Near standstill at CABS branches - (bank runs to start in africa?) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Near standstill at Cabs branches

The Zimbabwe Standard (Harare) September 19, 1999 By Staff Writer

Harare - The computer system of The Central African Building Society (Cabs) broke down for over an hour on Monday, bringing its Harare branches to a near standstill and causing inconvenience to scores of the bank's clients who could neither deposit nor withdrawal their money from the bank.

The Standard has established that the only branch where any form of service was taking place was the main branch at First Street, which was accepting deposits but without allowing clients to obtain a balance of their accounts.

"We now fear that the bank is not adequately prepared for the new millennium. What if the machines breakdown just before 1 January 2000? We might lose all our money," said one irate customer. Another customer suggested that all banks maintain a manual system alongside the electronic one to avoid worse problems in the future.

When contacted for comment, the senior marketing manager for the Cabs regions, Graham Elston, confirmed the incident but stressed that the problem had been largely due to human error.

"The society has a fault tolerant computer system which since installation some years ago, has proved exceptionally reliable. Unfortunately, on Monday 13 September, a fault did occur which was a result of human error and which disrupted our services to the public for an hour and ten minutes."

-- Homer Beanfang (, September 21, 1999


...and more...

Africa may be chancing Y2K problems

The Sowetan (Johannesburg) September 22, 1999 By Simon Denyer and Reuters

Johannesburg - They may have started late, but most African governments insist they will be ready by December 31 if the millennium bug strikes computers around the world. The biggest problem is that not everybody believes them.

"Regardless of what countries have done, perceptions will make it difficult for investors to take positions in emerging markets, and particularly emerging markets in Africa," said John Clemmow, an investment adviser at Investec Securities in London.

He said foreign investors were beginning to reduce their exposure to South Africa, even though the country has been widely rated as well-prepared for the turn of the millennium, which falls 100 days from tomorrow.

There is even less confidence when it comes to leading African stock markets like Zimbabwe and Egypt.

The Y2K glitch occurs because many older computers - which allocated only two digits for the year in a date - may read the year 2000 as 1900, causing computer systems to make mistakes or shut down.

Ironically, the lack of development in much of Africa is an advantage when it comes to Y2K because the continent is less reliant on computers than Europe or America.

The costs of coping with the bug might knock up to half a percent off growth rates across the continent, says Arthur Darragh, sub-Saharan economist at Barclays Bank. But he doesn't expect an economic crisis.

Tremendous progress The International Air Transport Association says Africa is making "tremendous progress" in making its air transport systems Y2K compliant.

Although some disruptions to non-critical systems like baggage handling are possible, a spokeswoman said passengers do not have to worry about planes falling out of the skies.

"We will not undertake any flight unless we are absolutely confident about our ability to fly," she said.

But some travellers will almost certainly want to avoid the continent.

From South Africa to Egypt and Zimbabwe to Mauritius, the US state department tells its citizens the risk of major disruptions is limited. But step off the beaten track and it is another story.

The Central African Republic may have identified Y2K problems in its infrastructure, but hasn't the funds to tackle them.

Cameroon is classed as "unprepared" to deal with the millennium bug, and there is a risk of demonstrations in Mali if civil servants do not get paid on time because of a computer glitch in the payroll system. In South Africa, the central bank says people, not computers, are more likely to act strangely on millennium weekend.

Worried about mass withdrawals from ATM machines, it plans to have hundreds of people on hand to iron out bank notes, making sure they are flat and crisp enough to be accepted by all of the nation's 7 000 machines.

Kenya's central bank says it is considering closing all commercial banks for two weeks around the millennium, while nearly 3 000 km to the west, people are already withdrawing money from banks in Gabon. The new year might not be a good time to be in an African hospital either.

Bruno Adiko, the head of Ivory Coast's National Year 2000 Committee admits "nothing's been done".

Also worried Adiko is also worried about disruptions at the country's ports, including Abidjan - the biggest in West Africa. Not far away in Nigeria, the government admits this year's transition to democracy has disrupted plans for millennium compliance.

In most African countries, the big infrastructural problems should be avoidable and governments are aware of what they need to do.

Small and medium-sized businesses face the greatest millennium risks, says Ann Edwards, East Africa's regional Y2K coordinator.

Vipul Shah, who runs a Y2K business in Dar es Salaam said: "The consumer does not really understand Y2K. They concentrate on hardware, ignoring applications and the digital chips in their other equipment." Telling its own people what they need to do is one of Africa's biggest challenges. Convincing sceptical foreigners that risks are small may not be any easier.

Britain's Foreign Office recently had some discouraging words for travellers to Uganda, warning of the risk of widespread disruptions. The only problem was that the information was six months old and inaccurate.

Although Britain is helping to fund Uganda's Y2K taskforce, news that problems had been overcome got lost in the system. It must have been a computer error.

-- Homer Beanfang (, September 21, 1999.

Thanks Homer,

When I read this for some reason Johnny Cash was signing, "I hear the train a comin'" in my ear... : )



-- Michael Taylor (, September 21, 1999.

"Worried about mass withdrawals from ATM machines, it plans to have hundreds of people on hand to iron out bank notes, making sure they are flat and crisp enough to be accepted by all of the nation's 7 000 machines."

Best contingency plan I've read yet.

-- Sam (, September 21, 1999.

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