SA's National Development Plan under scrutiny at Vision 2030 Summit
16 June 2017
South Africa's National Development Plan, the government's blueprint for economic and social growth, will headline discussion at the 3rd annual Vision 2030 Summit, scheduled for 21 June in Gauteng, South Africa.
Multinational ICT and telecommunications firm Huawei South Africa is listed as a participant and the company's CEO Steven Wu says ICT is a vital enabler for economic growth.
Wu says, "As a key participant in the Vision 2030 Summit we aim to engage stakeholders on how bridging the digital divide can contribute to national economic growth. Huawei will share its global experience and expertise in technologies like Cloud, Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT), and how this presents South Africa with opportunities to develop vertical industries in fields like Education, Health, Public Safety and e-Commerce."
Huawei will use the opportunity to emphasise the link between continued investment in ICT infrastructure and economic benefit.
According to the company's Global Connectivity Index (GCI), which reflects the progress of 50 countries (including South Africa) in terms of digital transformation, nations that increase their investment in ICT by 10% from 2017 to 2025 will benefit from a multiplier effect.
The GCI showed that South Africa has performed at average levels in terms of broadband, data centres and cloud services. However, its Fibre to the Home and fixed broadband fell severely behind.
"Huawei believes ICT should be a national priority strategy, with more investment and a supportive policy framework for ICT development. We'd also like to see more swift progress in significant projects like SA Connect and Safe Cities," says Wu.
The company considers South Africa to be a strategic market and along with having established an OpenLab in Johannesburg (to manage, among other local technology, the rollout of IOT solutions) as well as application of technology to facilitate smart and safe city projects, there is a focus on securing a dominant position at the top of the country's smartphone market.
South Africa's ICT sector is being impacted by a number of factors including the economy and regulation, specifically the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper.
George Kalebaila, Research Director for telecommunications, media & Internet of Things at International Data Corporation (IDC), said recently, "If the government wants to unlock further infrastructure investment, they have to make the new spectrum available. Current investment is limited to the operators' existing spectrum. Operators will only invest in new 4G infrastructure, which would ultimately also drive down data prices if they get access to the new spectrum."
Mark Walker, Associate Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa at IDC has warned that the recent credit rating downgrades and increase in inflation, as well as related increase in the cost of investment, importing and funding could very likely result in job loss within the country's ICT sector.
"What does a lower rating mean? It basically means that access to capital, access to funding is going to become more expensive. At a macro-economic strain level, if a country is looking for money for investment from African Development Bank or foreign investment agencies, because of the downgrade, South Africa's investment is seen as being more risky – and risk carries a premium and that is reflected in the interest rate. This is further compounded by reflection in the exchange rate," said Walker.