Africa is the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent with 54 different countries, consisting of a large diversity of ethnicities, cultures and languages. After the end of apartheid more than two decades ago, South Africa is an economic powerhouse in Africa. Though South Africa is still the largest economy in Southern Africa, Nigeria surpassed it as Africa’s largest economy in early 2014. The rapid rising economies of other African countries threaten South Africa’s position as a gateway to Africa.
Smart cities leverage on technology and use the large amount of data their citizens generate every second to optimise resources, to connect people and to improve business and trading. A smart city targets energy savings and adopts environmentally-friendly technologies, which helps promoting sustainable development.
In the two decades since the end of Apartheid, the international community has perceived South Africa to be the most influential country in Sub-Saharan Africa. The country continues to play an important economic role on the continent and is a driving political force in the African Union (AU). As such, South Africa has received recognition as an important emerging power and gained access to key international platforms, including the United National Security Council, the G20, and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) forum (German Development Institute, 2016).
Internet use in sub-Saharan Africa is on the rise, supported by growing smartphone ownership and connections to multiple undersea communications cable systems. Broadband uptake grew 34% per year between 2008 and 2015, and penetration is anticipated to reach 80% by 2020, up from 20% in 2015.
South Africa has long been heralded as the ‘gateway to Africa’ – an appropriate base of operations from which economic connection to the rest of the continent can be formed and business developed. This phrase appears liberally in the City of Johannesburg’s official marketing literature, and has been the subject of numerous articles in prominent newspapers, journals and trade publications.