Astro Bemoans RBZ's Priority List

Zimbabwean mobile phone company Astro Mobile has bemoaned the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s prohibitive priority list,  which they is a serious stumbling block to the company’s growth and operations.

In the list, priority was given to net exporters, who import raw materials or machinery to aid them to produce and generate more exports. Non-exporting importers of raw materials and machinery for local production (value addition) that directly substitute import of essential finished goods and importation of critical and strategic goods, such as basic food stuffs and fuel, health and agro-chemicals, were also given top priority provided that the goods are not available locally.

Astro Mobile Founder Munyaradzi Gwatidzo

Astro Mobile Founder Munyaradzi Gwatidzo

By TechnoMag Reporter

Speaking at a media briefing today , Astro Founder Mr  Munyaradzi Gwatidzo said they were finding it hard to import some of their products as it now takes not less than four months before the RBZ authorizes payments for their next shipment .

“We have been finding it hard to get our products in the country because of payment issues. At the moment we have no stock due to a backlog of payments, We may wait as much as four months to get our payments authorised, which greatly affects our operations and relationship with suppliers,” he said.

Astro mobile says they have come out stronger and  overcame the challenges as they are  not only growing their local presence, but have managed to sign mega deals with regional  and global partners, as they spread their African foot print.

The Astro Africa brand is on a growth trajectory selling over 1, 3 million units in Zambia occupying a market share of about 50 percent in one year only. They are looking into massive expansion across the continent to deliver their brand to more countries as their main operational strategy.

Astro mobile team

Astro mobile team

Munyaradzi said that they  have succeeded by providing affordable, yet high-quality smartphones that are designed for the needs of people in African countries. Today, Astro Mobile Africa has developed into a flourishing e-commerce company that employs over 200 people 

Astro mobile had also promised to build the first technology plant in Zimbabwe, a move which many have questioned, but the CEO remained bullish and maintained that the plans are at a way advanced stage, ready for ground breaking and commissioning in the first quarter of the year.

“The equipment for the plant is already in Zimbabwe and we think by April 2017  we will set it up as we seek to deliver locally assembled products of  high quality at the most affordable prices ever. ,” he said.

He also lamented the low consumption of local products by the Government officials. Local product campaigns such as the Buy Zimbabwe have been at the forefront urging the government to buy local but most foreign devices are highly prioritised  against Zimbabwean products.

While this may be purely a matter of personal preference, Munyaradzi believes that the government should create policies that advocate for local manufactures and players who are directly driving the economy instead of foreign companies who are not investing  locally, but come in to rake millions.

The Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services Supa Mandiwanzira moved to promote the growth of the local information, communication and technology (ICT) sector by instituting a 30 percent quota local procurement policy for software.

Astro also unveiled their top of the range products which includes , AstroCare their , our virtual customer care consultant, AstroCloud which allows 10gb of online back up, AstroStore for apps and  products designed to enhance lifestyle, AstroTunes a digital music store that allows  one to buy, download and listen to music.

The other interesting aspect which will help their brand go stronger  is the warranty , this has made many locals to become skeptical about buying  brands as many have been dumped on them without support. All Astro Mobile smartphone devices come with a 14-month warranty

The company has gone global as it was contracted to provide some components by Caribbean telecommunication giant Digicel.

Astro Mobile Africa currently has subsidiaries in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mauritius and South Africa.  By the end of 2017, they expect to have expanded their reach into 17 priority African countries and to have grown their headcount to around 3,000 people.


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