Moderator – Emeritus Professor Barry Dwolatzky,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning

On behalf of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), it is a great pleasure to provide a message of support at this important event.

The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) has accelerated the need for mobile applications (apps) in almost all businesses, work and life.

Digitisation, remote flexible working and e-commerce have increased the global demand for software developers.

The digital technology combined with the use of robotics is already dominating services and manufacturing industries amongst most competitive economies in the world.

The 4IR when compared to the previous industrial revolutions is occurring at an exponential pace and countries are expected to adapt and catch up at a faster rate.

Mobile Applications (apps) are thus critical in digital transformation as they take businesses and organisations to the next level; increase the accessibility of products and services; provide convenience and flexibility and unlock market reach.

As a result, there is increased demand for mobile apps among the majority of big firms and businesses.

Mobile apps development is rapidly growing in areas such as retail, telecommunications and e-commerce, insurance, healthcare, social networks, sports, news, gaming and government.

Organizations across industries must meet user expectations for real-time, convenient ways to conduct transactions, access information and provide quick services to compete in this digital age.

The mobile app market is the fastest-growing segment in the mobile industry.

The global mobile application market size was valued at $154.05 billion in 2019 and it is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11.5% from 2020 to 2027.

Major factors driving market growth include increasing smartphone and tablet usage, which has made internet access simpler, thereby creating lucrative opportunities for mobile game and application developers in the mobile gaming application market.

The growing advent of mobile devices, along with apps is perhaps the biggest technical phenomenon in recent times.

Some of the existing and future mobile trends that open up immense opportunities for our developers includes:

  • Artificial Intelligence blend with Machine Learning based applications in mobile app development services;
  • Mobile apps for wearable devices (popular in fitness and in smart clothing);
  • Internet Of Things (IoT) concept in the mobile apps – enabling collection and exchange of consumer data without any human intervention;
  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality – not limited to gaming applications but also for example; retail apps providing a superior shopping experience to people with AR infused dressing and trail rooms.

(Education apps when powered up with AR can make online lessons more engaging and studies more apprehendable. Healthcare apps can get a boost with AR and VR in terms of medical diagnosis, treatment, therapy, education, and empower clinicians to better understand the criticalities of a situation).

  • Beacon technology – is increasingly becoming a mobile app development trend that is widely adopted by the healthcare industry, hotels for personalized offers and discounts as per preferences and proximity-based advertising.

Given these many opportunities, the dtic thus aims to focus on local mobile apps development to identify support needed for smaller software developers, entrepreneurs, businesses and start-ups in the industry.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The possibilities are endless and the future looks exciting for the digital economy.

We have lined up experts from different areas of mobile apps development and they will share more light on this.

Our software developers can certainly shape this exciting future and we need to create an enabling environment to take advantage of these developments.

The major question, which could be answered by this platform, is how can South Africa take advantage of the opportunities in the mobile app development industry?

South Africa is a dominant player in Africa’s software development industry, albeit it is still growing and expanding its skill-set.

South Africa is investing in its digital infrastructure and has a large pool of talented, innovative software developers with first world expertise.

The Re-imagined Industrial Strategy aims to “open opportunities for young people to develop new software and applications, devices and equipment through specialised start-up support programmes for use by all spheres of government and society.

Thus, government and industry need to work together in developing a robust digital economy.

We acknowledge some of the challenges faced by software developers, particularly smaller independent developers which include access to the internet, access to data, cost of data and limited internet coverage.

Developing an app requires several development stages including maintenance and upgrading and these can be quite a challenge for smaller developers.

The major problem in outsourcing of application development jobs by South African corporates is that it can have an impact on job creation in this industry.

Therefore, there is a need to focus on developer training particularly our graduates that are starting to find work.

Our software developers, through locally developed apps for local solutions can support the public sector in enhancing public service delivery and efficiency in government.

We need to leverage on local technology-based services and products.

We would like to see more local apps with local content developed and consumed by our people.

Lastly but not least, many of these technologies require digital skills, addressing the gap and shortage of skills will be critical in remaining competitive as a country.

Addressing the gap in digital skills also means having digital education and training programmes being more inclusive, having more women, black people, young people and people living with disabilities being able to access these skills.

There are many opportunities to take advantage of in this mobile apps ecosystem.

The outcomes of this Colloquium will inform government of the necessary actions that should be considered to support mobile apps developers in South Africa.

We look forward to your participation in this event and sharing of ideas from great minds that we have around the table on how we can strengthen our mobile app ecosystem and take the country forward.

I thank you.

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