How e-business can be developed in Zimbabwe and the potential opportunities
Research has compared the benefits developed countries enjoy as compared to developing countries with e-business. The researchers agree that various levels of economic, sociotechnical infrastructure and cultural aspects affect the readiness to rapidly adopt e-commerce across nations (Hwang, Jung & Salvendy, 2006) and (Molla & Heeks, 2007)
Notably developed and developing countries have different stages of e-commerce adoption and online shopping preferences are dependent on the country’s culture.
Hwang et al (2006) infer the main differences show that international e-commerce is dependent on information seeking which is limited by web infrastructure and cultural aspects of trust and desire to get accurate product information. The authors found that for success in e-commerce in Korea, websites must contain precise and specific product information that can be retrieved through effective site organization and search tools.
Customers’ need for pricing comparison on products and findings showed that security and trust was a chief concern when shopping online. The e-businesses must confidently validate the trust and security of their platform for online shopping for customers in order to be successful.
Developing countries are home to more than 80% of the world’s population, and are the site for growing use of e-commerce (Molla & Heeks, 2007). Statistics show developing countries’ Internet user population grew by more than 300% to roughly 400 million, increasing their global share of all Internet users from 25% to 40% from InternetWorldStats (2005) and UNCTAD (2005).
What are the main benefits, opportunities and barriers of e-commerce for a developing country?
There is tremendous potential for e-business and d-business in developing countries this owing to the number of potential customers for B2C with e-business opening market access. Furthermore, using network and electronic markets, organizations can internalize that in the past have been performed by intermediaries (such as wholesalers, retailers, agents, distributors, brokers, warehousing operations, and forwarders) thus reducing transaction costs.
For a developing country such as Zimbabwe, e-business is addressing challenges that negatively impact business: market information poverty, exclusion from global supply chains, eroded profits, loss of control to intermediaries, and poor cost competitiveness.
The potential opportunity is to grow economic activity for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) both locally and globally as many companies begin to utilize e-business and technologies. More SMEs will be needed to support the e-commerce technologies thus creating an emergence of industry in software development and information and communications technology (ICT) in Zimbabwe.
In Zimbabwe, the government’s regulatory body the Postal and Communications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) must support the ICTs in terms of policy and infrastructure. The Africa Development Bank (2012) states that service availability, quality, and the development of new services through de-monopolization and privatization in the ICT industry are key drivers for POTRAZ to ensure development in e-business.
In 2014 Zimbabwe adopted a new ICT Bill, where POTRAZ on behalf of the government implemented the, Short Term Action Plan for Infrastructure (STAP) demonstrating the desire to benefit from opportunities from e-business. Allow potential consumer to have access to mobile networks and data. The World Bank estimates that a 10% increase in broadband penetration could raise the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 1-2%, indicating the value of ICTs in economic development (Vicente & López, 2011; The Ruzivo Trust, 2013) . This demonstrates the relationship between e-business productivity to infrastructure and technology accessibility on a country level.
According to the Ruzivo Trust, Zimbabwe’s success in the ICT sector saw the country ranked 2nd on the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) survey as the fastest developing ICT nation after Ghana in October 2012, however low levels of ICTs penetration was at 50%, with a digital divide between rural and urban areas, gender, age groups and other social groups. Culturally, Zimbabwe may have a large rural population, and experience internal digital divide between urban and rural populations due to infrastructural cultural barriers and lack of digital skills.
Developing countries experience a digital divide externally from developed countries due to a more pronounced internal digital divide between rural and urban areas. Therefore, infrastructure must reach rural areas developing ICT access and skills to match the developed countries. Benefits and opportunities to follow include access, collaboration and networking in the global marketplace. For companies in Zimbabwe embracing e-business and d-business is the means of survival as globally today’s business world is increasingly high-velocity and software-driven. The term used to describe this is digital transformation where businesses seek digital tools to grow and optimize their business operations using technology.
Adopting e-commerce, e-business management requires organizations to undergo technological knowledge changes, business model and process changes and e-commerce innovation. Traditional companies’ strategies should be based on the view that e-commerce does not necessarily replace existing ways of doing business, but enhances them and increases business efficiency and effectiveness, considering that its evolution process may take time and may go through several phases or stages of growth.
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Dr. Albert T Mubako is an information systems consultant and business strategist . He is an author and developer of the digital business strategy (DBS) model which facilitates a strategically channeled digital approach to business challenges, how technology can be used to improve the way business operates and interacts with its customers. An academic thinker with business acumen, connecting the dots, and bringing it all together for clarity and action. Connect with him on Twitter :@tichatongam , email firstname.lastname@example.org