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Mixed Fortunes: Econet Wins Award, Sued Over SIM Cards

Harare - Telecommunications giant by market share and subscriber base, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is being sued for $60 000 by a Harare for ...

Harare - Telecommunications giant by market share and subscriber base, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is being sued for $60 000 by a Harare for allegedly failing to pay for the importation of 2 500 sim cards, despite activating them on its network.

Callander Enterprises and its proprietor, Mr Makomborero Muza, has dragged Econet Wireless to the High Court for failing to make payments after the firm imported sim cards.

The two would enter into an agreement regarding profit sharing ratio from the distribution, sale and use of the cards to payphone operators throughout the country.

But Econet Wireless has dismissed the legal suit arguing that while it activated the sim cards on its network, there was never an agreement on profit sharing, neither were the sim cards imported on its behalf.

"It was mutually agreed verbally by Econet Wireless, represented by its managers, and Callander that after purchase of the sim cards, Econet Wireless would register, activate and allocate phone numbers to the sim cards.
Econet Wireless Founder Strive Masiyiwa 

"The plaintiff would then distribute for use to several payphone operators who would buy airtime on the cards," read the papers.

The papers further allege that: "Plaintiffs managed to raise the required foreign currency which defendant did not have then, and bought 2 500 sim cards from South Africa on behalf of Econet Wireless.

"And it distributed the sim cards across the country, to payphone operators together with individuals who were interested in the payphone business. The sim cards had the advantage that they had an in-built billing system."

The firm averred that Econet Wireless has since converted the sim cards into Buddie lines but has been refusing to have both parties sign a written agreement, thus continuing to deprive it of both profit and the money spent to purchase the cards.

In response, Econet Wireless denied liability arguing that its business was not run through verbal agreements, saying the only agreement it had with Callander Enterprises was that of a payphone business.

Econet Wireless submitted that Callander Enterprises approached them with a request for assistance on how it could increase supply of its sim cards.

"It was at this juncture when Econet Wireless through one of its directors, informally advised plaintiff that it was free to, at its own risk and cost, and in terms of clause 7.8 of the written agreement, purchase and import the sim cards directly from South Africa which cards Econet Wireless would register on its network," read the papers.

Econet Wireless argued that Callander Enterprises suffered loss on its account and that the firm had no claim against it on the line numbers allocated to subscribers as they were owned by the mobile service provider.

Meanwhile the mobile service provider has scooped three awards in recognition of its innovative approach to business and contribution to the economy.

Afri-Sure, a consortium of consultants in the insurance sector, who are partnering the Government in spearheading micro-insurance to cover low income earners, gave the awards to Econet at Micro-Insurance Summit in Victoria Falls.

Econet Wireless has been rated top technology company in Zimbabwe while its micro-insurance product, EcoSure is rated the top innovative product in the funeral and life assurance category.

Econet Life general manager Mr Godwin Mashiri was honoured for being the top contributing personality in the micro-insurance sector.

"EcoSure now has 600,000 subscribers, that's a huge achievement as it is bigger than all other insurance companies together. What this means is that we should unpack, appreciate and find out how we can emulate them," she said.

Econet launched its EcoSure product in December 2014 in partnership with local funeral parlours. Beneficiaries of EcoSure can access $500 cover for a decent burial. Econet runs other products such as EcoFarmer. 

Ecocash, another wonder product on the market is a stop gap as many banks are facing difficulties providing enough cash. The summit was attended by representatives of insurance companies from Africa and beyond. - Sources 

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