from WELLINGTON TONI in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – BRISK business prospects forecast for the information and communication technology (ICT) sector when other businesses streamlined their operations to work virtually, after the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), have degenerated into hardship.
This in a sector that ought to be lucrative globally.
An ICT boom was projected for the sector as most other industries streamlined, enabling employees to work from home, as part of the “new normal” restricting movement and promoting social distancing.
Among other developments conducive for the sector, Zimbabwe’s education sector adopted technology to defy unprecedented closures.
Schools and universities invested in ICT products and services.
Companies, likewise, embraced technology.
Months later, ICT companies are struggling, and the anticipated boom now a distant memory.
This is attributed to an economy whose down slide is accelerated by COVID-19.
“Volumes of transactions are going up but total value in US$ (US Dollar) terms is going down,” Lee Masuka, Managing Director of online systems payment platform, ClicknPay, said.
He highlighted that the total value of 300 transactions was around ZW$30 000, which was valued at US$3 000 at the same time last year.
“Now, the value of 1 000 transactions is ZWD200 000 but real worth is US$2 000,” Masuka said.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) weekly auction system determines the value of the US dollar.
The foreign currency is pegged at 86 bond to $1.
It fetches higher rates in the parallel markets.
Jacob Mutisi, the Zimbabwe Information, Communication and Technology (ZICT) chairperson, also lamented the struggles.
“The industry (ICT) as a whole is in big trouble. Businesses are struggling,” Mutisi said in an interview.
ICT entrepreneur, Patrick Mutesva, of Trickmut Computers, told what an all-too-familiar story was for companies.
“We are just trying to survive. Nothing else,” Mutesva said.
His company retails in laptops, mobile phones, desktops, ICT accessories mostly acquired overseas.
With international flights suspended across the globe due to the COVID-19, he cannot bring in new stock.
– CAJ News