South Africa is in danger of being left behind the developed world as it slips down the network readiness rankings.
A report releaesd by the World Economic Forum, co-sponsored by Cisco, shows that the country's skills shortage and brain drain are slowing its ability to ramp up and take advantage of the economic and social benefits of being networked with the rest of the world.
Although South Africa ranks in the top 40% of the 127 countries surveyed, at number 51, this is two rungs lower than previous survey and a dangerous downward trend.
The survey shows that South Africa scores relatively well in terms of ecosystem, but only moderately in terms of infrastructure – a function of poor power supply, low internet bandwidth and technical capacity.
Indadequate competition in the ICT space is also conspiring to prevent the ecosystem score from improving.
The survey indicates that South Africa has a good foundation to build upon, although there are challenges with regard to internet use, broadband penetration and connectivity costs.
Despite the fact that South Africans are familiar with the Internet, there is a risk that an inability to properly harness it could result in the country failing re realise the full potential of benefits.
"It would not be too extreme a conclusion to say that in case of South Africa, there is an urgency in terms of pursuing high-impact ICT infrastructure investments to take advantage of the strong features of its ICT development and ensure the opportunity is not missed as the rest of the world launches into improved competitiveness driven by Web 2.0 developments," the report states.