ICT sector lagging behind

ZIMBABWE’S information and communication technology (ICT) sector still has a long way to go before it matches what is offered by players in  region.

While there are signs that there is still life in the local ICT sector, it has to grow by leaps and bounds to get to the level of counterparts in the region.
In most cases, the players in the sector have been reduced to retailers of software and hardware developed or manufactured from the region or the Far East.
Exhibitors at this year’s ICT Africa Expo, which ended yesterday, said they would need up to three years to catch up with players in South Africa for example.
This is a result of almost a decade of stagnation in the sector as the country was faced with an ever-deepening economic crisis. The introduction of the multiple currency system and policy changes were expected to spur growth in the sector but so far, it is very lukewarm.
It was largely expected that the suspension of duty on all ICT gadgets would translate into an increase in their availability on the market at a lower cost but this has not been the case as yet.
“We have been getting a lot of enquiries from those interested in buying gadgets such as computers, printers, consumables and even software but these have not translated into purchases,” said one of the exhibitors. “What we have seen is that in most cases, these enquiries are made specifically for price comparisons and the potential buyers are most probably getting the gadgets from South Africa. We hope that with the stable currency and the suspension of duty, we would be able to make inroads into the local market.”
Most of the products on the local market originate from South Africa with another significant percentage coming from China and Japan.
Local providers could benefit from the firming of the rand as it would mean paying more in United States dollar terms. However, it may take long before the locals start benefiting from the movement of the rand as the currency is also very volatile.
Popular software which is offered locally includes accounting, anti-virus, operating systems and business applications. –– Staff Writer.

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