Econet Wireless Zimbabwe yesterday reached a major milestone after completing 20 years since its shares were listed and first publicly traded on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE); a month after Zimbabwe’s biggest mobile network also became the largest company on the local bourse by market capitalisation.
The company was listed on September 17, 1998, a record three months after commencing operations and has maintained the listing since being admitted on to the country’s premier exchange for securities trading. Econet has since grown to be the information communications technology (ICT) industry and general market leader in the Zimbabwean economy.
The company’s share register shows that the 5 largest shareholders in the giant telecoms company are Econet Wireless Global with 30,02 percent, Stanbic Nominees (17,23 percent), Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (13,19 percent), Austin Eco Holdings (5,48 percent) and Old Mutual Life Assurance with 5,42 percent stake.
But the real story of Econet’s presence on the stock exchange has been the $3,1 billion market value it has created for institutional and individual investors in the company, as well as dividend payments of $180 million since 2009. As of Monday this week, the company’s share price had a year-to-date gain of 30 percent.
Earlier this year Econet announced revenues of over $831 million, with analysts forecasting that the company will announce over a billion (US) dollars in revenue at the end of its financial year in February 2019.
Over the last 20 years the company has established itself as a standard-bearer in innovation, which has been the catalyst for its aggressive value creation.
Chief among its transformative innovations is EcoCash, which in just over 5 years has grown to be the largest mobile electronic transacting platform in Zimbabwe and the region.
EcoCash has also been credited with fostering financial inclusion — a key driver in broad-based economic empowerment. The company is on record saying over 80 percent of the country’s adult population is now financially included through mobile money services, a development which was acknowledged last week by RBZ Deputy Governor Dr Jesimen Chipika.
“Mobile payment subscribers moved from 3 million in December 2016 to almost 6 million as of now, so it means a lot of business is now being done under mobile payment systems and Econet is at the centre of it,” said Dr Chipika.
Econet has since 2009 invested over $1,3 billion in the economy through network infrastructure investment, employment creation of own staff and of its wide dealer network of over 100 000 vendors, agents, distributors and brand ambassadors.
It has also been a large contributor to the Government coffers through taxes, levies and licence fees. As at financial year ended February 28, 2018, it had made payments of more than $1,5 billion to Government coffers.
Econet’s 20th listing anniversary comes at a time when the company last month became the biggest listed stock on the ZSE, with a market capitalisation of $3,2 billion — nearly a quarter of the value of the bourse.
Econet last week announced a $10 million donation to Government to fight cholera. The gesture itself is symbolic of the bold corporate social investment synonymous with the company over the past 20 years.
At any given time Econet supports close to 30 000 orphaned and vulnerable children with access to education through its Capernaum scholarship administered by Higherlife Foundation. It also supports bright and talented students with merit-based scholarships every year through its Joshua Nkomo Scholarship Fund.