SA receives lower cloud computing ranking

SA has regressed in the updated BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard's rankings.
SA has regressed in the updated BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard's rankings.

South Africa has been ranked 15th out of 24 leading IT economies in the 2018 Global Cloud Computing Scorecard released yesterday by BSA | The Software Alliance.

According to the study, which assesses cloud computing policies around the globe, SA has dropped from a ranking of 14th in 2016, a sign that the legal and regulatory environment for cloud computing in the country is restricting cloud innovation.

The report says while SA comprehensive privacy law is gradually being implemented, and some useful cyber crime and electronic commerce laws are in place, there are several elements inhibiting the development of the digital economy.

This includes some Internet filtering and censorship that still occurs; very basic copyright laws that aren't aligned with current international best practice; delays in the amendment of copyright law; and the fact that SA has not yet signed the WIPO Copyright Treaty, says BSA. Another potential barrier is the existence of a complex system of domestic preferences in government procurement opportunities, it adds.

On the positive side, SA's broadband penetration has been improving in recent years. According to We Are Social, the number of Internet users in SA increased by 2 million in 2017, seeing the country's Internet penetration rise to 54%, says the study.

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 key policy areas.

According to Daniella Kafouris, associate director for Deloitte SA, while the regulatory framework in South Africa does not restrict cloud-computing, it needs to be reviewed and updated. She notes the country needs a more agile approach to technology legislation that allows for principle-based laws that can be easily operationalised.

"The traditional challenge with our legal environment is that technology moves faster than the law-making process."

Following the promulgation of POPIA and the Cyber Crimes and Cyber Security Bill, the SA ICT regulatory framework will need to be reviewed and aligned for consistency, says Kafouris.

Electronic communications and transactions and, in truth, digital laws in general, need to be aligned to become more current, she adds.

The scorecard says advanced privacy and security policies set leading countries apart from lagging markets.

Countries continue to update and refine their data protection regimes, most often in a way that enables cross-border data flows, it adds. Several countries, however, still have not adopted adequate privacy laws, the study notes.

The report finds that emerging markets continue to lag in the adoption of cloud-friendly policies, hindering their growth. Examples include regulations that impose significant barriers for cloud service providers, data localisation requirements, and a lack of cyber-security measures.

Germany scored the highest, due to its national cyber-security policies and promotion of free trade. It was followed closely by Japan and the US.

Nations that have failed to embrace the international approach include Russia, China, Indonesia and Vietnam.

"The Scorecard is a tool that can help countries constructively self-evaluate their policies and determine their next steps to increase adoption of cloud computing," says Victoria Espinel, president and CEO of BSA | The Software Alliance.

"Cloud computing allows anyone to access technology previously available only to large organisations, paving the way for increased connectivity and innovation. Countries that embrace the free flow of data, implement cutting-edge cyber-security solutions, protect intellectual property, and establish IT infrastructure will continue to reap the benefits of cloud computing for businesses and citizens alike," she concludes.

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