Digital Transformation and New Economic Opportunities in South Africa

Friday, 13 March, 2020 - 14:48

It is encouraging to note that a number of Telcos, Communications Companies and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are engaged in initiatives to economically empower South Africans. This comes in a form of skills development, business initiatives, and employment creation.
 
Google has committed to train 20 000 women in ICT and entrepreneurship by the end of this year, as part of its Women Will training tour. Women Will is a global initiative aimed at creating economic opportunities for women in various parts of the globe by equipping them with digital literacy, entrepreneurship, workplace readiness, and leadership skills.
The training tour aims to initially train 5 000 women in 20 cities across Africa in March and April.
 
Vodacom introduced the business acceleration workshops in Johannesburg last year, extending it to Cape Town this year.  Dubbed the Fast Forward Series, the interactive sessions aim to enable South African small, medium and large enterprises to enter the business sector with the appropriate tools, skills and insights to succeed in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). This year, the company planned eight workshop sessions, splitting them equally between Cape Town and Johannesburg. Among other things, these sessions also focus on digital advertising, something a lot of businesses are interested in.

Insiders say that Vodacom would like the series to become a platform for digital enablement, to enhance South Africa’s digital strategies as well as become active participants in the 4IR.
 
Cell C, in partnership with micro-jobbing platform M4JAM (Money for Jam), will create 230 000 jobs this year, through the operator’s Spaza 5 000 pilot project that is preparing for nationwide expansion. Established in 2014, M4JAM connects local brands with an on-demand workforce (called jobbers), providing them with mobile-based training to easily manage tasks and track results in real-time.

Last year, the company partnered with Cell C on the Spaza 5 000 pilot programme, which is aimed at increasing Cell C’s market share in SA by hiring M4JAM jobbers to gather market analytics in the informal sector.
As part of the initiative, jobbers are required to interview the spaza (informal merchant) owners and managers about RICA processes, barriers to airtime and SIM sales, and the top -selling Cell C products in their stores, to help Cell C understand the telecoms market dynamics in the informal sector. The information is captured on their mobile phones.
The Spaza 5 000 project, which had initially targeted three provinces in SA – Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and Limpopo – is gearing up for nationwide expansion, with plans to provide jobs for 230 000 jobbers, with a total of roughly R13 million in revenue paid out in salaries.

M4JAM has 25 clients, consisting of telcos, consumer goods producers and mining firms, among others, who pay for services conducted by jobbers.  More than 320 000 South Africans have already signed up with M4JAM and move from task to task when projects arise in their location.  Job descriptions range from marketing and branding services, to doing mapping and distribution, operated through the jobbers’ cellphones.
 
In 2016, the micro-jobbing platform was acquired by telco product distributor Informal Solution Providers, after failing to reach profitability within the initial funding timeframe.
Under the acquisition agreement, Informal Solution Providers bought the technology and started trading under the name M4JAM.
 
In 2013, Microsoft South Africa  launched a nationwide search for small black-owned software product development firms to join its highly-successful enterprise development programme. The focus areas for the RFP was in the education, healthcare, consumer, safety and security, mobility, cloud computing, big data and social business sectors, where the company believed technology could make a clear difference to current levels of service delivery. It is said that the programme was not aimed at providing start-up capital, but rather at turbo-charging the growth of existing companies that have potential. In the process, it would address several of the key challenges facing the country: creating jobs, developing small enterprises, building the local software economy and developing scarce technology skills. iSolv Technologies, which creates solutions around Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), encryption and secure communication, says its partnership with Microsoft has seen it grow into one of the country’s leading ICT security solutions and monitoring suppliers.

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