and use the network,” he said.