TEACHING IT: Indian educators reach English speaking students via the internet. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
India is widely recognised as an information technology superpower and has emerged as the hub of innovation, entrepreneurship and cutting edge technology. Information and Communication (ICT) sector of India had aggregated revenues of $88.1bn (R674bn) in 2011, generating direct employment for more than 2.5 million people. South Africa wants to leverage its close friendship with India to create synergies for multi-skilling its work- force to compete in the knowledge economy.
India has already provided a $5bn line of credit for various projects across Africa. South Africa is sure to benefit, considering the relations between the two countries.
South African students are competing for several bursaries on offer by the Indian government. Top researchers at leading South African universities are pursuing several cutting edge research projects under the C.V. Raman fellowship, named after the famous Indian Nobel laureate who discovered the ‘Raman Affect’.
Several Indian companies have invested in the South African market, in turn creating thousands of jobs and investing heavily on local manpower training to meet their needs. Wipro Technologies, one of the world’s largest ICT companies, has chalked out ambitious growth plans for Africa. It plans to set up a strategic delivery center in South Africa which will employ about 1000 skilled professionals over the next three years. NIIT, which is a major software and IT education company, is working with several provincial governments including KwaZulu-Natal for training of thousands of students to help them meet the challenges of a globalising world. Recognising the demands of the information age where not knowing computers can mean not having a job, High Commissioner of India Virendra Gupta has had the training slots for South Africa under the Indian Technical Economic Cooperation increased from 100 to 150. He has promised to expand the support in times to come.
Powering the Telecom sector is Neotel – South Africa’s second fixed line operator – which is a member of the $62.5bn Tata Group, a leading global conglomerate which has a strong presence in South Africa.
The Indian market, due to its large size,z provides abundant and yet to be fully explored opportunities for niche ICT companies of South Africa. These companies can harness the African energy and combine with Indian innovation to jointly explore opportunities not only in the Indian and southern African markets but also compete successfully in markets like the United States and European Union. A glowing example of this marriage is Aegis Global, an Indian BPO sector company which employs over 2000 people in South Africa, while servicing clients in various parts of the world.
SA’s ICT and telecom sectors have been booming and partnerships with Indian companies will be a clear winner. Spending on
IT services in SA increased by 8% year-on-year in 2010, according to Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) report. The research firm expects IT services to exceed R40bn this year. The IDC forecasts the total South African IT services market to expand at a compound annual rate of 8.7% to exceed R136bn in 2015.
At a time when the world is facing a global economic recession and the South African economy is looking for the next leap forward, it is the “look east” policy that would bear dividends as the balance of economic might shifts from the west to emerging economies like India and South Africa. Entrepreneurs from both the countries must imbibe the spirit of “Ubuntu” and joins hands and spirit to face the world together.