Buying and Selling

flag Zimbabwe Zimbabwe: Buying and Selling

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | E-commerce | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the International Coffee Agreement
International Economic Cooperation
Member of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)

Member of Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Member of African Union (AU).

Member of the Intergovernmental Council of Countries Exporters of Copper (CIPEC)

The country have signed a trade agreement with 21 other countries in the São Paulo Round of the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP). It also benefits from the Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU within the framework of the EU-ACP Cotonou Agreement.

Non Tariff Barriers
There are generally few barriers to trade. On occasion, the government has imposed bans on importing certain products (meat).
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports

Customs Classification
Zimbabwe applies the Harmonized Commodity Coding System. COMESA member countries such as SADC are working to establish customs unions.
Import Procedures
The Government of Zimbabwe requires the following import documentation: a bill of entry plus relevant invoices, shipping documents such as a bill of lading, freight statements, and certificates of origin, especially for products entering from member states of SADC and the PTA.
Importing Samples
Importing samples and other temporary products requires the payment of a deposit, which is refundable on export, or applying for a temporary import privilege guaranteed by a bank or insurance company.
For Further Information
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority
Business Portal for Africa

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing opportunities

Main Advertising Agencies
The Jupiter Drawing Room
Dimcomm McCann
Shift Engage

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
Although retailers have existed in Zimbabwe for a long time, the introduction of global brands and outlets has really kick started the sector forcing local retailers to expand their boundaries to compete with their larger international competitors. Over the years, the distribution sector has become increasingly informal and the actors more numerous. The retail sector has undergone significant change since 2010, and after a period characterized by shortages and an inability to function normally. Retail and distribution sectors constitute the largest share of the country's imports, about 70% of products sold by the retail sub-sector are imported.

Due to the size of the market, most producers of goods sell their products to wholesalers who in turn sell to supermarket chains and specialized outlets in towns and general dealer shops in rural areas.  There is a comprehensive and particularly well developed distribution network serving the large supermarket chains in Zimbabwe.
Market share
The informal distribution sector represents a large part of retail and wholesale sectors, although to a lesser extent than in other countries. The economic recession and the lowering purchasing power of the inhabitants have lead to an explosion in the number of small kiosks, stands and little family-owned stores.

The three actors dominating the formal distribution market are:
- OK Zimbabwe (18% of the market share),
- TM Supermarkets (12%)
- Spar (5%).

Retail Sector Organisations
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce

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Internet access
As of December 2017, Zimbabwe had a population of 16.91 million people, out of which 6.8 million were Internet users, making the penetration rate 40.2%. Zimbabwe has been making advances in internet connectivity in recent years, but mobile internet is still the biggest platform for connectivity throughout the country. Smartphone penetration rate is estimated at 20-23% of the total population, according to TechZim. There is a significant urban-rural divide among Zimbabwean internet users due to fewer deployments of 3G and LTE in rural areas. As a result, a significant share of rural citizens don't have access to the Internet. However, the government aims to build 650 additional telecommunication towers in remote areas through the Universal Services Fund, which should help solve that urban-rural connectivity gap (Newsday). As of July 2018, the most popular browser in the country by market share was Chrome (39.82%), followed by Opera (26.59%), UC Browser (9.34%), Firefox (6.13%), Android (4.55%), and Safari (3.53%). As for search engines, Google (88.83%) dominated the market, followed by Bing (7.05%) and Yahoo (3.27%).
E-commerce market
E-commerce has not yet taken off in Zimbabwe, particularly due to low internet penetration, but also because the culture of online purchasing hasn't been diffused in the country. Additionally, local courier services tend to be expensive and they usually don't deliver to remote areas. The little e-commerce that exists in the country is local and limited to urban areas, and there's virtually no cross-border e-commerce in Zimbabwe. There are some social media shops in the country, mainly on Facebook and Instagram. Hammer & Tongues, a local online shop, revealed that two-thirds of its buyers are male, the highest number of visitors are in the 35-44 age group, and 90% of transactions on the platform were made from Harare and Bulawayo (Tech Zim). Zimbabwean consumers are adopting payment methods such as Ecocash and Zipcash to pay within and outside the country's borders (Marketers Association Zimbabwe). Even though e-commerce hasn't taken off in Zimbabwe yet, the market is expected to improve in the medium term, particularly among the wealthier classes of consumers.

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
Compared to most other African countries, Zimbabwe has adequate transport infrastructure, with a relatively well developed road network, which nonetheless requires renovation works. Mostn cargo is transported by rail and trucks. Air freight is also available.
Port de Chalala
Port de Binga
Port de Kariba
Port de Chiredzi
Masvingo Airport
Hwange Airport
Kariba Airport
Charles Prince Airport
Buffalo Range Airport
Victoria Falls International Airport
JM Nkomo International Airport
Harare International Airport
Sea Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport
Air Transport Organisations
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe
Ministry of Transport
Road Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport
Rail Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
The industry accounts for about 25% of Zimbabwe's GDP, but the country is experiencing a phase of de-industrialization and the rise of the informal economy. The textile industry in particular continues to decline, suffering from competition from clothing and cheap product imports. Mining dominates the industrial sector, the country has abundant mineral resources such as platinum, chrome, diamonds, gold, nickel, coal, iron, etc. Outside the mining sector, the main industries are timber, chemicals and agribusiness. Key industrial players include Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., Rio Tinto Plc, Aquarius Platinum and British American Tobacco Zimbabwe Ltd.

To search directories by industry in Zimbabwe, check out our service Business Directories.

Professional Associations by Sector
26 professional associations listed for Zimbabwe.
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce
General Professional Associations
SME Association of Zimbabwe
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI)

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Latest Update: May 2024