Government is not doing enough to create the environment necessary to grow South Africa’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector and can learn from what other African countries, including Kenya and Rwanda, are doing in this regard.
This is not happening, Mophatlane says, and it should be a key focus as government implements the National Development Plan.
He says ICT has not been seen as an imperative for years. “[Former President Thabo] Mbeki used to have a presidential ICT advisory board. It helped expose politicians to what technology can do. Initiatives like that need to be brought back,” he adds.
He says government officials and politicians need to be exposed more to the ICT sector so they can understand its potential for helping grow the South African economy.
“If you were to take a whole lot of MPs on a roadshow and visit Dell, IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, Huawei, etc, you’d be able to stimulate ideas and influence how people view technology.”
He says that in an environment where there is immense pressure on businesses and consumers, more needs to be done to stimulate growth. “If government is serious about stimulating the economy, one of the industries that needs swift decision making is the technology industry.”
He says Kenya and Rwanda “understand a lot better the impact of broadband and infrastructure investment” on their economies. “We need to attract the IBMs, the Amazons, the Chinese, Brazilian and Indian companies, to come and invest in technology.”
Mophatlane also criticises the time it takes for the competition authorities to reach decisions of importance to the sector. The delays in approving Telkom’s R2,7bn acquisition of BCX is “not proper”.
“The economy is in a tight place. To stimulate the economy, you need decision making to be swift and more decisive, including [when it comes to]issues around consolidation and mergers and acquisitions.” — © 2015 NewsCentral Media