Cheap data 'vital for SA's future'

01 September 2017 - 07:37 By Nico Gous
File photo
File photo
Image: iStock

South Africa would struggle to compete in the fourth industrial revolution if its data prices remained high.

This was said on Thursday by Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel.

"It is not just responding to the strong and legitimate call of young people for data costs to fall.

"It is also recognising data will be a driver of many of the innovations that we'll see in the 21st-century economies, and high costs will limit South Africa's ability to play in this field."

Patel spoke at the 11th Competition Law, Economics and Policy conference hosted by the Competition Commission at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in Johannesburg.

The fourth industrial revolution includes new technology such as artificial intelligence, algorithms and 3D that is reliant on data.

Patel said: "Big data, search engines, complex algorithms and social media are the modern utilities that play the role akin to what water and energy utilities did a century ago."

He asked the Competition Commission in May this year to compare South African and international data prices.