Exclusive Networks Africa, a cyber security specialist for digital infrastructure, predicts 30% local growth in the cyber security channel – despite growing concern over a global recession, supply chain disruption and a deficit in available technology skills.
Stefan van de Giessen, Country Manager: SA and SADC at Exclusive Networks Africa, said according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), there is still much uncertainty in the short- to medium-term outlook as the global economy adjusts to the shocks of 2020-22 and the recent financial sector turmoil, and recession concerns have gained prominence.
Irrespective, Exclusive Networks Africa expects growth and Van de Giessen added: “We can still anticipate and maximise pockets of excellence in the local cyber security channel.”
Van de Giessen said COVID-19 fast-tracked digitalisation strategies by several years. He quotes an October 2020 survey by McKinsey and Company, which describes the situation as a "tipping point of historical proportions".
“The IT industry worldwide was able to facilitate the move into new channels of communications and operations, and was therefore able to survive during this period better than many. Thus, the anticipated 30% growth is not necessarily coming off a low base,” added Van de Giessen.
Challenges still exist
It is important to remember, however, that there are real challenges and they still have an impact, said Van de Giessen.
Cyber security skills remain sought-after, he added.
“Data today is generally regarded as being an organisation’s most valuable commodity, but without the right cyber security skillsets, companies are at a disadvantage and remain vulnerable. However, the local IT industry is already facing a skills shortage and we anticipate losing further skills this year, both to emigration as well as ‘semigration’.
“The remote working facilitated by the pandemic has helped to entrench the scenario whereby one does not have to leave the country to earn revenue with international firms. The IT industry is thus losing skills and talent to actual emigration as well as in-country remote working possibilities, where payment is in international currencies rather than rands.”
Exclusive Networks Africa said while SA still has required skills, they are being used globally. “It is hard for local companies to compete with this. Additionally, strong skills investment on the vendor side is also attracting top talent, leaving a smaller pool for the local channel players.”
Van de Giessen believes the skills shortage will worsen and those who are available will need to be sourced at a premium rate, which places significant strain on the channel.
The cyber security company is adamant that while these are challenges, there are opportunities.
“Skills enablement and training is a critical factor moving forward within the channel,” said Van de Giessen.