President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

A digital economy is the way forward, says President Ramaphosa

By Tarryn-Leigh Solomons Time of article published Apr 12, 2021

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Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa says harnessing the job-creating potential of the digital economy is one way to forge a new economy in what he describes as a new global reality.

In his weekly newsletter on Monday, Ramaphosa indicated that the economic recovery plan is not about a return to what was, but about transformation to what is next.

“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. In short, we have to use this moment to forge a new economy in a new global reality,” he said.

“One of the concrete ways that we can do this is by harnessing the job-creating potential of the digital economy, whose growth has only been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.”

Ramaphosa added that South Africa was ranked first in the world as a destination for global business services – often called business process outsourcing – in a survey of over 600 executives from eight key sourcing markets, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the USA.

This sector, he said, includes call centres, technical support and back and front office services for major multinationals and South African firms.

“This is truly a remarkable achievement. In a short space of time, 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.”

The country has several advantages that make it an attractive destination for business services, according to Ramaphosa.

These, he said, include sophisticated digital infrastructure, including mobile networks and high-speed broadband.

“Second, we have a young, dynamic and skilled workforce that delivers a world-renowned quality of service, along with deep knowledge in technology and financial services. Third, we have a high level of English proficiency. And finally, we are positioned in a similar time zone to our key export markets,” said Ramaphosa.

The president also maintained that these attributes have provided the country with a strong foundation to work from, and that last week’s achievement would not have been possible without the proactive efforts of government and the sector over several years.

“Led by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, government has worked closely with Business Process Enabling South Africa, the industry association, to market our country as a destination for investment, embarking on roadshows and campaigns around the world to demonstrate our strengths and capabilities,” said Ramaphosa.

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