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eGovernment Forschung seit 2001 | eGovernment Research since 2001
The faster pace of technological change, for which the widespread use of ICT is a catalyst, is having a great impact on the structure and lifecycle of enterprises. Firstly, ICT reduces the economic impact of distance and the cost of access to information, thus increasing the scope for competition within markets.

Secondly, ICT often tends to lower the cost of setting up small enterprises thus, potentially, providing for additional competition. Thirdly, ICT creates the opportunity for new co-operative means of product and service delivery potentially leading to improved quality and cost efficiency. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, ICT gives rise to many new products and services.

The process of creation of new enterprises and of adaptation or of replacement of traditional enterprises is the way the economy adapts to new market conditions.

This process, which is the very essence of changes in the rate of economic growth, has accelerated considerably since the late 1990s. The responsibility of policy makers is to make sure that it can take place as effectively and smoothly as possible, which also includes ensuring, through the appropriate social “shock absorbers”, that it does not disrupt the fabric of society.

New business dynamics

When it comes to dynamics, it can be stated that ICT provides the trigger for change, but many important other conditions must be met for the process described above to actually take place.

Finance

For instance, access to adequate means of finance is so important that many analysts tend to identify it as one of the key factors behind the spectacular performance of the Swaziland economy over the last decade.

Equity capital has proved more appropriate and more efficient as a way of financing new ventures than traditional bank lending which remains the main source of finance for many SMEs, particularly outside the core e-Economy sector.

Very often the new ventures that are made possible by ICT tend to be based on an idea, a concept, a software application as well as the skills and energy of an entrepreneur.

Enterprises based on so called “intangible” values have often had difficulty raising finance from traditional sources.

However, the relative weakness and fragmentation of the risk capital in Europe constitutes a barrier to the development of the e-Economy.

Skill, important ingredient for a fast changing e-economy

New processes typically require new skills. Skills mismatches have traditionally been an issue that policy-makers have had to address and education systems have always been under pressure to adapt to changing demands. ICT has added a new dimension to this traditional problem.

ICT has changed production processes throughout the economy replacing traditional tasks with process control tasks based on ICT. Employers are facing difficulties in recruiting ICT skilled workers and, on the other hand, ICT is eliminating repetitive tasks, thus reducing the demand for unskilled workers.

Despite the recent downturn of the economy, Africa and Swaziland in particular long-term demand for skilled ICT people remains strong. Short-term events do not undermine the basic growth trend.

There has been a sharp reduction in ICT industry growth resulting in significant redundancies. Inevitably that does temporarily narrow the gap between the supply of, and the demand for, skilled ICT personnel.

However, estimates indicated that the ICT skills gap would reach the amount of 1.5 million workers by 2003 or so but being 2011 now, the figure has even gone higher than stated. Enterprises react in various ways. Some are outsourcing some ICT functions, thus further stimulating the market for ICT services and consulting enterprises. It allows them to acquire technology and know-how more quickly, but not necessarily cheaply.

The actual behaviour of enterprises suggests that the scope for in-house training is limited. Additionally, it must be noted that much of the demand comes from SMEs, which often face substantial difficulties in attracting qualified ICT and e-business professionals in competition with larger players which absorb most of the available expertise.

The ICT skills gap is a major risk hampering further growth in Europe. It is particularly sensitive in Europe due to declining demographic trends and the decreasing level of interest of young Europeans in scientific studies. Legislative measures taken by some of our trading partners, such as the China enterprises, which allow visas for foreign professionals increase the competition for qualified workers in Asia. Like in America, many young Europeans are attracted by higher pay and better working conditions. However, cultural and regulatory environment in Europe often limits the possibility of attracting and retaining talented foreign professionals. Restrictions on temporary workers, residency requirements, pensions transfer, tax, sub-contracting arrangements and training subsidies are further impediments towards greater attractiveness of African countries for ICT specialists.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): George Choongwa

Quelle/Source: The Swazi Observer, 03.09.2011

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