Literate Zimbabweans Shun Banking Sector

Kahiya, who has worked in Malawi and Zimbabwe and as an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) specialist, says in Malawi, on the other hand, the country does not have a very high literacy rate but its citizens bank their money because they “trust their financial institutions”.

“There are 28 financial institutions operating in Zimbabwe right now and according to last year’s figures, $2, 3 billion is in banks right now from customers,” Kahiya said in Harare. He added that, “however, $2,5 billion, on the other hand, is in the informal sector which means that there is more cash in the informal sector than in formal banking in Zimbabwe. It seems people do not trust local banks right now because there are many things that they do not like about banks.”

He said the major reason why Zimbabweans do not bank their money was the fact that it “is very cumbersome to open an account in the country right now due to the fact that there is too much paper work for one to do so. It is onerous to open a bank account in Zimbabwe,” Kahiya told ICT gurus.

“When one opens an account it is inaccessible and the banking services are also inaccessible because in some areas there are no banks at all. People also do not bank their money because the bank charges in Zimbabwe are very high right now and some of them are irrelevant. In Malawi, for example, 20 percent of the populations have bank accounts despite the fact that their literacy rate is less than that of Zimbabwe which has a 92 percent rate, but only 10 percent of its citizens have bank accounts.”

Kahiya said in most cases banks cannot provide the required services because of the high level of costs involved if the traditional banking methods are used.

“Zimbabwe has high ICT skills and people must give solutions to banks,” Kahiya said.

“It is very funny when we train our staff and then they leave us at Kingdom Bank only to return as expatriates, demanding more cash because they are now treated as experts in their fields. We now have to fly them to The Victoria Falls using our own money in order to entertain them yet they were our members of staff. The funny thing is that some of them would have been to The Victoria Falls before but wants to go there again this time with their families.”

Kahiya said Zimbabwe needs to have a re-look at the aspect of ICT on the financial sector.

“This is because only about eight percent of Zimbabweans have bank accounts and yet the population is very literate,” he told the ICT bosses.

Kahiya encouraged more collaboration instead of competition between ICT companies and mobile network operators, banks and other businesses in Zimbabwe.”