Government delays in improving broadband internet access are having a negative impact on the country’s economy, according to rankings by the World Economic Forum (WEF) published in a report on Thursday.
In 2013, South Africa occupied 70th place in the WEF rankings of 144 countries, according to their ability to benefit from the digital era.
Rankings were determined on the basis of — among other things — a country’s regulatory and business environment, the use of information and communication technology (ICT) and the subsequent impact on the economy and society, Beeld reported.
WEF economists said the economies of countries utilising digital technology grew faster and created more jobs.
According to their research, good broadband internet access in a country made a contribution of between 0.25 percent and 1.4 percent to economic growth.
The WEF warned however that South Africa and the other Brics members (Brazil, Russia, India and China) could be damaging their opportunities and economic prospects negatively.
“Countries that fail to see the importance of advancing broadband run the risk of large losses to competitiveness.”
According to the WEF, even though South Africa improved ICT infrastructure and bandwidth during the past year, this was mostly due to the private sector.
South Africa ranked 33rd in the WEF rankings based on companies’ ability to use ICT to improve their productivity.
The WEF placed South Africa in 102nd place using criteria that examined how importantly a government regarded ICT policy, state efforts to plan for this sector and the availability of online government services.