As a result of systematic inequality, Africa’s digital transformation is trailing the rest of the world, leaving Africa to play catch-up. The continent experiences this divide in many ways, from basic access to internet services to outdated technology systems, work practices and the continued reliance on manual labour.
Currently estimated to be worth at least three trillion dollars, it is clear the countries profiting most from the digital economy are the ones who had early awareness, made the strategic choices and increased participation levels.
International standards, best practices and technological advancements are largely seen as first world. This means many businesses built on older generation business models, steeped in archaic technology and heavily reliant on manual labour, have become uncompetitive and unattractive in the international market, and are simply being disrupted as a result. This needs to change and fast, according to Selvan Murugan, a digital practice leader with Zutari.
Arrival of the disruptive digital revolution
Make no mistake, the digital revolution and its associated disruptive technology has arrived on Africa’s shores. Whilst earning a ranking of 48th out of 63 countries evaluated in the 2019 IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking, South-Africa still needs to be massively more proactive.
“From the evaluation it is clear the divide is real. Digital knowledge, technology and future readiness are factors we need to consider. Developing countries have long-conceived national digital strategies, aligned policies and implemented tactical plans to reap the benefits of the digital economy,” says Selvan Murugan.
The positive effects of computational tools used in the engineering industry that streamline the workflow and disrupt old ways of working is seen as a positive step in the right direction.
Still grappling with cyber security
“However, there is also cognisance for the pitfalls of generative design tools and coding applications that require an advanced level of audit measure to be put into place to ensure the algorithms are safe to use in the real world. Cyber security is also a top priority for us now as we move our design operations fully into the cloud,” Selvan notes.
“We are in danger of a two-speed world, one in which the lack of digital transformation in Africa will result in increased inequalities and in addition, the lack of cloud technology that enables digital technology “to be made exponentially scalable.”
He comments, “The last time I checked, Africa did not own any cloud technology. How can we then use cloud technology in a smarter way to generate local value and participate better in this value chain? This is one question, among others, for our policy leaders to grapple with.”
Ever growing technology fields
Selvan says that Zutari’s ten- to 20-year future-planning digital scenarios are gradually revealing the extent of disruption and rapid change that we are all facing. Their analyses in fields of technology such as reality capture, BIM, visualisation, digital twins, geospatial, the Internet of Things and data science are revealing interesting choices in workforce skillsets, which each require careful analysis and planning.
At Zutari, we strongly believe that by combining our engineering knowledge and digital expertise we can better serve the needs of our clients.
In conclusion Selvan says, “Lastly, and most importantly, we certainly believe that the industry in which we operate is open for digital disruption. We have a strategic digital focus to mitigate the possible impact and to take advantage of the opportunities presented.”
For more information, contact Zutari:
Tel: 012 427 2000
Photo image by creativeart – www.freepik.com
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