The adoption of digitalisation by African countries could add $300 billion (R4 trillion) to the continent’s economy by 2026, with South Africa poised to derive the most benefits.
This is according to an inaugural report released on Monday by global technology firm Siemens.
The 2017 African Digitalisation Maturity Report was conducted by the company to benchmark levels of digitalisation in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia, with emphasis on the sectors of transport, manufacturing and energy.
The assessment was sent to Siemens’ existing and potential clients in the countries.
Sabine Dall’Omo, chief executive of Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa, said, for Africa to compete in the digital age, it needed to implement policy and create an environment conducive for knowledge sharing.
“One need only look at the impact of cellphone technology and smart phones in Africa to see how innovation can leapfrog older technologies at an almost breathtaking speed,” Dall’Omo said.
Siemens said it had received 105 responses from South African companies across the manufacturing, energy and transport industries. The report focused on four pillars of economic maturity – the digital environment, infrastructure, skills and digital literacy – in the four countries.
South Africa emerged as the country with the highest potential to realise digital maturity, followed by Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia.
South Africa also came first on economic maturity, with a score of 43 points out of 100, followed by Kenya with 33, Ethiopia at 26 and Nigeria with 18 points.
The country again led the way in digital environment at 60 points, followed again by Kenya with 55, Nigeria at 46 and Ethiopia at 27.
South Africa was also first with regard to ICT infrastructure, with 82 points, followed by Nigeria with 49, Kenya at 44 and Ethiopia with 33 points.
With regard to skills and digital literacy, South Africa came in first with 53 points, Kenya second with 38 and Nigeria had a score of 35 points and Ethiopia 20.
Last year, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) released its report on the outlook for digitalisation in the world. The Industry 4.0: Building the Digital Enterprise report estimated that 87 percent of South African companies planned to introduce new digital products over the next five years.
The report also found that the levels of digitalisation would increase from 27 percent to 64 percent by 2020. The companies surveyed by PwC said they will invest up to R6 billion a year in the five years in their digitalisation programmes.
Dall’Omo said, while digital advances had been made on the continent, there were still infrastructure gaps to be met. “Based on the report’s findings, the understanding of energy diversification across the continent is not very high.”
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