We have extracted the Chairman’s Statement from the 2019 half year report for Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Limited (ZIMP.zw), listed on the Zimbabwe Stock exchange:
On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am pleased to present the financial results for Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Limited (Zimpapers) for the six months ended 30 June 2019.
2. Operations review
2.1 Operating environment
The country’s macroeconomic environment during the period under review continued to be characterised by foreign currency shortages, high inflation and low manufacturing sector capacity utilisation. The official Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) year on year inflation rate for the month of June 2019 was at 175.66% compared to 2.91% for June 2018.
In line with the currency reforms tone set in October 2018, the GoZ introduced the Zimbabwe dollar (ZWL$) as the sole legal tender on 24 June 2019, bringing an end to the multi-currency regime and the fixed exchange rate policy. Statutory Instrument (SI) 142 of 2019 and the Exchange Control Directive RU102/2019 were instituted to operationalise the introduction of the Zimbabwe dollar. The country experienced unstable weather patterns, mainly from the El-Nino phenomenon and Cyclone Idai. The situation was exacerbated by foreign exchange shortages as well as inadequate power and energy supplies amongst other challenges. As a result, the IMF projected the Country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to contract to negative 2.1% by year end. In the same vein, the Ministry of Finance also forecasted a contraction to the economy.
2.2 Media environment
The media landscape remained challenged, with publishers and broadcasters optimistic that the on-going process to open up the media space will be good for their businesses. The prevailing economic difficulties, however, continue to impact negatively on disposable incomes. Consumption of content on digital platforms is growing and this is in keeping with global trends where digital revenues are rising while print remains stable. In Zimbabwe, the print business continues to be the mainstay of media companies, followed by radio and television.
The World Association of Newspapers 2018 World Press Trends report shows that globally, print circulation declined marginally by 0.5 percent while digital circulation revenues increased by more than 18 percent. Digital advertising revenues also increased by more than 5 percent. In Zimbabwe and most of Africa, internet access is still largely restricted to urban areas and this means digital platforms will continue to lag behind print and broadcasting. The Zimbabwe All Media Products Survey for the period underreview showed that internet usage is highest among the 21 to 25-years age group (48 percent) but declines to as low as 9 percent among those over the age of 56 years.
Increasingly, more people are migrating to internet for news, with a high use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter amongst others. In light of these developments, Zimpapers has been consolidating its digital footprint to take advantage of the changing news consumption habits of audiences. Digital products under focus in this regard i