Zimbabwe fumes over weekend Econet network outage

Amid continued power outages in Zimbabwe, Econet mobile network and Ecocash mobile money service experienced a blackout on Saturday 20 July 2019. The incident sparked debate as to whether the country relies too heavily on mobile financial services.

"We apologies for intermittent services experienced on the network. Normal service has been restored," Econet said in a texted message to subscribers on Sunday 21 July 2019.

The company also apologised for issues with the EcoCash platform which it said were "caused during the restoration period".

In a separate press statement issued on Sunday, Econet blamed the connectivity black-out on power cuts from the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA).

It said: "The network challenges faced on Saturday, July 20, 2019, (were) triggered by ZESA power outages at our Network Operations Centre in Harare."

Econet added it was "... now incurring higher costs because of the heavy reliance on generators, as we now have to service the generators every fortnight, as opposed to the scheduled quarterly service intervals for the generators."

Local power shortages continue to wreak havoc among industries, with telecommunications one of the hardest hit.

The state power utility cannot produce sufficient power because of low water levels at Kariba and foreign currency shortages to import electricity from South Africa's Eskom and Mozambique's Hydro Cahora Bassa.

Zimbabweans have taken to social media to vent their frustrations and have urged the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) to intervene and force Econet to compensate for data lost during the outage.

Traders and retail outlets in Harare told ITWeb Africa that they had lost revenue owing to the EcoCash outage as their customers failed to pay for purchases.

Tinomuda Mupona, an attendant at an informal clothing retailer in Harare, said, "From around mid-morning, no customer was able to pay until later in the day. Saturday is always a good business day, but this EcoCash failure will have an impact on our revenue base. Most of our clients pay using mobile money and sometimes bank cards, but (the) network on the swipe machines was also affected."