South Africa’s Minister of Communications Yunus Carrim spoke to delegates at Google’s Big Tent event in Johannesburg today, and in his speech entitled ‘More Actively Fulfilling the Potential of the Digital Economy in South Africa’, he acknowledged that broadband in South Africa will play a major role in the future development of the economy.
“In South Africa, as broadband becomes more prevalent and TVs gain more intelligence, the switch from Analogue to Digital TV broadcasting will create significant opportunities for creativity and innovation. TVs are already capable of connecting to the internet. Jobs in the ICT industry will open up for young people and the Internet will be the starting point on this path forward,” he said.
He also highlighted the fact that the impact of broader Internet usage in the developing world plays a huge role in economic growth.
“The impact of broader Internet usage in the developing world in general, and in South Africa in particular, could be huge – from economic growth, to promoting democratic change via social-networking, as was seen with the Arab Spring, to combating disease by providing health information and to educating through the internet.”
But the Minister added that high-speed internet is not readily available in South Africa – the type of internet that will be necessary, but acknowledged that it will become cheaper over time.
“As time passes, the costs of producing ultra-high-speed networks will decrease. Eventually, the average consumer will be able to download a high-definition movie in a second or play cloud-based video games without a hint of delay or lag. Of course, while this may be the reality for many of us sitting here today, they’re not the reality for all South Africans. And that is the challenge for us today. It’s a challenge that all of us, as government, the private sector and civil society, have to address.”
Carrim added that ICT and the Internet are powerful tools for social and economic growth. “There is enormous potential for these technologies to foster innovation, particularly in developing countries. It is said that a 10% increase in high speed Internet connection can lead an increase in economic growth of up to 1.38% for developing countries.”
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor