Digital economy is the biggest industry created during COVID-19: Economist

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Economist Ntombana Mbele says the biggest industry that was created during COVID-19 in South Africa is the digital economy.

Mbele’s comments come ahead of the virtual State of the Nation Address in Cape Town, which will be delivered by President Cyril Rmaphosa on Thursday evening at 7pm.

The main industries in the country have always been mining, manufacturing, construction, construction, trade and transport.

INFOGRAPHIC: SA’s main industries:

Mbele says there has been a lot of investment into the digital economy and inter-Africa trade has also accelerated.

She says, “Of course the biggest industry that was created in COVID-19 and perhaps that got more traction would be the digital economy, so if you look at that in sectors, you would look at the Syntec, the Syntech is the financial technology industry that is using technology to gain the financial markets.”

“So the reality of people working from home using technological specifics and specifications and platforms to engage and to continue communication between different entities and different employees in different countries in different countries and different jurisdictions, that also made a strong indication that the digital economy is exactly where the world is headed.”


Mbele says the digital industry will be sustained post-COVID-19 pandemic.

“The sustainability of the business is dependent strongly on the need and if there is going to a continuation of the realisation that it’s financially viable for you to build up in technology as a organisation and as a company than for you to be paying a rental income.”


Senior research fellow at Trade Collective, Lebohang Pheko, says e-commerce has become more prevalent in the digital space globally.

In the audio below she says physical retail is crumbling:

No new businesses

Pheko says statistics indicate no new businesses were created during the COVID-19 pandemic besides the acceleration of online businesses such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.