Zimbabwe’s Econet Media has shut down Kwese TV, its pay-television unit competing Multichoice’s DStv, due to “prevailing conditions in Zimbabwe and the current business operating environment,” said the company in a statement.
According to Group CEO Douglas Mboweni, in a statement issued Sunday, August 4th: “We regret to announce the discontinuation of Kwese TV Satellite Service with effect from 5 August. The third-party content providers on whose content we rely require payment in foreign currency. With the prevailing economic conditions in Zimbabwe, and the current business operating environment — characterised by an acute shortage of foreign currency — sustaining Kwese and Kwese Satellite Service was no longer viable.”
This announcement comes just a month after the company went into voluntary administration and appointed accountancy firm Ernst & Young to manage the transition. Kwese TV had about $130m in debts and its had not been paid for some months.
PUBLIC NOTICE – Termination of Kwesé TV Satellite Service pic.twitter.com/HCT8nijJCi— Econet Wireless (@econetzimbabwe) August 3, 2019
Launched two years ago, Kwese TV Satellite Service was offered by Econet Media Ltd., an affiliate of Econet Group, owned by Zimbabwe’s richest man, Strive Masiyiwa.
Kwese TV, which was operating in more than 12 African countries offering news, sports and entertainment sourced from third-party content providers who require payment in foreign currency. However, the Zimbabwe regime stopped the use of US$ and South African Rand as legal tenders in the country and set up a crackdown on foreign currencies on the black market leading to an acute shortage of foreign currency and making trade with international suppliers harder.
Troubles at Kwese TV, began as early as November last year, Econet Media said it will shut down the subscription service to focus Kwese Free Sports, video-on-demand business Kwese Iflix and streaming service Kwese Play businesses.
Kwesé Play was offered via its set-top box powered by the Roku. The set-top box brought 3rd-party apps such as YouTube, Netflix. Kwese Play did not see the light of the day too as it has been struggling to make ends meet. Kwese Play, which was a streaming service launched in partnership with Roku saw users pay $10 a month to access Netflix, YouTube and Red Bull TV over a Roku Powered set-top box. Kwese Play was to tie with Kwese FTA service Kwese Free Sports which is already live across various markets in Africa.
Roku recently announced it had discontinued its partnership with Kwese and for a few weeks Econet insisted its partnership with Roku was on until the firm came out clean going into voluntary administration.