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Local Businesses Urged To Set-up E-Commerce Platforms

Local business executives and captains of industry have been encouraged to set up e-commerce platforms for their respective companies for trading and ease of doing business in line with global developments, the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Dr Sekai Nzenza has said.

Addressing business leaders at the CEO Africa Roundtable (CEOART) breakfast meeting in Harare, Nzenza said the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for use of virtual platforms which had already arisen but were not being rapidly adopted.

“I challenge all business leaders here to have an e-commerce platform for trading and ease of doing business,” said Dr Nzenza.

“One positive outcome of COVID-19 is that we learnt how to work from home; we also learnt how to use the virtual platform, this is because the current business operating environment demands that we have innovation and also digitalization.”

The CEOART is a a high level platform for corporate leaders in both the private and public sectors that seeks to engender cross fertilization of critical economic and business knowledge in and around Africa.

The past several months have seen some Zimbabwean businesses going virtual, not only for trading efficiently but also as a very effective cost-cutting measure.

Notably, in the financial services sector, some local banks have created virtual branches to enhance customer service experience.

Last year, NMB Bank launched a virtual branch on its digital platforms, enabling customers to carry out all cash transactions online, including paperless multi-currency cash deposits and withdrawals, Dstv and Zimra cash payments.

Hospitality giant, Rainbow Tourism Group also got a soft-landing when it suffered closure of its core-hospitality business due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions with its Gateway Stream, a web and mobile application that enables customers to purchase groceries, hardware and accommodation services and a host of other services including purchasing of food and drinks (Gateway Eats).

“The group’s mobile and web application, the Gateway Stream, which was activated in May 2020, continued to gain momentum and has become a source of replacement business, as well as a driver for revenue growth,” said RTG company secretary Tapiwa Mari presenting the trading update for the period ended March 31, last year.

Failure to innovate and not having a strong e-commerce presence proved disastrous for businesses that set back and waited for the right conditions for conventional trading during the pandemic.

Dr Nzenza said government will continue to assist businesses in crafting of policy that spearheads business interests amid ongoing headwinds in the economy.

“We know the ease of doing business reforms have not been implemented at a fast pace as was expected due to various bottlenecks but we are thriving to make sure we speed up these reforms,” she said.

However, e-commerce have come with its own fair share of problems in other jurisdictions within the region and government and security stakeholders have a big role to play in ensuring that businesses are safe online, analysts say.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, just as in Zimbabwe high mobile data costs remain the biggest hindrance to e-commerce.




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