Biggest South African tech stories of 2018

2018 was a year of change for South Africa, with former President Jacob Zuma resigning to hand over power to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa was quick to make changes at state-owned enterprises like Eskom, SAA and the SABC, with new boards and leadership being appointed at these institutions.

Although these changes stopped some of the rot, they are still facing bankruptcy and are in dire need of bailouts to keep operating.

2018 was also the year when load-shedding made a comeback and cabinet reshuffles were linked to state capture.

On the tech front there were many developments, with 5G starting to gain momentum, Netflix starting to hurt DStv, and digital banks trying to disrupt the old guard.

Here are South Africa’s biggest tech stories of 2018.


Rain Mobile launches

In June, Rain Mobile launched commercial data packages with no contracts or regular monthly fees, and data that never expires.

Rain SIM with logo


Vodacom and MTN shows what 5G can do

Vodacom launched Africa’s first standards-based, commercial 5G service in Lesotho in August 2018, while MTN partnered with Huawei to conduct the first 5G outdoor trial in Africa in May.

MTN 5G trial vehicle header


3 new South African digital banks launch

2018 saw the launch of three new digital banks – Discovery Bank, Bank Zero, and TymeBank.

Digital banks Discovery Tyme Zero


DStv dropped ANN7

MultiChoice stopped broadcasting ANN7 on DStv after its contract ended on 20 August 2018.

ANN7 logo


Disappearing airtime is still real

A MyBroadband investigation revealed that unlawful WASP subscription resulted in disappearing airtime.

Dead wasp killed hunting shotgun cartridge


DStv losing premium subscribers to Netflix

MultiChoice South Africa revealed in June that it had lost many DStv Premium subscribers during the past financial year due to increased competition from Netflix.

Netflix and DStv


Job cuts in the South African telecoms market

Many South African telecommunications companies have announced jobs cuts in 2018, including Telkom, Liquid Telecom, and Internet Solutions.

Unhappy work


Department of Communications and Department of Telecommunications merge

In November President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the Department of Communications and the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services will be merged.

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams heads up the new merged department.

Cyril Ramaphosa Bloomberg


Liberty hit by hackers who demanded payment

Financial services provider Liberty was hit by an IT systems breach where hackers obtained sensitive data about top clients.


Data leak exposes names, ID numbers, and plain-text passwords of 934,000 South Africans

In May, a South African database containing sensitive personal data which originated from a traffic fine platform was leaked online.


Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill passed

The National Assembly passed the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill, which introduces new laws about social media messages with penalties that include up to three years in jail.

South Africa Government Technology Spy


Special mention: The head of IT for Sars has failed epically in a live TV interview

Now read: The cheapest way to make a voice call in South Africa

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Biggest South African tech stories of 2018