South Africans should embrace the development of the digital industry through its information and communication technology (ICT) as a main part of the country’s economic recovery plan following the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.Embracing the digital industry would help the country to forge a new economy in a new global reality, the president told his compatriots in his weekly message to the nation.
He said the pandemic had shown the great potential of the digital industry which created 8,000 new jobs during the Covid-19 lockdown, and “is on track to achieve its target of creating 100,000 new jobs by the end of 2023 and 500,000 new jobs by the end of 2030.”
“We have to both recover the ground that we have lost due to the coronavirus pandemic, and to gain new ground by placing our economy on a fundamentally different growth trajectory,” Ramaphosa said.
He noted that the country’s economic recovery plan was not about a return to doing things in the old ways but rather about transforming “it into what is next.”
“One of the concrete ways that we can do this (for the economy) is by harnessing the job creating potential of the digital economy, whose growth has only been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic,” Ramaphosa said.
He cited the recent award that ranked South Africa first in the world as a destination for global business services – also called business process outsourcing – in a survey of many key sourcing markets, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the USA.
He said the award was a pointer to the great potential of ICT as an industry.
“In a short space of time,” Ramaphosa said, “our country has propelled itself from a relatively unknown destination for offshore customer service delivery, in the shadow of large competitors such as India and the Philippines, to the very forefront of the global industry.
“The story of how this was achieved holds important lessons for what we can do if we work relentlessly as government and social partners towards a common goal,” he said.
He boasted of the country’s “sophisticated digital infrastructure, including mobile networks and high-speed broadband” as one of the main reasons for the achievement.
Ramaphosa also gave credit for the award to South Africa’s “young, dynamic and skilled workforce that delivers a world-renowned quality of service, along with deep knowledge in technology and financial services.”