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Zim Now Ranks 2nd For Using Unlicensed Software: Why Are We Still Using So Much Unlicensed Software?

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Software Piracy

Zimbabwe remains one of the topmost havens of software piracy in the world, thanks to our country’s lax enforcement of trademark and copyright law in this area. According to the most recent survey by the Business Software Alliance, 89% of all software installed on computers in Zimbabwe is pirated. This puts us slightly behind Libya, which tops the unlicensed software chart with 90%. Only two years ago, Libya and Zimbabwe had the dubious honor of being the joint leader (with 90%) on the same infamous list.

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The Global Software Survey for 2018 by the Business Software Alliance confirms that a lot of work remains to be done in the area of software piracy and this remains to be a challenge for Africa generally and Zimbabwe specifically.

While piracy in Zimbabwe is not as high as Libya, Zimbabwe percentage is still way higher than the average of Africa and significantly higher than the average in developed countries in the west. The survey claims that the approximate commercial value of pirated computer software in Zimbabwe is US$7 million. This value seems to be a bit misleading because the pirated software does not necessarily lead to a lost sale.

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The dangers of using pirated software

Software piracy is a major problem because it is one of the biggest sources for security threats on the Internet and can lead to identity theft, unauthorized access, loss of data and damage of equipment. This should inspire fear to organizations and companies that are into pirated softwares. In this day and age, cyber attacks and data theft is more likely to have a far-reaching impact than a wrong a business strategy.

But why there is so much use of pirated software

As my colleague once asked; “What is the cause? Is software too expensive? We just don’t like paying for stuff? There hasn’t been any education on software piracy issues? Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) initiatives are failing? We don’t have the laws to deal with it?” Frankly, I don’t have the answer right now, I will do my research. But at the moment share with us in the comment section below, what you think is the reason we are using so much pirated software.

The hidden negative effects of unlicensed software in Zimbabwe

In addition to the security issues that software piracy presents to personal computing, the proliferation of piracy makes it difficult for Zimbabwe to develop a local consumer software market. Zimbabwe’s companies and startups will never be able to compete with the “free” price tag of pirated software. This is not only a loss to the economy but also a loss to consumers as they will not find products and services specifically tailored to cater to the Zimbabwean market.

It’s virtually impossible to use legal enforcement mechanisms to stop online software piracy because most of it is executed online from within the home. The rights holders to many of the popular computer software are also not legally present in Zimbabwe and as a result, would not be bothered to take legal action here probably because the Zimbabwean market is too small for them to come and pursue.

Reducing use of pirated software

One of the more effective ways for reducing piracy and protecting consumers at the same time is by raising awareness about the free and legal alternative to pirated software.

Instead of pirating a copy of Microsoft Word (for instance), one can legally download an open source tool that performs the same task, such as OpenOffice.org, which is not only legally free of charge, but has also been rigorously examined by numerous open source professionals and activists to ensure that it is safe to the most possible extent. In fact, there are open source alternative to many of the popular tools we use: OpenOffice.org for word processing, GIMP for photo editing, and Blender for 3D modeling.

But the problem with many of these tools is that they are not familiar to the average consumer and they require a certain learning curve before they can be effectively used to replace their commercial and expensive alternatives. Anyway, in order to overcome this challenge, open source alternatives must be promoted and used in schools, universities, and workplaces. The logic behind this is that ‘it is difficult to convince a student not to pirate Microsoft Powerpoint when the teacher has required the homework to be done specifically using it’.

Combating piracy is important if we ever care to develop our local software market. However, this does not necessarily mean that people need to be punished for it or force them to buy expensive software. Instead, they should be urged to use legal alternatives such as open source software and provide them with the skills they need to take advantage of these alternatives.

Also read: Report Names Zimbabwean Web Hosting Providers Among The Most Ignorant In The World


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12 thoughts on “Zim Now Ranks 2nd For Using Unlicensed Software: Why Are We Still Using So Much Unlicensed Software?

  1. Our local accounts cannot buy online, how are we to pay for the licenses? And yes, they are very expensive! But now my Microsoft Office (2016) package is no longer working since Friday, ndakabatwa neMicrosoft, that gave me an opportunity to download a pirated version of the latest version, 2019! Yippeee!

  2. Its not that we like using pirated software but its just that we cant pay for it, windows 10 was going for $200 which is basically 500 bond,where would I get that kind of money,i hate pirated software too and lucky i got my windows ten copy long ago when the upgrade was free.This usd-bond thing is fueling the use of pirated software, long ago i used to buy my apps some were as cheap as $3 but now one would have to go through the hustle of hunting usd

  3. if they wanted us to buy their software they’d make it fit our wallets. its literally that simple. who has US$2000-5000 to spend on software for a work station?

  4. There’s 2 problems that I believe are real factors, firstly, the cost of the software. You are required to pay the same licences fees as your first world counterparts, yet you have very different disposable incomes. This problem boils down to using USD as “our” currency. Fortunately for some countries, e.g, India, they get prices for software and apps in their currency and adjusted to their incomes. Unfortunately for us in Zim, by using USD you can’t be given special prices since nothing will stop other non-Zimbabweans from purchasing the discounted software, pretending to be Zimbabwean, since most software is paid for online and in USD. (Technically speaking they could, but the effort is more involved than just blocking based on currency.)

    Secondly, another great contributor to pirated software is Zimbabwean “entreprenuers”. There are a significant number of individuals and companies, that install software for a fee, but without making it clear to their clientele that it is pirated software (or, a pirated licence). One company even offers free support, I guess this is meant to prevent their dirty deeds from coming to light. The companies using such software genuinely believe that their software is NOT pirated, because they DID pay for it. Unfortunately for them, the guy/company despite being paid, installed cracked/pirated software and smiled all the way to the bank. I have personally witnessed instances of companies querying why the licence displayed on an application shows another companies name, or why Windows is saying that it’s not genuine yet they “paid” for it to be installed. Sadly, even employed IT Admins collude with bogus suppliers, in these scams, for a kickback.

    1. We are run an IT firm that is 100% against software piracy and always help our clients find a solution that works for their need and budget. so not everyone sticks to piracy.

  5. I have not pirated software for about 5 years now. I own all my games, music and software. I am glad I purchased 99% of it before the complications of forex and externalisation now. I used my VISA card which is now blocked completely. there are ALWAYS good deals coming and going online for legit software.
    Office 365 through liquid for business is actually great value for money but for home use open source works well. WPS is a good alternative to the like of Libre and openOffice. Offie 365 home was $80 and now closer to $400 RTGS, that is not affordable by any means! but that one license gives 5 users unlimited devices all with 1TB cloud storage linked to the 5 main accounts. I am not sure how to purcahse anything now and still refuse to pirate, i do get some software with bitcoin that i personally mine with my gaming rig but that is a bit harder than just going to any online store.

  6. Maybe this is an opportunity for Zimbabwean techies to be take up the use of open source software. For most paid software there are open source alternatives. Doing that also achieves something else. Since source code is available it means those who are naturally inclined can have the ability to improve the software, build plugins etc. The world build reputations of good developers in the country which could ultimately see companies outsourcing their work. Look at Indian developers for example
    Unfortunately people have to afford the basic needs before we even go that far which is a shame.

  7. We’ve been in the top 3 since 2009 so I don’t think bond notes are a valid excuse. Even some banks are using pirated windows OS so it clearly isn’t an issue of being too expensive in some cases. We’re not the most poverty stricken country in the world and we haven’t been the number 1 most poverty stricken country since 2009 so the issue of disposable income doesn’t justify our being number 1. I’m really curious why we are number 1 coz all these other reasons (bond, disposable income) are not convincing enough.

  8. As silly as it is, one of my life goals is to make enough to buy legit software and the perks that come with it. Its my equivalent of buying big a** shiny SUV to show I’ve made it! But eish, pari tricky! If I charged clients the appropriate amount, I’d hardly get clients because everyone else would still charge waaaaaaay less than me. The competitive penalty is just too steep, now more than ever.

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