During his inaugural state of the nation address (SONA), President Cyril Ramaphosa discussed the establishment of a digital revolution commission.
The proposed commission would help to ensure that South Africa will be in a position to capitalise on the opportunities, while managing the challenges that arise as a result of rapid advances in information and communication technology (ICT).
Christoff Pienaar, director and national head of the technology and courcing practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, says that – while it is encouraging to see government acknowledge the role that technology stands to play in the future prosperity of South Africa – it is important that the legal framework in place supports this vision.
“South Africa’s ICT sector is a major contributor to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), and despite being a clear driver of economic growth, it has been largely overlooked by government in the past,” he points out. “It is therefore extremely promising to hear the president commit to the development of our capabilities in the areas of science, technology and innovation.”
However, as the ICT sector grows, Pienaar believes that it will become even more important for players within the sector to deliver cost-effective and innovative solutions for both suppliers and consumers.
“To ensure that this happens, government needs to create a digitally inclusive information society capable of addressing the demands of what many are now referring to as the ‘fourth industrial revolution’.
“The controversial Electronic Communications Amendment Bill, which claims to give effect to this vision by offering to radical transform the ICT sector, raises many issues in this regard. Its shortcomings, specifically its possible unintended outcomes and potentially negative impact on competition in the sector, will need to be addressed in order for it to be capable of a meaningful implementation.”