The internet shutdown by government has had an adverse impact on business operations in various sectors of the economy.
Government last week switched off internet connectivity in the face of violent protests, which resulted in at least 12 deaths. The shutdown, according to the government, was necessitated by security concerns. However, the High Court this week overturned the decision, declaring it illegal.
Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe Chief Executive Paul Matamisa said that the cost of the internet shutdown on tourism was felt through failed bookings and lost marketing opportunities.
“There is no way we can calculate now the damage that has occurred to the industry due to the lack of internet connectivity,” Matamisa said. “The damage will only be reflected in the next few weeks and in the next few months where gaps in revenue will appear because of the lost business.”
He said the internet shutdown made the task of marketing the country to tourists very difficult which resulted in lost opportunities and the possibility that the country lost potential tourism business to other source markets.
Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe President Portifa Mwendera said the internet shutdown hampered medical aid clients’ access to health services.
“What mainly affected us was that the software we use which is linked to medical aid societies stopped functioning due to the internet shutdown,” Mwendera said. “This meant that transactions could not go through between pharmacies and medical aid societies.”
She said this meant patients who use medical aid were turned away or had to fork out money to receive treatment.
Mwendera said the shutdown of the internet further burdened the pharmaceutical company, which is reeling from an acute foreign currency shortage.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries President Sifelani Jabangwe said the internet shutdown had resulted in the breakdown of communication between suppliers and customers.
He said, although they understood the government’s reason for the shutdown of the internet, the decision had negatively impacted the transit of various goods.
Economist Godfrey Kanyenze said the shutdown was not only costly in quantitative terms, but also had a major bearing psychologically.
“Loss of internet connectivity meant people could not transact for essentials like purchasing electricity tokens. The loss as a result of this shutdown is not only quantifiable but it also has a psychological cost.”
Economist John Robertson said the government has shot itself in the foot by shutting down the internet as it will incur huge losses in lost revenue.
“The decision by the government to shut down the internet has made the shutdown 10 times more effective than it would have done as they had not shut it down. It put us back to the Stone Age,” Robertson said.
He said the shutdown will have had a huge cost on the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority in lost revenue as their transactions are based on the internet.