Zimbabwean telecommunications billionaire and founder of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Strive Masiyiwa 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 the capital, 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% 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 US$1.1-billion.
“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 in an e-mailed statement.
Masiyiwa, whose telecoms 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. Prior to that the company was in a four-year long legal battle with the government before obtaining an operating license in 1997.
Masiyiwa currently sits on the Netflix and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation boards. He is also the African Union’s special envoy on Covid-19 and oversees the AU’s Covid Task Force that secures coronavirus vaccines for the continent.