Econet Has Gone To The Dogs

Harare, Zimbabwe, 12 June 2010

While Econet is claiming that it is now the largest mobile phone network in Zimbabwe, most of its vaunted huge subscriber base have been failing completely to make phone calls since last week.

The company to have greedily chased numbers while completely neglecting its infrastrcuture. While putting out dubious claims of base stations being built, it is clear Econet has fallen into the same trap as befell Netone a year or so ago: failure to invest in infrastructure in order to continue giving service to customers.

Super dividends and profits are being declared by Econet, which it now turns out is a bad move because that money should have gone to ensuring good quality service.

People on Econet right now just get the message: "Disconnecting" when they are trying to call out. This has been happening for a week and just as the World Cup starts.

Previously, these companies (like Econet) could blame their incompetence on the bad politics and the bad economy. But now, they are able to give away millions of dollars in dividends to shareholders and buy fleets of cars of staff members, so there is no excuse. It all boils down to poor planning and taking the market for granted.

In any other country where the mobile phone companies offer world class service, there would have been an explanation to the people in the form ads or some sort of announcement explaining why Econet subscribers are flushing money down the toilet buying airtime and the like.

One person I know, a Finance Director at a local company, says that Econet have now become arrogant because they think they are so big and that Zimbabweans have no choice.

He refuses to spend any more money on Econet airtime and has switched back to NetOne. He is also looking to get a Telecel line and vows he will never return to Econet.

Such is the anger.

But there are graver implications:

The mobile phone company is doing this now, when tourists are expected to come into Zimbabwe during the World Cup in South Africa next door to us. These tourists demand seamless and world-class communications networks, which Econet will not be able to give considering what they are doing to Zimbabweans at the moment.

All that will happen is that stereotypes about Zimbabwe and African businesses will be reinforced.

Econet has, for some time now, behaved with the utmost arrogance and has treated its customer base like idiots.

Should one experience problems with Econet's service, one can rest assured that they will not get their problem resolved. There is no service centre to speak of. Should you call the so-called Customer Care numbers, consider yourself very lucky if you hold on for an hour and end up speaking to a person.

Most people end up throwing in the towel.

One wonders what sort of business sense the people at Econet have.

Of course, government is also to blame. They refuse to open up the market and allow more players in. This is the best way to engender competition. Let the market decide who is good enough to get their money and who is not.

Right now, the three networks are a virtual monopoly and behave as though they are doing the people of Zimbabwe a favour by supplying mobile phone services!!

One of these days, we will get a government that will ensure that the people of Zimbabwe get the country they deserve, no thanks ti Econet or MDC or ZANU PF!!



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