(Ecofin Agency) - The importation of technological devices does not benefit the South African economy. To gain more and boost the tech sector, the government wants to start making mobile phones and other devices locally. The goal is to make the ICT sector a key driver of the post-Covid-19 economic recovery.
Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams (pictured), South Africa's Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies announced on May 18 the government’s intention to manufacture several technological devices locally. These include phones and accessories, components for telecom infrastructure, telematics sensors, smart meters for water and electricity, components for satellites and drones. She said this during the presentation of her department's budget for FY2021-2022 at the National Assembly.
“As part of the implementation of these programs, the department is working with the department of trade, industry, and competition to facilitate the establishment and operationalization of an ICT Special Economic Zone (SEZ). To date, suitable land has been identified where this SEZ will be situated. The two departments are working towards the digital products I mentioned for local manufacturing, with government procurement capacity being utilized as a lever to enable the sector,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.
The local production program is part of the national policy to reduce imports and increase exports. It is also part of the master plan for the digital economy already finalized by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies.
With local technology products, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams expects the ICT sector to contribute 4.5% to GDP annually, create one million jobs over the next 10 years, and create numerous business opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These tools, more affordable, will also contribute to the increase of the mobile penetration rate in the country, as well as to greater access to mobile data.