The success of the Cape Information Technology Initiative’s (CITI) efforts to foster cluster development in the Western Cape is setting a precedent for ICT development in South Africa, an Infonomics South Africa report illustrated today. Infonomics Director, Glen Thompson said the report, titled "Lessons in Cluster Development" had used CITI as its case study, tracing the not-for-profit organisation’s history through its formative phases to present day.

CITI was started in 1998, with the intention to facilitate the growth of a world-class ICT industry in the Western Cape. The economic benefit of clustering is that it provides a co-operative way for the sharing of ideas, specialised infrastructure, human capital and services by a community in a geographic location. The success factors for cluster development include: a strong core industry, local support in the form of businesses, which act as suppliers and markets, appropriate soft infrastructure and good physical infrastucture.*

Thompson said CITI’s UUNET Bandwidth Barn project provided a classic example of the cluster concept put to practice. "Its success to date is measured by the survival of almost all the Barn’s tenants since inception, as well as the high demand for larger premises, prompting the Barn’s move to 128 Strand Street, in March this year." CITI has also more recently forged close ties with similar national initiatives such as The Innovation Hub in Gauteng.

The report found key successes of CITI to include: the energy used by founders - and all participants - to drive projects; strong internal and external communication, the creation of interpersonal linkages and supportive networks, and the success of the Bandwidth Barn - which has served as the physical centre of CITI’s networks and a home for all its people. The Barn has also been important in helping to sustain the enthusiasm and energy of the original concept.