As much as I am doing this interview to share with our readers, I would also like to understand what tech is like in Zim. "I know almost nothing about it and I work in the tech space for a living." Those were extremely shameful words, but they were true – I really didn’t know anything about technology in Zimbabwe. In a world where I read about everything from the Internet-of-Things, to the Silicon Cape Initiative on a daily basis, I knew nothing tech related from Zimbabwe - a country we share a border with.
So, I did what any self-respecting adult would do in my situation - I asked.
I spoke to Kudakwashe Kuzviwanza, a Consultant at Delta Partners and a Zimbabwean native to enlighten me. This is what I learned:
The technology landscape in Zimbabwe is still in its' early stages; this is characterised by two factors:
1. There is a big focus on tech fulfilling basic needs.
2. There is a ‘copy-paste’ production methodology when creating system versions, products and solutions.
I personally don’t think this is bad at all. The true use of technology should be to fulfill the needs of whoever uses it.
Unfortunately, Zimbabwe doesn’t have a very strong economy or credit rating. They are also in the unfavorable position of not having any of the infrastructure required to roll out some of the technology they have in place – thus making the process of setting up a tech industry expensive.
Only a few players
As a result of the high costs (and other barriers to entry) there are only a few players in the ecosystem. An example of this, and a company that is well known is the Econet Group, a Zimbabwean-listed mobile phone company which also has investments in financial services, insurance, e-commerce, renewable energy, education, Coca-Cola bottling, hospitality and payment gateway solutions. These guys are everywhere, and its' founder has just been named Zimbabwe’s first billionaire.
An opportunity to change the game
Zimbabwe has skipped the traditional blueprint of how we use money. Usually it begins with bartering goods, then comes the use of gold, then physical money. Once that is in place it is supplemented by credit and debit cards, and then the introduction of electronic and mobile payment methods. Each stage is generally well established before the next one is developed.
Zimbabwe did not follow this trajectory, and as a result could provide a good case study on what can be done in terms of the future of mobile transactions and banking.
Now we know a little more than we did, let us keep arming ourselves with knowledge; the more we know the more we can seek out opportunities and solutions in the industries and markets we learn about.
Writers Bio - Zukiso Diko