COSTA RICA NEWS — South Africa’s tourism sector can learn a lot from Costa Rica, which managed to transform itself from an agrarian-based economy to become largely tourism-driven.
So said Wellington Matope, president of the Institute of Information Technology Professionals SA (IITPSA), addressing delegates at the IITPSA President’s Awards in Johannesburg last week.
“If we look at things globally, my favourite case study will be none other than Costa Rica. This is a country whose economy was almost 100% agrarian in 1995, driven by bananas, coffee, raw sugar, fruit juices, cassava, garments, a little bit of jewellery and a few electric heaters,” said Matope.
Fast track to 2010, he noted, good political decisions, good policies and investment choices saw giants like Intel setting up manufacturing plants in that country and the economy is now largely ICT-driven with integrated circuits, office machine parts, medical instruments and orthopaedic appliances driving the economy. However, he said, agriculture still plays a major role in the economy.
“We, the ICT (tourism) practitioners, need to inform and inspire our government into action. If we do not lobby the government, who will? If we don’t do the maths, who will? These are not ANC, DA or EFF matters; we need to provide the detail to inspire these politicians to do the right things for the future of this great nation,” Matope said.
He pointed out South Africa has just been ranked 146th out of 148 countries in the Global Technology report. Business Monitor released the following headline expenditures for South Africa in May 2014 – computer hardware sales were R36.30 billion in 2013 and R38.34 billion in 2014, up 5.6%; software sales were R22.63 billion in 2013, up 7% to R24.21 billion in 2014; IT services sales totalled R35.36 billion in 2013 and R38.34 billion in 2014, giving SA a total of R100.89 billion in IT spend.
“If South Africa is the economic hub of this continent, which country is the IT hub? Which one is the Costa Rica of Africa?” he asked.
“With all the minerals in Africa, and southern Africa in particular, are we an attractive investment destination for the multinational ICT companies wishing to do business in Africa?”
He said these investments do not just happen naturally or by luck; in Costa Rica they were like projects. “Political leaders and industry experts proactively approached international giants like Intel, to understand what would drive them to invest in their country, and appropriate policies were put in place and the rest is now history we are all learning from.”