The High Commission of India in South Africa is committed to expanding the ties between the two countries in the vital information technology (IT) sector, while the South African government is committed to expanding the application of IT to various sectors, says High Commissioner of India to South Africa Virenda Gupta.
The High Commission aims to work closely with the South African government to bring Indian and South African IT companies together so that they can support economic growth and employment in both countries.
“We are living in an age of rapid technological change. The rate of change is unprecedented and significant technological advancements have taken place. Within 10 to 15 years, many aspects of our lives will be governed by IT and the application of IT will increase manyfold, much of which we have yet to imagine. Government has not remained unaffected by these changes,” he says.
The High Commission is promoting trade and services, specifically for information and communication technologies in the form of bilateral investments and joint ventures, as well as sharing knowledge and expertise between India and South Africa.
“We want to create value and partnerships. We want Indian companies to cooperate and take solid South African partners. I hope to see a very large Indian IT company joining with a large South African group to create a solid joint venture, which will create real synergies. This is how technology and skills are transferred,” says Gupta.
“IT has become a significant growth catalyst for our economy and, while it is fuelling our economy, this industry has also made positive improvements to the lives of our citizens by making an active and direct contribution to the various socioeconomic parameters, such as employment and education, standards of living and diversity,” he emphasises.
The Indian government has already undertaken a number of government-to-government initiatives, specifically the use of training institutes in India by hundreds of South African government officials and others.
“The crux is IT education and is an area where India can contribute significantly. A leading Indian IT training company, NIIT, is operating several small centres in South Africa, training hundreds of people a year. People trained in IT applications will contribute to the economy in a positive way,” adds Gupta.
“However, at government level, you can only scratch the surface and the requirements are so huge that they cannot be met merely at the level of government-to-government cooperation, which is why we aim to expand our bilateral cooperation,” he explains.
There are already a number of Indian companies operating in the commercial space in South Africa, but Gupta believes that cooperation between Indian and South African IT companies, as well as between IT and non-IT companies, should be augmented and expanded.
Further, South African companies which are looking to expand operations or enter new African markets will find willing and viable partners in Indian IT companies, he notes.
“Indian companies have established themselves throughout the world and I am con- fident that fruitful collaboration can be built up, which will benefit the South African IT and non-IT companies, while Indian companies will be able to access new markets,” he explains.
The Indian IT industry is poised to grow to $225-billion a year by 2020 and it is esti- mated that it will have created 30-million jobs in India by that time, he notes.
The industry has played a significant role in transforming India’s image from a slow- moving economy to a global player in providing technologies, solutions and business services, he adds.
“Government has not been left unaffected by the rapid changes. The government in India is implementing 27 projects aimed at changing the delivery of government services to citizens [and] bringing government to people’s doorsteps. We are currently undertaking, and aim to share our experiences in, what is arguably the largest egovernance project in India, which is aimed at changing the delivery of passports to our large temporary population,” concludes Gupta.