South Africa has the opportunity to realise great benefits by increasing its investments in the information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, which will ultimately drive the country’s social and economic transformation.
According to the latest World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2015 (GITR), sponsored by Cisco, which measures the relative capacity of 143 economies to leverage ICTs for growth and economic and social transformation, South Africa dropped five places to 75 in terms of the report’s Networked Readiness assessment. Networked readiness is a crucial indicator of a country’s ability to implement and take full advantage of ICTs.
Societal and economic transformation will happen through embracing the Internet of Everything (IoE), the connections between people, process, data and things, to create unprecedented opportunities for South African citizens as well as the public and private sectors.
In order to embrace the IoE, the South African government and businesses must be fully digitised, supported by a highly robust and secure network. Becoming digital requires an agile IT model, and the ability to rethink core processes for the digital era. Embracing new security, cloud, mobile, social and analytics technologies required to fully digitize takes imagination, investment and expertise.
According to the GITR, South Africa needs to focus on the following to improve its Networked Readiness ranking:
*Investment in infrastructure and education;
* Support for the development of local content; and
* The creation of an enabling environment by promoting competition through sound regulation.
There are considerable opportunities facing South Africa as the country seeks to develop the infrastructure, institutions and skills needed to reap the full benefits of ICTs. Lack of access to the Internet is depriving many South Africans of the opportunity to take full advantage of e-learning as well as online financial, data and health services.
However, the South African government is already shaping policies that will spur development of broadband access through initiatives like the New Growth Path (NGP), the National Development Plan (NDP) and Broadband 2020 Vision. Cisco is committed to working with the South African government to develop world-class technologies that will have a positive impact on businesses, government and citizens.
Cathy Smith, GM of Cisco South Africa, comments: “South Africa can make massive strides in connecting more citizens and bringing about positive social and economic change by improving its Networked Readiness. With political will and commitment from the private sector, progress can be made in bringing the benefit of ICTs to all South Africans.
“As we face the next wave of the Internet – the Internet of Everything (IoE) –South Africa needs to prioritise ICT development if it is to benefit from the new experiences and efficiencies that the IoE will bring,” she says. “At Cisco, we have learned that technology helps people find innovative solutions to address societal problems. We believe there has never been a better time to combine human ingenuity and technological innovation to improve the lives of all South Africans. Technology is at an inflection point and the South African economy needs to prioritise ICT adoption to take full advantage of the benefits that embracing digital transformation strategies will offer.”