Connectivity is integral to the success of any small business or start-up today. Yet fast and reliable broadband is out of reach for many would-be local entrepreneurs. We therefore propose the creation of a state-owned Internet Service Provider (ISP) to provide South Africans with access to the World Wide Web. “As we showed in the [World Wide Worx] Internet Matters 2012 survey, having a website is a key component of being more competitive and profitable in business,” explains Arthur Goldstuck, MD of IT consultancy, World Wide Worx. Sadly, however, over a third of SMEs are still without websites, according to the survey.
Luke Mckend, Country Manager for Google South Africa, adds: “Connectivity is key to enabling start-ups and SMEs to compete with larger businesses on a level playing field, providing access to the same global marketplace that larger more established businesses have. A healthy Internet ecosystem correlates with growing economies, and provides small businesses in particular with new opportunities to grow.”
Melanie Botha, Marketing & Operations Director of Microsoft South Africa, adds: “Being online literally unlocks a new world for SMEs – it gives them access to a range of tools, from online banking to business software, and allows them to connect and communicate with suppliers and new markets.”
With regard to the idea of a stateowned ISP, many within the technology community are supportive of the concept – although only to fulfil certain mandates. “The creation of a state-owned ISP is a fascinating idea from a specific point of view: in areas where there are finite resources, a state-owned ISP could pull resources together.”