Online in SA is where it's at!

Anyone in South Africa who occasionally casts an eye to activities in the IT arena would over the past while been somewhat disappointed with where we sit compared not only to market leaders such as the US but also a fair number of so called developing nations, India, Ukraine and Romania all spring to mind.

And while we certainly have had some triumphs in terms of exceptional achievements by dynamic individuals such as Mark Shuttleworth with Thawte and Elon Musk with (later to become Paypal) these have been too few and far between and when we look more specifically at the online space we are certainly a good way behind the curve. Below is a snapshot of some facts that have come out of a recent Internet Economic Impact Study commissioned by Google SA and undertaken by World wide works:

  • The local internet economy contributes R59 billion or 2% of SA's total GDP
  • The largest portion of this (R29.2 billion) sits surprisingly in Internet presence and access and not in infrastructure (R13.5 billion) as one would expect 
  • In the G20 the average contribution to the internet economy was 4.1% of GDP in 2010, projected to rise to 5.3% by 2016, this in comparison to a miserly 1.9% in SA in 2010 and 2% in 2011.


But this article is not all doom and gloom, we wouldn't have written it if it was, that's simply not the Green Monster way. So here is the light at the end of the tunnel. According to Arthur Goldstuck, MD at World Wide Worx, e-commerce is growing at a rate of 30% a year and the future potential is set to be much greater.

The report also underlined the potential in the formal SME space which accounts for approximately R7.8 million jobs in SA. With only 63% of SMEs having a website but 40% saying their online presence was key to winning and maintaining market share this leaves a lot of incentive and opportunity for the other 37% to jump aboard, it will increasingly be the case that a web presence for an SME is not a nice to have but a critical asset to ensure their survival.

In addition to this Goldstuck predicts SA entering "the golden era" as the role out of internet infrastructure begins to peak in the next few years. This coupled with the 40 million phone users in SA and the expectation that half of these will be smartphones by 2013 is setting the stage for an explosion in internet users in the near future. 

So what does this mean for you and your business? Well if you don't have a web presence and you plan to be around 10 years from now best you get one and get one now so that you can ride the e-commerce wave all the way to the bank. There's a reason they call it surfing the internet.

Monster Out.

p.s. if you are a retailer check out this previous article for some good advice on increasing your web presence with online markets

Check out the original article on ITWeb for more Facts and Info

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