Zimbabwean firm hires top Kenyan talent to steer its mobile money service

Zimbabwe’s mobile service provider Econet Wireless has hired Japhet Aritho, a former top executive at Kenya’s mobile services leader Safaricom, as its new chief operating officer (COO) to steer its recently launched mobile money service Ecocash.

The move comes after Econet announced a strategic plan targeting some 2 million subscribers under the mobile money transfer service by the end of its financial year in February 2013.

Aritho said that Ecocash had exceeded his M-Pesa experience in terms of uptake of the services.

“I am also looking forward to the experience with EcoCash Commuter, a type of implementation of mobile money they didn’t go into at such a scale at Safaricom,” he said.

The service allows payment of bills to Zesa, Multichoice, Edgars and the City of Harare, airtime top-up and buying goods through cell phones whilst EcoCash Commuter is a service that allows commuters to cover transport cost within Zimbabwe.

He added that there was a huge need for mobile money transfer services in Zimbabwe, considering the convenience, speed and security associated with the service when compared with the use of hard cash.

Econet’s EcoCash is modelled along the same blueprint as Kenya’s M-Pesa, which has changed money transfer and bill settlement system globally.

The service began two weeks ago, according to Econet’s chief Darlington Mandivenga, and will partner with a number of banks later this year.

“We are working to get all banks on board by the end of October,” he said.

Econet has between 1.7 and 2 million subscribers and foresees an increase in its subscriber base following the launch of the mobile money service. Experts say Econet’s new service is aimed at managing strategic value added services.

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