Government, universities and the private sector in Gauteng should harness the gains that have been made by both the public and private sector to build the mobile ecosystem and facilitate access to mobile broadband connectivity in the province.
This is according to Mariana Kruger, general manager of Products and Services at MTN Business, who told delegates at the recent Gauteng Provincial Government Technology Innovation Conference that more needs to be done to connect and amplify the milestones that the provincial government, the private sector and universities have done to build a digital city in Johannesburg.
“The accomplishments that both the public and private sector have achieved could be used as the building blocks for a Gauteng Silicon Valley,” she said.
“The building blocks are there, the key element that is missing is pulling all of this together and leveraging it to build a technology hub that will incubate innovation and stimulate the development and growth of technology start-ups.
“The private sector is doing a lot of great things in siloes. The starting point is to break these siloes, identify key challenges that all parties can collectively work towards addressing, and unlock the potential that is inherent in this vibrant city,” said Kruger.
She pointed out that the scarcity of venture capital is one of the factors that stifles innovation and the growth of tech start-ups in the province.
In the last three years, about 75% of venture capital transactions were concluded in the Cape Town, with Johannesburg accounting for only 20% of venture capital-type deals, according to statistics from the Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association.
“Gauteng is the financial capital of South Africa. We need to unlock resources in the province by creating an enabling environment that entices venture capitalists to invest in the ecosystem.
“This requires us to deepen collaboration between universities, the private and public sector. Universities are centres of knowledge that are renowned for nurturing innovation. We need to tap into this and unlock the potential they present,” said Kruger.