Technology in the wake of a pandemic

ZIMBABWE, like the rest of the world, has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has harshly affected the economy and society as a whole, with scores of people having to work from home and still fighting for their place in time, for normalcy and progress even within the volatility of the world. This desire has resulted in a surge of technological advances around the world and the race to acquire and use such technologies. During the past few months, the world has leaped years ahead of the technological timeline, as consumers demanded solutions to their problems. This has resulted in tech giants like Zoom, Microsoft and Google making millions through their services, with Google upgrading their Hangouts into a more interactive Google Meet and Google Classroom. Microsoft also has Classroom for schools and educational use and Teams for organisations. These technological advances have sparked a rise in the demand for information technology equipment across the world, especially in Zimbabwe where students don’t really need to have personal computers and tablets in order to learn, nonetheless, the lack of student and teacher interaction was a powerful push. However, many students from marginalised communities were not able to benefit from the technologies due to lack of funding or access to a sustainable internet connection or just the personal computers. The country’s service providers could also not take full advantage of the demand as they were not prepared for such a surge in the demand for their products, which saw most companies running out of receivers and modems. Furthermore, most internet connection speeds proved to be too weak to support the demand by video conferences and media from multiple users on the same network at the same time, but these have since seen some improvements across the board. Banks and shops, however, were in a better position as they had already installed infrastructure to handle cash shortages and hence only upgraded the customer service desks and expanded the use of applications and social media to communicate with clients, the most talked about being Sosholoza from Steward Bank and CBZ Touch application by CBZ Bank. Many shops started delivery services and online selling so as to bring convenience to their clients. Food World, Ownai, Chicken Slice, Fuser Technologies, and the famous Dial-a-Delivery by Simbisa Brands seemed to be leading the pack since they already had been providing the services before the pandemic hit. Mobile money transactions have been the highlight of these online shops as they reduced human-tohuman contact, which is an essential feature in this fight against COVID-19 and consequently more and more people are being lured to them day by day. Due to the 50 people gathering limit, most churches, musicians, talkshows, fanatics and celebrities have taken to live videos on social media in a bid to service their constituents. Thousands of people are seen to be watching online programmes and webinars everyday which spells good business for the internet service providers, a realisation by the public that, even in a pandemic life goes on and acceptance of the new norm. Soviet B Mutamba

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