Johannesburg - South Africa ranks 33 out of 50 countries on a global connectivity index unveiled by Chinese telecoms equipment company Huawei.
South Africa is listed as a ‘follower’ on the index as it is wedged between Mexico (32) and Peru (33). The US, Sweden, Singapore, Switzerland and UK are the top five placed countries on the ranking.
The Huawei index studied 38 variables divided across four ‘cornerstones of connectivity’ that were measured - supply, demand, experience and potential.
Huawei adds that the findings indicate correlations between economic growth and technology investment and adoption. The index also looks at the impact of cloud, internet of things, big data, broadband and data centres.
Results from the index say that South Africa’s information and communications technology (ICT) spend is 3.9% of gross domestic product (GDP), local smartphone usage is at 31% and mobile broadband users amount to 18.4% of the country’s 53 million population.
“Demand has been low for South Africa due to shortfalls in e-commerce, cloud, broadband and mobile BB (broadband). Policy reforms to increase mobile penetration and broadband in rural sector through fibre optic network like India and other developing nations will help increase domestic demand,” says the index.
“Fixed broadband should be relatively inexpensive to increase e-commerce,” the index notes.
However, South Africa does have connectivity strengths, according to Huawei.
“South Africa's strength lies in their potential for ICT sector and a better customer service compared to other African nations. It has Africa's largest telecom network dominated by mobile telephony,” reads a note on the index.
“Mobile Internet and smartphones are driving m-Commerce uptake. Demand for laptops and tablets continue to increase as 3G internet access costs go down. The introduction of cheaper brands continues to drive demand for tablets in South Africa,” says the index.
Huawei has also listed South Africa along with Chile and China in having the most potential among the 50 countries.
The full list of countries on the Huawei ranking. (Huawei)
Other ICT rankings
South Africa is slipping on other global ICT rankings.
Last week, the World Economic Forum (WEF) unveiled its Global Information Technology Report 2015 which contains its Networked Readiness Index (NRI) ranking.
South Africa slipped five places to 75 out of 143 countries. SA is wedged between Seychelles and the Philippines on the ranking.
The WEF index criticised South Africa for the poor quality of its ICT-related infrastructure and a lack of policy direction from government.
Late last year, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) also unveiled its 2014 Measuring the Information Society (MIS) Report that ranks 166 countries on their technology performance in areas such as ICT infrastructure, access, use and skills.
Results from that report indicated that South Africa had fallen from position 89 in 2012 to 90 in 2013.