Strive Masiyiwa, the founder of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and a Zimbabwean telecommunications billionaire, has left the company he founded almost three decades ago to pursue new opportunities.
Douglas Mboweni, CEO of Econet, told reporters in Harare on Friday that the “vision caster” had moved on. “He has stepped up, which means that there are additional portfolios that he now has to manage.”
Masiyiwa, 61, has been on the board of Econet from its inception in 1993 and owns more than 50 per cent of the company, which he floated on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in 1998.
Econet’s subscriber base has grown from 32 000 to 13.2 million since its IPO and is now valued at US$1.1 billion.
“The company has grown to become one of Zimbabwe’s largest and most successful businesses as a result of his leadership, dedication, and tenacity,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.
Masiyiwa, whose telecommunication company operates in Africa and Europe, has had his share of run-ins with Zimbabwe’s government, which he believes is pursuing harmful policies to his wireless business.
Econet, which controls the mobile money transactions industry, was accused by authorities in 2020 of facilitating black-market currency trading and money laundering, which the company disputes. Before that, the company had fought the government for four years before obtaining an operating license in 1997.
Masiyiwa currently sits on the Netflix and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation board. He is also the African Union’s special envoy on Covid-19, overseeing the AU’s Covid Task Force, which ensures the continent’s coronavirus vaccination supply.