It is pointless to speak about South Africa’s lockdown without focusing on the impact it has on people. This lockdown has made us realize the most essential items needed to keep our country and industries running, and how it goes back and affects the movement of all things. This has been interesting as there were debates on whether or not fast food delivery apps would be running, which grocery apps would be available and the most interesting, alcohol consumption. This has shown how large the demand for convenience is in South Africa. Quite often you hear investors and industry leaders say there is no room for “nice to haves” in our small market, yet the uproar around the likes of Zoolzi, Bottles and UberEats has shown that South Africa is ready for the digital revolution. We are long past the adaptation and educational curve and South Africans have made it loud and clear, WE ARE READY FOR DIGITAL SERVICES.
Remote Based Working
Because movement has been restricted, we have been forced to find alternative ways to stay connected, productive and entertained. This has been interesting to see unfold as it shows how digitally inclined and connected we already are as a nation, from workout challenges to cook-offs, some have even used this period as an employment opportunity. The euphoria around taking this time to learn a new skill or start a new business has been a tad bit insane but the message is simple, WE ARE READY. The question though is, is corporate South Africa ready? This lockdown period has made it clear to South Africans and the corporate sector that it’s time to respond. Although some banks and consulting firms have already been trying out remote based working, we have never been pushed to this point. It will be interesting to see whether or not it’ll affect how salaries and working hours are structured in the future, surely it is cheaper for businesses to keep their staff at home. With ever evolving technologies and data costs being slashed, it will be interesting to see the response from the tech sector and the nation to the increasing demand to digitize.
This has been a sore point for South Africans and mobile networks for years. The increasing demand of connectivity being democratized and being a basic need has made government apply pressure on mobile networks to cut their prices in half. Even though the 30% price cut that some mobile networks have undertaken were taken as wins, let us not forget that these industries function on high margins. What’s also interesting is that this is all happening in the midst of the 5G rollout, which has its own challenges but looks like the upside at the moment. With 5G we have the opportunity to not only connect more South Africans but also do it at a much cheaper rate. With much smaller and cost effective towers being used, mobile networks have the same opportunity of great profit margins while simultaneously cutting their prices and reaching more citizens.
With all things considered, it looks like mobility and connectivity are the things to watch out for.
Writer: Sizwe Cele