The use of unlicensed software in South Africa amounts to over R4-billion, which is costing the economy billions in lost revenue on an annual basis.

This is according to Recently released figures from a BSA │ The Software Alliance (BSA) survey.

Surpassed only Turkey (R5-billion) and Saudi Arabia (R4,5-billion), South Africa has been identified as the third worst offenders in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region.

“For every $1 of licensed software used, an average of $22 is spent on support services. This means that the South African economy is unable to reap any of the significant financial benefits associated with software sales when unlicensed software is used,” explains local BSA committee chairman Marius Haman.

The BSA Global Software Survey, conducted biennially by premier market intelligence firm, IDC, suggests that a mere 1% reduction in unlicensed software installations could boost South Africa’s GDP by R2,45-billion.
But the use of unlicensed software affects not just the South African economy as a whole. It also impacts South African businesses.

“Statistics from the Global Software Survey suggest that 34% of software installed in South Africa in 2013 was without a proper licence. Aside from the economic impact on the local economy, one should also consider the effect on companies when one in three devices run unlicensed software.

“Using software from an unknown source can increase a company’s vulnerability to cyber-security breaches. It can also precede productivity losses due to downtime. These threats are exacerbated by a worsening global cyber-security threat environment, a trend that has been attributed, in part, to vulnerabilities associated with illegitimate and/or unlicensed software,” says Haman.

The BSA’s Software Survey polled computer users in 34 markets, including nearly 22 000 consumer and business PC users and more than 2 000 IT managers. Users cite security threats from malware as the chief reason not to use unlicensed software or mislicensed applications. Loss of data, data breaches, time and cost to disinfect and the loss of proprietary information top the list of concerns of IT managers around the world.

He says, however, that companies and governments could limit these risks.

“Implementing Software Asset Management (SAM) would be a useful starting point for the public and private sector to manage current and future software licence compliance.” says Haman.