South Africa: Fast Tracking the Critical Task of Building South Africa's Digital Economy


South Africa lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to embracing the digital economy. There are five critical areas we need to address to bring us up to speed.

In presenting the first UCT Vice-Chancellor's Virtual Open Lecture on 15 July 2020, Colin Coleman, the former Goldman Sachs CEO for sub-Saharan Africa, laid out a "10-point action plan" for South Africa. One of his action-plan points is "introducing an e-government initiative to transform and modernise the public service, making South Africa a capable country, with a smart and capable state".

He was adding his voice to those of many other commentators and analysts who are suggesting that one of South Africa's top priorities in shaping the post-Covid-19 "new normal" is to fast-track digital transformation in all sectors of the economy.

In this article, we discuss the feasibility of a successful digital transformation in South Africa. Are our economy and society ready to embrace digital so that it will fill the dominant role suggested by Coleman and others?

In a recent report from the World Bank Group, digital transformation and the growth of the digital economy in South East Asia is analysed. The authors point to some of...

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