The strength of KwaZulu-Natal's manufacturing and agricultural sectors, together with its seaports and main North-South freight corridor
between the coast and hinterland indicate the need to further grow ICT & E sector investment in order to support the province's economic growth.
The infrastructure and access to transport, as well as the existing manufacturing base provides the ICT & E sector with the opportunity for significant growth. A total of 12 digital community hubs have been established in rural areas of the province as a means of increasing access to digital information by communities. The strength of KwaZulu-Natal ICT-E sector is the result of the KZN Industrial Hubs Strategy, which exists to guide and attract ICT-E investment into the province.
Advantageously, the electronics industry is set to form the backbone of the KwaZulu-Natal industrial hubs mooted for the province's towns of Richards Bay, Newcastle, Ladysmith and Port Shepstone.
The key advantages associated with establishing electronic platforms throughout the KwaZulu-Natal industrial sector take their lead from:
• The province's well-developed road network (N3 National Highway) and the main national railway corridor linking Durban Harbour with the industrial and commercial hinterland and economic powerhouse of Gauteng, which passes through the uThukela district;
• The proximity of a renewable hydro-electrical energy power plant (Drakensberg Pumped Storage Scheme) confers the reliability of energy supply;
• the proximity to the national long distance project for the laying of fibre, which will enable the building of the broadband network to service the area and;
• Support from local Chambers of Commerce and the willingness of FET Colleges to provide relevant skilling programmes.
Furthermore, the cities in KwaZulu-Natal have engaged in Smart City [an environmentally-friendly city created from a combination of concepts and technologies] transformation activities so as to improve the quality of life of all citizens, enhance the experience of businesses and to provide an environment conducive to economic growth and development.
Such Smart City initiatives, whether Greenfield or Brownfield, signal the earnest adoption of third platform technologies, as well as a deeper paradigm shift on the part of Provincial Governments, technology users and vendors.
Indeed, the success of Smart City initiatives are poised to become central to South Africa's digital transformation journey.