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Mobility a catalyst for economic growth

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We were astounded by the direct causal link between creating a mobile workforce and the economic development of a country, says Citrix's Sean Wainer.
We were astounded by the direct causal link between creating a mobile workforce and the economic development of a country, says Citrix's Sean Wainer.

A small improvement in the mobility of labour, information and knowledge could potentially result in an increase in the average GDP per capita in SA.

This is according to a recent study commissioned by Citrix in partnership with the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), which was based on experiences and evidence from a survey of 140 countries.

According to the study, an increase of just 5% in the mobility of workforces, information and knowledge, through improved transport links across SA and a better broadband and mobile communications infrastructure, could mean the average GDP per capita in SA increases by 40% - from R10 500 to R14 670 per year.

Speaking during a media briefing yesterday, Adrian Saville, author of the study and professor at GIBS, said mobility can also drive down unemployment, from 23.5% to 13.5%.

"Mobility is an incredible catalyst for economic growth. Even modest improvements in labour mobility - which can be achieved by improved public transport or technologies such as super-fast broadband and a 4G infrastructure - can add several percentage points to GDP growth. This in turn will reduce specific skills shortages, raising entrepreneurial activity and redressing information gaps," said Saville.

Also speaking at the event, Sean Wainer, country manager for Citrix in southern Africa, said technology plays an important role in boosting mobility, including that of people and information.

"The study shows that technology plays an important role in boosting mobility, both of people and information. South Africa can raise its mobility by providing better broadband and communications infrastructure," Wainer said.

"One of the largest contributors of mobility is technology and how technology assists people in changing the way they work. We were astounded by the degree to which the study highlighted the direct causal link between creating a mobile workforce and the economic development of a country," Wainer added.

"A mobile workforce has been shown to be more productive, which in turn impacts a business's bottom line and results in great economic benefits for the country."

Saville also noted that improvements in mobility could assist the government with meeting its employment targets and put SA's employment rate at a similar level to that of other countries, such as Tunisia, Columbia or Turkey.

"In another respect, improved information mobility, brought about by technology, has socio-economic benefits, including better access to education and healthcare, increased movement of capital, as well as a flow of information," says Saville.

He also noted that macro-economic factors, such as movement of trade and capital, have less of a direct impact on the local economy than micro-economic factors, such as the movement of people and information.

"High levels of mobility have been shown to foster entrepreneurship, which in turn is a major engine for economic growth. This is because increased mobility enhances an entrepreneur's access to information and training, skilled employees, capital and new markets."

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