Hi-tech South Africa is ‘too white’

So says black IT forum chairman

The information and communications industry is still too white, a black achievers gala in South Africa heard at the weekend.

Dr Hasmukh Gajjar, national chairman of the black IT forum, praised the event in Johannesburg for helping to challenge what he called "a legacy which refuses to budge beyond tokenism", ITWeb reports.

He criticised major ICT players for deploying strategies that appeared to help black businesses, but in reality left them exploited and marginalized.

By way of example, he cited pre-paid phones, the fastest growing area of the mobile phone industry in South Africa. While acknowledging that this gives more people access to mobiles in South Africa, Gajjar said it is only needed because of the country's credit rating system.

Gajjar, a former non-executive chairman of Vodacom, criticised South Africa's tiered distribution model in the mobile industry, saying it did not offer equal profit opportunities to the big retailers and smaller shops.

He also expressed concern at the negative feeling that he said ICT companies were expressing to potential investors in black ICT, and called on the government to intervene.

He claimed also the existence of exclusive supplier agreements between bigger companies which exclude black ICT companies. "It is clear that they [large ICT groups] have no interest in Africa," he said. ®

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