Leading IT summit to boost ICT sector in South Africa through improved broadband and infrastructure

The 4th annual IT Leaders Africa Summit will be held in South Africa’s city of gold, Johannesburg from 13 to 14 March 2013. The summit is hosted and produced by international business-to-business conferencing company, Kinetic Events. The IT Leaders Summit series is hosted in strategic locations all over the world including Johannesburg, Dubai, Ghana, Cape Town and Nairobi. The series hosts over 150 CIOs and senior IT executives representing leading companies from the respective regions.

South Africa, Republic of, Nov, 2012 – Telecommunications is one of the fastest growing sectors within South Africa’s economy, driven by rapid growth in mobile and broadband connectivity within recent years. South Africa boasts a network that is reportedly 99.9% digital and includes the latest advancements in fixed-line, wireless and satellite communications. The rapidly growing country has one of the most developed telecoms networks in Africa. South Africa is of the fastest growing mobile communications markets in the world. Public enterprises Minister Alec Erwin said recently that the Government has actively committed to creating a broadband infrastructure company based on long-distance, fibre-optic networks developed by Eskom and Transnet.

Three industry challenges are to be addressed in order for South Africa to participate in the global information communications technology sector; namely limited access to and the high cost of broadband in the country, the lack of international competitiveness of broadband, and the digital divide between the first and second economy. South Africa has access to some of the fastest and most networked undersea fibre optic cabling that link the country to Europe and beyond.

In a recent report released by Google, it is suggested that South Africa’s current broadband penetration is at 8.5 million users as recorded at the end of 2011, an increase from 6.8 million recorded in 2010. This compares to about 17% and is currently not competitive with some other big economies on the African continent as compared to Nigeria with a 29% broadband penetration, followed by Egypt, Morocco and Kenya.

Google SA’s country manager recently stated that access and cost remains one of the biggest obstacles to internet connectivity in South Africa, particularly in less developed areas. The impact of the highly networked undersea fibre optic cables link South Africa to the rest of the world and has been weighed down by South Africa’s current ICT infrastructure. It is recorded that the speed at which data is transferred slows greatly when the data comes ashore.

While real capacity and supplied capacity cannot be evaluated in fair comparison, the government’s plan is that by 2020, 80% of South Africans will be successfully supplied with broadband access. The infrastructure roll out is said to be at a cost of nearly R90-billion. Government is prepared to pay this sum in order to reduce data costs and increase access throughout South Africa.

The importance of the broadband roll out is its potential positive effect on the country’s GDP as well as job creation. According to the World Bank, every 10% increase in broadband penetration will result in a 1.38% point GDP growth rate within the country. This rate is consistent with the assessment of the GSM Association that reaching a 20% wireless broadband penetration rate in South Africa by 2015, generating R72-billion in GDP and generating approximately 28,000 jobs in the ICT sector.

The government in South Africa has actively committed to speeding up the rollout of the national broadband network in a bid to improve some of the most developed telecommunications infrastructure on the continent. The information divide is still a concern among enterprises within the country; however the country’s overall penetration rate is still lagging behind some of its more developed neighbours in terms of broadband access and price.

A recent report released by Google also stated that net penetration rates within South Africa’s borders were low when compared to leading economies on the continent; this resulted from a lack of access and infrastructure, as well as the high cost of broadband. While the penetration rate has improved to about 17% and a total rate of 8.5 million users, this recorded improvement is still well behind other countries. The report stated, citing Nigeria’s 29% penetration level followed by Egypt, Morocco and Kenya, were all above South Africa’s current rate.

While access and cost remains one of the biggest obstacles for internet connectivity, particularly in less-developed areas of South Africa, the planned new broadband network is central to the country’s attempts to reduce the cost and problems associated with internet access. The Department of Communications recently released the estimate costs of rolling out a nationwide broadband network, reducing connectivity costs between $7-billion and $10.5-billion, making up a small part of the $118-billion worth of infrastructure the government is seeking to develop in the next decade.

South Africa boasts an extensive network of undersea cables allowing high-speed data transmission from major networking centres in Europe, Asia, and Africa. South Africa plans to reduce the discrepancy between real capacity and actual supply by 2020, as it intends to see at least 80% of its population gain successful access to broadband.

The IT Leaders Africa Summit provides an exclusive business-to-business platform to share, network and engage in a focused interactive environment with IT industry peers, senior executives, government officials, senior decision makers, IT leaders and international guests. The summit will cover top business issues and technologies, impacting the enterprise with strategic tactics needed to yield higher results and to gain a competitive advantage within the industry.

At this year’s summit, the spotlight will be placed on broadband and infrastructure. Prepare to gain invaluable knowledge and guidance into South Africa’s broadband and infrastructure sector within the ICT industry. Delegates will be given the opportunity to take control of discussions and debates through

expert-led interactive keynote sessions featuring internationally renowned guests, strategic workshop sessions featuring industry thought leaders and solution providers, and innovative networking and interactive discussion sessions.

The summit will provide the opportunity to discover how to link technology to strategic business objectives and the importance of IT spending to successfully grow your business. The summit aims to address topical industry issues and challenges threatening an enterprise adopting cloud and virtualisation environments. The summit will highlight recent developments in the ICT industry within South Africa and abroad, addressing all possible solutions through innovation and creation.

For more information, to apply to attend, comment or photographs, visit www.itleaders.co.za or contact Shaunei Meintjes on +27 21 555 0866 or shaunei@kineticevents.net. Follow @ITLeadersAfrica and @KineticEventsSA on Twitter for daily updates and news feeds.

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