SA falls behind on cloud computing

Internet. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
Internet. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
Cape Town – A new study ranks South Africa 20th out of 24 leading IT economies in terms of cloud computing, a sign of erosion from its starting position of 18th only a year earlier.

BSA | The Software Alliance evaluated national laws and regulations in seven policy areas critical to the development of a globally integrated cloud marketplace.

The findings released in the 2013 BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard is build on a first edition of the study, published in early 2012.

“It is discouraging that South Africa has not made better progress in adopting policies that are conducive to cloud innovation,” said Drummond Simpson, chair of the BSA South Africa committee. 

“Every country’s policies affect the global cloud marketplace. It is imperative for South Africa to focus on improvements in promoting free trade, data privacy, cybercrime and security in order to improve its standing and help grow the global cloud.”


According to the scorecard, SA has some useful laws in place for cybercrime and electronic commerce but is in danger of falling behind international best practice in other key areas.

The study found that SA does not have a privacy legislation in place. Draft legislation was supposed to be considered in 2012, but it has been delayed. Some limited internet filtering and censorship also occurs, which may inhibit development of the digital economy.

SA only has very basic copyright laws, the report found, which are not aligned with current international best practice, and the country has not signed the Wipo Copyright Treaty.

According to Techopedia the Wipo (World Intellectual Property Organization) Copyright Treaty (WCT) is a special agreement enacted by a consensus of over 100 member states of the EU. It was created to address changes in digital technology and communications, particularly the distribution of digitally protected works over the internet.

Another potential barrier in SA is the existence of a complex system of domestic preferences in government procurement opportunities.

The study also found that SA has low levels of broadband penetration and continues to face ICT infrastructure challenges. Minor improvements in South Africa’s infrastructure were not accompanied by any policy changes, that is why the country fell two spots in the 2013 Scorecard rankings to 20th.

The Scorecard’s biggest mover is Singapore, which moved from 10th to fifth place after adopting a new privacy law that builds user trust while also promoting business innovation.

The study found that Japan is still in the lead with a comprehensive suite of laws supporting digital commerce. Australia is in second place, the US in third and Germany in fourth place.

According to the study cloud policy improvements in many of the world’s biggest IT markets have stalled. All six EU countries covered in the study have lost ground in the rankings. Others are effectively unplugging themselves from the global market, with especially counterproductive policies in Korea, Indonesia and Vietnam.

“We’re seeing patchy progress in the policy landscape for cloud computing,” said BSA president and chief executive officer Robert Holleyman.

“Mismatched privacy and security rules are making it hard for data to flow across borders, and too many countries are chopping off pieces of the cloud for themselves. This undercuts economies of scale that would benefit everyone.”


BSA recommends that policymakers should ensure privacy so that users can have faith that their information will be treated carefully, and providers must have freedom to move data efficiently in the cloud.

Policymakers should also promote security and battle cybercrime. They must protect IP and ensure data portability and harmonising global rules.

They should also promote free trade and eliminate barriers such as preferences for particular products or service providers. Policymakers must also bolster IT infrastructure and provide incentives for investment in broadband and promote universal access.

– Follow Chantelle on Twitter.
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