From CompliNEWS | Financial Service Intelligence Watch

South African businesses urged to embrace AI for global competitiveness

In a Sunday Times analysis, Arthur Goldstuck, founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of, highlights the pressing need for South African businesses to harness the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to remain competitive on the global stage. He references a recent study, Cisco’s inaugural AI Readiness Index, which reveals that only 11% of organisations in South Africa are fully prepared to deploy AI, despite a unanimous consensus among businesses regarding the increasing urgency of integrating AI-powered technologies.

The study identifies six key business pillars – strategy, infrastructure, data, governance, talent and culture – across which South African companies face readiness gaps. While the nation aligns with the global average in terms of overall AI readiness, it notably lags in strategy and infrastructure preparedness. Globally, a mere 14% of businesses are classified as ‘Pacesetters’ who are fully prepared for AI adoption.

However, South Africa does exhibit a higher proportion of companies categorised as ‘Chasers’ (40%), surpassing the global average of 34%. Furthermore, only 1% of South African companies fall into the ‘Laggards’ category, compared to the global average of 4%.

Goldstuck quotes Smangele Nkosi, Cisco SA GM, who emphasises the increasing significance of AI readiness across all business sizes and sectors. Coincidentally, during the AfricaTech conference and expo in Cape Town, several infrastructure initiatives were unveiled. One notable partnership was between Liquid C2, a sister company of Liquid Intelligent Technologies, and Google Cloud, aimed at enhancing cloud and cybersecurity offerings. This partnership aligns with Google’s commitment to invest $1 billion in the region under the ‘Google for Africa’ initiative.

Goldstuck points out that the Liquid-Google partnership is likely to be one of many such collaborations addressing infrastructure challenges in South Africa and across the continent. According to the Cisco study, 95% of businesses globally acknowledge that AI will increase infrastructure workloads, but in South Africa, only 37% consider their infrastructure highly scalable.

The analysis also reveals that 96% of South African organisations are in the process of developing an AI strategy, emphasising the country’s growing interest in AI adoption. Additionally, 59% of respondents in South Africa believe they have a maximum of one year to implement an AI strategy before their organisations face significant negative business impact.

Read the Full Sunday Times analysis here