A national strategy is essential to ensure a coordinated and widespread adoption of e-commerce in South Africa. This is the view of Ariel Technologies' Managing Director, Zeth Malele.
Malele recently addressed delegates at the Sun Microsystems conference 99 and pointed out that against a background of economic and information poverty, a history of sociopolitical instability and a lack of critical mass of collective leadership and vision for Africa, many believed that the adoption of e-commerce in South Africa and other African countries would be slow. However, he sees Africa as a continent of hope and potential.
With the positive economic growth prospects, increased attention on Africa as a target for new investment and the most recent renaissance initiatives, supported by President Mbeki, Malele believes that the possibility for widespread success of e-commerce is burgeoning.
"Africa must participate in globalisation and e-commerce will be a catalyst for this, but this must be supported by economic development strategies which seek to roll out technological benefits to poor and rural communities in order that they may also harvest the benefit which e-commerce brings," says Malele.
"Successful e-commerce will rely on a number of critical success factors being in place, amongst which will be the suitability of infrastructure. It is vital that the technology adopted is current but affordable, with both scalability and ease of maintenance. Bandwidth requirements should be met and it should address security issues.
"In addition, efforts such as those by the Universal Service Agency, should be increased to bring connectivity to the majority of citizens."
Malele also believes that there is a need for greater liberalisation of national infrastructure in order to provide consumers with more options and - as a result of increased competitiveness - increased affordability.
"It is also essential to develop a human resource development strategy which will encourage the development of the necessary IT skills to sustain a knowledged-based e-commerce centred economy. This should address not only the development of new skills, but also the retention of current skills, by stemming the skills loss through the brain drain. Regulatory intervention, in the form of facilitation, is necessary to protect the privacy of consumers, ensure the legality of e-transactions and protect intellectual property rights."
For details contact Ariel Technologies on tel: (011) 233 0919, fax: (011) 234 0261 or e-mail: email@example.com