Zimbabwean Telecommunications Companies Partner to Fight Ebola

Strive Masiyiwa, Member, Africa Progress Panel, and Founder, Econet Wirelessat the World Economic Forum on Africa 2013. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell

Zimbabwean telecommunications companies on Wednesday announced a rare partnership to raise funds to be used by the African Union in the fight against Ebola. Reports ITWebAfrica

Zimbabwe has three mobile operators with a total subscriber base of more than 10 million. The sole state owned fixed phone operator was not part of the partnership.

Econet, Telecel, and NetOne have created a joint platform, which will see subscribers contribute money to a fund through sending text messages which will be charged at a premium tariff of 20 cents.

“We want to utilise the power of unity. As operators we are setting aside our competing agendas and saying let’s deal with Ebola,”

said Econet Wireless chief executive officer, Douglas Mboweni.

Nicholas Muzhuzha, the acting technical director at the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe Potraz, said ICTs have the capacity to “make a contribution in fighting diseases”.

Telecel Zimbabwe’s public relations manager Francis Chimanda said mobile operators depended on “a sustainable market that is healthy” hence the VimpelCom owned telco had joined this initiative to fight Ebola.

“The money to be collected will be channelled into the African Union fund to fight Ebola. Technology is going to be at the forefront of fighting Ebola,” added Chimanda.

Contributing subscribers can track how much the fund is receiving through the www.africagainstebola.com which has various and specific links giving detailed information.

The three Zimbabwean telcos are now working on introducing a platform that will allow mobile money subscribers to transfer money into the fund straight from their mobile money wallets.

“To fight Ebola, you have to go to the source, but you also have to prepare for potential outbreak in other countries. We, as a group, are involved in both efforts,” Moboweni concluded.

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