The telecommunications sector in South Africa is among the continent’s most developed. It tends toward encouraging data-heavy services by shifting from voice to data services, increasing smartphone usage, expanding localised content, and adding both private and public sector capacities to lay the groundwork for fourth-generation (4G) and long-term evolution (LTE) networks. As of the third quarter of 2011, there were approximately 57m active mobile subscriptions, and with 20% of subscribers holding more than one SIM card, the mobile penetration rate stands above 100%. This compares with an overall fixed-line subscriber base of roughly 4m users, a rate that has been on a slow but steady decline in recent years.
South Africa is bursting with opportunities for growth in information and communications technology (ICT). The country has about 6m internet users and studies conducted by Research ICT Africa show that 15% of South African households have a working computer and that 5% have an internet connection. Prices for broadband internet connectivity have fallen in recent years, and the landing of multiple international cables on South African shores in 2012 will likely lower prices further. Continued expansion of South African firms, such as logistics companies, retailers and distributors, could strengthen demand for inventory management software, cloud computing services and other technological solutions.
This chapter contains interviews with Alan Knott-Craig, CEO, Cell C; Karel Pienaar, Managing Director, MTN South Africa; Pieter Uys, CEO, Vodacom South Africa; and Robert Venter, Chief Executive, Altron.