Competition Commission backs SITA in developing SMMEs

Competition Commission backs SITA in developing SMMEs

In line with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA’s) own objectives of developing a vibrant local information and communications technology (ICT) industry, comprising many small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), competition enforcement is essential.

This is exactly why the SITA board invited Dr. Liberty Mncube, chief economist of the Competition Commission, to address delegates during the Growth track of this year’s Government Technology Conference (GovTech).

The Competition Commission has played a prominent role in curbing anti-competitive behaviour in the ICT industry, and Dr. Mncube says that it will step-up its efforts. This is considering the invaluable role that information technology (IT) is able to play in helping government meet its inclusive growth imperatives enshrined in the National Development Plan.

“Technology has been a major driver of change and disruption, which has been unparalleled in our experience, but this has also meant that we have had to find better ways of regulating competition,” Dr. Mncube said on the second day of the event, which is being held at the Gallagher Convention Centre.

He said that the commission had adopted a proactive approach to enforcing anti-competitive practices in the industry to ensure that the industry was accessible to new and smaller participants. 

“We have to protect the industry against exclusionary conduct by large companies, as it has been proved that new entrants will drive innovation for the most part. The level of innovation that the country needs will not come from the larger players,” Dr. Mncube emphasised.

He also reiterated that the commission did not support the view of some participants in the industry that it was unable to regulate high-tech industries.

“I disagree with this outlook completely. Competition enforcers should monitor the operations of high-tech markets. Yes, innovation is a rapid disrupter, and we support this considering that it creates ample opportunity for more players. Our role in enforcing anti-competitive behaviour stimulates innovation,” he said.

Dr. Mncube’s views follow those of high-level policy-makers that participated in the high-level plenary session yesterday. 

While opening the plenary on day one of the conference, the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr. Siyabonga Cwele had reiterated his tough stance against any forms of collusion or anti-competitive practices in the ICT industry which he equated to corruption, and referred the delegates to the current national integrated ICT White Paper which was vocal on the subject.

Together with the Deputy Minister, Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize, the two political principals who are both drivers of “e-government” called for more participation by SMMEs and start-ups in the larger local ICT industry by removing barriers to entry and facilitating their larger involvement in the industry.