Econet’s free remittance service get thumbs up

Econet Wireless and Sasai Money Transfer recently launched an initiative to scrap transfer fees on remittances

Zimbabweans around the country have hailed Econet Wireless and Sasai Money Transfer’s recent initiative to scrap transfer fees on all remittances sent from to the United Kingdom and South Africa to Zimbabwe.Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe’s largest telecommunications and technology company, achieved a first in Africa at the beginning of this month, by opening two free remittance corridors into Zimbabwe, completely eliminating costs for both sender and receiver.

Now, recipients of free money transfers from both the UK and South Africa have commended the initiative as “a lifeline” for citizens grappling with an impending drought. 

“I am pleased that Econet has removed cash-out charges because it allows me to use all the money I receive to buy more food. “This is especially important now, as we are facing a drought and most of my crops have wilted under the intense sun,” said Primogenitor Mbambo from Gokwe

She added that she frequently received money from relatives in South Africa to supplement her food and grocery requirements.

Zimbabwe faces an El Nino-induced drought that has left more than 2.7 million people in need of food aid. Econet said the free remittance initiative was aimed at helping Zimbabweans weather the impact of the drought. 

Vimbayiwashe Zhakata, from Murehwa said she used the money she received from relatives in South Africa to pay for her medical expenses. 

“When I received money last week I cashed it out at a pharmacy and bought the medication I required. The introduction of this free service is commendable, especially in these challenging times,” she said.  

Cephas Makurumidze from Rusape, applauded Econet for ensuring that funds to cash out remittances are readily available at its shops. “I am happy that each time I visit the Econet Shop, funds are always available. The removal of fees is a great initiative as it leaves me with more money to spend,” he said.

International remittances currently attract charges of up to 13% for the sender, while the receiver is charged between 1.7% & 2% when cashing-out. 

Chinhoyi resident Letwin Gunduza said the removal of sender and receiver charges will help her family to start saving for the rainy day.

“I receive money every month from my husband who works in South Africa, to pay school fees and buy groceries. Now with the removal of transaction charges, we can use the extra money for investments or savings,” she said. 

The same sentiment was shared by Chiedza Chikukwa, from Masvingo who noted that the initiative is leaving her with more money in her pocket.“The zero-fees remittance promotion is an enticing offer that significantly enhances the value of the service. It's an initiative I find immensely beneficial and eagerly look forward to utilizing further,” she said.

Last year alone, Zimbabwe received over US$1.873 billion in diaspora remittances, up 16% from US$1.617 billion received in 2022. The UN says about 75% of remittances are used to buy food and to cover medical expenses, school fees and housing expenses.

Ruth Vela, an 83-year-old pensioner from Harare, described the Econet-Sasai Money Transfer zero-fees  remittances initiative as “a blessing”. 

"I collected money sent by my niece in the UK without incurring any charges. For us pensioners, every dollar counts, and not having to pay fees is a huge relief. It means I can afford more essentials, like medication and food, which are crucial for my well-being," she said.

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe’s Group CEO, Douglas Mboweni, recently said the free remittance initiative will remain in place “for the foreseeable future”. He also announced plans to extend it to other remittance corridors , such as the United States, Europe and Middle East.

“The initiative will continue for the foreseeable future. We are now working on expanding it to other source markets, such as the US, Europe and Middle East,” Mboweni said.

With more than 3 million Zimbabweans living abroad, analysts say the zero-rating initiative by Econet and Sasai Money Transfer will result in more foreign currency inflows into the country.

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