The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) increased its investment in the ICT/tech space in the financial year ending March 2012, with 14 new industry funding approvals.
The total value of financing approved for the ICT/tech sector in the financial year improved to R532 million – up from R410 million in 2011 – while the total number of jobs created or saved amounted to 1,766, according to Mahomed Moolla, head of ICT at the IDC.
Earlier this month (September 2012) the IDC reported 55% growth in its funding activity to R13.5 billion, while the number of funding approvals rose by 33% to 293 in the financial year ending March 2012.
It represents the government owned corporation’s highest-ever level of investment in the local economy, making a considerable contribution to job creation, said IDC chief executive, Geoffrey Qhena.
According to the IDC, the rise in the number of approvals in the year under review would help to create or sustain about 45,900 local jobs, compared to 39,400 in the previous financial year.
According to Moolla, the ICT Strategic Business Unit (SBU) approved funding to a start-up company with first-mover advantage in the provision of open-access “last-mile” connectivity to end-users.
He said that funding was also approved for an electronics manufacturer in the Eastern Cape, creating 150 jobs to manufacture TVs for Samsung.
Areas of focus for the IDC in the tech space includes:
- Telecommunications – in particular a broadband infrastructure supply focus in SA at various access levels: Undersea; national backhaul; metro; last mile; technology provision focus on under-serviced and rural areas and regional integration into rest of Africa;
- Shared services – Value-added components of Business Process Outsourcing;
- Digital migration – Local manufacture of set-top boxes;
- e-Waste – Recycling of electronic and electrical waste;
- Electronics – Niche low-volume electronic manufacture; energy demand-side management including meter systems and LED lights;
- Information technology – Contract-based software and hardware;
- Electrical services – Contract based.
Looking ahead, Moolla said that the IDC aims to unlock opportunities to increase broadband penetration and reduce broadband cost, with a particular focus on underserved and rural.
“So there will be a continuation of the supply-side broadband infrastructure focus both in SA and into Africa. The SBU is looking to progress various projects across the different access levels by providing both development and implementation funding,” he said.
Furthermore, as part of the analogue to digital migration and Department of Communication’s (DoC’s) DTT programme, Moolla said that the IDC is looking to assist with capital equipment and working capital funding to facilitate local manufacture of set-top box receivers, which would allow viewing of the new digital signal on analogue television sets.
“Government intends to provide five million households with subsidies of up to 70% for locally-manufactured set-top boxes,” Moolla said.
Lastly, the ICT lead said that with energy demand side management remains a key strategy in meeting the countries energy needs; developing consumption metering and more efficient electrification solutions is also a strategic focus for the group heading into 2013.