A Power Outage and Mobile Money Blackout Expose the Vulnerability of Zimbabwe’s Economy
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
By Farai Shawn Matiashe
On Saturday morning (Jul. 20) local time Zimbabweans experienced a system blackout on Econet Wireless, the country’s biggest telecoms operator after a significant power outage.
Econet says the network challenges were caused by a fault that started when generators at its operations centre failed to kick in after a Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) power outage.
But a power cut to Econet’s servers is no mere outage. It is effectively a major disruption to an already troubled economy teetering on the edge as it means 70% of Zimbabweans had no phones, internet and crucially EcoCash mobile money services. More than 14 million subscribers were caught off guard. People were stuck in banking halls, fuel queues, supermarkets and commuters to various places were stranded.
Photo courtesy of Kay McGowan / USAID.