Zimbabwe’s Software Piracy Problem

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Top 5 Software Piracy List (2006 - 2009)

Top 5 Software Piracy List (2006 - 2009)The Business Software Alliance (BSA) 2009 global software piracy study released this month showed a global piracy rate rise to 43% from 41% in 2008. BSA says this means that “for every $100 worth of legitimate software sold in 2009, an additional $75 worth of unlicensed software also made its way into the market” globally.

An interesting observation from the report is that while the global recession seemed to drive all the market dynamics in the direction of higher piracy rates, piracy either declined or largely stayed the same in countries around the world. In fact, the 2 points global rise is attributed to rapidly growing PC markets in emerging geographies like Brazil, China and India.

In this piracy study report, Zimbabwe still finds itself among the top pirating countries in the world. And this has been the pattern since the BSA started publishing these reports. Our best rating ever was the first BSA piracy study in 2003 when we were the number 7 pirating country in the world with an 87% piracy rate.  In 2004 we rose to number 4 with 90%. In 2005, our 90% piracy rate was one position short of the top position held by Vietnam. In 2006 the rate was now 91% and we were number 4 on the culprits list. The rate remained the same in 2007 and we moved down the list to number 5 after, Armenia, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan and Moldova.  In 2008 it increased to 92% and this time we climbed back to number 4. The rate stood stagnant at 92% last year but we edged closer to the top. We are now number 2, after Georgia which has a 95% software piracy rate.

While other countries are registering a decline in software piracy, ours is increasing steadily, from 87% in 2003 to the current 92%. Of course the accuracy of the report is another story, but one thing is clear here: we have a software piracy problem in Zimbabwe.

What is the cause? Is software too expensive? We just don’t like paying for stuff? There hasn’t been any education on software piracy issues? Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) initiatives are failing? It’s our ten years of economic turmoil? We don’t have the laws to deal with it?

Whatever the reason, we need to start doing something about it. Apart from the obvious fact that piracy is a crime, dealing decisively with this problem has numerous benefits for our economy.

Please let us know your thoughts on this problem in the comments below. How can we deal this? Do you use unlicensed software? Why?

To put the matter into perspective, while countries like the USA have the lowest PC software piracy rate (20% in 2009), the commercial value of pirated software in the US is a staggering USD 8 billion. In comparison, Zimbabwe’s value of unlicensed software, at USD 4 million, is just a drop in the ocean.


  1. Zorro

    I beg to differ. No matter what justification BSA may give for their rating, we all know that top 5 incomplete without China and Nigeria. Zimbabwe is nowhere close to these countries as the means or need to pirate is furtherest from the average guy/chic on the Zimbabwean street.

  2. Kabweza

    As you can see from this report (http://portal.bsa.org/globalpiracy2009/studies/globalpiracystudy2009.pdf) Nigeria is number 19 and China is 27.

    Owing to their high population, both China and Nigeria definitely have higher a value pirated software: US$7.5 billion and US$156 million respectively.

    The metric in the article above is on the rate of piracy. We have a much lower population of computer users and 92% of the software that small number of users use is pirated.

  3. Gora

    No question about it, Zimbabwe has a very high piracy rate when factoring in the total computer user population. I have to say, though, that there are one or two mitigating circumstances, if one could call them that since piracy is illegal. If the Software manufacturers would come up with reasonable licensing regimes, instead of blatant profiteering because of they having a monopoly (and here i refer to the one company that we all know and love) we would see less piracy. Then of course there is the issue of the high cost of software generally.

  4. justice

    its the ease with which us zimbos can get hold of pirated software.its now culture in zim to just give somebody a copy of say,xp.Its very difficult to buy software for over $200 when you can get it for free.it simply wont happen

  5. MMHungwe

    This debate needs to start again!

    1. Anonymous

      Is that you vaHungwe? gwelo?

  6. Kendubhoki

    No legal framework to deal with cyber crime plus poor ICT infrastructure and poor/non existent electronic payment systems..even if i wanted to use genuine software we dont ave credit cards and other EPS platforms in zim hence we turn to pirated copies from the TPB given that we badly need softwares like office win & adobe pagemaker etc

  7. Oscar Manduku

    Open Source is the way to go for Zimbabwean businesses…ERPs, CRMs, and OpenOffice.

  8. Norman Nhliziyo

    I wonder how these people come up with these results. Don’t get me wrong, piracy is there in Zim but considering that the government is one of the biggest user of software and that their policy (apparently) does not allow them to purchase 2nd hand stuff. My point; most brand new PCs come with Windows pre-installed. 91% is just too high.

  9. Gonzo

    It should be obvious that the above figures are another attempt by america and britain to demonise zimbabwe. We will invade microsoft and take whats ours.

  10. Tendai

    Wow intersting topic. Well for starters, geniune software is way too expensive for an average zimbabwean. EG, if l am to install the must have software;antivirus, microsoft office, an operating system, collectively this would approximately cost $435. If an average Zimbabwean earns $500, then it would be of no sense for one to have $65 for 30days to pay rent, utility bills, food u name the basics. Only corporates can afford such. On the other side, pirated software has also brought employement to many, so that would make it stick around for more years to come.

  11. Tau

    Nothing to worry about here, because with the advent of Cloud computing, data streaming and online applications, piracy is going to drop as the dynamics of media distribution change. The way to think of this is how do you pirate the services offered by Salesforce.com? Cause that’s the style of working 90% of the country will be using in 10 years time. 

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  15. Prime

    The problem might also be that everyone wants to use application or software packages only with the ending “professional” not knowing that there is a version of windows out there for every need. People need to be educated in such a way that they get to understand the difference between Student, Home & Office, and Professional products from Microsoft.