South African Science and Technology minister Naledi Pandor on Thursday said South Africa had a firm digitalisation foundation to reap the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Pandor said the country had already made significant advances in the digital space to expand the boundaries of technology for innovation in the country.
“We now have appropriate policy and resources to ensure that we expand our use of information communications technologies,” Pandor said. “The strategies that have been elaborated by the telecommunications department are very exciting.”
Pandor said South Africa now needed to finalise digital migration. “We have been slow on the uptake of digital migration, but the government is fixing that up now. We cannot afford to be left behind.”
Earlier this week the ministry of communications told parliament’s portfolio committee that it would once again miss the digital migration deadline due to supply chain management irregularities and fears of collusion.
The process had an initial deadline of 2015, but was delayed due to power tussles between the departments of communications and telecommunications and postal services.
The founder and executive chairperson of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab said what would determine the future success of countries in the continent and across the globe was investments they would make in the digital space.
“I would argue that it is those countries that embrace the future and the mass deployment of digital and technological capabilities that would enjoy the most success in the future,” Schwab said.
A survey conducted by global technology firm Siemens found that South Africa ranked first in the continent on the four pillars of economic maturity, the environment, infrastructure, and skills and digital literacy. South Africa was followed by Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia.
The country also ranked first on economic maturity with a score of 43 out of 100 points followed by Kenya with 33 points, Ethiopia at 26 points and Nigeria with 18points.
South Africa again led the way in environment at 60 points, followed again by Kenya with 55 points, Nigeria at 46 points, and Ethiopia with 27 points.
The country also topped on ICT 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, South Africa came in first with 53 points, Kenya second with 38 points and Nigeria had a score of 35 points and Ethiopia with 20 points.