The World Economic Forum (WEF) has placed South Africa on a “Watch Out” list in its Digital Evolution Index, which analysed the state and rate of digital evolution across 60 countries.
This means that South Africa faces significant challenges due to its low state of digitalisation and low momentum, and may be moving backward in this space.
The WEF’s Digital Evolution Index measured each country’s current state of digital evolution and its pace of digital evolution over time.
A Digital Evolution Index chart was then created, with four zones:
- Stand Out – countries are highly digitally advanced and exhibit high momentum.
- Stall Out – countries enjoy a high state of digital advancement while exhibiting slowing momentum.
- Break Out – countries are low-scoring in their current states of digitalisation, but are evolving rapidly.
- Watch Out – countries face significant challenges with their low state of digitalisation and low momentum. In some cases, these countries are moving backward.
South Africa fell into the last group, which does not bode well for the country in terms of its digital competitiveness.
The WEF said the surest way for South Africa to move the needle on momentum would be to improve Internet access by closing the mobile Internet gap.
The mobile Internet gap is the difference between the number of mobile phones and the number of mobile phones with Internet access.
South Africa should therefore focus on getting smartphones in people’s hands, and make mobile data more affordable so more people can use it.
The chart below shows the Digital Evolution Index 2017, courtesy of the Harvard Business Review.