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SA improves cloud computing policy scorecard

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SA's move up in the rankings shows it has strengthened its commitment to cloud innovation policies in recent years, says the BSA.
SA's move up in the rankings shows it has strengthened its commitment to cloud innovation policies in recent years, says the BSA.

South Africa has risen in the global ranking in terms of the strength of its cloud computing policies.

This is according to a new study by The Software Alliance (also known as the BSA), which ranked SA 14th out of 24 leading IT economies in its 2016 BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard.

SA was the biggest improver in overall ranking, moving up six places from 20th place in 2013 - the last time the BSA published its rankings. The alliance says this is a sign the legal and regulatory environment for cloud computing in the country is encouraging cloud innovation.

"We are excited to see SA leading the way when it comes to cloud computing readiness," says Billa Coetsee, chairman of the BSA SA.

"The shift up to 14th place signifies that as a country we are embracing technology that helps to build our emerging economy at a most pertinent time. Cloud computing has the potential to open up opportunities for a much larger proportion of our society thanks to its cost-effectiveness, and we are hopeful the improvement we have seen this year will continue as we move into the future," adds Coetsee.

The study ranks the cloud computing readiness of the 24 countries that account for 80% of the world's IT markets. Each country is graded on its strengths and weaknesses in seven key policy areas.

These are: data privacy, security, cyber crime, intellectual property rights, support for industry-led standards and international harmonisation of rules, promoting free trade, and IT readiness and broadband deployment.

"It is promising that SA has moved up in the rankings, and shows that since 2013 the country has strengthened its commitment to cloud innovation policies. However, there is still work to be done," according to Victoria Espinel, president and CEO of the BSA.

SA's rankings rise was aided by significant gains in IT infrastructure, and the BSA ranked SA as the fastest improver in this section of the report.

Factors that helped SA rise in the ranking include its comprehensive privacy law, the Protection of Personal Information Act, and "useful laws for cyber crime and electronic commerce".

However, the BSA says some limited Internet filtering and censorship still occurs, which may inhibit development of the digital economy, and SA has only basic copyright laws, which are not aligned with international best practice. Another potential barrier is "the existence of a complex system of domestic preferences in government procurement opportunities".

"SA has low levels of broadband penetration, but they are improving quickly. The government released ambitious targets in December 2013 for the SA Connect plan," according to the report.

Global scores

This year's results reveal almost all countries have made healthy improvements in their policy environments since the release of the previous scorecard in 2013.

The report found the stratification among high, middle and low-achieving country groups has widened, with the middle-ranking countries stagnating even as the high achievers continue to refine their policy environments.

"Countries around the globe must recognise their policies affect the global cloud marketplace. The report is a wake-up call for all governments to work together to ensure the benefits of the cloud around the globe," says Espinel.

The top five countries in the rankings are: Japan, the US, Germany, Canada and France.

Three of the countries that have trailed in the rankings - Thailand, Brazil and Vietnam - continue to make significant and consistent gains and are closing their gap with mid-tier countries. The BSA says in general the world's major IT markets remained stable with modest gains.

Negative trends include that few countries are promoting policies of free trade or harmonisation of cloud computing policies.

"Russia and China, in particular, have imposed new policies that will hinder cloud computing by limiting the ability of cloud computing service providers to adequately move data across borders."

With headquarters in Washington, DC and operations in over 60 countries, the BSA pioneers compliance programmes that promote legal software use and advocates for public policies that foster technology innovation and drive growth in the digital economy.

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