Contrary to many reports and thesis, Zimbabwe is proving to be the real life Wakanda! If one reads certain reports he or she would think that there is nothing good that comes out of Zimbabwe, but there are a lot of good things that comes from it. Every nation has its good and bad, some nations even have more bad than good, but Zimbabwe has more good than bad – good for business opportunities and more. Many success stories have a trace to Zimbabwe, the people are unique, and they are in their own class comparable to very few.
In Africa, and to some extent in the world, Zimbabwe leads in terms of embracing technology – not by choice sometimes but so many inventions were never by choice. First it starts as a mistake and something good is birthed from the mistake or the problem. What is needed is to look at the problems differently and see how many good things we have created unknowingly. From the year 2013, Zimbabwe has been using a ‘cryptocurrency’ to transact even though it was never given the name cryptocurrency. It is only recently when a name was given to the ‘cryptocurrency’ and it is called RTGS$ – even stronger than many currencies on the continent.
The RTGS$ has been used successfully for several years in the country. By all standards, the RTGS$ meets the characteristics of a ‘cryptocurrency’. The money can easily be moved from banks to cellphones and from cellphones to the banking system again. No human interaction is required to help with the transactions, they flow smoothly. Anytime, one can move money from one platform to another with almost ‘zero’ hassles – meaning the brick and mortar banks have a very much limited life span in Zimbabwe. Currency will be fully automated! With more than 80% of rural Zimbabwe households embracing cellular communications, the bank has been moved to the rural also. No matter where you are in the country, you can still do banking and transact with anyone.
In year 2017, 96% of the transactions that were done in Zimbabwe were electronic, thus through the cellphone or through the computer – almost suggesting that the country is fully automated when it comes to transacting – whether by choice or not, the fact remains that transactions in the nation are automated. In the same year, approximately 1 billion transactions were done through the mobile platforms – and only a few countries are at such a stage of automating transactions. It is on this notion that Zimbabwe can lead the continent and the world on mobile transactions – we have proved that it can be done.
With the advent of the short codes of transferring money, it makes buying and selling of goods in the nation as easy as the click of a button. Zimbabwe is one, if not the only, of the nations where you can walk into a supermarket and pick all you need, and payment is done instantly by someone who is even 500 kilometers away from the supermarket. The transactions are so instant, and such easiness in transacting promotes business operations very well.
Though not by choice, but it is a necessary evil towards world class development, the people who sell products and services by the roadside in the nation of Zimbabwe are also using digital money. No-one moves with a lot of cash anymore. What is needed is to ringfence the platforms we have created. Other nations can come and learn how ‘cryptocurrency’ can be used even in their own nations. With the use of digital money, it is easier to trace transactions and at a national level we can know who is buying what and where. Spending habits of the nation’s consumers can also be easily tracked, giving the nation real time data, enabling them to properly plan to meet the needs of the citizens.
With your cellphone only, you can do almost anything in Zimbabwe. You can pay your bills, buy electricity, send money to any part of the country, subscribe to TV and one is able to do many things on the platforms. Some banks are already closing their branches, is this a suggestion that the brick and mortar bank will not be needed in the future? Expansion of business in the rural Zimbabwe households is made easy through the available transaction platforms – and there will be no need to travel to the bank as the phone is the bank.
Zimbabwe, the only Wakanda that has more than 50% of its population smoothly trading forex – even the oldest of the citizens have mastered the game. The trends of when the rate is going to go up or fall are known by all, and good traders wait for the right time to transact. To some, the forex trading is to make a profit whilst for others it is for buying other products and services – at a profit compared to using the USD. For whatever reason the forex trading is for, Zimbabweans are mastering the game better.
Whilst some other nations are still trying to teach its citizens forex trading – in Zimbabwe the practice is prevalent. Whether the trading of forex is good or bad, it all depends from the viewpoint you would like to take it from. When it comes to the acquisition of the knowledge of forex trading, then Zimbabwe is comparable to very few countries – adding to the wealth of human capital which is our flagship. Because of such wealth of human capital – even the administration of the world’s strongest economy has Zimbabweans in its corridors.
Obviously for business to significantly benefit from such an advancement in transacting, there is need for good management in some dimensions of the nation. With good political management, the nation will reap the rewards of easy of transacting. Unfortunately, African countries concentrate so much on politics and fail to manage development of their nations. Term in, term out, it’s poor political management more than anything. On political management, there are great lessons to learn from the Americans – no wonder they are the strongest economy in the world. Poor political management have clouded the imagination of Africa! Too much politics is not good for anything rather than chaos.
How then can business benefit from the situation in Zimbabwe? Every business in Zimbabwe have embraced the electronic platforms as a mode of transacting. From a guy who is selling tomatoes or vegetables by the roadside to the Chief Executive Officer in the corner office, they are all using the platforms to transact. Paper money is a thing of the past in Zimbabwe – and this works for many businesses as robberies are significantly reduced. Not only does this reduce robberies but it also reduces costs as there is no more need for tight security around the sales counters or platforms.
Something birthed out of desperation is proving to be the leading platform that will transform how business can be done even at a global level. Napoleon Hill once said, “Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat.” The current hardships the nation is facing is a great opportunity that can be converted to a greater advantage for the nation. In 2005, a man called Logan Green saw an opportunity from something that Zimbabwe failed to convert into an opportunity. Now, Logan Green has a company that is almost equivalent to the GDP of the nation. Zimbabwe is a nation that has great potential to transform how things are done – it only needs eyes that see well and the mind that imagine the ‘impossible’!
The Zimbabwe ‘cryptocurrency’ platform has not only benefited the local businesses and the public through easy of doing transactions, but the government has also benefited through the introduction of the 2% intermediated money transfer tax (IMTT) in the last quarter of year 2018. The additional IMTT collected in the last quarter of 2018 topped $166.2 million. The benefit was necessitated by the migration from hard cash to mobile money – and this also enables the government to have a better and more automated process of collecting tax. There are many opportunities around the platform that await invention!
Who are friendlier than Zimbabweans? The nation has some of the best educated and friendlier people. Contrary to several reports about the security in Zimbabwe, it is the only country were a foreigner can nicely walk the streets of the nation without fear of being robbed or fear of losing his or her life. Not only would one walk the streets, but one is greeted by a welcome smile on the faces of Zimbabweans – a rare treasure! Only a few things need to be changed – but the country cannot be ranked amongst the worst of the countries in the world.
Anyone who visit Zimbabwe and is business minded will leave with a business idea – an idea that will change the way things are run the world over – that’s what the nation is like. It is time for Zimbabweans not to let go of the good of their nation for a pair of shoes or car or a mansion at the expense of the whole nation. Nations become better when everyone becomes better – even business booms as many can afford to buy products and services. When money is in circulation, obviously with great systems to protect it from poachers, the wheels of the nation turns smoothly and for the betterment of everyone.
Batanai Kamunyaru is a business writer, speaker and coach. He can be contacted on email@example.com or +263 718 852 489.