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Zimbabwe businesses brace for COVID-19

By , Sub Saharan Africa Business, Tech, News and Development Journalist
Zimbabwe , 17 Mar 2020
Businesses in Zimbabwe on high alert over COVID-19 given the country’s close ties with China and South Africa.
Businesses in Zimbabwe on high alert over COVID-19 given the country’s close ties with China and South Africa.

Some Zimbabwean firms are looking to establish remote working sites for employees as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread, with confirmed cases of infection in neighbouring South Africa.

Officials claim that while they have tested over nine suspected cases, to date no one has tested positive.

However, the Southern African country remains on high alert given its close trading ties with China and South Africa, and some local tech and finance firms have already implemented preventative measures.

The Techzim blog today reported that Econet Wireless has instructed some of its employees to work from home.

“Econet has started introducing remote work for certain staffers – with around 50% of their staff now instructed to work from home due to the Corona virus pandemic,” Techzim reported.

EcoCash, which is a mobile money platform riding on the Econet Platform, advised subscribers: “Let’s keep Corona Virus out. Avoid using physical cash where possible… we encourage the use of electronic money when transacting.”

Additionally, banks are understood to have installed high speed internet connectivity at residential areas for certain staff in anticipation of an outbreak of the virus.

An executive with the Zimbabwe Allied Bank Workers Union, who wished to remain anonymous, said employees within some of the major banks are preparing to work from home.

“Some key staff are already preparing to work from home if the situation worsens. We expect massive disruption to banking hall services if we get confirmed cases in the country,” said the Union representative, referring further questions to individual banks which were not immediately available for comment.

Christopher Musodza from the Computer Society of Zimbabwe believes the situation could be advantageous for the ICT sector and telecommunications industry.

“ICT stands to get more business when physical social gatherings and movements are reduced. People will resort to virtual means of meeting and this means that there will be more calls and more Skype calls and meetings as well as an increase in usage of email and social media platforms,” he said.

Musodza explained that any cancellation of social gatherings - as has been done in countries such as Kenya - will mean that citizens will increasingly switch to “indoor entertainment like Netflix” and cable television. This will potentially boost internet usage and take-up.

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