[Column] Mncedisi Mayekiso: Tapping into the growing demand for connectivity in South Africa
South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) has a vision for 2030 – to create a seamless information infrastructure by 2023.
To achieve this, the ICT sector will have to support the development of a dynamic and connected information society that breeds a vibrant knowledge economy.
The connectivity target for 2023 is 100% at 100 Mbps. It was difficult to predict how far connectivity was going to grow in South Africa about 10 years ago. The safest prediction was that the industry was in a constant state of evolution.
As Internet-based applications continue to evolve, it makes sense to match these technologies to enable platforms that will run faster and more efficiently.
By the numbers
According to statistics published by We are Social and Hootsuite, Internet usage grew to 30.81 million, placing our Internet penetration at 54% – much higher than World Wide Worx’s initial estimate of 40%.
South Africa’s Internet usage over the past year places us at the 13th position in the world regarding relative Internet user growth. Also important to mention is the fact that our Internet usage is one percentage point above the global average.
5G ushers in the next generation
There is much talk about 5G network connectivity. 5G will provide South Africans with more than just faster connectivity than 4G, the technology also seeks to deliver more benefits to mobile networks.
The network will be able to carry more data traffic across a myriad devices. “5G will provide at least a ten-fold improvement in the user experience over 4G with higher peak data rates, improved ‘everywhere’ data rates and a ten-fold reduction in latency,” states The Road to 5G article on technology news website, MyBroadband.
Before this can happen, there must be a fundamental shift in the way mobile networks operate. For instance, they must shift from offering network-for-connectivity to network-for-services.
5G connectivity will not only boast performance enhancements, but will also improve applications in areas such as public transport, energy, water supply and public safety.
A shift to the information economy
The country must connect its economy to the Internet for citizens and businesses to experience success in the digital age. High-speed Internet access is the backbone of a knowledge economy.
Rapid technological advances have made it possible for more South Africans to gain access to mobile technology.
The South African Internet user population passed the 20 million mark in 2016. This increase has been brought on by a surge in the number of mobile broadband users, which offers a wealth of potential to advance the lives of citizens through mobile technology.
It’s critical for state-owned entities to be a part of the ongoing interventions that will accelerate growth in connectivity.
The ICT sector plays an important role in driving and enabling growth and development. We can help accelerate that growth because we have built a legacy of the finest teams and are obsessed with improving connectivity solutions and services for clients, no matter the division.