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MTN Business calls for the creation of ‘Gauteng Silicon Valley’

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.

Cape Town is widely regarded as the hub of innovation, and an incubator that has spawned the birth and development of tech companies. The city’s tech ecosystem is almost two decades old and is one of the most established in Africa. According to the findings of the Ventureburn Startup Survey 2015, the city accounts for 60% of the country’s tech start-ups.

Mariana Kruger, General Manager: Products and Services at MTN Business, 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. 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 Mother City, 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,” says Kruger.

She noted that MTN Business partnered with credible and like-minded partners when it was building its Internet of Things (IoT) platform. In addition, MTN Business is pleased to be able to participate at forums like the Gauteng Provincial Government Technology Innovation Conference, where members of the public, private and education sectors converge to discuss and create solutions to develop the technology ecosystem at a provincial level.

“As MTN Business, we have provided connectivity to millions of our customers across the country, with our network being ranked as South Africa’s fastest network by independent tests. The next step is to leverage this vast network as a viable platform for IoT and for connecting people, devices and machines to the digital world. This is what lies at the heart of our vision to create brighter lives and lead the delivery of a bold, new digital world,” Kruger concluded.


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