Food for Thought: Why invest in South Africa – By Lwazi Sithole

By Lwazi Sithole

Lwazi Sithole, Head: Mindworx Academy

Why should some of the biggest names in tech, including Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Meta and Tesla, invest in a country like South Africa? Seriously, why should they?! We have load shedding (what the rest of the world calls regular power cuts) and high crime levels. And despite the best efforts by former President Jacob Zuma, a handful of political elite, and the governments of the apartheid era to pilfer the country’s coffers, here we are still. Proudly standing on the southern tip of Africa with overwhelming potential and amazing people. We sing through pain, tears and hardship with titanium-like backbones and a national spirit that refuses to cry uncle.

Yes, we have our fair share of inequality, poverty and pain, but what we have in abundance is the spirit of Ubuntu or togetherness. And this is why, just as the Springboks represent everything positive about our nation, they also encapsulate the indomitable spirit of a nation that refuses to quit. So, I ask again, why South Africa?

Consider first our skilled workforce. South Africa boasts a large pool of educated and skilled young professionals with expertise in various digital fields, from software development and data science to customer support and content moderation. Our workforce can box against the best of any nation and are also fast learners in fourth industrial revolution skills like advanced forensics, robotics, coding, AI, engineering, intelligent automation, data science, deep learning, secure banking applications and many more.

And what of our language proficiency? We live in a multilingual environment with youth often fluent in multiple languages, including the close cousin of Dutch Afrikaans,  English, French, Portuguese, German and even Mandarin. Our linguistic diversity enables tech companies to communicate with, and effectively serve, customers in various regions, enhancing customer satisfaction and expanding market reach.

Another advantage is our cultural insight. We have a rich cultural landscape, which provides valuable insights into diverse markets and user preferences. We have local talent that can help these companies tailor their products, services, and marketing strategies to resonate with specific target audiences.

South Africa’s young workforce is also known for its creativity and innovative thinking. We offer a different perspective, a nation living outside the proverbial box. Many may not know that we created the world’s first automatic pool cleaner, the Kreepy Krauly, the Rooivalk attack helicopter, a shark deterrent for deep sea divers known as the Shark Shield, the speed radar gun used in cricket, and 3D printed bones for reconstructive middle ear implants. Yes, we are impressive without being noisy.

South Africans are internationally renowned for their collaborative work ethic and adaptability. We are the ideal team players and seamlessly integrate into global teams and contribute to a diverse and dynamic work environment that fosters creativity and team spirit.

With the rise of remote work, we have proven that South African talent can contribute to projects from anywhere, making us valuable assets to companies seeking a globally distributed workforce. I know people working for companies in Europe, North America, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates, all from home in South Africa, and their output remains on the highest tier for their employers.

Besides our people, several other factors make South Africa an excellent place to invest. Our time zone provides an advantageous overlap with other major business centres, including Europe and the Middle East, all of which facilitates real-time communication, coordination, and support for global operations.

The weak rand offers an additional currency conversion rate that benefits investors through cost-effective business process outsourcing to South Africa. We offer a smarter alternative compared to operations in more expensive regions.

We also give every corporate that invests in us greater access to emerging markets. Establishing a presence in South Africa opens doors to markets across the African continent. With insights from local talents, an organisation can develop targeted strategies to penetrate and succeed in these evolving markets.

Investing in South Africa also aligns with corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, creating opportunities to positively impact local communities through employment, education, and skills development.

With all this in mind, surely you can no longer remain uncertain about investing in our rainbow nation.