Zimbabwean startups and established companies in the ICT prefer foreign ICT solutions to homegrown ones, an expert has said.
The ICT sector has many challenges already many of them funding related but the general uptake of products and services locally seems to be the biggest hurdle for those that are able to get their business off the ground.
By Pearson Mbendera
Speaking to TechnoMag at the Innovation Drive Launch at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC), Ethics Consultants firm, ECB Zimbabwe Director, Omen Mbera said despite having created some quality softwares, many of the company’s targeted customers preferred to acquire softwares from foreign companies rather than from Zimbabwe tech firms.
“At the moment, we have a challenge in that most of targeted clients, such as big banks have no preference in buying Zimbabwean made softwares from local houses. We have a huge treasury system that we have developed but most banks would rather acquire it from a foreign developer,” said Mr Mbera.
With only 3 banks having taken their services, there is a still a lot of opportunity for growth for the company if they can jump through the slow uptake hurdle of their products and services. But they still remain optimistic that the current foreign currency shortages may actually present an opportunity for them to be preferred over foreign firms as they take up their payments in the local bond notes as opposed to the foreign currency that foreign firms will demand for their services.
Even ICT students in Zimbabwe acknowledged the challenge they are facing as the idea of jumping into entrepreneurship after graduating from schools seems too daunting as Zimbabwe doesn’t offer the same opportunities that their counterparts in America have.
But many experts in the ICT field have expressed that Zimbabwe has a lot of potential to be a market leader here in Africa as Zimbabwe can be the Digital Hub of Southern Africa, but evidence on the ground doesn’t support that yet as there is no where Zimbabwean products can conquer the region before they have even conquered the local market.
ICT and Cyber Security Minister Mandiwanzira said they have that insisted a minimum of 30% of local produced software and application should be used by the government institutions.
It may require a Midas touch for the ICT sector in Zimbabwe to take root and live up to the expectations of its people. But the people pushing their products and services need not tire in their pursuit for glory.