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Zim firms told to embrace technology

Muhammad Farooq, left, and his Zimbabwean counterpart Ernest Kadembo


ZIMBABWEAN firms, the majority of which remain stuck in the past, should adopt new hi-tech tools in data collection and processing to ensure efficiency and accuracy, an international consultant has said.

Muhamed Farooque, the chief executive officer of United Arab Emirates-based Excelledia, told The Financial Gazette that new management system software such as isorobot makes it ease and fast for firms and other users to collect and process data, adding that it is also significantly reduces errors.
“Isorobot simplifies a complex process, is very easy to navigate, and will lead to efficiencies within organisations who utilise it,” he said.
He noted that the new technology, which incorporates business opportunities as well as risks posed to business, was very much aligned to new view thinking for safety.
“It makes the process of obtaining ISO certification very clear, and does away with trying to fit round pegs into square holes, which I have seen numerous times in the past with other management systems technology which are cumbersome to use.”
Farooque, who met several industrial bodies, universities and government officials last week, further indicated that the new tool does not only manage multiple ISO standards, but it can also manage other business frameworks and assist to strategise the business with strategy and risk management.
“Through isorobot we are able to know the business by analysing the micro (internal) and macro (external) environments of the business, know more on stakeholders and their needs to position the business offerings accordingly,” he said.
Farooque’s comments come at a time when a recent World Bank report revealed that Zimbabwe operates some of the oldest companies in Africa. According to the World Bank Group Enterprise Surveys (ES) Zimbabwean firms are almost twice as old as those in other Sub-Sahara African and low income countries.
Most local firm are 23 years compared to 15 years in most African countries and 12 years in low income countries.
“Zimbabwean firms experienced dismal performances over fiscal years 2013 to 2015 with real sales having declined by about four percent per annum, while an average firm shed jobs at about four percent per annum,” read part of the report
The southern African country’s economy is experiencing a serious dollar crunch and electricity shortages. Several companies have failed to pay salaries or have closed altogether, in a country where only 500 000 out of a total 13 million people hold formal jobs.
The report also noted that the country’s smaller firms are particularly hit the hardest in terms of sales decline, while large firms experienced a slight increase in sales.
“Manufacturing firms in Zimbabwe operate at just above half their capacity, significantly below the average for other Sub-Sahara African and low income countries.
Less than a quarter of firms in Zimbabwe report undertaking fixed investment in 2015, compared to about 40 percent for Sub-Sahara African,” the World Bank said.
The survey also noted that about a quarter of firms in the country offer formal training for their employees, below the level in 2011 and the averages for Africa.
However, when firms offer training the share of employees trained is higher in Zimbabwe.
“An average firm in Zimbabwe offers training for about 60 percent of its employees, almost double the corresponding figure in 2011, and considerably above averages for other African and low income countries,” read part of the report.
“As expected, the share of firms offering formal training declines by firm size.  Interestingly, however, the reverse holds in terms of share of employees trained,” the report added.
The World Bank also noted that Zimbabwean firms fare well in terms of female participation in ownership and workforce.
“Female are majority owners in about 14 percent of the firms in Zimbabwe,” the Bretton Woods institution said, adding that a third of full-time permanent employees are female, up by 10 percentage points compared to the 2011 level
“However, women are substantially underrepresented in large firms, particularly in top management and ownership,” the survey said.