Mobility impact on SA’s GDP

A new study shows that a small increase in the mobility of knowledge, information and people can directly impact personal income and economic well-being in South Africa.

An increase of only 5% in the mobility of the workforce, information and knowledge, through improved transport links across South Africa and a better broadband and mobile communications infrastructure, could mean that the average GDP per capita in South Africa increases by 40% from R10,500 to R14,670 per year.

These form part of the findings of a study commissioned by cloud computing company, Citrix.

Dr Adrian Saville, author of the study, visiting professor at the Gordon Institute of Business Science and chief investment officer at Cannon Asset Managers, says that mobility is an incredible catalyst for economic growth.

“Even modest improvements in labour mobility – which can be achieved by improved public transport or technologies such as super-fast broadband and a 4G infrastructure – can add several percentage points to GDP growth. This in turn will reduce specific skills shortages, raising entrepreneurial activity and redressing information gaps,” said Saville.

Based on the evidence from a survey of 140 countries, Saville noted that a 5% improvement in the mobility of South Africa’s workforce. This, coupled with a similar improvement in access to information and knowledge, would facilitate changes in the structure of the economy that could drive down unemployment by as much as 40% over a ten to twenty year period.

Average South Africa

Speaking at a round table event in Bryanston on Tuesday (5 February), the author of the report said that currently, South Africa is averagely integrated. So while the economy continues to grow, the average South African continues to struggle, with unemployment a key indicator.

However, Saville said that the country continues to improve through continued infrastructure development. He also stressed that it is the role of civil society, and not just the role of the government, to lift SA’s mobility ratings.

“We don’t have an education crisis, we have an access to, or mobility crisis, or shortage,” Saville said.

He said that policy and institutions can deliver, highlighting the success of South Korea, the world leader in fiber-optic connection which only spends 0.9% of its GDP for ‘total access’, while SA spends three times that amount for a 22% return on those connected.

As a parting shot, Saville warned that if South Africa has its sights on being a gateway to Southern Africa, “you had better make sure that the door is open.”

“At the moment, the (mobility) gateway is open in Kenya,” Saville concluded.

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Mobility impact on SA’s GDP