South Africa has performed well in the latest edition of The Global Information Technology Report’s Networked Readiness Index (NRI) published by the World Economic Forum, jumping 10 places to 65th position overall worldwide.
The improvement has been driven by the private sector, the report said. It has come about almost exclusively through improvements to infrastructure and affordability.
The Global Information Technology Report 2016 features the latest iteration of the NRI, which assesses countries’ preparedness to reap the benefits of emerging technologies and to capitalise on opportunities presented by the digital revolution.
“South Africa’s digital transformation is mostly business driven, as the country notably performs best in business usage (32nd), followed by individual usage (77th), followed by government usage (105th),” said networking firm Cisco, which sponsored the report.
The report said that although South Africa is perceived by local business executives to be performing relatively well in terms of its regulatory and political environment, its innovation and business environment is rated significantly worse. In addition, shows strong signs of deterioration, especially regarding technology and venture capital availability, government procurement of the latest technologies, and time and procedures to start a business.
“It would be a pity if these developments were to offset investments in infrastructure that have significantly increased international Internet bandwidth and put the country among the top 20 globally on this particular indicator,” the report said.
“Furthermore, mobile tariffs have more than halved and broadband tariffs dropped slightly, reducing barriers to adoption also in terms of affordability. In order for the impact to start materialising, significantly more buy-in from government will be needed across all areas of vision, promotion and efficient use.”
South Africa is not the only sub-Saharan African country to move strongly up the overall rankings. Ethiopia, at 120th overall, also rose by 10 places. And and Côte d’Ivoire, at 106th, rose nine places.
“Leadership in terms of digital adoption is coming from different groups of stakeholders. Although efforts are very much government-driven in Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire, the business sector is providing the most momentum in South Africa,” the report said.
“Going forward, the largest barriers to tackle for Côte d’Ivoire will be infrastructure and affordability; reversing the trend of a deteriorating business and innovation environment for South Africa; and individual usage and skills for Ethiopia.”