Software piracy watchdog group the Business Software Alliance said Zimbabwe is one of the countries where software piracy increased in 2008.  A report issued by the group said 92 percent of software used in Zimbabwe is pirated, up from 91 percent in 2007.  

Information Communication Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa blamed Zimbabwe's difficult economic situation.  He said a lot of people lack the money to buy legitimate software.  But he said work is under way to remedy the situation.

"We realize the dent on the image of the country and we also realize the risk and danger to the hardware in terms of the kind of software being used.  We are also trying to engage Microsoft and other software providers to make sure that we have a comprehensive package to respond to the challenge we are facing," he said.

The minister also said the country's intellectual copyright laws are under review to make it easier to deal with offenders.

The Business Software Alliance Middle East and Africa vice chairman, Dale Waterman, was quoted in the local publication The Financial Gazette as saying piracy costs the Zimbabwean economy $4 million in lost revenue annually.

Armenia, Bangladesh and Georgia join Zimbabwe as the other countries with a 90 percent piracy rate. In the sub-Saharan Africa region Zimbabwe leads the offenders with Cameroon second at 83 percent.

The Business Software Alliance report said software piracy affects much more than just the global software industry.  For every dollar of pirated software sold in a country, it said there is another three to four dollars of lost revenues for local IT service and distribution firms.  

It quoted a study that concluded that lowering PC software piracy by 10 points over four years would create 600,000 additional new jobs worldwide; a projection it said has been confirmed by actual experience in China and Russia.