HARARE-The National Geographic Society (NGS), said on Wednesday it had elected Zimbabwean born telecoms billionaire, Strive Masiyiwa to sit on its board of trustees, as it seeks to tap into the celebrated Econet Wireless group boss’ extensive global experience.

NGS is an impact-driven global non-profit organisation based in Washington, DC.

Masiyiwa is the founder and chairman of the Econet group, a listed technology outfit estimated by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe to be connected to 8,4 million subscribers in the third quarter of 2018.

Econet’s tentacles span from telecommunications, media and technology with a footprint across 29 countries.

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This makes it one of Africa’s leading technology firms rivalled in southern Africa by a few giants like the South African listed MTN and Vodacom.

The election of Masiyiwa to the NGS board was announced by Jean Case, chairman of the non profit organisation’s board of trustees, and Tracy Wolstencroft, the institution’s president and chief executive officer.

“We are delighted to welcome Strive to the National Geographic Society board of trustees,” Case said in a statement released Wednesday.

“An impact-driven non-profit like the society requires leadership that reflects the complex interdependent world in which we live. With his significant international business, entrepreneurial and philanthropic experience, Strive will provide the global perspective and expertise we need to achieve our mission,” noted Case.

Masiyiwa’s new appointment will add to a string of other high profile roles that he has assumed in the past few year, including a position on the board of the transnational consumer goods firm, Unilever.

He also has a role as global advisor on the boards of the Council on Foreign Relations in the United States of America and Stanford University, one of the world’s leading institutions of higher learning based in the US.

In 2013, the United Nations and the World Bank named him to the advisory board of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative.

He is also a trustee of the Asia Society; a member of the Committee on Conscience of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum; and was part of the Founders Circle of the Carbon War Room, an initiative created by Sir Richard Branson to promote market-based, low-carbon energy solutions to combat climate change.

Said the NGS; “Masiyiwa has also built a legacy of extensive philanthropic work across Africa. He is chairman of the board of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, which is working to improve food security and income levels for 30 million farming households by 2021.”

Committed to the next generation of African entrepreneurs, Masiyiwa mentors young people from across the continent on his Facebook page, reaching more than 3,5 million followers. He and his wife, Tsitsi, also founded the Higher Life Foundation, which has supported the education of more than 250 000 orphaned and vulnerable children in Africa over the past two decades.

“Strive’s profound knowledge of Africa will be extremely valuable as we partner with local scientists, conservation professionals and government officials to safeguard some of the earth’s last wild places such as Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, the sub-Saharan Okavango River Basin and Benin’s Pendjari National  Park

“As the National Geographic Society looks toward helping to conserve 30 percent of the planet by 2030, Strive’s insights will be critical to our success,” said Wolstencroft. ”

She said by signing the Giving Pledge, Masiyiwa and his wife have publicly declared that they will donate at least half of their assets to charitable causes.

In recognition of the global reach of Masiyiwa’s work, Fortune magazine named him to its list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” in 2014 and 2017.

The National Geographic Society is an impact-driven global non-profit organisation based in Washington, DC.

Since 1888, the NGS has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas to increase understanding of the world and generate solutions for a healthy, more sustainable future for generations to come.

 The empire that Masiyiwa built

Econet is a diversified telecommunications group with operations and investments in Africa, Europe, South America, North America and the East Asia Pacific Rim, offering products and services in the core areas of mobile and fixed telephony services, broadband, internet, satellite and fibre optic networks. The company also has investments beyond the traditional telecoms sector, which include financial services, insurance, e-commerce, renewable energy, education, Coca-Cola bottling, hospitality and payment gateway solutions.

Econet was founded in 1993 by Masiyiwa, who first came to international prominence when he fought a five-year constitutional legal battle leading to the removal of the state monopoly in Zimbabwe’s telecommunications sector. The landmark ruling is regarded as one of the milestones in the opening up of African telecommunications to private capital.

Econet subsidiaries include Econet Global, Econet Wireless International, Econet Wireless Africa, Econet Enterprises, Econet Media and the Liquid Telecom Group. Our focus is on the positive transformation of our customer’s lives and the communities in which we operate – “Inspired To Change Your World”. Source; Econet website