With the world looking to the southern tip of Africa for fast, cost-effective and high-quality product development, South Africa is proving to be a highly effective testing ground.
Boasting many different cultures and environmental conditions that allow products to be tested under a variety of circumstances, South Africa has the ability to be a microcosm of the world. In addition, business is conducted in English and conditions within the country contribute to a cost-effective development process.
Here’s a breakdown of some key factors that make SA such a compelling growth opportunity for product development.
South Africa is not only able to develop products, but to prototype them. Speedy prototyping provides a solid basis for the design process to be built on, which means development can be fast-tracked.
This is especially important in a world where development has the potential to happen rapidly and, in order to retain the competitive edge, prototyping speeds can determine whether or not a product maximises its viability window.
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While production may be slightly more expensive than China, India and Brazil, South Africa delivers high-quality products for a fraction of what it would cost to run the same process in a First World country.
Another big advantage is that all international business is conducted in English, allowing for the communication channel between the client and manufacturer to flow. This greatly contributes to the efficiency of the design and development process and prevents potential miscommunications that could slow – or halt – the process.
Furthermore, South Africans are known for possessing a strong work ethic and ability to innovate, both of which guarantee well-conceived products that challenge norms and are produced to high standards within the required timeframes.
South Africa is seen as the door into Africa as it provides similar conditions as those in emerging markets to trial products without many of the risks. It straddles the First and Third World conditions, offering many of the benefits of a First World country while having exposure to a number of attractive new markets.
As well as attracting people from around the globe, the South African population is composed of diverse cultures. Its Gini coefficient – a measure which reflects levels of inequality – is one of the highest in the world, with households spanning all income brackets. As a result, a new product can be exposed to real-world conditions across a variety of demographics.
South Africans have a reputation for being extremely resourceful. Entrepreneurship is ingrained in the country’s economic make-up, due in a large part to the need to survive in a very diverse environment. Adaptability is key. It remains at the core of innovation and allows us to imagine and invent completely new ways of doing things. In recognition of this spirit, Cape Town was named World Design Capital in 2014.
Environmentally, South Africa also ranks highly on the diversity scale. The country has no less than seven different biomes, which allows for products to be tested in conditions ranging from the desert to snow-covered mountains and everything in-between. Testing product in real-world situations provides valuable feedback to push innovative development while doing so at a reasonable cost.
Due to a lack of infrastructure, African countries have had to innovate and, as a result, have been able to leapfrog First World countries when it comes to certain forms of technology. The IT industry is booming in South Africa and Cape Town is now known as the Silicon Valley of Africa.