SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Andreoni, Antonio, Barnes, Justin, Black, Anthony and Sturgeon, Timothy (2021) 'Digitalization, Industrialization, and Skills Development: Opportunities and Challenges for Middle-Income Countries.' In: Andreoni, Antonio, Mondliwa, Pamela, Roberts, Simon and Tregenna, Fiona, (eds.), Structural Transformation in South Africa: The Challenges of Inclusive Industrial Development in a Middle-Income Country Structural Transformation in South Africa: The Challenges of Inclusive Industrial Development in a Middle-Income Country. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 261-285.

Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

Download (251kB) | Preview


The world economy is undergoing a period of structural and technological transformation, driven by the increasing digitalization of economic and social life. Digitalization is being experienced differentially across the globe, reflecting the different opportunities it offers as well as the particular challenges countries face in digitalizing their economic systems. This chapter looks at the opportunities and challenges of digital industrialization through the lens of the South African case. In South Africa, digitalization is occurring in an economy that has prematurely deindustrialized, where the digital capability gap in terms of digital infrastructures and skills is wide, and where organizations need significant investments to retrofit their existing systems. Despite this, South Africa has islands of excellence in which firms are embracing the opportunities provided by digitalization to achieve greater efficiency, process innovation, and supply-chain integration. These examples point to what is possible, while at the same time revealing gaps and shortcomings. The potential and shortcomings are evident both across firms (in terms of their investment rates) within global value chains (domestic firms; engagement with multinationals), and across public institutions and industrial policies. The development of digital skills in cross-cutting fields such as data science and software engineering, as well as transversal technologies in complementary services, are identified as particularly important. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the policy implications for South Africa and beyond.

Item Type: Book Chapters
Keywords: digitalization, digital platforms, structural transformation, South Africa, digital capabilities, skills, global value chains, digital industrial policy
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Economics
ISBN: 9780192894311
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2023 17:09

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item