Through my crystal ball I can see misery awaiting us all.
We have just started nibbling away at the final month of this current year. As you turn your head and survey the smouldering wreckage and minefield that you have had to endure and diligently pick your way through you might find it tempting to give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done at averting disaster.
If you are one of those people who have managed to somehow survive, I have some very heavy tiding for you: the worst is still to come.
2016 will be unbearably tougher than what you have hitherto experienced.
2015 was no doubt the toughest year in recent memory barring 2008 when the Zimbabwean economy was at the height of its hysterical hyperinflation episode. Indeed some have even gone so far as to claim that 2015 has even been worse than 2008 and in some ways they are right.
2008 was a murky year and the turbulent economy made it difficult to gauge how bad things were because at some people those tasked with publishing the statistics just gave up.
In stark contrast we really know how bad 2015 has been. While we have managed to muzzle inflation by implementing the so called multi-currency regime it has been at the cost of everything else.
- Scores of people lost their jobs in an event that has been rather conveniently blamed on the Supreme Court by the politicians. The truth is that most businesses, including those in the technology sector, have been struggling for a while and most seized on the opportunity to try and lighten their payroll burdens and somehow bolster their chance of survival.
- The ever tightening liquidity vice has seen the consumer public spending less and less on goods and services and the technology sector has not been spared with a lot of businesses recording losses and even pulling down the shutters for good.
- Most players in the telecoms industry including Internet Service Providers and Mobile Network Operators have had to deal with falling revenues due to the rise in the use of SMS and Voice Caller killer apps such as WhatsApp, Viber and the rise in the use of VoIP.
- The government has been callously taxing everyone and everything without increasing spending in return resulting in more economic despair.
- Incessant power cuts that last for hours and even days on end. ZESA is now more of a powercuts company than anything else really. This means those businesses that have local data centers, server farms and cloud servers have had to fork out extra money to pay for backup power effectively meaning they would not be able to compete with international providers. MNOs and ISPs have had to provide backup power at their base stations which tends to increase their operating costs and erode their profit margins.
- Lacklustre government policies including an underwhelming budget and an irrelevant monetary policy that are both certainly not going to stem the receding tide.
- A drought. While this has nothing to do with the technology sector, Zimbabwe’s economy is Agro-based by everyone’s confession. This means that our fortunes are tied to the summer rains. Drought means plenty of misery for everyone.
I could go on but I think we all have seen the picture and it ain’t pretty. The whole thing looks worse than Dorian Gray’s portrait will ever be. As dim as the picture might be I fear 2016 will be a worse year still.
- Thanks to another unimpressive budget and a total lack of innovation and wizardry on the government’s part we are unlikely going to be witnessing a turn in our fortunes this coming year.
- No significant tax reliefs have been announced for businesses which means the taxman is still going to see a good share of the businesses ever dwindling loot including those in the technology sector.
- Despite the Labour Act more people are still going to lose their jobs still. Think of the Act as an attempt to stem the flow from a bursting dam using one’s pair of hands. If all fails most companies are just going to file for bankruptcy.
- People are going to have less and less disposable income to buy technology goods and services which most people view as luxuries.
- Never mind the mega deals, the power cuts are going to continue. Thus compounding the misery of both individuals and businesses alike.
- The revenues of most businesses are going to continue to fall and the technology sector will be no exception.
- Without Foreign Direct Investment the liquidity crunch will continue unabated.
- With the ever depreciating Rand local businesses are going to face stiff competition from the South. Technology businesses are especially susceptible as a lot of projects such as software development can be outsourced and the click of a button.
- God forbid we experience another drought.
I could go on but I do not want people to start committing suicide on my account. The thing is, as hard as it is right now to imagine things getting any worse, the truth is that they will inevitably get worse. Right now the Zimbabwean economy is in free fall and there does not seem to be someone or something willing and able to steer us away from the impending doom.
Image credit: From esgexperience.com