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Zimbabwean billionaire Masiyiwa retires from Econet to chase new projects

Founder will retain a more than 50 percent stake in the company he listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in 1998

STRIVE Masiyiwa, a Zimbabwean telecommunications billionaire and founder of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, has retired from the company he started almost three decades ago to pursue new opportunities.

The ‘vision caster’ has moved on, Douglas Mboweni, CEO at Econet, told reporters in Harare on Friday. ‘He has stepped up and there are more portfolios he has to attend.’

Masiyiwa, 61, who has been on Econet’s board since establishing the company in 1993, will retain his more than 50 percent stake in the company that he listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in 1998.

Since listing, Econet’s subscribers have risen to 13.2 million from 32,000 and the company is valued at $1.1bn.

‘It is through his leadership, dedication and perseverance that the company has grown to become one of Zimbabwe’s largest and most successful businesses,’ the company said.

Masiyiwa, whose telecommunications company operates in Africa and Europe, has had his run-ins with Zimbabwe’s government, which he has seen as pursuing policies detrimental to his wireless business.

In 2020, authorities accused Econet, which dominates the mobile-money transactions industry, of fuelling black-market currency trading and money laundering, accusations the company denies. Before that the company was in a four-year legal battle with the government before obtaining an operating licence in 1997.

Masiyiwa sits on the boards of Netflix and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is also the AU’s special envoy on Covid-19 and oversees the AU’s Covid-19 task force that secures coronavirus vaccines for the continent.


Ray Ndlovu and Godfrey Marawanyika/Bloomberg

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