To adapt and compete in the current global economic conditions, South Africa will need an arsenal of skills to equip itself against the aggressive global competition. Information Communications Technology (ICT) is one those skills that are fundamental in growing, developing and equipping a country to compete with the economy giants. The ICT sector is one of SA’s crucial GDP contributors. Consequentially, the ICT sector has the potential to play a key role in demolishing the triple threat challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality in South Africa. Simply put, ICT is key to SA growth and development.
What is ICT?
The South African ICT market includes telecoms services, hardware, packaged software and services. The hardware and software which is commonly used in everyday devices like TV, radio and mobile phones. ICT often is categorised into two groups: traditional computer-based technologies (includes standard office applications such as MS Word and Excel) and digital communication technologies (for example LAN and WAN). However, primarily ICT is concerned with products that store, manipulate, retrieve, receive and transmit data electronically in a digital form. Furthermore, ICT is also concerned with how these functions can work together and how well they function in collaboration.
ICT challenges in SA
In South Africa, the ICT sector faces many challenges. Lack of education, communication costs, POPI Act compliance and affordable broadband connection, are the stumbling blocks that we have to overcome. These challenges are seen as threats to South African growth and development. However, they also offer the opportunity to eradicate poverty and empower the unemployed youth to be innovators and enable SA to compete with both African and global markets.
How ICT acts as a key to SA growth and development
ICT is a broad sector that offers innovation opportunities with market gaps that South Africans can exploit while learning and upskilling themselves. Mobile, cloud, social business and business analytics technologies are a just a few of the market gaps and are all interconnected. Making the most of these opportunities will lead to immense economic activity and increased production levels resulting in employment opportunities. Then from there, theoretically, it’s a domino effect: more employment leads to less poverty, and less poverty will result in an increased Gini coefficient.
With the change to a knowledge-based economy, it is crucial to upskill South Africans with ICT skills, not only because ICT is key to SA growth and development, but to ensure that South Africa, along with the rest of Africa, plays a pivotal role in the future changes in global technology.