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Dominant multinationals ‘can drive SA ICT boom’

Major multinational ICT companies can help drive exponential growth in the South African ICT industry by doing more to develop local skills, companies and partners, says Simbo Ntshinka, managing director of black-owned enterprise communications provider Itec Tiyende.

Simbo Ntshinka, who saw Itec Tiyende achieve Level 1 B-BBEE certification this year, says that combining the technology, research and development ability of multinationals with the local skills and knowledge of South African companies would give the industry – and the economy – a massive boost.

“We have a huge opportunity, as an industry, to create a thriving home-grown ICT industry, that is built on local skills and talent, and makes a greater contribution to the national economy,” said Ntshinka.

“The multinationals dominate the industry through their sheer scale – but can help ignite a renewed local ICT boom if we get to a point where small or large projects are implemented through partnerships with level-1 black owned businesses.”

Ntshinka says the industry’s efforts to drive empowerment, transformation and skills development have lost momentum in recent years, and while multinationals have well-established go-to-market channels in South Africa, there is more that can be done to empower and create a dynamic local partner network.

“Right now, we see thousands of jobs going unfilled in the ICT industry because of a lack of skills – jobs, that if they were filled, would see the entire industry take off. There’s a huge demand for skills, but the supply just isn’t there. At the same time, we have a major youth unemployment problem in this country. It just doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Ultimately, says Ntshinka, the ICT industry has to understand the real intentions behind government’s B-BBEE codes, and go beyond what he calls ‘mere box-ticking’, if technology is to play the transformative role that it can in both business and the broader economy.

“If we create a new wave of partners who use their local knowledge and insights to take the multinationals’ technology to market, we would be helping build a bigger skills base and providing even more opportunities for young South Africans – it’s a virtuous circle,” he said.

By Ndileka Swakamisa