China is winning with staggering internet stats

With a population close to 1.3-billion (yes, that’s a ‘B’); it’s hardly surprising that Chinese internet statistics are staggeringly high. In fact, in 2011 almost half of all mobile subscriptions and two-thirds of the internet users in the six Asia-Pacific countries that were surveyed by Euromonitor International were from China. But how does this compare to the Western world and what impact does this have?

While China’s population does make it easy to achieve these kinds of internet user and mobile subscription numbers, it must be said that China has invested a tremendous amount in infrastructure. In a Forrester Research document from 2011, it was found that China has a 68% urban area internet penetration compared to the 67.8% and 70.7% penetration found in the US and Japan respectively. (The secondary numbers were estimated numbers found by eMarketer)

In 2011, household broadband penetration was found to be 34.6%. By 2016, this number is expected to rise to 60%. That 60% will then account for 270.7-million households in mainland China.

With this high level of connectivity, business can expect China to continue its massive growth and domination in the industrial and technology sectors. China find itself in the incredibly fortunate position where their labour force is not only massive (there is that 1.3-billion again), but it is also a very developed nation.

By way of comparison, South Africa — another high-profile emerging market — had an incredibly low internet penetration in 2009 (data provided by World Wide Worx) of around 10.8% . While connections are definitely on the rise, South Africa, as a developing nation, needs to urgently accelerate its access to broadband internet connectivity. This is where learning takes place these days and this is where jobs can be created. It has a workforce that is hungry for development, but lacks at the transference of the necessary skills and access to information for this workforce to sufficiently contribute to the technology development that it needs.

Some of the questions that need to be asked are:

  1. Where does this development come from?
  2. How do we come together to make this happen?
  3. Who needs to lead this development?

Simply put, I for one do not believe that this is a government-lead initiative. Personally, I feel that government needs to be an enabler in this case. The private sector needs to lead this development, and specifically small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). As a rule, an SME is fast enough, nimble and agile enough to roll with the lunches and to get things done. Government is just too slow and not able to move with this kind of development. In South Africa, government needs to ensure that there are tax incentives for small businesses to move in this direction as well as relationship agreements in place with the larger international firms who the SME can leverage off.

Until then our technological development as a country is being severely hamstrung.



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