Ramaphosa: Future of job creation is in the digital economy and SA is well positioned for growth

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President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the nation on developments in relation to the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. [Photo: GCIS]
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the nation on developments in relation to the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. [Photo: GCIS]
  • Last week SA clinched the top spot in the world as an attractive destination for global business services, beating competitors India and the Philippines, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.
  • South Africa's global business services sector stepped up during the pandemic, operating remotely to ensure call centres continued to provide essential services.
  • Ramaphosa says the sector particularly is incentivised to hire marginalised youth - it has added 40 000 jobs to the economy since 2018, with young people accounting for the majority (82%).


The digital economy presents opportunities to create jobs, now even more so as the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated changes, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.

In his newsletter, the president noted that South Africa clinched the top spot as a global business service destination, beating competitors like India and the Philippines. The sector, also known as business process outsourcing, includes services such as call centres, technical support and back and front office services for major multinationals and South African firms.

Ramaphosa said that South Africa's "sophisticated" digital infrastructure and a young and skilled workforce, proficiency in English and being positioned in a similar time zone to key export markets contribute to its attractiveness as a global business service destination.

"These unique attributes have provided us with a strong foundation to work from," said Ramaphosa.

He also acknowledged that the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and the industry association Business Process Enabling South Africa - worked to attract investment. Government introduced an incentive two years ago to encourage investment and job creation in the sector. The Presidential Employment Stimulus, launched last year to grow jobs following the pandemic's impact, also endorses the incentive and had created 8 000 jobs in the sector - most of which went to unemployed youth, Ramaphosa said.

The country's official unemployment rate is at 32.5%. Unemployment is concentrated among youth, according to Stats SA.

One of the conditions for the incentive is to promote inclusive employment, particularly of marginalised youth.

"The result of all these efforts is that the sector in South Africa has grown at twice the global growth rate for the industry since 2014 and three times faster than key competitors.

"It has added 40 000 jobs to the economy since 2018, with young people making up 82% of these new jobs and women comprising 65% of the workforce," Ramaphosa said.

"The sector generates R1.9 billion a year in export revenues and attracts significant capital investment," he added. The sector may achieve its target of 100 000 new jobs by the end of 2023 and 500 000 new jobs by the end of 2030, with global demand rising, said Ramaphosa.

Notably, the sector stepped up during the pandemic, operating remotely to ensure call centres could continue to provide essential services.

"As we forge ahead with our economic reconstruction and recovery, we must recognise and nurture green shoots such as this," Ramaphosa said.

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