Zimbabwe News

Government plans return of mobile wallet agents to boost electronic ZiG usage

The Government plans to allow the return of mobile wallet agents such as EcoCash agents as part of ongoing efforts to promote the use of the electronic ZiG and to ensure legal foreign currency trading.

Responding to questions in the Senate last week, Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Deputy Minister, David Mnangagwa, said the Government is working with the private sector to facilitate small transactions. He said (via The Herald):

We are working on a solution as Government, coupled with the private sector, to allow for small transactions, that is the general populace to be able to get small amounts, $20 or $50, through negotiations with our mobile network operators to be able to access the bureaux de change that are on their EcoCash or Netcash platforms.

This means if you have an Econet line and if you register for EcoCash, you can convert from ZiG to US dollars, or from US dollars to ZiG at the official exchange rate. That is the first part to allow interchangeability without having to go to the streets.

Mnangagwa said the plan also involved reactivating EcoCash agents across the country, particularly in rural areas, to ensure that everyone had access to legal foreign currency.

Authorities suspended more than 4,000 EcoCash agents in 2020 on allegations of participating in the “burning of cash”. Said Mnangagwa:

The second part is, that we are still in discussion. Right now, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is talking to the mobile network operators, mentioning Econet in particular because they were suspended in 2020 after some issues that now have been ironed out.

We would want to have agents reactivated so that in the most remote areas, our constituents, and the citizenry can access both US dollars and ZiG from their wallets.

Econet went a step further last week and zero-rated the charges for sending money from parts of the diaspora to Zimbabwe.

This was a show of good faith and support for Government during this El Nino period as well as to show the commitment in bolstering our efforts in supporting and defending.

Arguably, most Zimbabweans depend on illegal foreign currency dealers to acquire hard currency for purchasing goods and accessing services exclusively offered in US dollars, even by the government.

Despite the government’s ongoing crackdown on informal foreign currency trading, buying foreign currency from friends, relatives, and money changers remains a common and normalized practice.

Back to top button