by WELLINGTON TONI
HARARE – THERE are still huge prospects for growth for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) despite the unprecedented challenges presented by the coronavirus (COVID-19) plague.
This is according to a prominent SMEs development expert and Southern Africa consultant, Joseline Sithole, as the pandemic shows no sign of abating.
“This now calls for better planning on the part of the SMEs especially those dealing with ICT related projects. Diversification of business becomes key during such times,” Sithole said in an interview with CAJ News Africa.
She said there were numerous ICT-related products SMEs could explore.
These sentiments comes as most institutions in the education sector have embraced e-learning.
This is with support from Higherlife Foundation, a philanthropic arm of Econet majority shareholder, Strive Masiyiwa, and his wife, Tsitsi.
The Foundation has also collaborated the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to ensure cheaper data to students across Zimbabwe.
However, Sithole said the disruption in supply chains meant the prices of such ICT services would increase.
“Supply chains have been disrupted leading to an upward swing of prices,” Sithole said.
“No international flights are coming into the country with stocks for now and those that had huge stockpiles before the lockdown can now determine the market prices,” Sithole added.
Before the lockdown, for example, second-hand laptops cost US$100 but the prices have shot up to US$150 in recent weeks.
Airtel mobile phones from China now retail for anything between US$75 for an 8GB phone to US$160 for 32GB.
Before the lockdown imposed on March 30 in Zimbabwe, prices ranged between $50 and $75 since competition was higher among retailers.
However, cheaper ones are accessible but are mostly illegally sourced from one of the country’s biggest flea market, the Gulf Complex, in the capital Harare.
They range from $15 to $50, depending on the model.
– CAJ News