SA’S ICT SECTOR GROWS DESPITE ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN
South Africa’s ICT sector continues to demonstrate signs of growth, recording R243.6 billion in revenue in 2021, up from R243 billion in 2020.
This represents an overall increase of 0.3% in total sector revenue, according to the 2022 State of the ICT Sector in SA report. Released by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), the report presents the performance and developments in the ICT sector, focusing on three areas regulated by the authority: telecommunications, broadcasting and postal services.
The report shows broadcasting services revenue increased by 2.8%, from R35 billion in 2020 to R36 billion in 2021. Postal services revenue increased by 11.1%, from R5.9 billion in 2020 to R6.6 billion in 2021.Telecoms services, which often dominated, experienced a slight decline − revenue decreased by 0.5%, from R201 billion in 2020 to R200 billion in 2021.
However, the telecoms sector still generated more revenue than the broadcasting and postal services sectors combined. The revenue for the three sectors increased by 4.3% for a period of seven years, ICASA reports. In terms of telecoms revenue, the ICASA report combined mobile services, fixed internet and data, fixed-line and any other related revenues to reach the R200 billion recorded in 2021.
While this is a decline when compared to the R201 billion in 2020, revenue for the telecoms sector has increased by 4.3% over the last seven years, states the report.
Turning to mobile data services, revenue from text and multimedia messaging services increased by 7.8% and 31.7%, respectively, in 2021.
The report states: “The revenue from voice services slightly decreased by 0.1% in 2021. For a period of seven years, total mobile services revenue and revenue from mobile data services increased by 6.3% and 9.9%, respectively. The revenue from voice services decreased by 2.5% for the same period.”
Total fixed internet and data revenue decreased by 7.3% (from R25 billion in 2020 to R23 billion in 2021).
“Revenue from fixed (wired)-broadband services and fixed internet revenue decreased by 2.1% and 6.9%, respectively, in 2021. Over a seven-year period, total fixed internet and data revenue increased by 1.1%. The revenue from fixed (wired)-broadband services decreased by 7.9% for the same period.”
For a period of seven years, the total fixed-line revenue decreased by 13.7%, according to the report. “The total fixed-line revenue decreased by 19.4%, from R8 billion in 2020 to R6 billion in 2021. Revenue from fixed-telephone subscription charges and revenue from fixed telephone calls decreased by 23.1% and 7.8%, respectively, in 2021.”Zoning in on the revenue from prepaid mobile voice, data and messaging, the report shows prepaid mobile data and voice increased by 8.2% and 0.6%, respectively, in 2021.
Conversely, prepaid revenue for mobile messaging decreased by 6.9% in 2021. “For seven years, revenue from prepaid mobile data increased by 15.4%. The revenue from prepaid mobile voice and messaging decreased by 0.4% and 9.4%, respectively, for the same period.” The report reveals a 22.4% employment decline in 2021 for the three sectors, which mirrors SA’s overall unemployment rate.
Employment data shows the country’s unemployment level now stands at 35.3%, up from the 34.9% previously reported by Stats SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS). The current unemployment level is the highest since the start of the QLFS in 2008, notes Stats SA. The employment changes in the three sectors saw the telecoms sector employment rate decrease by 35.8% in 2021, according to the report.
In addition, female employees as a proportion of the total employment decreased by 32.9%, from 12 820 in 2020 to 8 603 in 2021. In the broadcasting sector, employment decreased by 18.7%, and postal sector employment increased by 2.1%. “The total employment rate for the three sectors decreased by 4.7% over a seven-year period.
Telecommunications employment decreased by 5.5%, broadcasting employment decreased by 4.5% and postal service employment still shows a decline in terms of growth, as it decreased by 3.5% for the same period. “Over a seven-year period, telecommunications sector total employment and female employment decreased by 5.5% and 4.5%, respectively.”