Lance Fanaroff, joint CEO and co-founder of the Integr8 Group, South Africa’s largest privately owned national BEE ICT network integration and infrastructure management specialist, concedes that the local economy and retail in general has seen better days. He also notes, with concern, the level of retrenchment that is taking place and rising percentage of unemployed and economically inactive individuals.
Whilst according to accepted economic definition, the country has been in the throws of a recession, Fanaroff suggests that there is light at the end of this tunnel.
“I believe that we have been somewhat fortunate in that we have managed to sidestep and avoid the eye of the global economic storm. In that respect, we should really be quite relieved and must be proactive and start working on reinforcing systems, processes and cultivate numerous fiscal disciplines and regulation to get us back on track,” he says. “We are also in a very good position compared to many other economies throughout the world, in that we will soon be hosting one of the largest and most compelling sporting events in the world. That is a major boost.”
Part of the process of rebuilding and restructuring involves empowering both the individual and business. According to Fanaroff, fortunately authorities had implemented credit controls prior to the credit crunch and this helped enormously.
Another critical influence within the economy is that of mobile technology. The lower cost of investment and increased access to mobile and wireless infrastructure means that anyone has the opportunity to begin a business and effectively trade. It is particularly the role that technology will play in reinforcing the economic structure of the country that Fanaroff, representing the leadership of a growing, progressive managed ICT services company, is excited about.
He points to the benefits that are currently associated with current technologies such as virtualisation, biometrics, unified messaging and Software as a Service (SaaS). In addition, says Fanaroff, cellphone and mobile applications are being developed and introduced at a rapid rate – this, together with social networking and the growing feasibility of Augmented Reality (AR), will define the socio-economic landscape of the not-too-distant future.
Although Fanaroff predicts that issues such as job loss, the domino affect of worldwide economic difficulty and a long, uphill climb to recovery, will continue to impact both business and consumer, there is reason to feel encouraged.
“We are heading for a turn-around. Currently we are looking at a ‘v’ shaped turnaround and not a ‘w’ shaped turnaround, as most people expect. However, the recovery will take long. On the positive side, when things do get back to ‘normal’, I think the economy will flourish for a long time. We are in for exciting and prosperous times ahead. The ‘overall picture’, even though it is a long way off, is going to be amazing,” he says.