The Insurance and Pensions Commission (Ipec) has granted Econet’s request to register an insurance firm, Econet Insurance Limited, fulfilling the company’s long-standing ambition of becoming an integrated financial services provider.
BY KUDA CHIDEME
Econet is already riding on its status as the country’s largest mobile network operator to run a mobile money service, EcoCash, which has disrupted Zimbabwe’s traditional brick-and-mortar banking sector.
Revenue from the EcoCash business rose by 120% from US$111 million last year to contribute US$244 million to the group’s US$831 million in the full year to February. Revenue from the mobile money service is anticipated to remain on a steady growth trajectory as a biting shortage of bond notes continues to force Zimbabweans to embrace electronic modes of payment.
“The commission wishes to advise that is has approved registration of Econet Insurance Private Limited as an insurance company in terms of Section 9 of the Insurance (Chapter 20:47),” said the acting Commissioner of Insurance Pensions and Provident Funds Blessmore Kazungura in a letter dated June 20 seen by the Zimbabwe Independent.
The registration however does not grant Econet permission to start operating up until a time when a pre-opening inspection has been conducted by the commission.
Business executives say the entry of the cash-rich conglomerate into the insurance sector will shake the local market.
Econet’s foray into non-traditional services is part of a strategy to diversify its product portfolio. Chief executive Douglas Mboweni, commenting on Econet’s latest financial results as the company celebrated 20 years since it was first licenced, paid tribute to the firm’s resilience and robustness.
“The last 20 years have been remarkable as we have seen our business evolve from just being a telecom to becoming a full TMT (telecom, media, technology) player transforming the lives of Zimbabweans in a deep and meaningful way through a wide array of services,” Mboweni said.