SA ranked in 47th po­si­tion out of 63 coun­tries in maths and sci­ence re­port

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Ka­belo Khu­malo

SOUTH Africa has ranked poorly in all three dig­i­tal com­pet­i­tive­ness indices re­cently pub­lished by the In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute for Man­age­ment De­vel­op­ment (IMD). The IMD World Dig­i­tal Com­pet­i­tive­ness 2017 re­port over­all ranked South Africa a lowly 47 out of the 63 coun­tries sur­veyed in the re­port.

This was a slight im­prove­ment from last year’s rank­ing, which saw the coun­try come in at num­ber 53 on the list.

Pierre le Roux, the chief ex­ec­u­tive at Moyo Busi­ness Ad­vi­sory, said the re­sults of the sur­vey were a direct re­sult of an in­ef­fec­tive ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem that ne­glected maths and sci­ence.

“The rank­ings clearly show that we are fall­ing fur­ther and fur­ther be­hind in how com­pet­i­tive we are in this most vi­tal field in which we ab­so­lutely need to ex­cel if we want to build our econ­omy and cre­ate jobs for the mil­lions of un­em­ployed South Africans,” Le Roux said.

The IMD World Dig­i­tal Com­pet­i­tive­ness rank­ing an­a­lysed and ranked 63 coun­tries’ abil­ity to adopt and ex­plore dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies lead­ing to the trans­for­ma­tion of gov­ern­ment prac­tices, busi­ness mod­els and so­ci­ety in gen­eral and de­fines dig­i­tal com­pet­i­tive­ness into three main fac­tors: knowl­edge, tech­nol­ogy and fu­ture readi­ness.

When it came to knowl­edge, South Africa was ranked 49th this year, the same as in the com­par­a­tive pe­riod, while the coun­try came in at num­ber 53 in tech­nol­ogy in­fra­struc­ture, a drop from the num­ber 51 it oc­cu­pied last year. How­ever, the coun­try im­proved its fu­ture readi­ness out­look, jump­ing to num­ber 42 on the list, from a prior po­si­tion of 47th.

At the top of the rank­ing was Sin­ga­pore, fol­lowed by Swe­den, the US, Fin­land and Den­mark.

Ar­turo Bris, a di­rec­tor of the IMD World Com­pet­i­tive­ness Cen­ter, said coun­tries that oc­cu­pied the top half of the ta­ble had sup­port­ive and in­clu­sive gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions help tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion.

“Sin­ga­pore and Swe­den have de­vel­oped a reg­u­la­tion that takes ad­van­tage of the tal­ent they have by adopt­ing, for in­stance, a reg­u­la­tion that fa­cil­i­tates the in­flow of over­seas tal­ent which com­ple­ments the lo­cally avail­able pool. This shows that in dig­i­tally com­pet­i­tive coun­tries, the gov­ern­ment must fa­cil­i­tate the adop­tion of new tech­nolo­gies.

“One thing about coun­tries that ranked lowly is that these coun­tries not only have low rank­ings in terms of tal­ent but they don’t in­vest in de­vel­op­ing what­ever tal­ent they have,” Bris said.

In a re­port launched ear­lier this year by multi­na­tional tech­nol­ogy giants, Siemens found that po­ten­tial $300 bil­lion (R4 tril­lion) could be added to the African econ­omy by 2026 through the adop­tion of dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion in in­dus­trial sec­tors rang­ing from trans­port to man­u­fac­tur­ing.

In the firm’s 2017 African Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion Ma­tu­rity Re­port – which fo­cused on South Africa, Nige­ria, Kenya and Ethiopia – South Africa emerged as the coun­try with the high­est po­ten­tial to re­alise dig­i­tal ma­tu­rity fol­lowed by Kenya, Nige­ria and Ethiopia.

South Africa was also first with re­gards to in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy in­fra­struc­ture with 82 points, fol­lowed by Nige­ria with 49 points, Kenya at 44 points and Ethiopia with 33 points. With re­gards to skills and dig­i­tal lit­er­acy, South Africa came in first with 53 points, Kenya se­cond with 38 points and Nige­ria had a score of 35 points with Ethiopia at 20 points.

Le Roux said there also had to be a re­think about higher ed­u­ca­tion. “We reg­u­larly hear the complaint that grad­u­ates with de­grees or diplo­mas are sit­ting at home twid­dling their thumbs. When you look closer at these stu­dents al­most with­out ex­cep­tion we find that they have de­grees or diplo­mas in the hu­man­i­ties rather than in the hard sciences where there are plenty of jobs,” he said.

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