Costs of Rebasing the Kwacha (A Response)

From Zambian Economist Mon Nov 12 2012, 18:58:00

By Francis Ilunga

The article Costs of Rebasing the Kwacha, that was published on 7 November 2012, raised important questions, which cannot go without comment. Below are a few observations concerning the said article:

1. The author has alleged that businesses will spend a lot of money on reconfiguration of their IT platforms, and that most of these costs will be passed onto consumers in one way or the other. The author has however neglected to mention the costs that most businesses incur in reconfiguring/ customizing standard packages (accounting/audit, etc), that they acquire from time to time. You will appreciate the fact that the packages used in Zambia are developed in jurisdictions where values, at a maximum, tend to be in millions. The present situation in Zambia, where some organizations, especially banks record values in billions or trillions of Kwacha, requires further customization of such packages in order to widen data fields, which tend to be very costly. With the rebasing of the Kwacha, businesses will no longer be spending money on the reconfiguration / customization of newly acquired packages. The same goes for ATM machines, which have to be customized to dispense millions of Kwacha, as opposed to hundreds and a few thousands in jurisdictions where they are manufactured. Therefore, apart from this one off cost that businesses will incur in recalibrating their IT platforms to conform with the rebased currency, it is easy to see that businesses will stand to benefit more from rebasing than they will lose.

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