Dig­i­tal change could bring $300bn

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Ka­belo Khu­malo

THE ADOP­TION of dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion by African coun­tries could add $300 bil­lion (R4 tril­lion) to the con­ti­nent’s econ­omy by 2026, with South Africa poised to de­rive the most ben­e­fits.

This is ac­cord­ing to an in­au­gu­ral re­port re­leased yes­ter­day by global tech­nol­ogy firm Siemens.

The 2017 African Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion Ma­tu­rity Re­port was con­ducted by the com­pany to bench­mark lev­els of dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion in South Africa, Nige­ria, Kenya and Ethiopia, with em­pha­sis on the sec­tors of trans­port, man­u­fac­tur­ing and en­ergy.

The as­sess­ment was sent to Siemens’ ex­ist­ing and po­ten­tial clients in the coun­tries.

Sabine Dall’Omo, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Siemens South­ern and East­ern Africa, said that for Africa to com­pete in the dig­i­tal age, it needed to im­ple­ment pol­icy and cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment con­ducive for knowl­edge shar­ing.

“One need only look at the im­pact of cell­phone tech­nol­ogy and smar phones in Africa to see how in­no­va­tion can leapfrog older tech­nolo­gies at an al­most breath­tak­ing speed,” Dall’Omo said.

Siemens said it had re­ceived 105 re­sponses from South African com­pa­nies across the man­u­fac­tur­ing, en­ergy and trans­port in­dus­tries. The re­port fo­cused on four pil­lars of eco­nomic ma­tu­rity – the dig­i­tal en­vi­ron­ment, in­fra­struc­ture, skills and dig­i­tal lit­er­acy – in the four coun­tries.

South Africa emerged as the coun­try with the high­est po­ten­tial to re­alise dig­i­tal ma­tu­rity, fol­lowed by Kenya, Nige­ria and Ethiopia.

South Africa also came first on eco­nomic ma­tu­rity, with a score of 43 points out of 100, fol­lowed by Kenya with 33, Ethiopia at 26 and Nige­ria with 18 points.

The coun­try again led the way in dig­i­tal en­vi­ron­ment at 60 points, fol­lowed again by Kenya with 55, Nige­ria at 46 and Ethiopia at 27.

South Africa was also first with re­gard to ICT in­fra­struc­ture, with 82 points, fol­lowed by Nige­ria with 49, Kenya at 44 and Ethiopia with 33 points.

With re­gard to skills and dig­i­tal lit­er­acy, South Africa came in first with 53 points, Kenya sec­ond with 38 and Nige­ria had a score of 35 points and Ethiopia 20.

Last year, Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers (PwC) re­leased its re­port on the out­look for dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion in the world. The In­dus­try 4.0: Build­ing the Dig­i­tal En­ter­prise re­port es­ti­mated that 87 per­cent of South African com­pa­nies planned to in­tro­duce new dig­i­tal prod­ucts over the next five years.

The re­port also found that the lev­els of dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion would in­crease from 27 per­cent to 64 per­cent by 2020. The com­pa­nies sur­veyed by PwC said they will in­vest up to R6bn a year in the five years in their dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion pro­grammes.

Dall’Omo said while dig­i­tal ad­vances had been made on the con­ti­nent, there were still in­fra­struc­ture gaps to be met. “Based on the re­port’s find­ings, the un­der­stand­ing of en­ergy di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion across the con­ti­nent is not very high.”

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