Reviving Zimbabwe: The Crucial Role of Mobile Money Agents in the Currency Transformation


 Zimbabwe’s financial landscape is undergoing a transformation as mobile money agents, previously criticized for contributing to the collapse of the Zimbabwean dollar, are making a significant return. This revival is driven by authorities who, after banning their operations, are now relying on them to lead a new initiative focused on the nation’s gold-backed currency.

According to a proposal from Zimbabwe’s Treasury, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Ltd., supported by entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa, along with state-owned NetOne and Telecel, will soon resume their activities, as reported by Bloomberg. Their objective is to promote the adoption of the ZiG, or Zimbabwe Gold, and to diminish the influence of the informal market.

The ZiG, which was introduced on April 5, represents the country’s sixth attempt in 15 years to establish a stable local currency. Its launch is a reaction to the sharp decline of the Zimbabwean dollar, which had depreciated by 80% against the US dollar within the current year alone.

In July 2020, these agents, who numbered in the thousands, faced prohibition amid allegations of imposing surcharges on transactions, particularly those facilitated by Econet’s Ecocash, the leading mobile operator. Such practices were implicated in one of the numerous collapses of the Zimbabwean dollar, although the company has consistently refuted any wrongdoing.

Now reinstated, these agents will function as currency exchange bureaus, providing public access to small denominations of foreign currency for day-to-day transactions. Deputy Finance Minister Kuda Mnangagwa explained that individuals with Econet lines registered for Ecocash will be able to seamlessly convert between ZiG and US dollars at official exchange rates, without resorting to illicit channels.



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