President Cyril Ramaphosa says it is critical for the country to harness job creation in the digital economy sector, which has shown accelerated growth during the coronavirus pandemic.
This would boost efforts towards the recovery plan, he wrote in his newsletter on Monday.
SA was ranked first as a destination for global business services in the world last week in a survey which took the views of 600 executives from eight key sourcing markets, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US.
The sector includes call centres, technical support and back and front office services for major multinationals and SA firms.
“This is truly a remarkable achievement. In a short time, our country has propelled itself from a relatively unknown destination for offshore customer service delivery, in the shadow of large competitors such as India and the Philippines, to the very forefront of the global industry,” he wrote.
“The story of how this was achieved holds important lessons for what we can do if we work relentlessly as government and social partners towards a common goal.”
Ramaphosa hailed the country’s sophisticated digital infrastructure, skilled workforce and high level of English proficiency as some of the advantages that made SA an attractive business destination.
“These unique attributes have provided us with a strong foundation to work from. However, last week’s achievement would not have been possible without the proactive efforts of government and the sector over several years,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the government was already forging ahead with plans to grow the sector.
He made reference to the presidential employment stimulus, launched in October 2020 as a response to the economic impact of the pandemic. He said the stimulus had enabled the creation of 8,000 new jobs in the industry during the last two quarters, most of which have gone to previously unemployed youth.
“When the pandemic first arrived on our shores, government worked closely with the sector to ensure continuity. South African global business service providers were able to shift quickly to remote operations, with clear and sensible guidelines to ensure that call centres could continue to provide essential services.”
Ramaphosa said the sector generates R1.9bn annually and this attracted significant capital investment and job creation.
“With global demand on the rise, and with a compelling and competitive proposition to global buyers and investors, the sector in SA is on track to achieve its target of 100,000 new jobs by the end of 2023 and 500,000 new jobs by the end of 2030.”