11 November 2014
South Africa’s Johannesburg is the highest ranked city on the Africa continent in international communications technology company Ericsson’s global ICT Index, despite slipping a few places down the index in the past year.
The index ranks Johannesburg 29th out of 40 cities, ahead of Nigeria’s Lagos at 38 and Egypt’s Cairo which lies at number 35. Johannesburg is the only South African city that appears in the 2014 Networked Society City Index released on Monday, 10 November.
The index measures 40 global cities’ levels of ICT maturity, and how these cities leverage ICT to solve the social, environmental and economic challenges (the triple bottom line) that they face. The top five cities in the index are Stockholm, London, Paris, Singapore and Copenhagen.
On its online profile of Johannesburg’s ICT ranking, Ericsson says the city performs better in the triple bottom line index than in ICT maturity.
“In recent years, Johannesburg has launched several projects and partnerships with business and the ICT industry to raise awareness of ICT and boost investments in the region. Although, the overall score is relatively weak, Johannesburg presents a mixed picture when it comes to the ICT dimension,’ says Ericsson.
Ericsson notes that Johannesburg’s ICT infrastructure “is quite underdeveloped, with slow fixed broadband speeds’. In addition, a large number of the city’s population lacks internet access and app coverage is average. A plus for the city, however, is it’s above average smartphone penetration and the share of people using the internet is relatively high in relation to the low access rate.
Compared to other cities in the index, Johannesburg doesn’t score well in the social dimension, one of the reasons why the city slipped from 22nd last to the current rank this year. Ericsson says infant mortality in the city is far above average and life expectancy is low.
“Unemployment and homicide rates are very high compared to other cities. Literacy rates in the city are around average, but educational attainment is below average. In comparison to many other cities in the index, the share of women in the government is fairly high.’
On the economic front, Johannesburg scores well when it comes to ease of doing business. The number of startup businesses in the city is high, indicating a good business climate, according to Ericsson.
Johannesburg can improve on ICT affordability. Ericsson says cellphone tariffs are high in relation to the income level in the city. The fixed broadband tariffs are also above average compared to income levels.
On ICT usage Johannesburg scores relatively well despite the city’s underdeveloped ICT infrastructure.
“Although individual internet use is below average, the share of people using the internet is still relatively high in relation to the high share of people lacking access to the internet at home. One explanation for this could be that the internet to a large extent is accessed by smartphones, or by public computers in cafes and schools,’ says Ericsson.