ICT (Information & Communication Technologies) is a bundling together of all technologies that foster easy access & transfer of information through mediums such as the internet, computer systems, and telecoms. It entails the collection, processing and distribution of electronic information by use of telecoms and computer systems. The global ICT industry is huge and is projected to be approximately USD5 trillion in worth by the end of this year. We are living in a new age that is pivoted on the internet and technological advancements. This is an industry that locally still has a lot of untapped areas and infinite business prospects. I’m looking at 7 areas that you can consider in your endeavour to build a business in ICT.
Many people across all walks of life are scurrying to place themselves firmly online nowadays. That’s why there is now an ever-increasing demand for web services such as web hosting, web development, online payment portals etc. There is an even greater market of people who need to simply be made aware that they need to have such services. I’ll give an example, I stay in Masvingo and did a snap survey of academic institutions that have websites – I was appalled. The overwhelming majority don’t have websites and this is something that’s prevalent across the country. There are those who do have websites but are poorly done. The field is so broad that you have a wide variety of choices with regards to carving out a niche.
Repair & Maintenance
The exponential use of the internet entails a corresponding high use of computer devices. The average student or white-collar employee most likely owns a laptop, tablet or other internet device. Every office across the country normally has at least one desktop computer, laptop, printer etc. Computer devices just like any mechanical gadgets are prone to wear and tear and will oft times require maintenance or repair. So therein lies a lucrative business venture whose services are in demand. You can even integrate this with offering virtual assistance services. You can develop an interactive social media platform or website where people can be assisted on computer-related queries, and challenges online in real-time.
The online or virtual world is now the playground for many people for various reasons. Many people will need to spend some time online but have no internet connectivity infrastructure. Some don’t own desktop or laptop computers so they can’t perform all functions on their mobile phones. This is where an internet café comes in handy. There are quite a number of internet café already in existence but I’ll let in on how you can be unique. Instead of just setting up computers that are connected to the internet you can also provide related value-added services. You can incorporate information processing services such as printing, photocopying, scanning and create a co-working or studying area where people pay reasonable charges for access. You can even go a step further to include sales of computer devices or accessories; the objective being to make your internet café a one-stop shop.
The choice is to either be a vendor of genuine versions of off-the-shelf software or focusing on developing bespoke software according to client specifications. You even integrate both services as that’ll make your prospective client pool widen. Zimbabwe lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to home-grown software solutions. I remember doing research on financial management apps on Google Playstore. I was quite disappointed to not see any home-grown apps other than the mobile money ones. This is just one example but the gaps are so many and we need to see more players emerging in the pursuit of offering software services for the local context.
The array of devices used in the field of ICT are so diverse and many. This spans from gadgets to accessories and associated services. Therefore you can establish a business of simply selling these items as they tend to be in demand. Instead of people having to cross the border to get these items you can make them affordably available locally. People usually prefer to buy hardware from a business that also provides support services so that consumers don’t look else when needs arise.
This is a domain which covers aspects such as digital marketing, digital content creation, and digital graphic design. I was recently approached by 3 different individuals who wanted to get e-fliers and logos designed for them. I also recall a conversation with a beauty therapist who was saying they aren’t tech-savvy enough to market their business online. These are just some snippets that show you how in demand digital multimedia tools or services are.
Training and Consultancy
Online or physical learning courses in many topical areas in ICT can yield very high returns. E-learning is one such area that is in infancy in Zimbabwe. There are also a lot of business-related new technologies that are emerging that people need to be taught on namely, AI, e-marketing, the blockchain, cryptocurrency and SEO among others. If you combine training and consultancy services for a broad portfolio of clients pertaining to new or emerging technologies, that would be strategic.
The global ICT spectrum is constituted as follows by revenue share, hardware & software (53%), telecommunications (30%) and new or emerging technologies (17%). That should give you a hint on which domains are most common and possibly most profitable. Looking forward to seeing more local ICT businesses coming onto the scene, all the best!