Lack of venture capital, skilled human resources, top barriers to software industry growth, new UNCTAD-WITSA survey shows

22 August 2012

The first ever joint global survey conducted by UNCTAD and the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) reveals a number of priority areas where policy interventions are required in order to foster the growth and development of the software and IT services industry.​

The UNCTAD-WITSA on-line survey conducted in March-April this year elicited responses from 38 national IT/Software Associations, representing countries that account for more than half of the global spending on software and IT services, and more than half of total ICT spending worldwide.

Together, the IT/Software Associations that responded to the survey had some 16,100 member companies, employing more than five million people.

When asked to identify the main barriers to the growth and development of the software and IT services industry in their respective countries, the factor that was mentioned by the largest number of respondents was limited access to venture capital, followed by shortages of qualified human resources and a lack of government procurement.

At the same time, a regional breakdown reveals notable differences.  Whereas none of the associations in developed economies saw software piracy as a significant barrier, this factor was highlighted by almost half of those in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Venture capital was the top rated factor in all regions except in the Asia-Pacific, where access to skills was most mentioned.  In the Middle East and Africa, more than 70 per cent of respondents found that the lack of public procurement constituted a barrier to growth.

The results underscore the importance of understanding the specific context when designing policy responses aimed at enabling the software industry.

When asked what were the most important policy changes that should be implemented, the national associations gave varied responses that covered a wide range of policy areas, including provision of affordable ICT infrastructure, education and skills development, government vision and institutions, promotion of innovation and R&D, enhanced government use of software and IT services and more e-government initiatives, export promotion, facilitation of access to venture capital and catering to the needs of international investment funds, and addressing global protectionism.

The results of the survey will among other things serve as an input to UNCTAD's Information Economy Report 2012 which is currently under preparation and scheduled to be launched in November 2012.

WITSA, based in Fairfax, Virginia, USA, is a consortium of leading information and communications technology industry associations from over 80 economies, representing more than 20,000 ICT companies worldwide. It is the recognised global voice of the ICT industry.