Developing the IT gateway to Africa

Posted On Wednesday, 23 May 2001 03:01 Published by
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THE Western Cape's information technology sector, currently the country's second largest behind that of Gauteng, is well on its way to becoming a global hub and an IT gateway to Africa.

THE Western Cape's information technology sector, currently the country's second largest behind that of Gauteng, is well on its way to becoming a global hub and an IT gateway to Africa.
Bearing testimony to their upbeat sentiment, say the Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion
Agency (Wesgro) and the Cape Information Technology Initiative (Citi), is a recently released
report on the industry in the province.
The report shows that in just over a year the industry in the Western Cape has grown by almost
half.
This brings information and communication technology companies in the region to more than 700,
ranging from two-man shows to the large IT departments of financial houses consisting of more
than 100 staff.
Citi acts as a co-ordinating body to promote the development of the knowledge economy in the
Western Cape. Since its inception just over two years ago Citi has jump-started no less than
20 enterprises.
The Bandwidth Barn, Citi's biggest project to date, houses IT start-ups, creating a hub of
shared facilities and serving as an IT incubator.
It offers reduced barriers to entry and provides support in the form of venture capital, IT
infrastructure resources and mentoring.
Judith Middleton, Citi's marketing manager, says successes flowing from the Barn include
SouthEaster, a start-up software development company that recently secured R4m in venture
capital from London with Citi's help.
Most of the large retail groups operating in SA have their head offices in the Western Cape.
All of them are big users of technology, including hardware, data-storage security and new
media.
All but two players in the petrochemical manufacturing industry have their head offices in the
Western Cape, including Shell, BP and Caltex.
A large number of SA's financial houses are based in the region, including Old Mutual, Sanlam,
Metropolitan Life, Coronation, Gensec, BoE and Fedsure. Their presence, says Middleton,
contributes significantly to the development of a strong knowledge and skills base in
financial services software.
In addition, the Western Cape has five tertiary institutions that have begun to take advantage
of both the scenic beauty and lifestyle that attracts foreigners, Middleton says.
Many transnational technology service firms are using the city increasingly as an economically
viable destination for corporate training and related change management courses for their
trainees and interns.
M-Web & WorldOnline, two of the largest of SA's more than 120 consumer-orientated internet
service providers, have headquarters in Cape Town.
In the cellular phone market SA is the fourth fastest-growing GSM market, and Vodacom, the
biggest network of the two operating, has its technology centre in the Western Cape housing
its main call centre, its billing division, the network operating centre and the majority of
its IT inventory. Tellumat, formerly Plessey, considered a world leader in the development and
sale of PBX/PABX and wireless radio equipment, is based in Cape Town. Vuyo Mvoko.


Publisher: Business Day
Source: Business Day

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