Zimbabwean Telecommunications Company Announces Discontinuation Of Satellite Services

Strive Masiyiwa Kwese TV
Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman, Econet Wireless Photo Credit: Getty Images

Investment is like Gambling: you win some, you lose some. Africa is a fertile ground for massive investment when it comes to science and technology, but one company’s experience shows that it’s not always rosy.

Zimbabwe-based telecommunications company, Econet Wireless, has publicly announced the termination of the Kwese TV Satellite service. The notice is a formalisation of a service that was in effect shut down in November 2018, when customers could no longer watch subscription content.

Kwese TV Satellite Service had to be shut down due to the country’s economic condition and shortage of foreign currency, according to Douglas Mboweni, Chief Executive Officer of Econet Wireless.

“We regret to announce the discontinuation of Kwese TV Satellite Service with effect from Aug. 5,” Mboweni said in a statement on Sunday, August 4. The service was offered by Econet Media Ltd, a company affiliated with Econet Wireless.
“The third party content providers on whose content we rely require payment in foreign currency,” he added. “With the prevailing economic conditions in Zimbabwe and the current business operating environment –characterised by an acute shortage of foreign currency –sustaining Kwese and Kwese Satellite Service was no longer viable.”

Econet Media Limited operates in more than a dozen countries under the Kwese brand and is owned by Zimbabwe’s richest man, Strive Masiyiwa. Last month, Kwese went into voluntary administration and appointed accountants Ernst & Young to manage the liquidation process. Zimbabwe stopped recognising the U.S. dollar, South African rand and other foreign currencies as legal tender in June, as it tries to curb black-market trading that has contributed to surging inflation in the country.

When it was still in operation, Kwese was criticised for over-spending money on content like European football and US basketball instead of investing in original content in Africa. The satellite TV space in Southern Africa is dominated by Multichoice, which is owned by Naspers.

This is a major setback for consumers of web content in Southern Africa and other parts of the African continent, who had hoped that Kwese would spark a revolution in streaming services and satellite TV transmission. It also underlines the fact that in spite of huge strides made in technology across Africa, we are not quite there yet, and investing in ventures of this nature is still as tricky as it is potentially beneficial.


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