Earlier this week Huawei revealed its Global Connectivity Index (GCI 2020) which, as the name suggests, looks at the overall connectivity level of a country. Crucially this year, however, it added new metrics identifying digital transformation.
Naturally, South Africa’s position in the Connectivity Index was of utmost interest to us, and some of the data found within makes for interesting reading. First is SA’s place among the 79 countries included in the Index, as we ranked rather low at 56th.
This Index has also been going for seven years, so we have some historical data to look at, and that does not make for good reading either, as we were ranked 53rd in 2017. Consequently the country has not improved, but rather performed worse when it comes to connectivity in the country.
While the general penetration of 4G in the country, as well as an impending wider rollout of 5G, paints a contrasting picture, but many will note how the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted several discrepancies in access to broadband connectivity across SA.
“As ICT permeates industries, digital transformation has become unanimously agreed on among countries and industries. For the first time, we extended our research from countries to industries. We also suggested digital transformation paths for countries and enterprises in different stages to build future-oriented economic resilience,” explains Chen Li, Marketing and Solutions director for Huawei South Africa.
Diving deeper into the findings, and specifically the four technology enablers outlined by the Connectivity Index (Broadband, Cloud, AI and IoT), SA only improved in two areas – AI and IoT – with three percentage increases a piece. Broadband and Cloud remained the same as they were last year, rated 36 and 48 respectively out of 120.
The only real glimmer of hope in the report is Potential, which is one of four pillars identified in the report, with the others being Supply, Demand and Experience. Here, SA scored 42 out of 120, up four from the previous year. It shows growth, but once again that there is still plenty of work to be done.
“The four pillars encompass the entire value chain of ICT development and digital transformation to provide a 360-degree view of the digital economy. Each pillar has a set of 10 data indicators measuring supply of digital services and products, demand for these services and products, end user experiences thereof and the potential for future development of the digital economy,” adds a press release regarding the Connectivity Index.
With the hurdles posed by COVID-19 still in full effect during 2021, it will be interesting to see if South Africa suffers another stagnant year, further highlighting the need to improve our connectivity efforts.