While South Africa has made impressive social gains since the end of apartheid, levels of poverty and inequality remain untenably high.
If the country is to overcome these difficulties, it must foster an environment that encourages tech-based entrepreneurship.
That’s the conclusion drawn by a new research report commissioned by Google, which looks at how South Africa can create precisely such an environment.
The research, conducted by management consulting firm OC&C, compared South Africa with countries that have world-leading tech entrepreneurship outputs and with a peer set of countries with comparable development stages, similar characteristics, or geographic proximity. Finally, it interviewed 25 stakeholders representing different components of the ecosystem, spanning public and private as well as institutional and individual perspectives.
Among the key issues highlighted by the report are an education system unable to support broad-based tech entrepreneurship, a lack of monitoring in the networks of support offered to young entrepreneurs, and a lack of programmes focused on mapping out the full journey of entrepreneurship.
“Over the past 15 years, tech has become an increasingly important player in the global economy,” says Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda, public policy and government relations manager for Google South Africa.
“It’s also become clear that those nations which nurture digital and innovation-based cultures not only enjoy extraordinary wealth (and job creation), but have also transformed the way people live and do business.
“In South Africa, we already have extraordinary tech talent,” he says. “But as the report makes clear, we need to broaden the depth and improve the support available to that talent if we’re going to unlock the country’s true entrepreneurial potential.”