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Putting digital transformation at the forefront of South Africa’s economy by Charmaine Houvet, Public Policy Director, Africa

By Charmaine Houvet, Public Policy Director: Africa, Cisco

Regardless of who wins the ANC Presidential elections this week, it will be essential for the candidate to ensure that digital transformation is incorporated into the country’s economic growth plan. Almost every Vision2030 and National Development Plan in Africa and the globe includes digital transformation as a key pillar, because digitisation has significant potential to unlock and lead the Continent’s growth potential. The contribution of the digital economy has become more critical with the advent of Industry 4.0, otherwise known as the Industrial Revolution 4.0.

South Africa must drive digital policy that addresses service delivery, cybersecurity, and broadband expansion but more importantly ensure that digitisation is used to change people’s lives. As more and more devices, people, and things get connected and as Africa’s mobile data traffic increases 15-fold by 2020, it is becoming even more essential for political candidates and parties to understand the transformational power of digital strategies in driving an inclusive agenda.

The world we live in today is one where people, processes, data and increasingly things, are getting more and more connected. The Internet of Things (IoT) is driving the most dynamic areas of innovation, creating new business models, economic, social and environmental sustainability and also has a powerful potential to improve quality of life.

Economic growth through digital SMEs

In the Small - to - Medium - Enterprise (SME) sector, one third of employees spend an hour per week on tasks that an APP could handle. If South Africa is seriously set to grow its economy through SME development, then we have got to make it easier for SME’s to incorporate technology into their respective businesses by enacting policies and digital strategies that enable improved collaborative opportunities between small business, entrepreneurs, government , academia and private sector . We can all do better, change lives - with digitisation.

Effective service delivery through technology

Almost all hotels in South Africa have Wi-Fi, yet only just over half of all vocational schools have Wi-Fi connections. Therein lies an opportunity to use technology for increased competitiveness and well-being and bring the objectives outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP) to life by connecting cities and communities in order to share resources.

Preparing the connected generation for the digital economy is an opportunity to transform how service is delivered. The role of governments in the age of digitisation cannot be understated. It requires governments to embrace the Industry 4.0 agenda in order to serve the needs of citizens, remain globally competitive and ensure that South Africans are able to reap the benefits of digitisation.  


About the Author:

Charmaine Houvet joined Cisco in March 2016 with several years’ experience as a Senior Executive in diverse and transformative roles with high profile leading ICT companies. She is a strong supporter and enabler of government transformation initiatives and is responsible for supporting Cisco with country digitization programmes and enabling public sector policy reform across Africa. Her love and passion for the ICT industry comes from over 24 years’ telecommunications experience working with private and public sector across Africa.pore’s Smart Nation Drive: http://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2017/02/article_0008.html


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