The new face of policy
New communications minister Yunus Carrim took to a public platform last week alongside Google stalwarts. The right things were said.
South Africa’s new Minister of Communications, Yunus Carrim, made one of his first publ ic appearances last week at Google’s Big Tent in Johannesburg. The event was one of many that Google hosts around the world to discuss the impact of the Internet on society. Carrim shared the stage with Google VP Vint Cerf, who also played a pioneering role in the creation of the Internet with the work he did at the United States Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the Seventies and Eighties.
Minister Carrim recently replaced MP Dina Pule, who was disgracefully ousted from her post last month. This was one of his f irst addresses to the technology fraternity since taking off ice.
Carrim focused on the opportunities brought by Internet access and how South Africa has some catching up to do.
“The Internet economy can reduce the gap between large and small businesses. Currently about 410 000 SMEs in South Africa have websites,” he said.
“The Internet Matters report by World Wide Worx indicates that SMEs with an online presence are more likely to be more profitable than those without. Of those with a website, 27% are strongly profitable, while only 11% of those without a website are. It is said that SMEs account for 7.8m jobs in South Africa. It is suggested that 1.56m jobs would be in jeopardy were it not for their online presence,” said Carrim.
He added that the growth of the ‘Digital Economy’ in SA is significant, but that it does not benefit people equitably.
“Currently it stands at approximately R59bn or 2% of South Africa’s GDP. Agriculture contributes 2.1% to our GDP. That might help to give a sense. E-commerce is growing at 30% a year and the potential for expansion is great when one considers that more people are coming online as a result of the increase in the use of smartphones,” said Carrim.
He said that the move to digital terrestrial television will make further provision for broadband access and that an increase of jobs in the technology sector was also on the way.
The minister then outlined a focus on policy and other measures being taken by Government to promote Internet access and stimulate business. Of course, we’ve heard this all before. The big question is whether effective execution will follow before he is possibly shifted as part of a 2014 post-election cabinet shuff le.