Econet’s Cassava spin-off wants to be the Tencent of Zimbabwe
By Brian Browdie
Shareholders in Zimbabwe’s largest mobile phone operator are set to become owners of a company with ambitions to be an internet giant of Africa.
Cassava Smartech, a unit of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, the largest company by market capitalization on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, is expected to begin trading Tuesday (Dec. 18). Shareholders of Econet, which will continue to own 20% of Cassava, will be allocated shares in the spin-off in proportion to their stake in its soon-to-be former parent.
In spinning out Cassava, Econet says it wants to unlock value from a bundle of businesses that, with a breadth that mirrors the model pioneered by Chinese colossus Tencent, reaching into nearly every part of Zimbabwean life.
Those businesses include EcoCash, which dominates the country’s mobile money market. Eight in 10 adults in Zimbabwe pay with the service, which is patterned on M-Pesa, the mobile money service that dominates the market in Kenya.
Above: Strive Masiyiwa, founder of Econet Wireless
Image: Africa Progress Panel/Flickr