By Toneo Tonderai Rutsito
Telecel Zimbabwe has been blamed for not working hard and creating its own clientele base but simply going into a market which Econet wireless has struggled to create and enjoys fishing directly from Econet`s pond.
The Econet vs Telecel wars have just been resuscitated when Econet Wireless Zimbabwe reportedly warned their Ecocash agents not to deal with any other mobile money transfer service, an attack perceived to be directed against Telecel`s Telecash.
Currently Telecash is challenging Ecocash over the operation of agents a move some critics have openly called baby crying tendencies by Telecel.
“It looks like the Econet Vs Telecel tiffs are nothing but wars of retaliation which spew in the public domain with only Econet to blame for protecting their territory after provocation by Telecel” said an analyst.
The first provocation by Telecel was their most innovative bonus promotion across all networks which saw a significant exodus of clients from Econet to Telecel leading Econet with no choice but to desperately defend their territory in dirty tricks before they finally came out in the open to disconnect Telecel Zimbabwe.
Of course legally Econet had a valid reason while technically, they played law abiding citizen and enforcement agency at the same time leading to them climbing down from that position days after.
Econet was blamed for the disconnection move citing that Telecel was not licenced hence they will not interconnect but they did not state any reason why they would throttle an illegally connected operator in the first place, hence labelled bully.
The Zimbabwean government was also blamed for being too lenient to Telecel by allowing it operate after a payment plan promise a move which Econet condemned and called it unfair since Econet was asked to pay and literally funded the imminent Zimbabwe`s national Election budget.
This time around just after the Telecash launch, Econet has upped its game and closely keeping eyes on their 3.5milliom subscribers investment, issuing a warning shot to agents who are going to be found aiding Telecash penetrating their market.
Silently Ecocash is saying “this is how hard we have worked so far from nothing, lets see how your Telecash can sail through and we don’t want you riding on our success.”
For Econet it was not an easy task as they literally borrowed the whole concept fro Kenya`s M pesa and struggled to make the concept acceptable and established to the Zimbabwean society.
Telecel officially complained to the regulator against the move while the case was reported to be a monetary one, Potraz advised Telecel to see the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe concerning the matter and a decision from RBZ is yet to be delivered.
The question here is, Is Telecel being a cry baby? Crying over agents they did not identify in the first place.
Some views suggest that Telecash should simply look for their own agents regroup them, start afresh and leave “Ecocash agents” alone. Is Telecel simply being lazy and using the authority to their advantage?
Is Telecel coercing agents or organizing them to resist the order or these are just Zimbabweans with interest to keep their Mobile Transfer Agent business booming to boost their revenue streams.
How practical is it to have agents exclusively dealing with Ecocash, Telecash and One wallet.
No doubt Econet has to be respected and hats off for making sure that every street corner in Cities and Towns has their agents. The same can be said in rural areas where we can all instantly send and receive money via Ecocash and this is the investment that Econet is protecting.
Should Telecash simply come from nowhere and ride on the Ecocash platform? Would this be fair? Does Econet have a voice over agents?
This brings the same old question of operators being forced to share infrastructure. Netone felt the move was unfair since it had penetrated the deep remote areas at cost only to have other players using the regulation to ride on their investment.
However is it technologically progressive to ask a new player that emerges today to construct their own separate base stations in areas which are completely covered or maybe they should be tasked to target other new areas where they can carry even the old players.
This is one issue that remains one of the contentious issues yet to be solved and by not solving it from the root levels, we are leaving potential time bombs for the future.
Is Telecel being lazy or simply smart enough not to reinvent the wheel?
What are your thoughts?